At doddl we have spent years working with experts. In researching, developing and testing our products, we’ve learned a lot about feeding and mealtimes.
But we still think it’s important to partner with experts to help provide the very best advice. Mentioned in our hints and tips section are:
- Claire Burgess a Family Consultant and Early Years Expert at Bespoke Family and previously partnered with doddl whilst at the Norland College.
- Stacey Zimmels from Feed Eat Speak is a feeding & swallowing specialist and Speech and Language Therapist
doddl is recommended by experts, learn more about what they have to say about us!
How do I introduce the doddl baby spoon?
Whatever weaning journey you have decided to take with your baby, introducing doddl baby cutlery is easy and has been designed to encourage babies to safely explore cutlery at mealtimes.
To introduce the spoon, just place it on the tray or table alongside their food and allow them to do just that.
Let them put the spoon to their mouth – whichever end! – during each meal and allow them to familiarise themselves with cutlery alongside their food. Start to load the spoon and place it in easy reach of them. Remember, it’s a completely new skill so you might need to be a little patient – but slowly they will start to put the food to their mouth.
It’s helpful if you’re eating with them too – babies like to copy! In time you can then help guide their hands to scoop food themselves, so they understand the movement from bowl to mouth.
How do I introduce the doddl baby fork?
You can introduce the fork at the same time you introduce the spoon; it’s perfectly safe for your baby. In a similar way to the doddl baby spoon, simply lay the doddl baby fork alongside the food on your babies plate or tray and allow them to pick it up and explore. You can try stabbing a small piece of soft food and encourage them to put it to their mouth. Once they have mastered this, you can then encourage them to start dipping the fork into the food themselves. Slowly you’ll see their control improve, and let them choose whether they use their hands or cutlery at this stage, they need the time to explore the food in lots of different ways.
Try to always put both the spoon and fork down at each and every meal (one utensil either side of their plate). This will allow them the opportunity to explore using a utensil in each hand so they can work both sides of their brain – which is ultimately what we want to encourage.
How do I know when my baby is ready to move on to doddl children’s cutlery?
If you started with the doddl baby cutlery, then you should look to switch to the children’s cutlery if generally most of the following is true:
– Your baby has developed some dexterity and control using cutlery
– Your baby is eating more substantial meals
– Your baby’s hands are starting to look a bit big for the cutlery
– The size of the scoop of food your baby feels comfortable placing in the mouth has increased
Therefore, in reality, your baby may be ready to switch to children’s cutlery anytime between 11 and 18 months old. But there’s no hurry. If you follow the above guidance then they’ll switch when they are ready, making for an easy and more enjoyable transition.
Why is there a fork in the doddl baby set?
It’s actually important for babies and children to hold a utensil in each hand when they’re eating because it helps work both sides of their brains. Even if they are just holding one and using the other, this will be a great start towards helping equally balanced development.
It’s also important to familiarise babies with what they will use in the future. It won’t always be a single spoon, so helping them safely explore a version of what they will use in the future will help the transition as they grow.
My child has not used cutlery before - how do I introduce doddl children’s cutlery?
doddl is designed to be intuitive for your child to use, so simply lay the spoon on the tray/table alongside their food and encourage them to pick it up and hold it. You can then load it for them and place within easy reach, so they can feed themselves. Don’t be tempted to try and directly give a loaded spoon to your child, it can make it harder for them to grasp the handle of the cutlery from you.
As this becomes more familiar you can then encourage them to scoop the food by themselves – with plenty of positive reinforcement! You can use our mealtime milestones to help guide your little one from spoon rookie to cutlery master!
Do I need to just start by introducing the children’s spoon if my baby is transitioning from the baby cutlery?
No – your baby should have developed enough control and coordination and familiarity with cutlery for you to be able to introduce both the spoon and fork straightaway.
How do I introduce the doddl children’s fork?
Once your child has practiced with the spoon, you can introduce the fork and encourage them to hold one in each hand (even if they are only using one). In a similar way to the spoon you can load it first and encourage them to feed themselves, and then you can guide their hand to stab the food so they understand the movement involved. And remember doddl is designed to make it easy for them to move the food from plate to mouth, so you should start to see their control improve over time.
How do I introduce the doddl knife?
Like any new skill, chopping with a knife takes time to learn. However, thankfully the doddl knife is perfectly safe for your child to use and designed to make it as easy as possible. It sits in your child’s palm, enabling a strong palm grip and allows your little one to use the strength in their hand to push down through food. Practice makes perfect, so spend some time encouraging your child to chop easy foods (like bananas for example) or even playdough outside of mealtimes first (try rolling out little pretend carrots to chop!) so they understand the motion required.
Once they see how it works and that they can chop on their own, they’ll be more enthused to carry on learning. Then start to introduce it at mealtimes alongside their other utensils. You may well need to keep chopping up some of their food initially if they’re a little tricky, but as they see you using your knife at mealtime and they start to get the hang of it they’ll be no stopping them!
Most children should be ready to start using a knife from 18 months to 2 years (depending on their past journey/experience with using cutlery).
Why are doddl handles shaped differently?
The short answer is that the long slim handles on standard children’s cutlery are very hard for babies and young children to hold and control.
As such, they create an awkward movement when moving food from plate to mouth. That’s because they are really just small versions of cutlery that has been designed for an adult’s dexterity and control.
In contrast, doddl is designed especially for children to make it as easy as possible for them to use. The handles are short so there is less distance from the end of the fork to the mouth (making it easier for them to direct food into the mouth). The handles are also super comfortable to hold, making them more appealing to babies and children to use.
Apart from making mealtimes easier, what else is so good about doddl?
Glad you asked! The handles are designed to encourage the development of the pincer grip, a key motor skill needed for doing zips, using scissors, holding pens and pencils.
It also makes mealtimes a whole lot easier, so they can focus on all the other elements outside of cutlery, like trying new foods, being sociable and generally enjoying their mealtimes.
How does the doddl knife cut food but not skin?
It’s all about the clever serrated blade. It has been thoroughly researched and tested to ensure it is designed to be effective for cutting food, but not skin. We can’t say too much, because it’s so special, but with the clever blade design and the power from your child’s palm you’ll find your child can safely chop through any type of food.
I’ve just purchased doddl cutlery – how long do you think it will take until they are successfully feeding themselves?
For most children, Doddl will make learning to use cutlery easier right from the start. However, it is important to remember that this is a new development skill and as with everything in relation to your child’s development, it takes time and perseverance.
The actual amount of time it takes before your little one becomes a cutlery pro very much depends on your child, but we are very confident that they will find eating with doddl much easier than they would with any other cutlery set.
My baby keeps dropping the cutlery or eating from the wrong end. Is this normal?
Yes! Keep with it. As with any new skill it can take time to master. The fact they are interested in picking it up, even by the wrong end, is a good start. You can help by loading the food onto the spoon or fork and letting them pick it up and try and get it to their mouths (with plenty of positive encouragement and cheering of course!). Helping to gently guide their hands so they understand the motion can also be helpful. With time, they’ll start to get to grips with the cutlery. And you can also show them how you do it, kids love to mimic.
Have a look at some of our ‘mealtime milestones’ to help guide you through from the first hold to cutlery ninja!
What is baby led-weaning and why would I choose it?
When you choose baby-led weaning you’re essentially skipping purees and spoon feeding and heading straight to age appropriate finger foods. It’s called baby-led because that’s what the premise is — letting your little one feed themselves a range of different foods, giving them choice about what they select from their tray and the opportunity to learn how to chew (or more accurately, gum) first, then swallow.
It also prevents us parents from giving our children too much food, since babies are in control of how much they put into their mouths. Read more about the benefits from our blog ‘5 reasons to choose baby led weaning’.
How to start weaning – what do you need?
Firstly, make sure your baby is ready to start weaning – and there are some simple signs to check.
Are they 6 months old? Can they sit up unassisted? Have they shown an interest in food? Are they more hungry than usual?
Once you know you are (both!) ready, it’s then time to decide what weaning journey you decide to take. Have a read of Stacey Zimmels’ blog ‘Weaning: what do I need to know to get started?’ for more helpful advice. You can also keep track of your progress with our simple ‘weaning journey markers’.
How do I know when my baby is ready to use cutlery?
Babies are usually keen to get involved with self-feeding from around 6 months. How they show this will be different depending on your preferred weaning journey.
For spoon fed babies, they will often show interest by trying to grab the spoon during mealtimes. For babies that are following baby led weaning you can measure their interest when they start to pick up the food and put it to their mouths. Then when you place appropriate cutlery down with their meal they’ll often pick it up bang it on the table or use their mouth to explore both ends of the cutlery. doddl baby cutlery is designed to make it’s safe for them to explore cutlery at this age (there are no long handles for them to gag on!) and both spoon and fork ends are very smooth and rounded.
How to introduce cutlery to my baby?
Make sure you have the right equipment to make it as easy as possible for them to succeed – a great experience from the start will help build confidence and encourage them to continue to learn. Our blogs offer some great advice about what you need for weaning.
At doddl we are supporters of baby-led weaning, which means your baby will have the opportunity to try all sorts of new foods and should be encouraged to use their hands to touch and feel the food. You can introduce cutlery alongside baby led weaning, just lay the baby spoon and fork near their food and allow them to explore. The next step will be to load the spoon or fork leaving it in grabbing distance for your baby so they can pick it up and feed themselves. As your baby continues to practice picking up the spoon you can then start encouraging them to ‘dip’ or ‘fork’ the food themselves. Remember that practice makes perfect and this is a huge new skill so take it one step at a time and keep going with great positive affirmations!
How do I know when my toddler is ready to use a knife?
When your child has developed some dexterity and coordination when using their spoon and fork, and are able to feed themselves, you can look to slowly swap out the spoon and offer the knife and fork – obviously it depends on the type of food! And make it easy for them to succeed, not just by giving them a doddl knife, but also foods that are easy to chop (like a banana or soft pear) so they start off with a positive experience. Then you can offer the knife at every mealtime and encourage them to chop up their own meals (adding in plenty of encouragement!).
When should my baby move out of a highchair and join us at the dinner table?
This very much depends on your child and your situation. However, there is a lot of evidence that suggests sharing family mealtimes is incredibly beneficial to a child’s development. The social aspects of mealtimes are hugely important as they learn how to interact, learn to listen and engage with others, this is also helpful when your child starts school as they will be required to sit with their peers at lunchtime.
Children also love to copy, so being able to see how you eat your meals will only help in their understanding of mealtimes. There is also evidence to show that happy mealtimes have an impact on a child’s developing relationship with food. If you can, get your baby around the table as soon as you can (in a highchair or in a booster) so they can start to feel part of mealtimes.
What can I do to encourage my child to stay sitting at the table when we eat meals?
If you’ve moved your little one from a high chair to a small table – or even to a booster seat at the big table, and you’re finding their legging it every mealtime, don’t panic, there are some things you can do to help! Make sure they have equipment that makes it easy for them to succeed, so mealtimes are positive and successful not frustrating and emotional.
Trying to include your child in a family mealtime can really help – so they’re not sat alone eating. Even if you sit with them while they eat, children love to copy, and if they have no one to copy from, they will struggle to stay engaged. Also, giving them choice at mealtimes will help them to feel more independent and ‘grown up’ – whether it is choosing where they sit, or what foods to add to their meal. Then there’s creating a mealtime experience that they can be part of, whether that’s creating menus or place settings or getting involved in food preparation.
If you’ve tried all of this and it hasn’t worked, try changing it up completely. Do something different to get them out of the habit of leaving the table: create a picnic on the floor, have a ‘grown up’ meal with candles and napkins, pretend to be a waiter. Anything to make it a great and, most importantly, fun experience. Through all of this, try and remember everything is a phase, keep plugging away and you’ll get there!
My little one has started throwing food at every meal – what do I do?
As frustrating as it is, it’s totally normal for your little one to chuck things, including food, on to the floor (and walls…!) and it can actually be a sign of learning. It’s basically cause and effect. I have something, I do X with it (lift up my arm and let it go) and Y happens (it lands on the floor). Then there’s the obvious one that it’s might be their way of communicating that they don’t want to be sat in their chair, or eating that food. It’s also a way of them getting your attention, so (and this is a big ask!) don’t react. If they are doing it for a reaction and they don’t get one, they may well stop.
Also, don’t overwhelm them with too much food. If there’s less for them to throw, it may not be as tempted to try it. Likewise, create a small area on their tray for foods they don’t like, so you can talk to them about what they did and didn’t like afterwards. Finally, remember it’s more than likely a phase that your little one will grow out of (as they move on to the next one!).
How can I help develop my child’s motor skills?
There are lots of activities you can do to develop your child’s motor skills. doddl will help at mealtimes because it develops both the pincer grip and develop dexterity and control – but you can find some other great activities in our blog.
How do I know if my baby is making the right progress at mealtimes?
Firstly, try not to compare your weaning or mealtime journey with anyone else’s. However, whilst we all know every child is different, it is natural to look around you and wonder if your little one is making progress in the right way. To help we’ve created some simple ‘mealtime milestones’. They can be achieved in any order, but they will help you tick off some challenges with your little one so you know you’re heading in the right direction.
How can I encourage my toddler to eat more?
It can be worrying when you think your little one isn’t eating as much as you think they should be. Stacey Zimmels from @Feedeatspeak has some great advice in her blog ‘Toddler food intake: “my toddler isn’t eating enough, what should I do?’
My child is so fussy – what can I do to help?
Dealing with a fussy eater is one of the most frustrating experiences you can have as a parent. Especially when you have spent time and energy thinking about the best kind of food for your child. Stacey Zimmels offers some sound advice in her blog ‘how do I get my fussy eater to eat new foods?’ And because it’s such a hot topic amongst parents (you’re not alone!) we also asked Clare Burgess, the Family Consultant at Bespoke Family, to share her hints and tips ‘fussy picky choosy eater’.
I want my baby to try all types of foods, how should I go about it from the start?
We all want our children to be adventurous with foods, and whilst we probably all recognise it’s not as simple as presenting it to them and watching them eat, there are some simple things you can do right at the start of weaning to help. Claire Burgess from Bespoke Family offers some insights in her blog ‘the next stage – real food, textures and tastes’.
Why are mealtimes so important?
There is real power in positive mealtimes, especially for children. They can range from lifelong health benefits to social development opportunities. And whilst there are so many routines in life that we do without much thought, at doddl we really believe mealtimes shouldn’t be one of them.
Sitting around as a family or with friends and chatting about the day as you eat your meal may not seem like a learning opportunity, but genuinely it is for your child. They are experiencing how we interact around each other at the table, how we eat while we engage with each other, how we treat each other at the table – all of which help to establish what table manners are. By sitting together, little ones can also see their families and friends eating all different types of foods, which will ultimately open their eyes to the variety of foods on offer (and the fun of trying them!).
If you’re interested in reading more about the benefits of the whole mealtime experience, read Claire’s blog ‘Make mealtimesabout the experience not just the food.’
I miss eating out – should I brave it with my child?
The simple answer is yes, because there are all kinds of benefits for both you and your little one. Have a look at Claire Burgess’ post ‘The importance of eating out with your children’ for more insights.
Should I get my child involved in the kitchen?
Absolutely! It can be messy and it can be time consuming but it’s a great opportunity for you to help your little one develop some really important skills and have some fun together! From understanding and following instructions, to learning about different foods, looking at words, being creative and talking about weights and measures, cooking ticks a huge amount of boxes.
You can get them pouring, mixing and even chopping safely with the doddl knife. It’s also more likely your little one will try new foods if they have been part of creating them – even if it’s just a mouthful, it’s a great way to introduce new textures and tastes!
I need some new ideas for food at mealtimes. Any suggestions?
There are a huge amount of resources offering healthy recipes for your toddler – and you can add doddl to that list!
Have a look at the recipes in our blog section, and don’t forget, your little one can use their doddl cutlery to help prepare them as well as gobbling them up at mealtimes.
Should I keep different types of foods on my child’s plate separate, or serve food as I would serve myself?
Whilst the plates that have separate food sections can be very beautiful, we think presenting food how we would normally eat it as an adult is the best way to go. By doing this you are helping to build familiarity with the way your little one will eat as they grow up, avoiding a sense that food should be kept separate on a plate.
My baby is always really tired when I sit them down for mealtimes. How should I best manage this?
It’s all in the timing, so maybe shake things up a bit. As much as you may want your little one eating with you – and it does definitely offer benefits – it only really works if they are in a good state of mind, not completely zonked out.
If you’re finding evening mealtimes aren’t working, you can move their main meal to lunchtime. And be flexible, if even lunchtime becomes the wrong time, just give a snack like a piece of toast or banana and let them sleep.
Afterwards you will have so much more chance of sharing an enjoyable mealtime. Having positive experiences at mealtimes is so important for your child’s development and their relationship with food. So, forget the routine, by doing this you’re setting them up for success by avoiding times when they are tired and grumbly!
I want to allow my baby to self-feed but I’m worried about the inevitable mess. What can I do?
Sometimes it just needs saying that there is no ‘perfect’ mealtime with a toddler. It is quite often messy and quite often noisy. But just like everything with your child, it’s a phase, so embrace it and prepare as best you can! Setting your little one up for success is essential.
If they enjoy the experience, they’ll be more focused on eating and exploring the food and less on throwing it. Obviously, the more they get in their mouth, the less will end up on the floor and down their fronts. To achieve this, the right gear is important. Choosing an appropriate highchair can have a big impact on your child’s ability to eat successfully, have a look at our blog.
Buying a bib that helps keep some of the mess off the floor and clothes can ease the clear up time (and there are plenty of good ones on the market). Likewise, choosing the right cutlery to make it as easy as possible for them to get the food from their tray to their mouths will help build confidence and skills at mealtimes (doddl!). And even if there is mess, which no doubt there will be, the only question that really matters is whether you both enjoy the experience!