What to Look for When Choosing a First Fork
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Did you know that milestones for fork use start in early toddlerhood? Yep – and there are several different features to look for when choosing the first fork for your little one. Here are some tips to help you select a fork for your toddler’s age and stage.
First Fork: Scooping + Piercing Duo
When selecting a first fork for your 12-month-old toddler, choose one that they can both scoop and pierce food with. When learning a new skill (piercing) it’s easier for your toddler to be able to revert to a previously mastered skill (scooping) with the same utensil. This can help decrease frustration during the initial learning phase and keep your tot focused on eating (not trying to switch between a fork and spoon). The ezpz Mini Utensils includes a fork that a toddler can easily scoop and pierce food with.
Features of a First Fork: the ability to scoop and pierce food with the same utensil
First Fork: Sensory Input
You don’t want to use a fork that has a physical barrier (separating the fork bowl from the handle), as it stops your toddler from learning how to properly (and safely) place a fork into their mouth. Instead, choose a fork that provides sensory input to help with proper placement of the fork. The Mini Fork has sensory bumps on the fork bowl to support tactile learning and decrease choking episodes commonly associated with fork use.
Features of a First Fork: sensory bumps to support tactile learning and increase safety
First Fork: Slightly Rounded Tines
Metal tines and sharp tips should be avoided when choosing a safe fork. You want a fork that is strong enough to spear, but not so strong that it could injure your child’s face, tongue, lips or tender gum line. From a safety standpoint, your 12-month-old toddler is still mastering their hand-to-mouth skills, so choosing a fork with slightly rounded tines can boost the safety factor. That’s why ezpz chose strong nylon for the head of the spoon + fork, as this improves a toddler’s scooping / piercing abilities in a safe way. The ezpz Mini Feeding Set includes a first fork and a suction plate; the stable base of the plate helps toddlers learn to pierce food successfully.
Features of a First Fork: slightly rounded tines that will still pierce food easily
First Fork: Handle Size
Eating with a fork is a developmental milestone that can be frustrating for your toddler, especially if you offer a fork that is difficult for them to hold on to. Choose a fork with a short, fat, round silicone handle that supports their whole palm. When I teach toddlers how to hold the handle of a fork, I practice using the Play Mat or Mini Play Mat. That way they can practice holding the fork and piercing food six times (since the flower compartment has six spaces to place food in). This playful practice makes motor planning to the mouth ezpz!
Features of a First Fork: short, fat, round handle that supports their whole palm
Advanced Fork Skills: Once you have chosen a first fork for your toddler, be sure to have it available at each meal. This will encourage daily practice and increase their confidence in self-feeding. After months of consistency and success with a first fork, your toddler may be ready to advance their fork skills. When choosing an advanced fork for older toddlers / preschoolers, select a fork with longer tines that can pierce multiple textured foods (such as salad). The Happy Fork is a larger fork that is included in the Happy Utensils Set, and it’s the perfect size for learning more advanced fork skills!
We hope these features will help you choose the best first fork for your little one. Be sure to tag us in your toddler utensil adventures by using our hashtag #ezpzfun.
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Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).