Teach a toddler: How to eat properly (scoop, slide, & bend)


I’m not sure about you but I have low tolerance for sloppy eaters. This weakness proves to be more challenging when you are teaching a little person so new to this world how to eat cleanly.

Note that I didn’t say properly? It’s because every culture in the world has their own standards for proper eating or dining, but at least people will generally get the meaning of what it means to eat cleanly.

After the primary lessons on how to use cutlery to put food in his gummy mouth, it took awhile before I came up with scoop, slide and bend concept. The idea came naturally one day as my son struggled to eat Udon noodle soup without drips on the table and on his clothes.

Image from NYTimes.com

To scoop is to basically dig the spoon into the bowl of soup. To slide is to touch the bottom of the spoon to the rim of the bowl to remove drips. To bend is for the child to bend his upper body, enough that his head encroaches on the bowl’s air space, to sip the soup from the spoon.

The bending part took awhile before he would do it without being told. Once learned, he practices it with any food that has liquid like cereal with milk and soupy noodles. There are still drips, but fewer and far in between nowadays. He even calls on himself when it happens.

I first taught him to scoop his other hand under the filled spoon as it traveled from the bowl to his mouth. This only works for older children who have more muscle control in their hands and fingers. I’m not sure about other kids, but my child can only comfortably and successfully eat with one piece of cutlery at a time. If you have managed to do it, please let me know how you did it. 🙂

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