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Use a knife and fork

Activities to try

  • Tearing paper (perhaps make a collage)
  • Paper rubbings
  • Drawing around templates
  • Baking – mixing in a bowl
  • Threading beads


Helpful Hints

  • Consider the size of your cutlery – full adult size cutlery does not always fit comfortably in a child’s smaller hands
  • Moulded cutlery can aid finger placement
  • Ensure children’s cutlery has a good enough blade to cut through foods to promote independence
  • If the child’s hands often slip down the cutlery – try placing an elastic band around the handle, and opt for a more cylindrical handle as oppose to a flat metal handle


Knife and Fork Practice

Before trying with food, practice with Playdoh or plasticine.

  • Practice stabbing with a fork (and not all the way down to the plate) e.g. pick up playdough peas
  • Practice using the knife to knock playdough off the fork carefully (no fingers allowed)
  • Practice the slicing ‘to and fro’ action, not pushing down, and keeping the knife upright; not on an angle
  • Practice keeping the ‘cutting’ elbow tucked into the body – holding a beanbag against the body can help


Other hints and tips!

  • When progressing to cutting food, give your child opportunities to practise these skills at times other than mealtimes. Start with easy foods such as pieces of boiled potato, carrot, fish fingers, toast, pieces of fruit and cheese
  • Show your child how to begin cutting a little way from, and in front of, where the fork is planted. So often children begin to cut very close to the fork and find that they are trying to cut through the prongs of the fork!
  • Teach them to listen out for the noise that will tell them that is what is happening
  • Your child may also need to practise turning the fork from the scooping position to the stabbing position and back again
  • Many children find it difficult to organise the food on their plates. They may try to cut too near the edge of the plate or with the food at an awkward angle. You can help by not putting much food on the plate to start with, and giving second helpings after some has been eaten. Show your child how to use the knife and fork to position the food in order to cut it. This can also be practised with Playdoh