A few friends have asked about the Doddl cutlery range (UK here) (AU here). Without seeing it in person or using it, I couldn't form a firm opinion or recommendation. The Doddl set is recommended for children 1-5yrs, so I decided to test it with my four-year-old. 🍽
Doddl cutlery is recommended by feeding and development experts, but how does it rate from a Montessori perspective? When you pick up the cutlery, you can feel how it is designed for little hands. The plastic (BPA and Phthalates free) handles are chunky and easy to grip. I suggest the fork and spoon are for children starting their feeding journey, perhaps for 1 to 2-year-olds. By three or four years, most children will be able to use cutlery with standard handles. Dr Montanaro in Understanding the Human Being suggests that children as young as 9 months can use a small fork, Polk Lillard and Lillard Jessen in Montessori from the Start suggest introducing a fork between twelve to fourteen months.
Bissonnette in Babies Build Toddlers: A Montessori Guide to Parenting the First 18 Months emphasises the need to give children tools that look like adult tools and to consider the social aspect of mealtime, "The second step in balancing the independence of self-feeding with inclusion in the family meal is with the tools the child uses. It may be all well and good that the child is at the family table, but if everything the child uses to eat with looks different than everyone else's, they will see their meatimes as "separate" and "different". This isn't only a precursor to picky eating, but it is also a form of social exclusion from the meal. If instead, we aim to give tools that look like everyone else's, they see themselves as part of this greater social experience.". Bissonnette suggests using short-handled utensils such as a cake fork or "tea" spoon.
The mouth of the Doddl spoon is wider than the Montessori-style weaning spoons; however, a Montessori-style 'first' or weaning spoon is initially to be used by the caregiver to feed the young child, while perhaps the Doddl spoon is designed for the child to feed themselves; the wider spoon being better to scoop up the food. So I wouldn't say the Doddl cutlery is a Montessori option, but use what appeals to you; if you are going with baby lead weaning, then the Doddl spoon (and fork) may work really well.
The knife is a little different! Unlike crinkle cutters (popular in Montessori homes) the Doddl knife is designed for little hands. Because it is designed specifically for children from 18 months, it may be safer to use than the crinkle cutter. The Doddl knife can cut through foods just as well as crinkle cutters, and I 100% would have used this with my toddlers. The Doddl knife has teeth, and to cut through firmer foods, it helps to push forwards into a slicing/cutting motion. Therefore being a preliminary step in teaching children how to use a knife. The handle is nice, it's small and easy to grip. The Doddl knife is a good alternative to a crinkle cutter.
Our Doddl knife came in a cutlery set; however, the Doddl knife is available separately (UK here). My four-year-old is using the knife to cut carrots, and a toddler could use this to cut cheese, banana, strawberries, melon and other soft foods.
There are so very many cutlery/flatware options for young children. Use what you have, buy second-hand, or shop local if you can. We use or recommend these options.
We currently use cutlery by Kiddobloom, Lovevery (with Montessori-style placemat and napkins) and the personalised set from Etsy. Montessori Mates (AU) and Montessori Services are both good sources of Montessori knowledge and tools. The Oneida has been recommended to me many times, initially found via Michael Olaf.
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you so much for your support!