There are different reasons why your toddler may be ready for the transition from a highchair to a table. The signs I look for are:
• If the toddler has out grown the highchair (legs and feet are dangling over the foot rest or the tray doesn’t slide in securely)
• If the toddler figures out how to climb out of the highchair (even if strapped in)
• If the toddler clearly shows signs of not wanting to be in the highchair and is at the right age to transition to the table.
• If the toddler is around the average age of 16 months to 18 months.
When he is ready for this transition, I securely seat the little one in a toddler size chair at the toddler size table.
For the first few weeks, I use what I like to call a “seat belt” which is a strap with plastic clasps on the ends. This is so the toddler gets used to sitting in a chair, to prevent falling out of the sides, or to prevent injury if the little one wants to try to stand on the chair. Overtime, after the little one gets accustomed to sitting in the chair, the “seat belt” will no longer be necessary.
It’s my suggestion to find a toddler size chair that is low to the floor and have supportive legs to help prevent the chair from flipping over. I prefer the type of chair that I could easily stack when not in use. To go along with the low chair, the toddler size table should be low enough for the little one to reach the toddler cup and plate while sitting comfortably in the chair.
Another option ~ is to purchase a booster seat that attaches to a stable kitchen chair. This will give the little one an opportunity to sit at the kitchen table with the family. Most booster seats come with a strap to secure the seat on the kitchen chair and a strap to buckle in the little one to keep him from sliding out or falling out.
Transitioning from using fingers to using utensils ~ is the next step after getting accustomed to eating at the table with a plate. At around the age of 18 months old, I start introducing a toddler size fork by setting it next to the plate during lunch. Naturally the toddler will grab the fork and explore with it. I let them play with it the first couple of days and then show them how to poke their food with it. I hold the fork in front of him and let him grab it. Once the fork is being held, I guide the fork as I show him how to poke the food. I find poking the food is easier and less messy for toddlers than scooping. I suggest starting with food that is easy to poke with a toddler size (blunt) fork.
Once, the toddler is accustomed to using a fork, I introduce the toddler size spoon with foods like yogurt, refried beans, oatmeal etc. I show him how to scoop with the spoon generally in the same way I guided him with the fork. The spoon can be a little more challenging, but the more they try, the easier it gets.
As far as using a toddler knife, I usually do not offer the use of a knife to toddlers. However, knives (blunt ones) could be introduced when they are a little older or around the age of three years old.
When shopping for toddler size utensils, look for utensils with a wide plastic handle. This is easier for the toddlers to grip onto. Look for a stainless steel top surface as they last longer and are easy to keep clean and sanitized. They usually come in a set of all three (fork, spoon, and knife).
CAUTION NOTE: Keep in mind that certain foods can be a choking hazard. If you are not sure which foods to feed toddlers, my suggestion is to connect with your Pediatrician or search for trusted websites for valuable information like:
Kids Health @ http://kidshealth.org
Baby Center @ www.babycenter.com
Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food @ http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/forbiddenbabyfood.htm
Your Pediatrician’s office should have guidelines to follow concerning portions, required foods to be served under the categories of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and breads.
Hope you found this to be helpful,