Teaching Toddlers Table Skills
Skill: using a fork and spoon
When he'll get it: Some kids start trying to use utensils for eating -- rather than banging on their feeding tray -- soon after turning 1, but most won't get a real handle on it until they're between 15 and 18 months.
How you can help: Your child will need a lot of practice to get this down, so don't be worried if he doesn't steer every scoop of food right into his mouth at first. A toddler-size spoon and fork (see below) will give him a boost.
Skill: using a napkin
When he'll get it: A baby can start to mimic this action by 10 months, but between 18 and 24 months he'll begin to understand why it's necessary, and can do it when you ask.
How you can help: Show him how you wipe -- and remind him to do it as well -- during every meal. He'll eventually learn that a messy mouth or messy fingers means it's time to reach for a napkin.
Skill: drinking through a straw
When he'll get it: Sometime in the second year.
How you can help: It's tough to show someone how to slurp, so just keep offering him a straw -- try a firm, thick rubber one, which is gentle on a tender mouth -- until he figures it out.