Montessori Mealtime: The Case For Breakables with Baby's First Solids
Why Montessori encourages the use of real tableware in young children, and some tips on where to find suitable options
The Guidepost Team
In Montessori learning, many parents are surprised to see real cutlery and delicate plate wear available to young toddlers and preschoolers. Trust with breakables actually starts in infancy. As soon as a baby can drink water and begin solid foods, parents can skip sippy cups and plastic mealtime accessories all together in favor of high-quality alternatives that engage more Practical Life skills.
Why? When given concrete guidance, babies and toddlers are quite capable to care for real, breakable materials as part of their intrinsic motivation to gain independence. Part of being independent is learning how to move and how to care for things of value. By trusting a child to use real plates, cups and utensils, they internalize a deeper respect for material objects within their environment.
Ok, but what if it’s not safe?
While there is more risk with a young child holding a glass, there is also more opportunity to learn and develop respect, precision, and control of movement.
The reservations we have around giving our children breakables is intuitive, though. Broken glass can result in sharp pieces that pose a hazard, and so using indestructibles might feel safer by eliminating this risk all together. However, when a glass breaks, it provides necessary and immediate feedback. If the child was running, banging, dropping or tossing their cup, the child correlates that their behavior caused the glass to break, and they will proceed with greater caution and self-awareness next time. Thus, by not shielding our children from this natural consequence, we are equipping them with the exact skillset needed to be safe in the long run.
Round-up: Montessori-inspired tableware:
Below, we've rounded up a selection of our favorite choices for Montessori-inspired tableware. Please note that all prices listed were accurate at the time of publishing, and may fluctuate. Please check the 'Buy Now' link for the most up to date pricing:
The DIY option:
As we highlighted in our piece about choosing a Montessori bed, before you purchase anything new, look at what you have in your home. Many parents give their children dessert forks and salad spoons from existing cutlery sets they already own — the smaller sized spoons and forks work very well for young children. Parents can also use dipping bowls as small bowls, or appetizer plates for smaller plates.
If you don't already own these items, you can also get creative when searching. Inputting 'dipping bowls' or 'side plates' into a search engine will often bring up smaller-sized options suitable for children. Our point is that what you use or buy doesn't have to branded as 'Montessori' to work.
Ikea – FABLER 3-Piece Flatware Set
Ikea is always reliable option from both a quality and price point of view, and this three-piece cutlery set for kids is no different. This flatware set, crafted from stainless steel is a perfect option for those practising the Montessori method at home. Reviewers rave about the durability, size and the fact that its dishwasher safe.
Price: $3.29 (USD)
Hutch - Kids Stainless Steel 4-Piece Cutlery Set
Hutch is a direct-to-consumer kitchenware company that ships worldwide. They know that children sometimes have trouble holding regular-sized cutlery, so they designed this stylish, durable utensil set. It’s crafted from stainless steel and is dishwasher safe.
Price: $19.99 (USD)
Onyx Containers – 4-Piece Children’s Cutlery Set
Onyx Containers is a retail and wholesale company dedicated to creating non-plastic alternatives for homes. Their stainless steel set includes a fork, a knife and two spoons. We've linked to a set below that you can buy from The Tickle Trunk, Onyx Container’s sister retail site, but you can also find their products at retail partners across the globe.
Price: $14.99 (USD)
Melissa and Doug – Stir and Serve 7-piece Cooking Set
We love this realistic cooking set for young kids from Melissa and Doug. Constructed from stainless steel and wood, this 7-piece set includes a whisk, ladle, spatula, slotted spoon, spaghetti server, wooden spoon, and holder.
Price: $24.99 (USD)
For Small Hands – Weaning Glasses
For Small Hands has child-sized weaning glasses, plates and cups. These juice classes, for example, encourage the development of independence and confidence in young children. Made from tempered, dishwasher-safe glass, they’re the ideal size for small hands. They also have a large selection of other tableware, bakeware and cookware for children.
Price: $9.99 (USD)
Ikea – Pokal Shot Glasses
As we suggested above, one option is to use items you may already own or buy things that aren’t necessarily 'Montessori-branded' but that fit the bill. Ikea shot glasses can double as weaning glasses for children.
Price: $4.99 (USD)
DELLING - Small Dipping Bowls
This set of 12 small dipping bowls is traditionally made to house condiments, but their compact size make them perfect for smaller children.
Price: $33.98 (USD)
Corelle - White Lunch Plates
Similar to the dipping bowls we linked above, these lunch plates from Corelle are an affordable way to start introducing real tableware into your child's mealtimes.
Price: $17.99 (USD), but varies depending on location
The Guidepost Team
The Guidepost Team is a group of writers and educators dedicated to helping demystify all things Montessori.
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