Thursday, 10 May 2018

Easier Meal Times with Little Ones {Ft. Nana's manners}

I'm pretty sure most parents find meal time a struggle at some time or another in their child's development.
We've always had the problem of getting them to just sit down and eat a full meal; They usually want to wander off for half an hour and then come back or just won't eat only to be hungry an hour later!
 Quite often I think we probably expect too much in hoping they'll sit quietly and concentrate on eating but I do know that meal times are important. Sitting down together to eat as a family is something we've always tried to do as often as we can. I noticed as TJ started to get older that the more you involve children with the process of making a meal and the importance you place to them on eating together, the happier they actually are to sit down and eat. Meal times always seem to be much more successful when I've given them both jobs to do; even little E will carry cups and little plates in! When TJ cooks with me he'll always eat everything, even some vegetables he'd previously refused! I think often we think things are easier when we just get on with them ourselves- I'm one of those people- trying to get everything done as quickly and mess free as possible, but quite often just slowing things down a bit and letting your children try can be a whole new learning experience.
To be honest although I find it important that we all eat together I'd not really considered how we were teaching our children to eat. We usually give them plastic knives and forks which aren't brilliant and really not that easy for them to use, but normal cutlery is just too long and heavy!

 Visiting the Harrogate Nursery fair last month, we go the chance to meet with Kathryn and her husband Chris who are just lovely. They were really excited to tell us more about their company, Nana's Manners. 
Nana's Manners because, well who knows better than Grandma!?

Kathryn is a mum and teacher who came up with the idea for cutlery that was specially designed to teach children how to properly use a knife and fork. Working in a primary school Kathryn discovered that so many of the children were unable to hold their cutlery in an effective way and struggled to eat properly using the usual plastic or miniature cutlery most children are given. She decided to design her own range of kids cutlery that would help them to develop their confidence and motor skills when eating, and make meal times more positive and enjoyable.
The cutlery has an ergonomic design that is light and comfortable to hold, and the shape enables children to form the correct grip using three fingers to get them used to holding their knife and fork effectively.

Not being able to actually eat their food independently can be a real source of frustration for young children, and something I've definitely noticed as a parent. If children aren't given the right tools for the job so to speak, they get frustrated quickly and will either give up or revert backwards. My children have often taken to using their cutlery when they really have to and I've seen them just giving up and using their fingers instead! Although he is only two, little E has wanted to feed himself almost as soon as he started eating, I think it is naturally inbuilt for children to want to be in charge of eating their own food.

The Nana's Manners range are not sold as being suitable for under three's due to the knife edge being serrated; Kathryn told me how she made this decision as she wanted the knife to be safe for children but wanted it to actually be able to cut food.
For kids it's that feeling of "Yes, I can do this!"
Kathryn has great enthusiasm and passion for her products; so much thought has gone into the designs and she clearly has a vision to help improve children's abilities and make meal times a positive family experience. Alongside the cutlery range she has created a range of conversation cards which are really inventive prompts to get kids talking at the table and engaging in discussion.

Kathryn and Chris kindly gave us some of their cutlery for TJ to try out and I was keen to see how he'd get on; at nearly six and a leftie I wondered whether he would find using them a different experience.
Although I loved the idea, I'll admit I wasn't sure I'd see much of a difference because of his age and using other cutlery for so long. I'm really pleased to say that they far exceeded my expectations! Of course he loved their bright colour and unusual design but he picked up holding them properly pretty much immediately. They do come with super handy little stickers to show them where to put their fingers but as soon as I showed him how to hold them he was away. The feedback from TJ was that he found it so much easier to eat and how soft and comfy they were to hold. He really loves his Nana's Manners cutlery and not only uses them with every meal but eats everything!
We also love the conversation cards, they're such a great idea to get some unusual topics going; especially after school when it's hard to get much out of him! 

As I mentioned before, they are not sold as suitable for under three's and I do of course support that but I did let little E have a try with them as he has used normal cutlery before (and I was keeping a close eye of course) and I couldn't believe that he was able to use them properly too! It seems the shape of the handles just make it so easy for children to find them comfortable enough to use correctly, apparently even at two years old!
(Again I am not suggesting that you give them to under three's, this was just my decision based on my knowledge of my little one, his capabilities and always under our supervision!)

Nanas's Manners is a growing company doing amazingly well; they appeared on Dragons Den (with great success) and have scooped up a number of awards for their brilliant concept.
Talking to Kathryn and Chris about why they branded their product Nana's Manners, they explained how as parents we tend to buy a lot of thing for our children that are often impractical or maybe something that our mum's would tell us are just not necessary, from their own experience. Nana is about things which are practical, useful and made to last, values they felt really related to their product.
After our experience with their fantastic cutlery, I have to agree. These are a great idea and something I'd go as far to say was a real essential in getting your child ready for school and eating independently with confidence.

I'm so please we've been introduced to such a great product that is already proving it's worth in our home.
I know Nana's Manners have other plans in the pipeline and I'm really looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

You can find out more about Nana's Manners on their website, and you can see more of their fab cutlery in action on their Instagram hashtag #ALLBYMYSELF

Here's a peek of Kathryn and Chris in front of the Dragons!

NB Nana's Manners kindly gifted us these items however they did not ask us to write this, and all opinions are entirely our own.


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