As you introduce solid foods to your children and encourage them to go ahead with eating with the help of spoons, you may wonder about the safety of silverware for babies.
There can be several other utensil options as well. Some may consider plastic, but its safety becomes a concern since it may contain potentially harmful BPA and phthalates. This brings us to the use of silverware for babies and if they can be a better and safer alternative.
Read on to know about the safety of silverware for babies.
Is It Good To Use Silver Cutlery For A Baby?
Parents in many cultures use silver cutlery while feeding young children. You may even have received silver bowls and spoons as gifts during the baby shower or on your baby’s first birthday. When transitioning your baby to solid foods, it could be tempting to use the gorgeous silver-plated baby Christening spoon your granny gave you.
However, while silverware is a good choice for babies, you need to keep certain things in mind before you start using it – one of which is knowing when you can start using it. Also, make sure the items are made of pure silver and not alloys of silver with cadmium or other metals.
When Can You Start Using Silverware For Babies?
When you first start feeding solid foods to your child, it is a good idea to use a silicone or rubber spoon. At this early stage, the child may bite on the spoon and chew it due to the teething pain. A silver spoon at this initial stage could hurt the insides of the child’s mouth. Choose a customized baby spoon that has been designed factoring in the fact that the cutlery may touch the sides of the baby’s mouth and their lips and gums during the feeding process.
By the time the baby is about six to nine months, they start getting curious about cutlery and try to grab the spoon with which you feed them. And by the time they are 14 months, they learn to dip the spoon into their food and bring it to their mouth. Start them off with a specially designed baby spoon, while you can continue to use silver spoons.
By the age of around 24 months, you may offer silver spoons to the child as they are now more adept at using one on their own with decent motor control. This improved motor control ensures that the spoon smoothly goes in and out without scraping against the sides of the mouth or gums (1).
Benefits Of Using Silverware For Babies
The following are a few proven benefits of using silverware while feeding your baby.
- Antimicrobial properties: The antimicrobial properties of silver have been well-documented by researchers, which gives you a valid reason for transitioning to silver cutlery for your little one. Silver is known to kill bacteria, fungi, and certain viruses and has a long history of use in medical, personal care, and domestic applications. Given the findings, you can rest assured that microbes cannot remain on your silver cutlery for long (2) (3).
- Low maintenance: Since silver utensils can be cleaned, sterilized, and dried quickly, they are easy to maintain. You can load silverware into the dishwasher or give it a good wash by hand using a mild cleaning agent and warm water. If you would like to sterilize it, you can also gently lower the silver spoons and baby-feeding bowls in hot water and let them soak for a few minutes.
- Non-toxic: Some metals, such as mercury and lead, are toxic to humans. However, silver is non-toxic and perfectly safe for use in the kitchen. It is not known to have adverse effects on human health. Even if ingested accidentally, silver passes through the body and is expelled naturally, meaning it does not get absorbed into the tissues (4).
- BPA-free: Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical that goes into many plastic products, including cutlery, containers used to store water and food, and the linings of infant formula and food cans. This chemical hardens plastic (5). BPA can seep into the food or water and affect your child’s brain and prostate gland and lead to behavioral changes in them (6). Using silver baby feeding bowls and silver spoons is an excellent way to avert the risk of BPA from plastics leaching into the baby’s food, especially if you tend to use bowls for storing baby food.
- Phthalate-free: Phthalates are used in the manufacture of PVC and other plastics. Apart from the antiandrogenic effects, phthalates are also believed to impact children’s psychomotor abilities and cognitive functions (7). Thus, if you are looking for phthalate-free utensils for your child, silver is a great option.
- Long life and resilience: The food-grade baby feeding bowls you find in the market have a limited shelf life, while the glass containers are difficult to manage with an active baby at home, and they also present a risk of injury if they shatter. With silver, both these problems are eliminated. You can use silver utensils for years on end and pass them on to the next generation without any qualms. It is also unbreakable, so a few drops and knocks may scratch or dent it but won’t damage it beyond use. More importantly, there is no risk of silver breaking into shards and injuring the child.
Types Of Silverware Available For Babies
Silver kitchen sets include the following.
- Silver bowl: The advantage of silver bowls is that you can store both hot and cold foods in them without worry. Make sure you have a bowl with a proper-fitting lid so that you can quickly cover the food when the child gets distracted in the middle of a feeding session. A bowl comes in handy while storing baby food items, including soups, semi-solids, and solids, or even finger foods for a baby who is just exploring eating on their own.
- Silver plate: This is an ideal utensil for letting your baby explore eating on their own or get a feel of solid foods. A silver plate could be an add-on to a bowl, or you could use it as a substitute for one if it has enough depth for your child to scoop out food effortlessly.
- Silver spoon: A well-designed silver spoon is a great alternative to plastic feeding spoons, which usually contain harmful chemicals. Silver spoons can also be used for a long time and are hygienic.
- Silver glassware: Once you have accustomed the child to drinking directly from a cup, giving them a silver cup glassware is ideal. You can leave milk, water, or other liquids in it for long without the risk of any chemicals leaking into the edible item.
Tips On Using Silverware For Babies
Keep these tips in mind when introducing silverware to your baby.
- Choose a lightweight product that is handy enough for the child to clutch securely in their little hands.
- Avoid giving them adult-sized glasses that may be prone to slipping out of their grip owing to their diameter and weight.
- Glasses that come with handles make drinking from them easier for the child.
- Always check and recheck if the edges are smooth and well-rounded. Sharp edges may cut the child’s soft lips when they drink from the cup or glass.
- When feeding solid foods to your little one, give them a small silver bowl they can hold easily.
- An active, curious child is sure to grab things they can lay their hands on. Thus, ensure the silver bowl you are using is easy to hold and not too big to be easily knocked out of your hands.
- When your toddler is old enough to eat directly from the bowl, get one that is easy for them to grab.
- Give your baby a slightly heavier bowl so that it doesn’t tip over when the child dips the spoon to scoop out the food.
- Silver spoons are usually heavy, so get one that is designed for children and is light enough for them to handle.
- Avoid ornate silver spoons and bowls because these are tough to clean. Also, food particles may stick within the intricate designs.
- Short-handled silver spoons are best for toddlers to maneuver easily without much spillage.
- The edges of the silver spoons meant for the child must be well-rounded. This helps avoid cuts and bruises inside the child’s mouth or on the lips.
- Use a slightly heavy plate that will not flip over when the child scoops up food from it.
- Ensure it is not excessively heavy because there is a risk of the baby pulling it off the table and hurting their foot.
- Ensure your baby’s plate has no sharp edges.
- Plates with some depth and high-rounded edges are a good choice because they reduce spillage.
How To Clean Silver Vessels?
You may clean your baby’s silverware with warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid. Silverware can also go into the dishwasher. However, silverwares are prone to scratches, so avoid putting too many at one go.
Generally, if you keep using your silver bowls, spoons, and glasses, you will hardly find tarnishes in them. However, these tips might help you get your baby’s silverware back to its pristine shine if it loses its sheen. Here is how you should clean tarnished silver cutlery:
- Place a sheet of aluminum foil in a large, flat bowl. The shiny side faces upwards.
- Arrange the tarnished spoons and bowls over the foil in a row.
- Pour in hot water, so all the utensils are submerged.
- Sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda.
- Leave it for some time, and you will see the foil absorbing the tarnish and the utensils acquiring a lovely sparkle and shine.
- Take them out and clean them thoroughly with soap and water.
- Rinse them thoroughly with water to get rid of all the baking soda.
- Dry them with a soft cloth to make them ready for use.
Can You Use Silver Utensils For Acidic Foods?
While silver is not toxic and does not affect the taste of most foods, some foods may taste different if you store and serve them in silver utensils. In particular, acidic foods may change in taste if stored in silver utensils. They may also tarnish the silver. Eggs may also taste different when eaten off silver bowls or plates due to the sulfur content that reacts with the silver (8).
Silverware offers many advantages, making it a great choice for use when feeding your toddler. Choose spoons, bowls, and plates that are easy to handle, quick to clean, and safe to use to make feeding time more fun and worry-free.
2. Wilson Sim et al.; Antimicrobial Silver in Medicinal and Consumer Applications: A Patent Review of the Past Decade (2007–2017); Antibiotics (Basel) (2018).
3. Silver. A powerful weapon against microbes; Coloplast Group
4. The Facts on Silver; Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program
5. BPA and the Controversy about Plastic Food Containers; National Capital Poison Center
6. Nutrition and healthy eating; Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER)
7. Stephanie M. Engel et al.; Neurotoxicity of Ortho-Phthalates: Recommendations for Critical Policy Reforms to Protect Brain Development in Children; American Journal of Public Health
8. It Turns Out Silver Spoons Make Food Taste Awful; Vice