When Hollie was born in 2007 we received a huge amount of gifts, mainly I think because I had been so vocal over the years about the fact that I wasn't planning to expand our family beyond two children so family and friends I'd met since having Alice eight years earlier took the chance to buy me baby related goodies. I'd made a point of saying that I didn't want toys as gifts, soft toys have such a short lifespan, and wasn't particularly happy about receiving clothes either as I like to choose and buy my own baby clothes. I know that was expecting a lot from the various gift givers, but what I didn't want was people spending their hard earned cash on things I probably wouldn't make use of.
One item I received (and I have idea from who) was this beautiful spoon and fork set from Royal Doulton; obviously not something that would be used from birth but a set I adored from the moment I saw it so I put it away carefully, determined that this wasn't going to be one of those gifts I received and promptly forgot about until it was too late.
The spoon and fork come reasonably well displayed in a smart red box featuring a plastic covered cut out so you can see the design on the handles without unboxing them, the box has an illustration of what looks like Peter Rabbit (only wearing a red coat instead of his trademark blue one) and a row of the 'running bunnies' along the bottom to bring the design on the cutlery through to the packaging. It looks good, although to be honest if I were the designer for Royal Doulton I think I would have jazzed up the box a little considering it's sold as a gift item rather than something parents buy for their own offspring.
Both items are of perfect quality; we began using them when Hollie was around twenty months old as previous to that we had been using the plastic tipped spoons to avoid harming her delicate gums. At this point she had begun to feed herself pretty well so I decided now was the time to move her forward onto metal cutlery, this set being ideal as it contains just the two items rather than those odd sets which include a knife - which is invariably lost by the time your little one is old enough to start making use of any cutting utensils. This fork and spoon is marked as suitable for babies from one year old, but I personally would continue to use the plastic spoons past this age and move onto the harder metal type not before he or she reaches eighteen months.
The handles are made of Melamine which is both comfortable to hold for mum and baby, but is also highly durable. The metal ends of the fork and spoon are well secured to the handles and there's not so much as a wobble even after a good three years of use. I like the fact that the metal doesn't protrude too far from the handle as it gives a really well styled appearance, unlike many baby cutlery sets which honestly look and feel as though no thought has gone into the design at all. Despite the chunkiness of the handles these utensils retain a sleek appearance, part of this is down to the delicate bunny illustrations but mainly I think it's because such high quality materials have been used to make them.
The 'running bunnies', by the way, are wonderfully done. A row of four sweet looking rabbits who all seems to be racing towards the fork and spoon ends; these aren't amazingly detailed bunnies but have been rendered in the basic style that children seem to love. The fork and spoon handles are identical and I believe you can also purchase matching bowls and plates, although as the Running Bunny design is no longer widely available you might have to do a bit of hunting if you're hoping to collect the set.
Eating from the fork and spoon is very easy, both items are made to be child sized but can also be used by an adult (ie. me!) for foodstuffs where a normal sized fork is overkill. I often grab this fork when I'm eating fruit salad as the four prongs hold the fruit beautifully and are a perfect size to pick up one piece at a time! As far as its intended purpose goes, this set is ideal - the smaller than average fork and spoon heads are perfect for little mouths and I particularly like the way the fork prongs have been rounded off to avoid any stabbing accidents (or incidents!) at dinner time. The bowl of the spoon is shallower than on others I own for the smaller kids, this made it a bit of a nightmare when Hollie was eating soup or anything with a runny sauce/gravy but I can see why they've designed it like this, taking into account the fact that babies naturally have small mouths but will happily stuff in far too much food and risk choking. You physically cannot get 'too much' onto this spoon, which is a nuisance when I'm feeding the baby but perfect for when she is feeding herself.
Actually, I keep saying 'she' but really I should be adding 'he' as David (now nineteen months) has recently begun to use this Running Bunnies set and he's getting on brilliantly with them. If you class Bolognese sauce stained carpets and Cocoa Pop encrusted rugs as brilliant, that is. He's a messy sausage so I've held off with allowing him to feed himself too much, but I can see from the way he handles the spoon (he would definitely stab with the fork) that the handles are designed in a way to enable small children to grip them in the correct position for transporting the food to their mouths in a reasonably clean manner. Kind of.
Both the fork and spoon are dishwasher safe and have proved to be highly durable despite much use. I don't use a dishwasher but can confirm they come up beautifully clean by hand washing, the handles (being pristine white) were a bit of a worry when Hollie started to eat foods that would potentially stain but they wash up easily and completely with just a few small scratches that have developed over time.
Ideal for any meal size!