This is Sophie's weaning table. We've had it since Sophie was nine months old.
She began learning how to set the table by watching me do it.
She started to set the table herself when she was walking steadily, at around 12 months. There is no documentation of any of that because I had my hands full, spotting and guiding her.
When I felt she was ready, we emptied one of our low kitchen shelves to make room for Sophie's dishes and utensils.
This is what her shelf looks like these days (She's 17 months old.) I only added the glass this week.
The shelf is supposed to hold ALL of her napkins, cutlery, pitchers, etc. But I tried that, and Sophie took all the items (not just one of each) and brought them to the table and played. I'll keep trying periodically to see when she's ready to take only what she needs.
To set her table, Sophie first takes her rolled placemat in her hand and brings it to her table.
She then places her napkin, fork and spoon on her tray and brings the tray to the table. Toddlers love to work hard, so she enjoys walking back and forth.
Next, she brings her glass.
I usually end up bringing the little towel myself. I'm also still in charge of bringing her tiny water pitcher.
Here she was at 16 months:
Yesterday was the first day she carried her breakfast in her little plate herself. She's very proud and happy.
Now, this is not something expected to happen perfectly and right away. It's happening over time, with repetition.
Actually, when she first learned it, she did it exactly the way I showed her a few times, but after that, there have been ups and downs of sorts.
Some days, while setting the table, she might do things in a different order, or she might skip the tray and carry her stuff in her hand, or she might experiment with setting the placemat in a corner or even chew on the placemat for a second if she's teething. When that happens, I try to gently redirect her after a little while. I try not to correct her or interrupt is she's discovering something new.
Other days, she goes to her shelf on her own, opens it, and sets her table without any guidance. This is usually when she's quite hungry.
The idea is that she will be able to take care of herself and her environment by the age of three. We're advancing slowly and enjoying the process, which is the most important part—not the end result.