Getting Toddlers to Feed Themselves
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- 18 month old still needs to be spoon fed- help!
- 14 Month Old Not Self Feeding
- Teaching 15 month old to feed himself
My daughter just turned 18 mos and we are struggling tremendously with getting her to self feed, eat any table or finger foods and stopping mashed or chunky purees. She breastfed very well for 14 mos and moved easily to stage 2 purees, but when we attempted stage 3 foods around 8 mos old, she would start to gag and spit it out. Anything with even a little bit of texture would cause her to gag/choke and then refuse any further attempts. We tried all the ''normal'' 1st finger foods but she showed no interest in them, would not even pick them up, would push them away, etc. So we kept going with the stage 2 purees.
We slowly worked on adding small textures and now she no longer gags, but she still can not eat whole bits of food, so everything still needs to be soft, mashed or diced and mixed with a puree - and spoon fed! She can self feed only a very few limited things: crackers, raspberries, spoonfuls of peanut butter but is getting better at using a spoon which we assist with by holding her arm lightly and guiding her. She will not touch or pick up most foods with her fingers and shows no interest in this - in fact she cries, pushes it away, throws it, etc. Needless to say mealtimes are not enjoyable for any of us.
She is happy, healthy and normal developmentally in every other way, though she has been on the later end of some milestones (i.e. crawling @11 mos, walking @16). Her pincer grasp is fine, she puts EVERYTHING else in her mouth, she drinks milk just fine, holds her own sippy cups. She is very smiley, talkative (has over 60 words), interactive, affectionate, curious, etc.
While researching this I read a bit about possible sensory integration disorders but we see no other symptoms except the food issues. She weighs 26 pounds (50th percentile) and has always been ''perfect on the growth curve''. With some urging from us our ped did finally agree to send us for an eval with an OT at Children's. Unfortunately, it was not very helpful, no formal diagnosis and we were just encouraged us to continue adding new foods, praising efforts, etc.
Has anyone else gone through this (limited self feeding, still spoon feeding at 18 months, almost no table foods, very limited diet) and have any words of advice for us? Do you think this is just another milestone she is slower on or is there something more going on? Looking for support and wisdom from others who have gone through this! What helped your children? I know she won't go to college still being spoon fed, but I really want her to be a bit more independent and interested in food. I worry about her going to preschool around age 2 and not being able to self- feed or eat like the other children. HELP! Samantha
Yes, I'm afraid this is one of those milestones that you just have to wait out. It doesn't matter much what you want in this situation, you have a child whose reality is different than yours and there's nothing you can do but get used to the idea and keep trying. If the OT did not have specific suggestions and the baby is gaining and growing, just keep offering healthy foods and model enjoying eating a variety of foods, and she will eventually learn how to deal with textures. She sounds like a lovely person all around.
Help! My 14mo does not have interest in self feeding.
He picks up the cherrios and shows them to me, and for a few days I was able to guide his own hand to his mouth. But now he resists and crys until I hand feed him the cheerios. I don't want to create weird eating/power issues so I give in, hoping that he will take an interest, but sheeze he's 14mo. Is that normal?
He is a great little spoon-fed eater, and seems to really enjoy it, complete with ''mmmmm'' sounds, from yogurt with flax seed oil and pears, to sweet potatoes, squash, avocado, and chard to peas, rice and chicken. So he is eating well rounded meals, but he just waves his spoons around, drums on the tray, etc.
We load his spoons and try to guide his hands to his mouth, but no dice. We try to load his spoons and let him naturally find his mouth, no dice. We leave a puddle or a bowl so he can explore and scoop, no dice.
What is frustrating is that I can show him some new feature on a toy and he totally gets it within minutes, and remembers days later, so I don't think it is lack of understanding or ability to comprehend.
He still does not have teeth so we were slow to introduce finger foods, but now I wonder if we waited too long. How can we encourage him to self-feed without a power struggle, we are doing the principle of Ellen Satler (sp?) - Parents provide the food and the child determines how much to eat, and in our case he totally eats like crazy --but only if we feed him. How do we get him to feed himself?
We practice attachment parenting, so don't want to do anything to violate his trust but how do we do this?
The variability in children's development is so wide. Think of all the other things your son has learned to do in the past 14 months. Big deal if he likes it when you feed him- I'm sure in a few months or less he'll be shoving everything in his mouth and making a huge mess. Enjoy the time now when you have control! I'd advise you to keep feeding him yourself and always put some food on his tray so that he can play with it, hold it up for you to comment on, or stick in his mouth. He'll pick it up eventually. At least that's what I keep telling myself- my daughter has been potty-training for a year! Anon
I almost laughed out loud when I read your post, as I wish my daughter were a little LESS interested in self-feeding! I'm kidding, really, it's just that it's SOOOO MESSY when she feeds herself, I prefer when she lets me do it!
I say, don't worry about it, it'll happen when he's ready. He's not going to go to college (or high-school or elementary school) needing you to feed him. He'll probably be feeding himself before he's two, certainly before he's three! You're doing jsut fine, and so is he Alesia
My son similarly was not self-feeding at this age. It was heartbreaking to have his first birthday party and not get to see him stuff cake in his mouth. BUT he was also late crawling, walking, and talking, too. Turns out he had a global developmental delay. Now he's a sassy 7-year-old who's reading but has sloppy handwriting and isn't exactly a star on the playground. My advice would be to ask the Regional Center to assess your child. If there is a delay, you can enroll in one of the many excellent local early intervention programs --Sarah in Oakland
I have a 15 month old son who has not learn to feed himself and basically will not try. How should I get him to master this and when should he? Bobbie
Anytime I want my son to do anything eating-related (i.e. try a new food), I've put him in his chair -- perhaps given him his milk or something very ordinary to eat (not his favorite food), and eaten the new thing myself -- expressing pleasure (but not in an overdone way). Pretty soon he is begging for whatever it is. I am wondering if something like this would work for you.
Do you eat your meals where he can see you? Do you use spoons and forks where he can watch, or eat the kind of finger foods he could eat in his presence? If not now, then pretty soon, imitation is going to become his favorite thing to do, so maybe this would do it. Karen