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Toddler Won’t Eat on His Own? How to Fix

Mother helping to feed her African American toddler

My toddler won’t eat by himself.

Having a toddler who can feed by himself is a joy to the parent, a guardian, or a caregiver. Toddlers are usually fed, and sometimes they may be disturbing during the activity. Many parents will feed after they are done feeding their children. Feeding a toddler several times a day is never a walk in the park. They may not be willing to eat, or they will do it while engaging in other activities. What may be annoying is even how they make their clothes dirty after every feeding. Getting your child feed himself is, therefore, an advantage to a parent who will at least get time to feed herself well.

How to get your child to eat by himself:

Let your toddler eat using their fingers.

Using fingers to feed is the first step to making your child learn how to feed by himself. Place a plate of solid foods on a plate and let them struggle to pick. You will realize they use the entire folded palm to catch the food. They will later attempt to use the whole hand to put the food in the mouth. The method is not very convenient because only a small portion of the picked food will land in his mouth.

Nevertheless, let them keep doing the same for a while. Offer soft solid foods that will not harm a toddler. You can choose to use crisps or cons explicitly packed for children.

Later, use your hand to hold part of the crisps and give the toddler by his and. She will be forced to use fingers instead of the whole palm. Guide the toddler to use the same tips of the figure until the food reaches the mouth. With time, your child will manage to feed himself. This process is limited to feeding on food with high temperatures or small grains such as rice.

Can your toddler use a spoon?

After a toddler learns how to use his fingers for feeding, the next step should be to use a spoon. Already your child is aware he is the only one feeding by his hands, and the other family members have spoons. Toddlers will grab your spoon, and thus you get an opportunity to teach him.

You need to find a non-metallic spoon that will not harm your child. Get a well-shaped spoon to minimize the level of the mess in his clothes and the surrounding. Let the toddler hold the spoon with his hands, then hold his hand, pressing it towards the spoon. Slowly let him scoop a small portion of the meal- let’s say half spoon. Gently move his hand towards the mouth and make sure he coordinates the side and the mouth. As he opens the mouth, release his hand, and allow him to complete the feeding process. Continuous use of the process will see your toddler feed himself in a short period of exercise.

How about a fork?

Many parents will fear for the safety of their toddlers whenever they hear the mention of a fork. Most parents will never allow their toddlers to use them whatsoever. It may be because the folk is sharp, and they feel children might harm themselves. Nevertheless, parents should understand the child needs different skills in feeding. It may be inconvenient using a spoon or finder to some food, therefore, a need for multiple ways to feed.

Surprisingly, you might find it less harmful and straightforward using a fork is to your toddler. Children are full of wonders. Just like when using a spoon, find a plastic fork with blunt tips to prevent hurting his mouth. Slowly lead him to stab the food with a fork and carefully direct it to his mouth. As tiring and discouraging the process might be, parents should never lose hope when it comes to teaching their toddlers. Whenever your child can steer the spoon correctly towards the mouth, it’s time to substitute using a folk.

Encourage your toddler to use an open cup.

Eating and drinking are intertwined. They are both feeding processes which a child has to be taught. Taking a drink is, however, much simpler compared to the operation of eating. To a young toddler, you will need an anon-metallic cup with a small opening at the top. Put a small amount of milk or distilled water. Make sure the container is tiny with two handles. The handles will enable the child to keep balance and prevent the filled-cup form overturning and pouring the product.

An alternative to the 2handled cup is one that has no handles. The child will manage to round his hands on the cup and maintain balance. The last step is very simple as parents will just help to apply force and improve the child drink.

How often do you provide reminders?

Children need constant reminders of what they should do. Reminding your child, he is growing big, and he should be feeding himself may trigger attempts. A child will be what you want them to be. They will do what you encourage them to do. Praising them when they make a single attempt is way too much to lift their morale. Once they make a mistake, do not rebuke them, instead take it as a learning process, and mistakes are part of it. Frequently place small portions of food in front of him and let him practice. Practice makes perfect.


Different children will learn feeding by themselves at different ages in life. One child might learn it at 10months while the other at 14, 16, or even 20. A parent should thus be patient as the child learns the basic activity. Caution needs to be taken when the child is eating by himself. First, while using their hands, they should be clean to avoid the contraction of diseases. Second, parents should choose feeding material, which has no negative impact on their children. Lastly, it is a collective responsibility of family members to teach their children how to eat by themselves. Some toddlers will be closer to their other siblings than their parents.

1 thought on “Toddler Won’t Eat on His Own? How to Fix”

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