Comments

  1. My son is 19 mo. I’ve been offering a spoon for several months but not only he’s not interested in taking it, he’s not interested in eating anything that is not pureed! He eats crackers, bread and pop corn, which means there’s not a problem of not being able to chew, but he refuses ti eat, even less touch fruits, vegetables or meat! I’ve tried a lot but even when he accepts it, he keeps it in his mouth for ages. What can I do?

  2. My son is 2 and 1/2 going on 3. He insists on me feeding him even though he is capable of doing it himself. He wants me to put the bite on the fork and in hi mouth. Then he is very picky about which bite he wants and even how I put it on the fork/spoon. I tell him that if Mommy feeds him he has to take what he gets and can’t be picky. If he wants to be picky he can feed himself. He also would prefer to sit on my lap and eat off my plate if he can. I did allow this at one point, but then stopped. Now he only allowed on my lap if I have finished my meal. My daughter was similar but my oldest son never complained about eating by himself. Why does he want me to feed him and how can I encourage him to eat on his own without causing tantrums that ruin mealtimes?

    • This is a tough situation. I wouldn’t recommend going cold turkey with feeding him, but would start to institute some rules. For instance, I would enforce him having his own bowl/spoon to start. Then I would move to having him take a few bites himself. Overall, I would encourage you to slowly ease him into it. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some tantrums or discontent, but it shouldn’t carry on too long. I would also consider any underlying sensory issues… does he not like being messy?

    • Thanks for responding. I have been trying to take small steps but it is nice to have confirmation in doing so. He does seem to be doing better. I don’t think there are sensory issues–at least not with getting messy. Possibly with food texture but that may just be toddler pickiness. I will keep on as we have begun. =) Thanks.

  3. My daughter is 9 Months old and the doctor recommended I start introducing table foods to her. However we didn’t exactly ask how or what foods or anything. What is a good sample menu for one day that would be suitable for a nine month old?

  4. My son has been finger feeding himself since about 9 months after we were unable to spoon feed him since he would keep grabbing our spoon and gnaw on the wrong end (while holding his own spoon in the other hand). He just turned 1 and we have been trying to teach him how to use his own spoon to feed himself. This article has helped us very much!
    However, he doesn’t get scooping/dipping and gets very frustrated because all he wants to do is hit the bowl like a drum/toy with his spoon, and then wants to gnaw on the wrong end of the spoon. I don’t mind trying at every meal until he gets it, but how long can I expect this behavior? How many minutes should I let him do this before he gets too frustrated to eat at all? Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Amy! It sounds like you are doing a great job! He is still on the young side for learning this skill so I wouldn’t worry right now. I would give him the spoon at the beginning, but keep your own bowl feeding him bites so he doesn’t get to frustrated. If he allows you, in between bites, put your hand on top of his and show him how to scoop, taking it all the way to his mouth. You don’t want him to get too frustrated, overall it is more important that the experience is positive. Does that help? Let me know if you have more questions!

  5. Hello,

    Your article is wonderful.I have a 16 months old son.I started Baby Led Weaning for him when he was 7 months old but I stopped just after 2 months as was worried about the nutrition.Also he has never been a great eater.Now I feed him semi solid food since a few months but sometimes he would have it but other times I really need to distract him with music/videos (which I know is not a good habit).Now I thought of giving up the “bad” habit & let him enjoy the food by feeding himslef.He shows interest in self feeding but he started recently & was enjoying the food but very less could reach his mouth and finally he got frustrated as he stayed hungry.Moreover,as you explained in teh article to hold his hand & guide him,he doesnt want me to touch his spoon & just wants to do himself.So I am confused how can I help him & also complete the nutrition.Please guide.Looking forward to your response.

    • Thank you Anjali. Sometimes kids can get really independent and they don’t want help- that is okay. I would let him try, but have your own bowl of food that you are feeding him from in between his bites or when he starts to get frustrated. Does that make sense?

    • thnx a lot for your reply.
      Normally I keep a bowl with me but unless a “tube” is on ,he notices I gave him & refuses to ake.I guess the key is to just keep doing as you suggested.
      Thanks again

    • Hi–I have the same problem. My 13 month old often times refuses when I try to feed her unless I distract her. I have to take her out for walks or try new things at each mealtime. This can’t be sustainable! She will eat a few bites on her own, but unless I manipulate her into eating, she just won’t eat enough. I “trusted” her between 9 and 12 months, and she continued to drop in the scale…from 50th pct to 25th to 15th percentile. I’m at a loss of what to do.

  6. My son is almost 11 months old. I started him on pureed fruits and veggies then yogurt at 5.5 months. He was off and on about liking the fruits/veggies but was crazy for the yogurt. Around 9/10 months I switched to all finger food with yogurt for lunch. Recently he refuses yogurt as we’ll so now we are on all finger foods. He eats a good variety of foods so I think.his nutrition is OK. Should I be concerned about him learning to eat pureed foods and eating from utensils?

    • That is great! I think it is fine for now. When he does have applesauce, pudding, or anything else that requires a spoon, give him the opportunity to try. He has plenty of time to learn:)

  7. Hello! My daughter has not really started eating with a spoon and she is turning 16 months now. Is there hope that I will be able to teach her how to use a spoon and other utensils? Thank you so much

  8. My son turns 1 next week. My situation is a little different. He used to have no issues with a spoon at all. Then all of a sudden, it’s like he hates picking up his own spoon during meal time. I don’t know what is wrong with him. He will be fed with a spoon no problem but he will not by any means self feed or even pick up a spoon. When I try to put the spoon in his hand he moves his hand away and screams and cries. I think he became spoiled because he used to never have an issue grabbing the spoon during meals. We just had lunch and it was a lot of frustration as I was making him pick up his spoon and it was extremely frustrating because he screamed and cried and threw a fit all the while I took his hand and had him grab his spoon.
    I know he’s a little young but still. Why would a baby go from being content with grabbing a spoon and me helping him self feed at like 8 months to all of a sudden, months later, hating self feeding. What’s wrong with him? Please help. I’m very frustrated.
    I know he’s young but it’s like he went backwards in self feeding which concerns me. He holds his spoon after eating but never during eating anymore.

    • It’s hard to say what is going on here- it could be a phase. I would gently encourage, but not make too big of a deal about it for a month or so because he is really young. You could also try setting him up with everything then acting busy for a few minutes and seeing if he will get started himself. Give lots of praise for anything he does independently!

  9. Hi! My daughter is 10 months and doing well in other development areas except for feeding. I normally feed her cut up soft food like toast or pasta or fruit, etc. but I end up putting the food in her mouth. She would pick up the food but drop them on the floor. I tried getting her hand to her mouth with the food but she resists and cries/ whines when I do and really won’t open her mouth. The only food she had held and put in her mouth are banana with peel halfway down, and baby mum mums (rice husks). And most foods she only takes 3 bites and is done. I need advice! Thanks!–E

    • Will she eat more than 3 bites if you feed her? If not, email me so we can talk more. I would take it slow, she is really young, keep things as positive as possible. Try to get her to play/interact with the food in any way.

    • I am having a similar problem. My son will be one next week. He will only eat if he is spoon fed unless it is cheerios or something like it, ie. yogurt bites.He picks them up with his pincher fingers and places them directly into his mouth. No issues there. He has 8 teeth but isn’t a fan of anything he has to chew more than 2 times. If I put food on his tray he either touches it then puts it down or immediately starts “finger painting” and spreading it everywhere. If I put it on the spoon and in tiny pieces, he will then eat it. He has been walking for months. He stands at the window in daycare and watches the older class run around outside. He can’t join them until he can feed himself and not immediately flip the plate upside down. I am at a loss and don’t know what to do. If it were just me, I would spoon feed him as long as he wants but he so wants to be with the older kids and this is the one thing stopping him. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Kristen, I’m wondering if he doesn’t like the texture of foods. Have you introduced a little fork he could learn to use- that may help with the texture, but it will take some time to teach him. Also, babies don’t need teeth to eat- they use their gums efficiently. At his age it is important to let him explore the food- I’m assuming he’s around 1? Join in with him a little and try to demonstrate taking it to his mouth and also giving him a little help as needed.

  10. Hi-this is great! My son is 11months and 1 week and just started on the pincer grasp. He has been eating puffs but doesn’t pick up bananas or other finger food. He also eats the tiny star pasta (spoon fed). I think I am part of the problem as am terrified to give him anything not puréed. What are your suggestions for first foods (don’t want to impose my issues in him:) and did I make it worse by delaying this-I get so nervous when he gags!!!

  11. Hi my Name is Naomi. My daughter will be three in February. My daughter has been struggling with on going problems with eating for a year and a half now. At 6 months old my daughter started to eat food. She was a great eater. At 8 months she was drinking out of glasses by herself along with self feeding. I never had any problems. I just sat her in her chair and she would feed herself. This was very messy of course but no problem for me. We than moved to South America when she was 14 months old. The cultural and food is so much different here. My in laws insisted that she was to be feed by an adult and to eat blended foods. So not only did her diet change but the texture, foods and ways of being feed. We have gone through huge swings of time periods where she will not eat anything. Now she has been back to eating her food but with fighting about it. But I have to feed her. She is going to be three in February and I am exhausted and want my child back to self feeding. I have tried oh you take one bite and I feed you two bites and when I have done things like this she just wont eat. HELP PLEASE? I have no idea what else to do..

    • Sometimes this works… set up her food in front of her and act like you are really busy…. run back to the sink, look in a cupboard and see what she does (but don’t let her see you noticing). If you have to run over and give her a bite, then say… “oh hold on, I need to get the phone in the other room real quick”. Run out like your busy and leave the spoon and bowl there. She may get started on her own. Try this a couple of times before giving up. Get back in touch if you need more help!

  12. Hi. My twins are 11 months actual, 9.5 adjusted. My little girl is struggling to self feed finger foods. We’ve been working on finger foods for about 1.5 months now. We’ve slowly introduced puffs, teething crackers, carrots, sweet potato, pears, banana, peaches and kix. Since we’re getting close to one year, I’m beginning to worry a little. She will try to pick up a puff or yogurt melt, but won’t attempt to put it to her mouth like her brother who’s doing fairly well. She will drop it or just push her puffs around her tray. She is resistant to hand over hand assistance. I have started focusing more on teething crackers and having her bring her spoon to her mouth with her puréed foods. Any other suggestions? She has physical therapy and has always displayed and continues to display extension patterning, but has developed good bilateral, midline play skills. I would says she is behind with fine motor skills compared to her brother. I’m not sure if that’s all we’re seeing here? I will also mention she is a little behind in her munch as compared to her brother, but that has definitely improved. I think that’s all. Thanks for your help. I’m glad I just discovered your blog! I’m also an OT, but have always worked with geriatrics…wishing I had a little more peds experience now!

    • Hi Becky, so nice to hear from a fellow OT! I would keep working at the hand over hand assistance, even if you can it in a moment here and there. You could also try putting something sticky on her hands like honey or syrup, then all those little foods will stick to her hands. The first step is just get her to take the food to her mouth, then I’d work more on the pincer grasp. Of course, lots of fine motor play outside of meals is great, too! Keep me posted!

    • Thanks Alisha for your response. I will definitely keep working on the hand over hand and really like the idea of putting something sticky on her hand. She’s a tough cookie, because she can become resistive with hand over hand with meals and even games like patty cake. I will definitely keep you posted. I’ve been feeling stressed because our pediatrician wanted her off formula at 1 year, but I don’ see how we can do this if O is not even eating finger foods independently. Ughhhh…the stresses of being a momma. Thanks again!!

    • Hi, I am in a similar situation. My twins are about to turn 1 actual, 10 months adjusted (32 weekers). A few weeks ago we tried some finger foods for them and they choked, so we are actually nervous to let them practice with anything that they can even remotely choke on. I am teaching my son to hold his spoon when eating pureed food and does ok with help. My daughter doesnt want to hold the spoon. I let her dip her hand into the bowl but she doesnt bring it to her mouth. I know they need more practice and we’ll keep working on that but should I be worried?

    • You are right to be concerned and I encourage you to follow your instincts, BUT there is a window of time when babies learn to chew and it can be difficult after that. I think it is good to keep trying, but in the right way. Have you seen my post on transitioning your baby to table foods. There are 2 parts and you can find them in the sidebar or in the menu bar at the top under article index. It is very detailed and I think will answer all of your questions. Let me know if you have more questions!

  13. Hi Alisha…I wanted to let you know O is now feeding herself kix, Cheerios, puffs, yogurt melts, soft noodles and small pieces of pancake. She has trouble with the wetter foods like fruits and most vegetables. It was funny…a few days after my post she started…I guess I just needed some patience. Do you normally recommend eating solids first and then bottle feeding? We do bottle feeding first, especially she only eats about 24 oz max from the bottle, but I’ve noticed she doesn’t seem very interested in self feeding more than a handful or so of whatever we’re giving her. I’m assuming that’s because she’s just eaten a full bottle. When she was eating her baby food, she would eat about 2 oz after a 6-8 oz bottle. Also, she just learned how to sip from a straw!! I took your recommendation and bought the take and toss cups and they worked well with her. She gets very excited using the straw and squealed with excitement when she took her first sip. She does still let a lot of the water just run out of her mouth. We still have about another month with formula. Should I try and put some formula in the cup to try and wean her from the bottle, now that she’s figured out the straw. We’ve tried numerous sippys prior to the straw with both kiddos and haven’t been successful. I guess I don’t want to screw this up now that’s figured it out and is interested in the straw. Thanks for your help!!

    • Yes, if they are a year old now, feed them first and start to take away one bottle at a time, replacing it with milk during their meal… once they are on milk. You can experiment with the formula in a cup, but waiting is fine, too. It will be here before you know it. Make sure you give her at least water with meals.
      You could also try a no spill straw cup now that she gets it, they are much harder to drink out, but her mouth won’t get flooded so easily. Happy New Year!

  14. Hi Alisha! My 17-month old is a great eater, and has been eating a wide variety of finger foods for quite awhile now. I haven’t really pushed the spoon, but know that we need to get started. I’ve made a couple of attempts to have him hold the spoon, and then direct his motion as you describe in the post. However, when I let him try it himself, he holds the spoon with one hand and then uses other hand to eat the food. He’ll even stick his hand in a bowl of cottage cheese and attempt to eat that with his hand. How should we get started with this transition? Should he be attempting to eat all food with a spoon (including things that adults would eat with their hands, like apple cubes or sandwich pieces), or should we just work on this with food that adults would use utensils for? Thank you!

  15. Hello! Only use utensils for foods that make sense, don’t worry about the others. Keep trying the hand over hand assistance, only putting a little in his bowl. At this point repetition and consistency are the name of the game. It sounds like he enjoys eating, he’ll be there before you know it.

  16. Hi , I have a big problem as my 4 years old eats anything but she will never ever eat by herself. I have try so many things but she does not want to learn, any technic ??? Would be very much appreciated.

    • At her age, it is a little different, it is likely that she is able to actually feed herself. Is there a time she is someone else’s care? Maybe playing at a friend’s house where you could not be there and find out how she does? Also try setting up her food and then acting like you are too busy to feed her for a few minutes- see how she does. A lot of kids will get sick of waiting and get to it.

  17. Hi, flicking through I see you are an OT….please can you help a fellow OT?! My 18 moth old is fine eating finger foods and will take food off a spoon but only if I do it for him. He refuses to touch the spoon, shakes his head and pushes it away if I encourage him to have a go himself. (He only occasionally feeds himself a yoghurt). If I load a spoon and put it on the highchair and leave the room for a minute, he will reluctantly put the spoon in his mouth but he won’t scoop food – I have to reload the spoon and leave the room again. Unfortunately on a busy morning getting ready for work I just don’t have time to do this, and am also concerned he doesn’t eat as much this way. Any ideas how to crack this in a way I can be consistent?

    • First, take a look at the spoons you are using, are they too hard or awkward to use- see the ones I suggested in the post for ideas. Also, try to really work on it when you have the time until he is better at it in the morning. I wish I had a trick for you, but without being able to see him the best advice I can give is practice! Great to hear from another OT:)

  18. Hi, I am hoping you can help me! My son has just turned 2, he’s a very laid back character and a slow learner! He fingers feeds perfectly well but he hates using his spoon/fork. He can do it (although messily) but recently he has refused to eat unless I feed him. I’ve tried eating myself and looking busy so he thinks I don’t have time to feed him but its got to the point where if I don’t feed him he’ll cry and scream until I give in. I don’t want him to go hungry but at the same time, I can’t help thinking he’s just testing me… any suggestions? He’ll normally do two spoon fulls and then completely give up! HELP!

    • I know this is such a frustrating place to be in. I would try a new spoon and try to up the interest factor. It may help, may not? This is probably just a phase and I would take the middle road. Help to avoid a major battle, but continually try to encourage and keep it positive.

  19. Hi, great site thank you..I’m writng from Istanbul, Turkey. I know I have been too late to encourage her to use spoon & fork 🙁 She is 2 years old and we have been trying last 2 weeks with few success..She will just try once the first time I give the spoon to her and then gets uninterested..Then we hold it together like your hand on hand method a few times and it goes okey. But that’s it. The minute I let her be she goes back to using her fingers. That is if she is interested with her food..That’s another thing – she will only eat mashed vegetables and meatballs..She likes her food to be solid, which leaves out all the cooked mushy, fibrous, saucy kinds of foods out..She takes out the hard skins like tomatoes or oranges and gags with green pea or bell peppers or omelettes. I want her to enjoy her meals feeding herself, and for myself not to get anxious before each meal time..How can I get her to try feeding herself and how can we come over this sensual dislike ? Thank you!

  20. Adding to my above post :
    When she refuses to eat her meal do I go and prepare a safe option which I know she will eat and thus eats often? 🙁

    • I would encourage the spoon, but if it something that isn’t messy don’t worry too much about it right now. Kids like to finger feed and it is okay at her age, unless it is something messy like yogurt. The sensory stuff is a whole different issue. See my Basics to Improve Eating at the tab on the top of the page, start trying to implement those habits and read the posts listed at the end. They are all good starting points and will give you some direction. As you will see in the tab, always make sure you give her one thing she likes at each meal. If she doesn’t eat, tell her she won’t get to eat until her next meal. She should at least eat her preferred food. Don’t prepare her another meal, that is a slippery slope. If you need more help or suspect underlying issues I am available for consult via phone or skype- no pressure! Let me know how it goes!

  21. Hi, I’ve been reading through some of your posts about feeding your toddler and I’m hoping you can help. My son is 18 months old. We were a little late starting solids, at 6 12 months, but in the beginning he did great. Later he also really wanted to feed himself with his spoon, at about 13 months old. He fed himself with a spoon for about 1 month and since then he has refused to do it himself. I can hand him small pieces of food and he’ll put it in his mouth by hand; however if I put them on his tray he will just throw them off. It’s kind of like he simply doesn’t want his tray dirty. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, he has never liked anything to be left on his tray. So I’m not sure how to get him to proceed through the stages you’ve mentioned. Do you have any advice?

    • I would try giving him a suction plate with just a few pieces on it. Then slowly build up on putting more pieces on. Try to give him short directions, “food stays on the tray/plate”, and be ready to grab his hand and redirect the food back. There may be some tears- don’t let it get excessive, but don’t let him get off too easy either. It will take time, but try to reinforce the rule. They can be pretty stubborn at this age.

  22. Huh. My 13 month twins are pretty good with a fork, but much less so with spoons. About the mess, though, let’s be real: It’s not about allowing them to get food on their bib and their chin. The food gets on those places, and it gets smeared in their hair and eyebrows, up their nose, in their eyes, and on their forearms. And halfway through they will rip off their bibs and get it on their clothes as well. All the food they drop on the floor has led to a mouse taking up permanent residence in the stove so it can sneak out every night looking for crumbs (I sweep, but I can’t mop every day). The suction cup bowls are regarded as a challenge and must be pulled free before any eating commences, and since they release suddenly, the food is flung toward the ceiling with great force.

    And when you’re reading to start cleaning up, you face the dilemma of where to start first: wipe off the hands? But as soon as you release a hand it will be used to rub the dirty tray or dirty face. Wipe the face first? Then immediately a dirty hand will smear more food there. Remove the tray first? Then the hands can reach the pants and feet that were completely food-free throughout the meal.

    Getting messy is for dinner (right before baths) ONLY.

    • Obviously, every parent needs to decide what works for them and with twins you certainly have a greater challenge. As an OT that specializes in this area and a mom that has taught two of her own kids this is what has worked for me and a variety of other parents.

  23. My little boy is 2 and a half and doesnt feed himself. At the moment he is being tested for autism and also has a problem with his sight in one eye. We have encouraged him to hold a spoon or fork whilst being fed which is a huge improvement. He does let us put food on the fork and with our hand over his, he will put it in his mouth. Thats has far as it goes at the moment. My little boy also is struggling with speech and commumication so he doesnt really understand much of what we are telling him. He has a 7month old brother and is starting to see him put the spoon in his own mouth etc i just dont know what the next step is without him getting too upset and just refusing to eat anything. He is also a very fussy eater. Thanks

    • It sounds like you are doing great. Every child is different and you need to meet him where he is. Keep helping him and try to pull back on how much assistance you give him to make progress. This may take time.

  24. My son will be 2 in May. He does really well with finger feeding, but when I give him utensils of any kind, he just picks them up and throws them on the floor. It doesn’t matter if they have food on them or not. He is just totally uninterested in feeding himself. If I hold his hand and try to show him how it goes, he gets frustrated and won’t eat the rest of his meal. How can I encourage him to try feeding himself?

    • I wouldn’t worry too much, but keep trying especially in different environments and with different people. This behavior may just be habitual. Also, calmly but sternly tell him no and try to grab them before he throws. Also, when you introduce it, be very silly, sing a song, etc.- make it a little fun for him.

  25. My daughter is 8.5 months old and she will not feed herself. She has an excellent pincer grasp and can pick up a Cheerio like nobody’s business but she won’t actually eat any food. We’ve been trying for a few months now. She eats puréed food I spoon feed her but nothing else. Should I be concerned yet or just keep trying?

  26. Will she let you feed her table foods? If so, start there, slowly encouraging her to feed herself. If she isn’t willing to accept any table foods and won’t in the next couple of months I would look into an early intervention home evaluation. It may be nothing, but if it is something it could be overcome much more easily now. Trust your instincts. Let me know if you need more help. I have post on early intervention under the article index in the menu bar at the top.

  27. Hi. Great article. Just read it because I have been having problems getting my 3 year old son to feed himself. He has a 1 year old baby sister and wants to be fed like her… he really didn’t get off feeding himself so well. He knows how to do it, he just wants us or his babysitter to feed him. We’ve been trying to encourage him to feed himself, singing silly songs when he does so but somehow the situation has become a bit stressful when he doesn’t do so well and he ends up crying and not wanting to even try.

    We have backtracked to try a slow, easy approach. He hates getting dirty and I clean him up fast in order to avoid a meltdown. Also, help him when he spoons his yogurt by placing a napkin underneath in order to avoid it dripping on his shirt.

    He likes to eat while playing with toys on the table or listening to a story, we’ve always allowed it but limit the number of toys to just a bit and take advantage of playing with him while eating in order to make mealtime a funtime also, I have no problem with toys (small) on the table. We are quite relaxed with our mealtimes, but I see that he might complain about feeding himself because that means he can’t be playing with the toys. So I try to play around with the superhero figures while he spoons or forks.

    Any other tips? I will try the “too busy right not to pay attention to you” tip I’ve read, as well as continue encouraging and try to keep pressure off.

    With his younger sister, I will also try and implement the two bowl approach, and let my older son see that, yes, the little one is also learning to feed herself. And, let her get messy. I think that will be the main change. 🙂
    thanks for your article.

    • Hi Johanna, I think you already have some great strategies in mind- I can’t say I agree with the toys at the table, mainly because I don’t want kids to be distracted as they aren’t actively engaged in eating and learning to eat. Of course, this is totally your choice, but I wanted to mention that. I would also agree not to turn it into a power struggle and to give him his own napkin. Encourage him to wipe up his own mess, it will give him some control and responsibility.

  28. My one and a half year old doesn’t feed herself. She has the pincer grasp but doesn’t put anything in her mouth herself. Even when sheais hungry she will sit n wait for me to feed her. Please advice.

    • Look through some of the comments above for some suggestions- a lot of others have asked similar questions. It is hard to say why she is doing that. Sometime kids are just in a habit, sometimes they haven’t made the connection and need help, and sometimes they don’t want to touch the food. In any case take it easy and keep providing assistance along with trying some of the other strategies above.

  29. Hello,
    This my first time posting ever and I hope you will help me out. My son is 22 months. Up until recently he was under the care of grandma. Now he is with me. He was an ok eater with grandma and on some days he is ok with me and other days he give me a very fought time. Overall he is a picky eater but there are some issues I needed helpe with. 1. He doesn’t have a good relationship with food. We try to keep feedings calm but his first reaction to any food is dodging it and then eventually eating. 2. He needs to be distracted while eating otherwise he would just play with his food and not eat. 3. He doesn’t stay put in a highchair instead he sits on the sofa. 4. Whatever food I make for him, he usually eats 3-4 bites…hardly ever eats the whole thing. I am sorry for all the questions but I’m quite desperate now. Not sure what to try
    Your help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

    • First, I know you mentioned you were in canada, in a private message, and that it will take a while to get services, but I would encourage you to start the process. If you haven’t already I would start with the eating basics tab in the menu bar. Don’t let the strategies overwhelm you but start to implement these things in your home- take baby steps. Try to keep meals as positive as possible and eat with him, it is important for you to eat together. Maybe you can get him to eat at a coffee table or a small table in the living room- again try everything in small steps. See the articles at the end of eating basics also for more help. If you need more help, I am available for consultations, where we can discuss more specifics. There is no pressure at all, and I think reading through the other articles will give you a really good starting point.

  30. Hi I came across this post while reading some of your meal ideas for toddlers. I have an 11 month old son and I try to get him to spoon fed and he will gladly accept the spoon to hold but once I grab his hand to help guide him in scooping the food and putting it in his mouth he gets very mad. My baby doesn’t want my help in the least so how do I help a very independent boy learn to use his spoon if he doesn’t want my assistance

    • Yes, it is very common for babies to do this, that is okay. You can try here and there but don’t get into a power struggle. I would focus more on giving him a little of his own and his own spoon the way I described above. He is so young, he has plenty of time to figure it out.

    • Thanks for your response. I will try to calm down since he’s not behind in his progress with self feeding. I’m a first time mommy so I’m constantly overly concerned with his development. Thanks for easing my mind

  31. Hi Alisha! Great site!
    I am so sorry to bother you with yet another question but here in the Netherlands it is difficult to turn to somebody for questions… I have read ALL of the above comments and haven’t found my answer so I post the question just in case you are still around.
    My baby is almost 14 months corrected age (he was born 2 months premature) I have followed his corrected age regarding feeding, so we started solids at 6mo corrected, and so on… but I failed to introduce finger foods at the proper age because we were travelling. And now that we are settled again I have been trying for a while, leaving pieces of finger foods on his tray and acting like I’m busy, taking the pieces myself and eating them to show him, etc but none of this seems to get to him. He just plays around with the food for like 1 minute or 2, crush it in his fist with a disgusted face, throwing some on the floor and then he goes on to ignore the pieces of food altogether and sits contentedly waiting for me to come with his puree and the spoon, and feed him.

    I don’t know what to try anymore! Please help?
    I’m really worried that I have missed the window of opportunity for finger foods! 🙁 Is he too old? Should I move on straight to the spoon?
    Thanks!

    • It is no problem to ask, that is why I created Your Kid’s Table. Thanks for reading through, there are a lot of repeats! First, let me say it is never too late and that if you haven’t come across them yet I have two posts about transitioning to table foods which you can find in the side bar under popular posts or the article index in the menu bar at the top. You will find a lot more info there. It is true that there is a window when kids learn and are receptive so you may have a bit more work ahead of you now. Keep up with the pureed foods because he needs to eat, but keep trying the table foods ideally at each meal. Start by following the order I describe in the post I mentioned. There is no pressure at all, but I do offer consults and have had many with parents overseas. Let me know if you need anything else!

  32. I put the fork in my sons hand, he is 18 months, and pierce the food holding his hand with the fork. Then he eats it and I say yay and clap. Since I have been doing this he has learned that its great to eat with his fork! If only I could stop him from trying to feed the dog… haha!

  33. Hi Alisha,
    How do we get over the anxiety of having the kids choke as they learn to eat finger foods? Our twins are about to turn 1 (10 months adjusted – 32 weekers). A few weeks ago we tried giving them some puffs and they successfully choked. Since then my husband in particular is very nervous about anything other than pureed baby food. I think they need to start learning to feed themselves but how do we ensure that they do it safely, without choking? Thanks!

    • A couple of things… first, did they actually choke or just gag? Gagging is normal to some extent although can be quite scary. Puffs dissolve with saliva and have an extremely low choking risk if any at all. If it makes you feel better break them up and place them on the sides. I would also check out my article on transitioning to table foods, you can find it in the side bar or menu bar in the article index. Without knowing more specifics I would recommend continuing to move forward and keep trying.

  34. My son is 27 months old..he is actually behind in all development but his eating is the worst. He holds food in his checks and then tries to just swallow it. He does fantastic with noodles or soft moist foods ex shredded rotisserie chicken or vegetable soups. But he only will feed himself cheese doodles even still takes a bite drops what’s left and gets a new one. He refuses to eat if I try n make him feed himself so ice tried I spoon two times n help him do one but still no luck. He only weighs 23 pounds and I’m very concerned. Everything else he likes to do himself at his pace so I’m trying the feed yourself method to see if he will eat more but I’m having no luck

    • If he is behind, he is on his curve. Make sure you read my articles on Transitioning to Table Foods and Mega List of Table Foods, which you can find in the side bar or article index in the menu bar. They will be helpful. Are you in the states? Are you hooked into early intervention? I would highly recommend this if you aren’t. It sounds like you could really use some more specific help. I have an article on this process as well, Help for Infant and Toddlers. In the meantime, demonstrate how to chew, put pieces right on his gums, and give him teething rings to practice chewing on. Please let me know if you need more help!

  35. Hi I have a 2 yr old that refuses to eat with a spoon. He prefers to use his finger. I try everyday to get him to do it but he scream & just wants his food. I’m total fresh out of ideas to get him to eat with a spoon. Plz help!!

  36. These are wonderful tips thank you for sharing them we gave my son a spoon to explore with at every meal time when ever we spoon feed him gave him lots of praise when he would pick it up and put in his mouth. He is at 14months now and can almost self feed he needs help geting the food on the spoon. We have been doing little things at home to build his fine motor skills. using different size spoons to scoop toys and other things out of a bucket. Its like you said consistency, patience, and practicing together are the keys to progress.
    Thank you

  37. My son is 22 months (Down Syndrome) and can scoop with a spoon pretty well but instead of keeping the spoon straight as he brings it to his mouth he turns the spoon and sticks his tongue out to lick what hasn’t fallen off. I’ve done hand over hand for MONTHS but I’m not sure how to get him to stop turning the spoon.

    • Does he have an OT? If so I would ask about some possible adaptive utensils. On therapy websites they have some weighted and/or bent spoons that might make it easier for him. Also, does he respond well to modeling? I would sit right in front of him with your own spoon and model.

  38. My son is 3 1/2 just started preschool he’s so far behind he’s s not so good using utensils and he wont even sit down to have lunch with the rest of the kids in the classroom. He’s always been picky and it takes a lot to get him to eat. I’m so frustrated i don’t know how to have him show more interest and sit down and atleast willingly try his food. Any advice?

    • Hopefully the school environment is going to help him- all that structure and seeing what the other kids are doing can have a big impact. It may take a little bit of time though. As for home try to have just start somewhere. Keep mealtimes on a schedule, no snacking, and have him sit for at least the first few minutes without a major power struggle ensuing. Think in baby steps not the end goal. Good Luck!

  39. Hi Alisha! Very helpful tips here, thank you for this article. I looked up this topic because our 19-month old is a bit difficult at meal times and I’m trying to figure out how to proceed. For us, I think there are two main issues and I would be really interested in your advice. He hasn’t started really using a spoon yet mainly because he isn’t doing much self-feeding. He will eat snacks and a few things he likes (bread, broccoli, pieces of watermelon sometimes) with his fingers but otherwise doesn’t show interest. When we try to feed him, he often refuses the food, and so we have had to resort to distracting him to get the food in – either with objects he can play with or the ipad. I know this is not a good idea, but it is just one of those things you try when you are desperate to get him to eat after a long tiring day of work, and then it works so you do it again, and now he’s used to it and I fear we’ve gotten into a bad habit.

    What I’m trying to figure out is how to go about getting back onto a better path, to get him to self-feed without all the distractions. Any specific steps you could recommend for this?? Thank you in advance!

    • First of all, you are not alone, many parents that have children with feeding difficulties resort to this… understandably so. It is good that you are thinking about moving away from this and first suggestion would be to make it a gradual process. Start by waiting to give the iPAD or just move towards toys- that would be a good step as well. Also give lots of praise for anything positive he does, no matter how small. If you are in the states you could qualify for a free in home evaluation to help with feeding. See the article index in the menu bar for Help for Infants and Toddlers. Let me know if you need more help!

  40. Hi Alisha! My son is 20 months old and hes good at eating finger foods with his fingers. But not so much with the spoon. i just started giving him the spoon a week back when he suddenly stopped eating his food. He manages to scoop some food in the spoon but as he takes in to his mouth he turns the spoon (instead of keeping it straight) and most of the food falls down. When i try to put my hand on his his to show hi, he leaves the spoon and refuses to eat. And that gets me frustrated and angry at him sometimes.
    Another issue is that all this while he needed a distraction (nursery rhymes on youtube) to eat. So now when i give him his food to eat by himself he first asks for his nursery rhymes. And if i do switch it on, he doesn’t eat by himself then. I want to slowly get rid of this habit but he throws a tantrum and refuses to eat till its on switched on. I am going to put him in daycare when he turns 2 and i am worried he wont eat much there. Need your help.

    Thanks

    • The spoon is going to take some practice and what he is doing is normal since he hasn’t had much practice. Make sure you are using a child friendly spoon with a thick handle to make it easier for him and just allow him to get messy. If you can have your own spoon and feed him some bites as well so he is still eating. I would act like your computer or tablet is broken and just tell him it isn’t available right now. He may still flip out and you may have to get through some of that. If it is really out of control then tell him that you are going to eat first then he can watch some videos.

  41. Hi Alisha..
    Thanks for wonderful article and really need some suggestions to encourage self feeding my 26 months old daughter. She was doing better when she was around 17months like eating banana on her own and other less sticky foods. But later she is totally reluctant to eat on her own. She only likes to eat fried items and nuts on her own. Every thing I have to feed her with my fingers even banana. I tried spoon n fork she ate few bites initially nd later started playing with them and throwing the food on floor using the spoon.
    Its frustrating when it comes to her feeding time as she takes 45min to finish her proper meal.
    The same thing happening even with her potty which she was good at her 18 months but now it terrible:-(
    Am even trying to put her some rhymes to encourage her but is totally lost in rhymes.
    Will be waiting for your valuable suggestions.

    • Hi Prathima, I understand your frustration! I know this is going to sound like general advice, but consistency is king. Every meal give her the spoon and fork, if she throws it, tell her “the spoon stays on the table.” Also, try to act busy at the beginning of the meal or change up your routine a bit by sitting somewhere else, Try to alternate bites, say, “mommy does a bite then you do a bite.” I know it is frustrating, but being consistent will really help get you there!

  42. My 9 month old son has started picking up the disolvable puff wheels. He’ll pick them up but not put them to his mouth. He doesn’t put things in his mouth. I will do the hand over hand to show him that he eats them but he just drop a them. I don’t think he likes the fact that they stick to his hand. How do i get him to at least attempt to eat them?

    • Does he put toys or teethers into his mouth? If not, work on this during playtime. It is important that he puts things in his mouth to learn to chew. Also, dip his hand into baby food and have him take it to his mouth. Some babies have a hard time making the connection and this can make all the difference!

    • Thank you for replying! It’s funny you suggest these things because we have started trying them already. He has started putting toys in his mouth so hopefully we can get him on a roll. Thank you so much! 🙂

  43. Hi my son is 27 months old and does not feed himself anything . I need help and advice I’m really worried . He is also a really fussy eater and I have to push him to get him to eat .
    Please help

    • Hi Helen, you are not alone! Scroll through the comments here, as you will find a lot of others in similar situations and try some of the ideas I mentioned. If you need more help, I’m available for consults see the tab in the menu bar, don’t hesitate to email me with more specifics if you need to!

  44. Hi Alisha, my son is 3.8 and he used to eat at the daycare by himself. But not at home 🙁
    He asks me to feed him just because he wants to be spoiled . He is a picky eater too. When I feed him, he would eat a good quantity but eats a spoon and plays around. He spoiled his 2.4 brother who was on the right track in terms of feeding himself and good appetite, and the second asks to be fed.
    The older son started school now. I am refusing to feed him because I know that he can do it by himself. But he is having days with couple of spoons just to satisfy his utmost hunger and refuses to eat and plays around. Few days he eats like 1/3 to max. half the meal that I used to feed him. I tried to act like I am busy. It works for a whils. I tried o promise him with gift, rewards…then his mind gets busy with the gift and won’t eat. Do I keep on? Tips please.
    Thank you

    • I would maybe try a more gradual approach and slowly expect him to eat more and more by himself. Also, think about if you are able to change up the routine in some way, maybe eat somewhere different or pack a picnic? Give lots of genuine praise for anything positive he does with feeding himself, such as, “I really like how you ate those bites with your fork! That was awesome!”

  45. Hi. my son will turn one next week. i m trying everyday to teach him feeding himself a cracker or banana slices but he’s completely refusing. spoon feeding seem way beyond but yes at least he should take finger foods. his pincer grasp is fine….holds a biscuit etc….crushes then throws on floor. he does this with every type of food. i try to give him food to hold but leans forward with open mouth n cries if i insist him to hold

    • I know it is so frustrating, but try to keep it stress free by going in baby steps. Try to follow the steps I described in the post and put his hand into something messy like yogurt and see if you can get it up to his mouth. It sounds like he needs to make the connection that his hands can take food to his mouth. When he throws food on the floor try not to give it to much attention, just calmly say, “food stays on the table.”

  46. Hi. My son has just turned 9 months old and will not eat finger food. He will not pick it up and put it in his mouth..Instead he squishes it and then drops it. I put food on his tray for him and sometimes he just stares at it and cries with his mouth open so I have no choice but to put it in his mouth for him. What shall I do? Should he be doing this himself by now ? I’m worried this is my fault as I was too paranoid to start giving him finger foods before about 1 month ago . Thank you

    • Oh my goodness, not your fault at all! He is still so young, but it is great that you are being proactive. I would keep trying and be positive. Also, demonstrate for him and use hand over hand (put your hand on top of his and move it into his mouth) to show him how to do it. Try not to let him get too frustrated, it will take some give and take.

  47. Thanks for this great article! I’ve enjoyed reading other articles on your blog as well. My son will be one year in just a couple weeks. He is great at feeding himself finger feeds. He enjoys it so much that I think maybe I’ve become a little too reliant on it, e.g. giving him messier foods to eat with his hands instead of with a spoon. He has show some interest in eating from a spoon though not yet attempting to get food onto it on his own. I think my biggest challenge is going to be placing a plate or bowl in front of him without him just dumping all the food out and throwing it on the floor. (I tried those suction bowls, but they don’t stick to his high chair tray for very long.) Do you have any tips for teaching him not to throw his bowl/plate? Thanks!

    • Hi Joan, thank you! You have plenty of time right now to ease into this skill, what he is doing is exactly what he should be doing. You are probably at least a couple of months away from him not impulsively throwing the bowl. Once you are there it just take some consistency, in saying “the bowl stays on the table” and you being close by and quick to grab it. I wouldn’t really expect him to do this until closer to 18 months, if he does it sooner, bonus! I think it is great that you are working on it though!

    • Thanks for your reply, Alisha. It’s good to have a general timeline of when to expect him to develop that skill. So for now, fingers foods placed on his tray and spoon feeding out of a bowl/plate that I hold is the way to go? I also wanted to ask: what are your thoughts on food pouches? Thanks again.

  48. I have a 16 month old boy and I am really concerned about his earing habits. He is earing his meals only during weekdays and when distracted at a great extent by grandma & grandpa (they are taking care of him while Im at work). He s not earing during weekends when Im with him, except for crackers, bread & sticks and puffs. Im still breastfeeding and cant stop as he gets really upset when I dont. He does not drink any other milk while he never drank from the bottle (just water from the cup). Recently he started immitating us eating, however he’s only playing with the spoon and fork while henever puts anything in his mouth. Im really concerned and sad and think I must be doing smth wrong 🙁

    • Oh Georgia, you are not doing anything wrong, but I understand how you could feel that way. I would look at the posts How to transition to table foods, you can find in the article index in the menu bar. Follow all of those steps. Also, it sounds like he has some underlying issues that might need worked out. I would highly recommend getting a free eval if you are in the states (also see Help for Babies and Toddlers in the article index). I am here for consults as well- no pressure. Please let me know if you need more help, after looking at those articles.

  49. My daughter easily does the pincer grasp my problem is she doesn’t put it in her mouth she throws it. What can I do to make her realize it is ok to eat. Other than showing her i’ve tried that.

  50. Hi Alisha
    This has been a great read and certainly given me some ideas on helping me son eat using utensils. He’s 21 months old and has been feeding himself finger food for many months. He eats on his own all the time. My concern is that he will only eat finger food and food that he can suck out of a tube like yoghurt or those Rafferty Garden products. I haven’t been feeding him from a spoon for some time and apart from a short period recently where he was happy to be spoon fed, he flatly refuses. I offer him a spoon that I’ve loaded and try to help him but he won’t touch it. I think he was better with spoons when he was 1. Unless it’s in a tube he won’t eat purees any more and is not interested in trying new food. He loves fruit. Will eat plain sandwiches. Loves potato if roasted and loves the proverbial chicken nuggets! I continue to try new foods and do try and eat with him so he can see what I am doing but he doesn’t seem interested in using a spoon. I am not sure how I can go from just eating with fingers when he refuses the spoon all together.

    • It can be a little tricky in situations like this Kim, first, I would just keep trying. I would also put a little bit on his spoon so he isn’t overwhelmed with too large of a bite. Model and anything he does with the spoon, even if he just touches it, clap and give praise. Also, try putting an empty spoon down and having him put it to his mouth on his own- again, anything he does, give lots of praise. You may even want to try this outside of meals.

  51. This is all great advice.

    I started introducing solids at four months and was skeptical when my mother told me that my siblings and I were feeding ourselves with a spoon by one year old. Sure enough, even at 4 months, even at her first offering of cereal, my daughter wanted to grab the spoon. Instead of pushing her hand away, I simply let her grab it and helped guide it into her mouth (which she was aiming for anyway!)

    Now, we’re at 5 months and we use two spoons in rotation. I dip a little into the bowl to give to her, and she is free to put it into her mouth, lick it etc. Then, I offer her my spoon, and guide it into her mouth (she is still free to grab it if she wants to “help”) but I am primarily feeding her. Then, I dip her spoon back with a light coating of stuff and give it to her. So far, so good!

    She also drinks from an open cup. If I want to be more efficient, I will hold it for her and she will “help” grab it with both hands and bring it to her mouth. However, she will pick up the cup independantly and tip it into her own mouth. I let her do this a few times…but only with drops of milk so she doesn’t choke.

    I think we sometimes forget how quickly kids can learn if given the oppurtunity. I do think that sometimes for convenience we just do things for the kids (occasionally I just use one spoon, and push her hand out of the way when she tries to grab it) but it is possible ot teach them some of these skills at an early age.

  52. To clarify about the rotating spoons: the first spoon I give to her, to hold and do whatever she wants with. It mostly goes into her mouth the correct way, but I don’t guide it. Occasioanlly she will just drop it or put the wrong end in her mouth…but it is for her to experiment with. The second spoon is the “primary spoon” I use to essentially place more food directly in her mouth so that I can actually guarentee some intake.

    I guess another thing I found helpful was the concept of eating while feeding baby. Baby’s feedings are roughly timed around our mealtimes, so she can be surrounded by others eating and drinking and mimic them.

  53. My 14 month old is a bit low on the weight chart, and I don’t know how to let her learn to self feed while keeping her caloric intake at a suitable number.

    Lately, she’s been refusing, crying and screaming whenever I try to feed her, even if it’s while watching her poems on YouTube. I want to cut out the poems while eating altogether, and I also want her to self feed so that the frustrations are minimised for both of us.

    I started to leave her alone since yesterday, instead of forcing her to eat. I gave her some simple things to eat (cheerios, cheese slice cut into small pieces, strawberries), and she simply picks up every piece of food on her tray and throws it on the floor. The only thing she’s had since morning is 80 ml milk and about 120 ml fresh fruit juice. No solids whatsoever. The only way in which she might have some before tonight is if I force feed her. She obviously doesn’t like that. Neither do I.

    I don’t know how to prevent her from losing weight if she’s not interested in food OR milk. Do you have any tips? I’d love for her to learn. I’m okay with her making a mess, or taking her time, but I just don’t want her to lose any further weight in the process. Online research suggests that toddlers don’t starve themselves. I know that she may not technically starve, but she WILL get very malnourished and weak this way. Really feeling helpless and frustrated.

  54. My 10 month old uses a pincer grab to pick up snacks but won’t put the food to her mouth. She just plays with it or will feed the dog and try to feed me. If I take her hand to guide it to her mouth, she will drop what’s in her hand or have a tantrum.
    She is fine if I feed her the snak but does not seem to want to feed herself. I try putting anything she is eating on her tray so she can attempt to feed herself but hasn’t willingly fed herself.
    I also just started getting her to hold her bottle when drinking as she used to struggle to get her hands off the bottle of I held re hands to it. She is now holding her bottle but I sometimes need to tip the bottle back.
    Any tips on how I can get her to self feed (without her throwing a tantrum)?
    Just another piece of info – she is starting to take more steps but she never wanted any help if my husband and I tried to practice walking. She would shake our hands away and did not want us to hold her. One day she just took a few steps on her own and has been taking more and more ever since. Maybe this is the same situation with self feeding? Sorry for the lengthy post…

  55. Hi, John here. Our little boy will be 4 years old in 3 months, goes to pre-school and eats lunch there, feeding himself. But at dinnertime his mom feeds him. Every night. If i happen to get to the table first and she is on the phone I let him feed himself. BUT when his mom shows up, she thinks he is eating too slow so feeds him. I guess no harm done, but meals turn into battles. Actually nothing you or anybody can do, no big harm done, but seems silly to feed an almost-4 year old.

  56. My son is 21 months old. He does not eat ANY food. Before I get started I will tell you his pediatrician has found no underlying conditions related to this. My son is my first and only child, and my husband and I work opposite shifts to take care of him. He has never been around any children close to his age, until today, when he started daycare (pediatrician reccommended). As you can imagine, this has been very difficult on us as parents. We have tried LITERALLY EV.E.RY.THING to help him eat. He did well with baby food at first, and then when the teething stage began he stopped altogether. That was around 10 months old. When he sees food he immediately clamps his lips together, spoon or no spoon. He survives on toddler formula and milk/water with occasional juice for constipation. On top of the feeding issue, my son refuses to drink from anything but his bottle. We have done the whole”just throw it away” and that night had to go buy new ones from the store. He has been to a dentist, everything is fine in that aspect. We have been through thepossiblity of autism screenings. He is not autistic. He is stubborn. We are exhausted and need help. Im hoping he picks it up at daycare but I need to know what to do when he is at home. Should we start from the beginning with baby food? Should we continue to offer finger foods? Please please PLEASE help…

    • Oh Jessie, I really feel for you. I get how overwhelming this must be for you. Are you in the states? Have you looked into free early intervention services- see the article index under milestones? It is hard to say where I would start, not knowing if there are any underlying issues- there could be sensory or difficulty chewing (not necessarily medical). A safe place to start would be routinely sitting him down for meals even if he doesn’t eat. You want this to be as positive as possible. Give him a few pieces of something crunchy and offer a bit of a puree like applesauce or yogurt, even put a dollop on his tray. Start by just getting him to touch it, once he is doing that then try to have him smell or take to his lips. Think baby steps. If you can’t find any help see my consulting services or send me an email!

  57. i have a 16 years old learner who has poor eating skills he protrude tongue turn the spoon in the mouth or throw solid food in the mouth and swallow without chewing how i help him.

    • It sounds like there are some underlying issues and I would recommend him getting some feeding therapy. If that isn’t an option try to have him start by putting food in on the sides of his mouth where he should be chewing. If you can try to feed him with a spoon a bit and place it on the sides so that he moves his tongue to retrieve the food. I wouldn’t want you to do this on every bite and I do want him working on feeding himself as well. Once he is making some progress cut back on placing food on the side and show him how to chew by dramatically leaving your mouth open for bites so he can see what you are doing. You can also try putting him in front of a mirror so he can see what he is doing- that helps sometimes too!

  58. Hi there..

    My daughter is 4.5yrs old and refusing to self feed. She has always been refusing to self feed since the age of 2 and i kept on giving in by feeding her. Its just with her lunch amd supper. Yoghurts and ice cream she will self feed with a spoon. Its just her”food”.

    She says to me to me that she doesnt want her hands to get dirty and will go and wash her hands at intervals.

    She is as you say particular about what she eats. How does this particularness develop?. How can i motivate her to try? Ive made the food look pretty and showed her how i enjoy it but im not winning.

    She can take up to an hour to finish her meal amd stores food.

    Anonymous

    • I totally understand how frustrating this and I think that it is good that you are trusting your instincts that something is going on here. I have a lot of information here that can answer all your questions. I would start with the eating basics tab and then look at the bottom for the links to get started with. Also in the menu bar you can find the article index and see all the picky eating articles. Take a look at those and let me know if you have any questions. I suspect that she has some tactile defensiveness, meaning she is sensitive to textures. Getting to the bottom of that problem will help you make progress. Have her start to play and touch a variety of textures outside of meal time. Look at the post on sensory bins, can find that in the article index or search bar.

  59. A friends child is 3 years old and has been diagnosed with autism. She is attempting to get him to feed himself with a spoon. He continually flips the spoon over as it reaches his mouth and ends up wearing most of it. She has tried hand over hand but he resorts back to this method. What else can she try?

    • Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of quick tips. It takes a lot of practice, especially with children that have developmental delays. You could look into a bendable spoon on amazon, which therapists sometime use to help cut down on this.

  60. Hi,

    my son is about to be 1 in about a week and a half and refuses to feed himself finger foods at all. He is a great eater and doesn’t fuss about food but doesn’t ever want to put food in his mouth himself. My husband and I have both tried to gently bring his hand up and he stiffens his arm/hand to not allow it but opens his mouth for us to feed him. I have tried crackers, puffs small noodles and nothing works. He can do a pincher grab and he as picked up good a lot but won’t bring it to his mouth, instead he drops it in the ground or wipes it off his tray. I’m nervous I have done something to cause this, he was a bit behind in crawling due to us not giving him enough tummy time. I’m worried it is causing an issue at daycare. Also, he just started to hold his own bottle about 3 weeks ago, before that we had to hold it for him. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Oh my goodness Shanna, don’t blame yourself. There are so many factors and variables! I would really try the suggestions in the post with letting him try to feed himself with purees with his hand. Try loading finger foods onto a fork as well and seeing if he will take that to his mouth. Lastly, try in a different setting just so that he gets the idea of what to do. Put some cheerios in a bowl and let him play until he starts to try to eat. This may take several attempts. Also, scroll through the other comments there are a lot of suggestions there too!

  61. I like these tips! But I’m concerned about helping him hold the spoon when he doesn’t like it when we hold his hands. He holds the spoon in one hand and eats with the other. He’s trying to figure it out himself, but it’s hard to watch when he doesn’t imitate. He puts the spoon on the bowl, then bats it away when he wants a bite so he can grab the food. My son is almost 18 months. We go to the doctor next month, but I don’t think my son is “picky” enough to be considered for SPD.

    I also really like your sensory bins, wouldd it be good to do something similar with bigger items for a toddler who still bites everything? He likes to eat hard things and I’m thinking that dry pasta or beans would be too small for him. Thoughts?

    • Yes, sensory bins are great for him! Think about using cornmeal, flour, oatmeal, etc. Here is a great list: http://handsonaswegrow.com/edible-sensory-play-ideas/

      As for the holding a spoon, it is quite common for them not to want help. I would try having it already loaded when he sits down sitting in the bowl. This will help him get off to a right start. Make sure you are using a thick handled spoon like a share in the post and one that has a deep bowl, this will make it easier for him. Other than that, keep trying, consistency and patience are the key. Focus on using yogurt or pudding that is hard to pick up, but sticks easily to a spoon.

      • Thank you for the link for edible sensory bins! Maybe this will get him to explore food textures a little more. And by the way, he somehow manages to grab yogurt…. ha ha. But he likes to dip the handle end of the baby spoon into the yogurt so I guess that’s progress! 🙂

  62. Hi,
    My son is 2 and a half now and I haven’t really given him a chance to feed himself with spoon n fork but he’s Gud at eating finger food.Do u think it’s too late for him to start feeding himself and that if I follow the instructions u suggested he would be able to pick up soon?

    • Yes try the steps! It is going to take a lot of consistency, so don’t expect it to happen over night, but he will get there. It isn’t too late!

  63. Hi,
    My son is 2 and a half now and I haven’t really given him a chance to feed himself with spoon n fork but he’s Gud at eating finger food.Do u think it’s too late for him to start feeding himself and that if I follow the instructions u suggested he would be able to pick up soon?

  64. Hi
    My daughter is 3 years old preschooler
    But she still on spoon feeding .I have to run after her for hrs to make her finish her lunch and dinner.she just doesn’t want to eat by herself .I thought when she will go to school she will learn to eat with herself watching other kids but no she is doing same thing in her school she usually keeps her food into her mouth and don’t chew it .today her teacher told me to make her eat with herself
    What to do I am frustrated now and some time I loose my patience too she pretends that she is still a baby..pls help

    • I understand how difficult this is, and it is going to take some time and a lot of consistency. I would also take a look at my eating basics (see the menu bar) and try to follow those suggestions, which will help establish a routine and structure around meals. This is critical to her feeding herself. Then, you can begin some the strategies discussed in this post. This can improve and you can do it gradually so that it isn’t too stressful for either you or her.

  65. Hello Alisha,

    Thank you for this wonderful article. My sweet girl is 15 months and refuses to self feed. She will pick up the food but then toss it. I will try to gently take her hand and put it towards her mouth and she throws a huge fit each time and gets hysterical. My husband, grandma and I try in the efforts but it always turns into a unsuccessful mess. I am nervous though my doctor said she is just lazy. She eats like a CHAMP, not picky at all and eats 3 meals a day with snacks. I feel completely at a loss. I feel helpless and like she will never learn. Help!

  66. Hi Alisha,
    My 16 months daughter seems to have gone for a hunger strike for the past four months. I started her on puréed foods when she was 6months old and she pretty much ate everything and tried all foods. After six months of that she just became really fussy and won’t eat anything. she refuses being spoonfed, only eats semi-dry foods like bread and pancakes or cheese and refuses to try anything else. I insist in sitting her at the table with her bowl of food and her spoon but she just plays with it and looks very disgusted. She’s 16 months now and. I am started to get worried. What do you think? Thank you, C.

    • It is great that you are putting her at the table every day, for every meal! That is perfect! Have you read my posts on how to transition your baby/toddler to table foods? You can find them in the article index in the menu bar. Although she is eating some foods, this will be helpful because I don’t think she has learned to chew well. You will want to follow the steps in the article. Also, are you in the states? I would look into a free in-home eval (you can also find more on this in the article index see early intervention) and see if there are some underlying difficulties. This is very non-invasive and can be very helpful. It is very common for me to see this in my practice, so you are not alone. There’s no pressure, but I’m also available for consults if you’d like to go that route. Let me know if you have any questions after you take a look at the other articles.

  67. Hi Alisha,

    My son just turned 11 months and he is having difficulty picking up food and putting it in his mouth (self-feeding). I’ve been trying since 6-7 months to give him puffs, cheerios, stemmed carrots, crackers, etc. He will either pick up the food and then drop it on the ground immediately or swat at it and push it off his tray. He’ll grunt while he does this. He barely tries to put any of it in mouth. The few time he has tried to eat the puff he’ll stick his whole hand in his mouth and can’t eat the puff so he gets frustrated and then stops trying. We’ve tried to show him how we eat and even tried to hold his hand to model the process but he just grunts and takes his hand away out of frustration. He’s very independent so does not like when we hold his hand to show him how to do things. He does let us spoon feed him – we’ve given him a mix of purees and mashed adult food since 8 months. One thing to note is that he hates being in the grass & sand so wondering if he has a texture issue. I am starting to get worried about him not self-feeding – please help! Thank you!

    • Hi, these are great questions. I have to first ask, does he eat any table foods? Can he chew the puffs? Also, have you seen my posts on how to transition to table foods? You can find those by clicking on the menu bar and looking in the article index- there are some helpful tips there. I would also highly recommend getting him to start playing in some different textures, you can do this through sensory bins, I have a post about those too (also found in the article index). Are you in the states? If so, you can also schedule a free in home evaluation through early intervention, again, a post can be found in the article index. Let me know the answer to those first questions and I can give you some more guidance.

  68. Hi Alisha,

    My son is going to turn 2 on next two weeks, and I start to gave him a own spoon and bowl and put some food in it for him to eat by himself during this few days (but I still fed him most of the food like what you teach), but he refused to get them and bring them back to me, and then I tried to give them to him one more time, he still gave them to me and said no,no,no,no. So what can I do to training him to eat by himself? Please

    • That’s great that you are following the other steps! I know it is really frustrating, but I would really try to focus on just offering. Take your time, but be consistent at every meal. Give him his own spoon and a small bowl as you feed him. Also, try acting like you are busy for a few minutes and just walk away when you know it is something he really likes (and is really hungry). Tell him you’ll be back in a minute, while “you get something”

  69. My daughter is just about 10 months old and we’ve been struggling with feeding solids pretty much from the beginning (we started at just under 6 months). At first she was SUPER sensitive to texture, where she would gag, and subsequently puke, with almost every bite. Puff or anything remotely large would immediately yield this result. Over time, she’s gotten so much better with purees and flavors (she’s onto stage 3 and 4 pouches) and will even eat the Lil Bits containers. However, she refuses to pick up food and put it in her mouth. She will play with whatever we put in front of her, but it always ends up on the floor. She doesn’t even attempt to put it in her mouth. If we pick up the food, she leans in for us to feed her. She still sometimes gags, but mostly just slowly gums the food and eventually swallows. I am terrified she’s never going to get the hang of it! Plus, she’s always been on the lower end of weight so there is a fear of her not getting enough nutrition.

    She is also slightly behind in speech. Isn’t babbling at all, though makes plenty of sounds, grunts, etc. Could these two things be connected? I am starting to worry that she’s going to fall behind her peers at daycare and get left in the dust. Any advice is much appreciated!

    • Hi Laura, I’m so glad you wrote. Based on what you just told me I think it is very likely that she has an oral motor delay. That means she doesn’t know how to chew because she is having difficulty coordinating how to move her muscles to chew and/or her muscles have weakness. This can be addressed, but I would highly recommend getting an evaluation as soon as possible. You can do that through early intervention for free if you live in the states. Click on the article index in the menu bar and see the article, “help for babies and toddlers”. She isn’t picking up the food because she doesn’t know how to eat it. This oral motor delay is also definitely related to speech. This may be a very minor issue, and may only need some specific techniques to improve quickly. If you haven’t already I would also suggest reading “how to transition to table foods” there are two parts to that. You can try going through this steps as well. Lastly, and there is no pressure, I’m available for consults. I’d have you send some video or I’d watch her eat on the consult to assess what is going on. Please let me know if you have more questions!

    • Hi Laura, I’m so glad you wrote. Based on what you just told me I think it is very likely that she has an oral motor delay. That means she doesn’t know how to chew because she is having difficulty coordinating how to move her muscles to chew and/or her muscles have weakness. This can be addressed, but I would highly recommend getting an evaluation as soon as possible. You can do that through early intervention for free if you live in the states. Click on the article index in the menu bar and see the article, “help for babies and toddlers”. She isn’t picking up the food because she doesn’t know how to eat it. This oral motor delay is also definitely related to speech. This may be a very minor issue, and may only need some specific techniques to improve quickly. If you haven’t already I would also suggest reading “how to transition to table foods” there are two parts to that. You can try going through this steps as well. Lastly, and there is no pressure, I’m available for consults. I’d have you send some video or I’d watch her eat on the consult to assess what is going on. Please let me know if you have more questions!

    • Hi Laura, I’m so glad you wrote. Based on what you just told me I think it is very likely that she has an oral motor delay. That means she doesn’t know how to chew because she is having difficulty coordinating how to move her muscles to chew and/or her muscles have weakness. This can be addressed, but I would highly recommend getting an evaluation as soon as possible. You can do that through early intervention for free if you live in the states. Click on the article index in the menu bar and see the article, “help for babies and toddlers”. She isn’t picking up the food because she doesn’t know how to eat it. This oral motor delay is also definitely related to speech. This may be a very minor issue, and may only need some specific techniques to improve quickly. If you haven’t already I would also suggest reading “how to transition to table foods” there are two parts to that. You can try going through this steps as well. Lastly, and there is no pressure, I’m available for consults. I’d have you send some video or I’d watch her eat on the consult to assess what is going on. Please let me know if you have more questions!

      • Thank you so much for responding! Of course, in the last two days, she’s figured out how to babble. I know she’s still a bit behind, but such relief that she’s making progress. Also doing a bit better on the table foods, but still only eats if I put it in her mouth. I’ve been trying the techniques from your Introing TableFoods article and it’s just difficult since she has no interest in getting the good to her mouth. Plus, she’s so independent that she doesn’t want any help. So guiding her hand to her mouth isn’t always a viable option. That being said, apparently she is sometimes doing it at daycare, but it’s definitely few and far between. I’ll likely reach out for an evaluation soon, just in case. Can you also send me info on your consultation services, too? Thank you, again!

  70. It’s hard to read your website when you have ads all over the words that won’t go away. I went on three different computers, chrome, and internet explorer and couldn’t read everything due to this. Might want to rethink that!

    • Oh my gosh, first of all I’m sorry. Because all of my professional advice is free here and I commit a lot of hours to sharing here I do have to use ads to keep this blog going. However, if you can’t see the information that is a huge problem. I don’t place the ads myself but have an ad network that does, I can’t see the ads you are talking about. THere were no “x’s” to close the boxes? Did they pop up or just on the pictures?

    • My apologies again jordan, there was some sort of glitch with that particular article, I have no idea why, but it is taken care of now, sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for bringing it to my attention.

      • Alisha,

        I completely understand needing advertising to keep the blog running. No, there was no way to remove the ad. There were no “x’s”, if you clicked on the screen it wouldn’t go away. I am glad you got it taken care of!

  71. My son is going to turn 2 next month. He likes food but doesn’t want to eat on his own at all. He would take a bite or two and even if he is hungry, he wouldn’t eat more.Whereas he eats it all if I feed him.He was making a good progress when he was 13 months but we had a nanny who started feeding him and now the situation is that he keeps waiting for us. He refuses to eat on his own. He would eat things like cheerios,french fries etc. Basically, things that are completely non-messy and dry, he would eat. But, he doesn’t like to get dirty at all. He hates it if anything gooey touches his hands. They have to be wiped immediately. Same with his face, it just cannot get dirty. We have got him enrolled into part time school now and I am wondering if we should be looking to get therapy or I am just not sure how to go about it. Please advise. I am very tensed right now.

    • I know it can be really stressful. It is never a bad idea to get an evaluation and see if he needs more help. I’d start with my eating tab in the menu bar. Start following all of those steps. Then take a look at the post, Sensory Processing and Picky Eating. I know its a lot of reading and I don’t want to overwhelm you, but you asked a lot of big questions. Take a look at those posts and then let me know if you have more questions, you can find all my posts by clicking on articles in the menu bar. Read through the comments here, too!

  72. Hi,
    Your article is very helpful.
    my daughter is 2 years now and she doesn’t like food ,but when i feed her she eats.
    Another big problem is that she wont accept to be fed by anyone else.
    What can i do to make sure she eats even when am not around her.

    • Hi Gladys, first thing I’d do is head to the start here button in the menu bar. Read there and click through to eating basics. Make sure you are following everyone of those items for a week or two and then we can talk about some more advanced strategies. If you are already doing that then let me know!

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