toddler refusing to self feed!

(13 Posts)
neshi Fri 01-Mar-13 21:54:00

Hi,
My Ds is now 2,8 and ias an has always been a great eater! This although, does not mean he's good at self feeding!
I may be to blame here because I tended, until late, to make his (and my) life easier and spoon fed him not encouraging him enough to do it himself.
When he started nursery at one year old, they really pushed him to learn self feeding and soon he started doing at nursery. At home I started making an extra effort but he's not the least interested! He's hungry...otherwise he would not eat everything when I feed him...and I can't bring myself to let him go to bed with no dinner...he's too young for that!
He now has lunch every day at school by himself and eats the whole thing (whatever it is...). At home he started to simply refuse at all to eat alone.
Meanwhile, I now have a 7 month old baby who obviously needs help feeding.
Mealtimes have become a nightmare...I only have 2 hands and cannot feed them both...I really feel he needs to do it but he's turning this into a battle with me.
I tried being nice and sweet, rewards, time out, taking away his so much loved half an hour of tv time after dinner...tried a dozen things and if anyhting it's only making it worse...
Any suggestions...please???

MrsMushroom Fri 01-Mar-13 22:17:20

He won't let himself starve...he'll eat eventually. They don't implode from missing a few meals.

TheNoodlesIncident Sat 02-Mar-13 00:53:17

Sorry, this is going to sound harsh but maybe you need to take a step back and become more blase about it. Put his plate and fork/spoon in front of him, then feed the little one. Chat to him but don't get stressed about whether he's eating it or not. After a period of time, take the plates away.

Going without a dinner truly won't hurt, even at his age. He's probably eating a nice nutritious meal - all by himself - at lunchtime, so he can manage by himself and won't starve in the meantime.

You say it's turned into a battle - it has to stop being a battle because you won't win. Don't let him see it bothers you. It's easy to say but you do have to become more relaxed about it. Praise any efforts he does make, ignore it when he doesn't. Don't make it an issue with punishments, giving attention for doing what you don't want. The consequence of his not eating his dinner means he goes hungry, which is far more valuable at teaching him life lessons than any punishment would be (which just breeds resentment and balkiness imo). I think this might be why your attempts thus far are just making it worse.

Please do step back. He will learn eventually, you do have to persevere though. And it goes without saying that giving him something else to eat if he complains of being hungry renders it all pointless. If he does complain: "You chose not to eat your dinner. Now you are hungry."

wannaBe Sat 02-Mar-13 01:02:52

he does it away from you therefore he is perfectly capable of doing it and this is pure stubbornness/naughtyness/willfulness/<insert adjective of choice>.

You have a baby to feed, he is capable of feeding himself. so put baby in high chair, toddler at table, put his dinner in front of him and feed the baby. Chat to the both of them and ignore any attempts for him to get you to feed him. When you've finished feeding the baby ask if he's finished yet. If he says no then just say "ok, mummy will give you another five minutes," then carry on doing what you're doing in the kitchen. After five minutes more take the plate away and don't offer anything else. He'll learn very quickly that not feeding himself equals no dinner. He won't starve. And yes, I'm aware that there is a small minority of children out there who will starve themselves rather than eat but this is a child who proves daily that he is capable of feeding himself...

DorsetLass Sat 02-Mar-13 01:16:26

Oh I really feel for you - my age gap is the same and we went through exactly this scenario! Firstly be encouraged that it will not last forever - and the advice above is good. I tried everything before being reduced to either tears (mine that is!) or complete frustration/anger/not nice mum! In the end I just calmly went cold turkey on her - have her meal, took it away at end if meal if not eaten with no more than gentle prompting. Took a few days to get full meal (and I did find it more a test of my patience) but it gradually worked. . Oh and I cut out all snacks - that made the most unbelievable difference as she was actually hungry. Really good luck!

MrsMushroom Sat 02-Mar-13 10:18:25

There seem to be two types of parent...those who get anxious about the DC not eating and those who don't.

I'm one who isn't worried about it...so it's easy for me to say "Just leave him alone" but I do understand that it can be a worry for some.

Just rest assured that small children come to no harm if they miss a meal or two...or three! As long as they are hungry they eat.

lola88 Sat 02-Mar-13 10:23:09

I'm going to use my favourite saying here 'why have a dog and bark yourself' he is just being lazy because he can, don't feed him if he's hungry later give him some boring snack and let him feed himself he'll soon get the idea

ZuleikaD Sat 02-Mar-13 13:23:57

Leave him to it - he won't starve himself.

BUT you might want to do something else special with him as otherwise he's seeing you feeding your 7mo and feeling rejected and as though you've switched that attention to the baby.

Iggly Sat 02-Mar-13 14:22:45

You can let the baby self feed as well as your ds.

How about feeding him one spoon and get him to do the next one? Or give him more finger food style meals?

AnaisB Sat 02-Mar-13 14:31:51

I don't like DD (2) missing meals because it means I get woken at stupid o' clock - I can understand your reluctance to let him go hungry!

It may be particularly hard for him at the moment because of the (relatively) new baby. I agree with the others about not making a fuss - could you give him his absolute favourite finger food so its hard to resist? Letting DD feed her brother (6 months) with very close supervision has helped with her jealousy.

neshi Sat 02-Mar-13 22:09:20

It seems that you all kind of agree to let him go with no dinner...I'll give a try! I'm afraid I'll be woken up middle of the night asking for cereal :D...is has happend before!
Good idea the one of letting him feed the baby under very close supervision...never tried that but he may find it fun and ease the sudden and growing jealousy!
Thanks you all for answering smile

DorsetLass Sun 03-Mar-13 22:12:04

Also friend of mine has just solved this problem with hers by giving much much smaller portions in a smaller plate - he then gets lots if praise as he actually manages to finish it easily, and is now always asking for more, and feels encouraged that he can mange it. Maybe worth a try? X

We've had exactly the same issue with DD2. In the end, we ignored her (she's been feeding herself at nursery for months) and we also had her sit on a chair next to her sister, rather than being strapped in a booster seat (madam rejected the highchair almost immediately on being put in it at 6 months!).

Good luck!

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