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He refuses to feed himself and insists that "mummy do it"

Hi there,
My 23 month old son is a healthy happy boy who is talking very well for his age and in general good health. My problem is that he refuses to feed himself and insists that "mummy do it". He also only wants to eat his dinner mushed up with a fork and will generally rather not eat if I give him the same food not mushed. He eats finger foods at lunch time himself no problem and eats custard with a spoon all by himself easily. I KNOW he CAN do it and have thought of leaving him to be hungry if he wont eat it himself but hate the thought of leaving him to no food at all. I have another baby due to arrive soon and it would be helpful if my first would do some of this himself so things are easier for me at mealtimes. What do you suggest?

Answer: Hi Leigh, sounds like you have a toddler who is very much enjoying dinner times with you. Ideally this question would be best suited for an early childhood consultant, they are wonderful at little tips to amend habits. So as one mum to another, I would suggest focusing on any attempts at self-feeding and rewarding that behaviour with lots of praise. Start small, holding the spoon at dinner time, then having a try of the food on the spoon and so on. Your toddler is probably a bit young for a rewards chart, but if you think it would work then go for it. You could offer one token for self-feeding at lunch or brekky and two for dinner or a bigger token for dinner (given toddlers don`t really understand quantity). You may like to shop together for a special plate and spoon or fork, which is only used at dinner times and see if that helps. It may not be possible, but see if another family member or friend can feed your toddler, often they will do things for others that they won`t for you. Likely that when baby two arrives things may regress, they may not, but it is possible. It might be helpful to buzz your CHN and ask for some tips and if you have access to a toddler seminar in your area (many of the hospitals host them), its great to pop along. You are likely to find that your question will be on many other parents minds too. Some areas also have Parents as Teachers, they are fabulous. An early childhood expert takes the mornings, you take your tot along so they can play (a bit like a play group) but you have access to an expert as well as talks on topics. I hope that helps, I am sure it will pass, I hope soon for you All the best for your upcoming labour and expanded family. All the best, Leanne
Answered: 01 Jul 2009