How to get a toddler to CHEW his food

Crystal - posted on 06/06/2012 ( 13 moms have responded )

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I have a 20 month old little boy. He's a very good eater, he eats everything I do, sometimes even more than I eat. But he doesn't normally chew his food. I still have to break up cookies and crackers and stuff for him so he doesn't choke when he swallows them whole. He CAN chew, he used to do it. But he has stopped. Anyone have any advice or tips on how I can encourage him to chew again? He's started throwing up his food because he doesn't chew anything. I'd like to just be able to hand him a cookie whole and know that he would eat it and chew it properly. Please help me. Anything would be appreciated.

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Kim - posted on 06/06/2012

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I had the same problem with my middle daughter. We had her hold up her hand and count up to five with one finger for each chew. It took a minute to get her to do it and she didn't really have the manual dexterity yet, but then she loved it, and would even go up to ten sometimes. I don't remember how long she did that, but it did establish good chewing habits!

Kelina - posted on 06/09/2012

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Give him big stuff. That'll teach him to take bites that are the right size for him. Stop breaking up his food, he's never going to learn that way. And if you're really worried about the choking, give him soft stuff that will dissolve if he does swallow too much for the first little bit. Otherwise, let him gag. Then remind him he has to chew his food. Don't remind him every time, but once or twice he'll catch on really quick. Gagging, choking, and throwing up are all unpleasant experiences. and if he does throw up-don't feed him again. Wait until the next meal before he gets anything to eat.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/07/2012

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My son was the same way, without the throwing up. I wish we would have tried Kim's idea! We just hovered and reminded him, "small bite... no more until your mouth is empty." It was kind of embarrassing to leave him, a 20-month-old, at the church nursery and have to say, "Please watch him if you give him a cracker, he's going to choke himself!" when the 11-month-old beside him is daintily gumming a cracker with no problem.



I also never gave him more than 2 or 3 bites worth of food on his plate at once.



He just snapped out of it one day. Now he's two and a half, and rarely over-stuffs his mouth.

Kelina - posted on 06/09/2012

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It doesn't work for everyone and not everyone's comfortable with it. I was and it worked with both my kids. Yes, their mouths got full(not many times lol) but they learned. But then I'm also the strange parent who will give my kids piping hot food and tell them it's hot from the time they're less than a year. It only takes them once of burning their fingers.

Manju - posted on 02/03/2014

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I'm experiencing the same problem here.. My daughter is 2 years too.. I have to literally mash her food and feed her.. She spits out bigger or unmashed pieces or she just swallows it all.. She doesn't even drink milk.. My doc also asked if shez able to talk clearly which she does as it might be due to autism.. Thankfully she doesn't seem to be autistic .. She is just reluctant to use her teeth.. My doc has asked me to take an occupational therapy for her. I have to take that and see how she responds to it.

Manju

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Nina - posted on 03/07/2014

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Hi Cheryl, when I replied to your post I didn't see the date. Your son must be much older now. How is he doing now? Did he eventually start chewing properly? What did you to get him there? Any tips or advice would be appreciated!

Sadhana - posted on 02/27/2014

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i have this same problem with my 26 month old daughter...she just swallowed her food not try to chew or bite...how should i teach her to chew...feeling sad.

Sheetal - posted on 01/16/2014

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I,m so tired of this problem ! My 2 year old just wouldnt eat anything that doesnt come out of a blender :( , he doesnt snack on any chips or biscuits, even if he does may 1 piece max. Its bad to a level that even banana has to be smashed for him to eat. i have tried so many tricks but have failed , he now goes to playschool where eats nothing during the snacks time. he has gone 2 full days with just milk because he refused to eat unmashed food . What kind of doctor should i visit for this issue, the normal doctors wash it off saying, its ok he will pick it up but i know this aint normal.

Kavitha - posted on 11/25/2013

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Please help me out...
My son is 4 yrs now. Still is reluctant to food. Eating time is a great struggle. He never chew his food. he just swallow the food irrespective of any taste...I just always smash the food for his easy digestion; or else he vomits or takes very little quantity. I tried many ways of giving food. But nothing had worked. It am almost fed up to the extreme level and feel like crying to get rid of this problem. Next year he need to take the lunch to school. I know he will not take single piece from the box..How to make him chew? and the above suggested methods are beyond his comforts and doesn't work with him. Even the meals lunch everything is grinded and given in glass only. Very horrible. Please help me...

Jennifer - posted on 06/09/2012

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Check his bite. Some toddlers have a more open bite that actually makes it harder for them to chew properly because their teeth don't quite come together. A friend of mine's son has this problem and if that is the case the DO continue to break up your child's food because it may not be his fault that he's not chewing properly. My friend talked to her dentist about her son's bite and was told that it usually corrects itself on it's own by the time their adult teeth come in so they won't actually try to correct it until he loses his baby teeth. Until then he is actually only chewing with his back molars.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/09/2012

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@Kelina, it doesn't really work like that.
If you give a kid like that a banana, for example, he'll bite, then bite again, then bite again, then again. Now, he hasn't chewed at all yet, and now his mouth is too full to do it. If he doesn't know how to spit out food yet (my son's 2.5 and is just learning this skill) it could get scary. He might not choke and die, but it's not really something I'd be comfortable experimenting with.

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