HELP!!!! My almost 3 year old son chews and chews on food but refusing to swallow it!!!!

Nichole - posted on 08/07/2010 ( 18 moms have responded )

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We need some advice on handling my almost 3 year old refusing to swallow his food. It's not a swallowing problem...seems to be a phase. It is very recent. He chews and chews and chews and refuses to swallow the bite. He chews it up until it's liquefied and totally gross but will not swallow...no matter what. We don't want to encourage him spitting out food when he doesn't want to eat something. The other night my husband was trying to insist that he would swallow that bite and he sat with him for 30 minutes trying to "make" him swallow it. I did not agree with this approach but we believe strongly in maintaining the "united front" in front of our son He was gagging and crying the whole time and I let it go as long as I could until I couldn't take it any longer. So I snapped and said that was enough and took Sam to the bathroom to get rid of the bite and clean him up and calm him down. I have since told hubby we WILL NOT be doing that again. BUT...having said that...I don't know what the right answer is and we need a different approach!!! Anybody else's kids doing this?? Any suggestions on getting him to swallow the bite without traumatizing him in the process would be helpful!!!!!!! Thanks!!!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Brooke Kaplan - posted on 01/12/2014

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My son will chew and chew then put all the food in his cheek. He refuses to swallow and looks like a chipmunk. We have no idea how to help….

Rachel - posted on 10/21/2015

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So what did you end up doing? I'm at my wits end. My 4 year old stepson, who we have full custody of. Will sit there and chew and chew for 2 hours!!! He will leave a piece of food in his mouth for over 10 minutes, I don't understand.
But if it's chicken nuggets or hot dogs. There isn't an issue. I'm so fed up.

Suzie - posted on 09/11/2012

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My daughter is 3 years old and is doing exactly the same thing! and when i ask her why she doesnt swallow her food she just says 'cause i dont want to swallow it' and she smiles. i dont know what it is either, its very bizarre because she doesnt have a sore throat either, can anyone shed some light??

Teresitavr_21 - posted on 04/10/2014

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My almost 5 year old boy, doesnt swallow his food either, he has been doing it since he was a little baby, he keeps it in his mouth, he takes longer than 2 hours in every meal, no mater how hungry he is, the only thing that he finished fast is his milk, i dont know how to hel him, i am tired, we cant go to any restaurant because people will start talking about him, if i dont seat next to him untill he says he is full, usually after 2 hours of being seated he wont eat and will loose weight, its frustraiting, he is my only kid, and I am affraid of having a second one, I dont want to deal with swallowing problems anymore, i know i am not helping with any good advise, and i am sorry,

Melissa - posted on 09/09/2010

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I receently was talking to my husband about this and he says several guys at work said their kids did the same thing all about the 3 yr old age. my daughter has done this before at the table and has actually been playing later after dinner when I notice she has stuff stuck in her cheek. you would think if they didn't like the taste or tecture or whatever they would not want it in their mouth for a LONG time! One guy my husband talked to said he got his kid up in the morning and realized that he still had a bite of carrot stuck in his cheek from dinner the night before!! so it seems like it's kinda normal and maybe a faze lots of kids go through. I'm not sure why but I wonder if it's not like alot of other things and they are trying to show their independence or how big they are and they feel like they can have control over what they eat or something!! I don't know. I just finally let my daughter spit it out because I would rather her spit it out than to choke on it or something. I've also learned that trying to make her eat something is impossible and just causes stress and drama. I just give her her meal option and if she doesn't want to eat it, we don't fight it but she does not get anything else to eat and NO SNACKS between meals if she does not eat the previous meal. seems to work pretty well, if she doesn't eat at one meal, she eats really well at the next. I did see on TV once that if they refuse to eat something at one meal to stick it in the fridge and serve again at the next until they eat it but I have not tried that. I know there are things that I don't like either and I'm not going to eat them no matter how many times served so I don't force the issue. I just try to find healthy things that they do like. Good luck!! hope this helps alittle!!

18 Comments

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Itsanishabeauty - posted on 11/29/2017

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Hey...has your prob solved??? Plz let me know as i am getting berserk...my son also doesnt chew..every meal is a war for me.and tgen i loose cool on him...this is affecting my relationship with my son...plz guide what all u did

Mummy - posted on 08/02/2016

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Hi to all moms...@ Nichole Olson im facing same issue with my 4 year girl child. She chews and chews the food until it is liquified but doesnot swallows. She has been like this always. I read posts from moms regarding similar issue. Plz let me know if your issues are resolved? Has your child started swallowing. Help plz!! My daughter has a mild developmental delay. We live in INDIA where doctors don't treat this as a issue. But my child doesn't swallow even her favorite foods. Only on pediasure, milk, banana which she takes 45 min to finish one small banana.

Gemma - posted on 04/19/2015

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I've been having the same issue with my nearly 4 year old daughter. She is terrible at eating "proper" food like meat and veg. She will eat fruit, cheese and snack foods no problem, also chocolate and sweets don't seem to be an issue either surprisingly! Trying to get her to sit down and eat a meat and 2 veg meal feels impossible! And can sometimes take hours literally! I can put dinner out at 5 and she's still not finished it by bath time at 7.30! It's so draining and frustrating coz we want her to have a good diet. Meats are the worse for the chewing till it's mush so I tried putting it into tiny pieces but sometimes that doesn't even work. Is she still getting the goodness from it this way? I skipped out lunch the other day for her and just gave her a little snack bar instead and she sat and are all of her dinner without me constantly telling her to sit and eat her dinner but feel bad not giving her lunch! Can anybody help me!?

Beckyparry - posted on 03/24/2015

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We have this problem too with our 6 year old... A heLthcare professional suggested distracting her during mealtimes, (for example by plying a game with her or letting her watch a film) and to observe wether she was able to swallow when Her attention was 'otherwise occupied'. this didn't really help us to diagnose wether this issue is a physical or behavioural one as she just watched the film with the food in her cheek and we are still none the wiser! Tomorrow we have an appointment with a reflux specialist sonwe will see....

Suzan - posted on 12/09/2014

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My daughter did this until she was almost 7 but only with food she didn't like or she thought was hard to chew. Encouraging her to take a drink to help get it down almost always helped. Trying to force a child to swallow will never work and only causes anxiety centered around eating, in my unprofessional opinion. Try not to stress out about it too much. It will pass. When I quit stressing out about what she ate and how much she ate, it all stopped. Providing healthy meals and cutting out sugary snacks is all you can do. They will eat when they are hungry.

Christine - posted on 08/18/2014

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Respectfully, I don't think feeding purées has much, if anything, to do with this. My 3 year old son does this and we did mostly baby led weaning with him (so he had solid food he was able to feed himself) from 6 months on. When I notice he is starting to accumulate food in his cheeks, I take his plate or bowl away until he swallows. I try not to let him leave the table without swallowing, too. This is a relatively new issue for us, but my technique seems to work pretty well.

Lananhlt73 - posted on 05/05/2014

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Maybe if you tried feeding him food from early age like 6-7 months, he would have learned to chew and swallow his food now better. I'm not talking based on my experience but from what I've read in a book. Japanese moms start feeding their kids food since they're 6 or 7 months old

Christina93 - posted on 06/26/2013

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My 2yr. Old has been doing the very same, she just
Chews and tries all sorts of foods but will not swollow it,
I have tried offering her favorite foods, and she does take it ve..ry excitedly...but only to chew and suck the flavor. Out of it.
So after trying and trying to get her to swollow,I also asked her "why won't you swallow it? She says with tears in her eyes,,,"I will choke"...so then that took me back to remembering when she had choked on. A candy at her grandmas a few days ago,,,and she didi get quite a scare out of it...as I did. So I had figured it out. So I said to myself if I have to start from the bottom again to get her to swallow, I will. So I started giving her soft foods such as mashed patoes which she loves..and apple sauce to replace her favorite fruit she used to eat a lot. So what I'm gonna do tommorrow is take her to the grocery store and have her help me pick out some gerber baby foods that she can replace...all her solids with for a while,,, untill she slowly starts getting the temptation to start eating solids again!!! Trust me...they will soon miss all the yummy solidsto where they don't even realize they started swollowing again. All you need is patience and a little encouragement to try to get them to try solids again, but don't keep forcing it! You will only make them more afraid and only lead you back to zero. So let them take their time till they are ready to start swollowing again!!!remember don't stress yourself,,,,I won't!!!

Teresa - posted on 08/28/2012

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I have been beside myself worrying about exactly the same thing with my 6 year old boy after reading all the comments on here which were very helpful I asked him if he was afraid of the food getting stuck in his pipes to which he answered yes so we sat down and drew a picture and i explained what happened he was quite happy about the answer and even added the bits about it coming out of his bottom once it has passed through his stomach which made it all very funny and npt scary now he has decided he wants to eat hope your problem is sorted soon its very distressing

Zaleena - posted on 07/31/2012

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I have a 5 yr old daughter that will not eat any solid, I am presently feeding her pureed all day and feeding her alone takes all day
we are running mad with this Drs r just ignoring us.
ZallyM@aol.com

Cyndel - posted on 09/18/2010

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When my son is stubborn about swallowing food he doesn't like I tell him to take a drink. works every time and helps mask the taste of something he doesn't like but needs to eat.

Also has he had a mild choking scare? Maybe he is scared to swallow. You may not have even known about it. My son was eating an apple a couple of months ago, when I ran to the bathroom with a full bladder, he was coughing while I was gone, when I came out his eyes were watering and he had a slobbery piece of apple he had obviously coughed up, he didn't eat apples for almost three weeks, and they are his favorite food.

Also I agree about the sore throat thing especially if it is a very recent, make sure he has plenty to drink during the meals before a doc visit if you think this is the problem, also 100% real fruit popcicles always help my son when he has a sore throat. I give one to him before he eats it helps numb his throat while he eats. Hope this helps...good luck.

Jackie - posted on 09/09/2010

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If he is gagging it could be reflux. We went through this for a short time with my daughter. It can be stressful for the parent but if it is reflux, they can't help it. I would talk to the doctor about it. If it is purely behavioral and he is not losing too much weight I wouldn't worry about it. Yes, it is gross but I find that if you do not give the behavior attention it will go away. They are at an age where the old "if they get hungry enough, they will eat" starts to ring true. If you don't feel that you can ignore the behavior I would first say "please try to swallow your food." if he spits it out, say "If you spit out your food, I will take it away" then if he does it again, take it away and excuse him from the table. I would ONLY do this if you are sure that it is behavioral and of course I would not starve them. Kids will only eat what they need so if he says he is not hungry, he is not hungry and I wouldn't force it. Do keep track of his weight and consult your doctor to be sure there is no medical reason for it and to be sure he is not losing weight. Good luck and I commend you on trying to keep a united front. I know it is hard but you probably did the right thing by stepping in.

Jeneva - posted on 08/08/2010

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What does he say when you ask him why he won't swallow it? Does he have a sore throat and so he's afraid it will hurt? I haven't gone through this with my 3 yr old but when my 2 yr old has done that it's because he had a sore throat. And the only reason we found out was because we took him to the doc for it.

If it turns out that there is nothing physically wrong he may have developed a fear somehow. Maybe try tiny pieces of food given in very small increments so he can't just keep shoving them in and the only way he gets more is to swallow that piece(s).

I'm sorry, I know it's frustrating and concerning. I would suggest taking him to the pedi if he can't/won't tell you why.

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