Power struggle at feeding time

Lindsey - posted on 12/14/2009 ( 15 moms have responded )

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My son will be 1 in a week. Lately his independence and opinions have been more and more evident. He started walking a month and a half ago and now wants to do everything on his own (including bushing his teeth!). We are in this transition with eating. He gets a lot of (finger) table food combined with baby food that I will feed him but as of late seems very interested in using utensils to eat. Most of the time I will give him his own spoon to hold and will occasionally let him dip it into whatever I'm feeding him. However, now he will refuse my spoon and insist he do it himself. However- he obviously isn't so good at keeping the food on the spoon as it goes into his mouth and my patience is being tested with the mess and feeling like he isn't getting enough to eat.

I am hoping someone has some advice to help get us through this stage. Any tips on how to teach utensil skills? (I know he is young but this is something he WANTS to do) Or any good recipe tips to keep him interested in finger foods a little until his coordination is better?

I am worried about his nutrition and like I said- feel like I am cleanin up more than he is eating. I'm sure it will pass soon- I am just feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to ease the process.

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Stefie - posted on 12/15/2009

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Same issue here. What I do is offer a full menu of finger foods and only supplement with one or two items from a spoon that are extra. For instance:
- cooked broccoli and carrots cut into finger size pieces, whole grain noodles, cheese, banana cut into slices, a little bit of canned salmon, and a few cherrios then I share what I am eating today was clam chowder. I gave her a very small potion and several spoons. She tries to eat some on her own but has gotten to a point where I put some on her spoon and she puts it to her mouth but I hold on to the end and assist in guiding to her mouth.
Finger food ideas:
- I love soups, so I make all kinds of soup and drain most of the broth and let her have some, she picks up some with her fingers and tries with the spoon on the rest.
- I freeze all kinds of fruit, this is great for sore gums and keeps the fruit good for a long while. Frozen grapes are really yummy, or you can food process/blend several different kinds of fruit and freeze in ice cube trays, then at meal time take a butter knife and cut into tiny pieces
- most veggies are great finger foods just cooked and cut small, you don't even need to worry about re-heating if you make a large portion because really veggies don't need to be heated up. I offer veggies at each meal (expect breakfast), and when she totally ignores them I give her a glass of V8 or V8 splash.
- Of course cherrios are awesome, crackers, toast, noodles, rice or any starch is usually easy finger food.
- For protein I do scrambled eggs, salmon, any fish low in mercury in small pieces easy to pick up, cut up chicken, small pieces of meat
- I do a multi vitamin at night because I am never sure how much she really eats or hides (I find food in her diaper all the time or in her high chair) and I want to ensure that she gets everything every day.

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Michelle - posted on 12/17/2009

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My son started wanted to use utensils at 9 months and was not wanting helping by one. I gave him a lot of regular table food and I really just let him feed himself. It's a huge mess. You can't avoid that. The more he used utensils the better he got. I wouldn't worry about nutrition and whether he's getting enough. Honestly he will let you know if he's hungry and you have a long road of food issues once he hits 2. You're offering him nutritious foods I assume so what he's eating is nutritious. Don't get too drawn into the power struggle and keep offering him healthy foods, let him feed himself, and he'll be fine.

Jennifer - posted on 12/17/2009

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You can forget most of those food rules. They change from doctor to doctor and from state to state.Once children are a year old they can pretty much handle anything as long as you still introduce one new thing at a time to check for allergies.Also, just about anything can be made into a finger food. We have really great pictures of my son eating veggie soup with his hand. Those bibs that fold up to have a catcher on the bottom and can easily be wiped off are great. Just sit back enjoy the mess and take lots of pictures!

Jessica - posted on 12/17/2009

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My daughter wouldn't eat from the spoon when she was a year old. All we did for two weeks is give her snacks because that was all she would eat. (crackers, cherrios, goldfish crackers) But eventually I threw in real food here and there along w/ her snacks. Now she eats anything but veggies. Talk to his doctor if you concerned.

Lindsey - posted on 12/16/2009

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You Moms are all so helpful!!! These are such great ideas!

Yesterday I started him with a baby fork (I forgot my mom had given me one) I was putting things on there for him and he was able to bring the fork to his mouth and get the food off on his own. He was laughing the whole time and thought it was a great new game! Hopefully this will help his coordination.

Side note: I am always nervous about giving him fish! And can he have all parts of an egg now that he is 1 yr? I have tried to follow all the food rules but I swear once I think I know them all a new one comes up. Like strawberries? I was giving him freezedried ones and then someone told me I was supposed to wait... There are too many rules! A lot of them I see why it's important to wait- but some I don't get it!?!

Now that he is 1 yr what are the things I am still supposed to wait on? Or do most of them stop at this age? Anyone know?

Brandi - posted on 12/14/2009

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Quoting Valerie:

Just let him do it himself. With my daughter we just let her hold the spoon and go at it herself. She never starved...if she was she would have accepted my help. The main difficulty is the clean up afterward cause it ends up everywhere. A good hint...start with thicker foods like yogurt, beanie weanie, mac and cheese etc that isn't runny. This makes it a little easier for them because it stays on their spoons easier. Soon enough she was even eating her cereal on her own. You can also try giving him the spoon but grabbing his hand at the last second and guiding it to his mouth. My kiddo would usually accept this help. Good luck!


I also find that a little bit of mashed potato flakes or crushed up crackers  in anything really runny makes it thick enough to stick to the spoon and he spills a lot less.

Brandi - posted on 12/14/2009

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First off, take a deep breath :-))) Let your son feed himself and go ahead and give him a spoon. If you are offering him healthy foods at mealtime from a variety of food groups, I wouldn't worry about his nutrition. He WILL eat if he's hungry. I offer my kids 1 snack during the day (this helps them to be hungrier at mealtime). My dr. told me that babies/children will not allow themselves to starve. if you are offering food and they are hungry they'll eat it. :-)) As for utensil skills the only way to teach them is to allow them to use them. YES they seem to spill more than they eat and YES it's a huge gigantic mess. Try putting a garbage bag under his chair (if you don't have dogs like I do lol) that will aid with cleanup from the floor. I also take my son's plate away if he is throwing food or deliberately feeding the dogs. He will whine or say "EAT" I will give it back to him with the stern explanation that if I catch him doing it again, I'll take it away and he'll not get it back. This has seemed to limit the mess WHILE he's eating. So when he starts playing, I know he really isn't hungry anymore. Also, your 1 yr. old needs VERY little food to be meeting his nutritional needs. 1 Tblsp. of meats, 1/4 cup. of veggies/fruits 1/2 slice of bread and 4-6 oz. of milk is considered a serving of each of these things. He should be getting 4 servings of bread, 2-3 servings of meat, 4 or so servings of veggies/fruits, and 2-3 servings of milk a day (so if you think about it one adult meal spread over the course of the day is all he really needs. good luck.

Jennifer - posted on 12/14/2009

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He gets the nutrition from the formula.My son is a fighter too! But, i just sallow my anger and show a smile .That works better .I try to make him laugh and then i put the food right in..I know it sound silly but it works!

Lindsey - posted on 12/14/2009

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Quoting Sara:

My daughter is the same way...always wanted to use the spoon and brush her teeth by herself! I allowed her to feed herself. Every once in a while she would hand me the spoon and I would know she wanted me to feed her because she realized she wasn't getting all she needed to fill herself up. Yes, it was messy but now at 19 months, she has great utensil skills and makes very little mess. If you are worried about the messes, buy a cheap shower curtain and put it under the high chair. Or you could use a garbage bag and throw it away after meal time.



Thank you for the splat mat idea! I thought about trying to get one of those under the desk office mats but figured it would be a little pricey! Those were great suggestions and should ease my mess stress!!! Just hoping it will pass without having to replace the carpets... lol

[deleted account]

My daughter is the same way...always wanted to use the spoon and brush her teeth by herself! I allowed her to feed herself. Every once in a while she would hand me the spoon and I would know she wanted me to feed her because she realized she wasn't getting all she needed to fill herself up. Yes, it was messy but now at 19 months, she has great utensil skills and makes very little mess. If you are worried about the messes, buy a cheap shower curtain and put it under the high chair. Or you could use a garbage bag and throw it away after meal time.

Valerie - posted on 12/14/2009

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Just let him do it himself. With my daughter we just let her hold the spoon and go at it herself. She never starved...if she was she would have accepted my help. The main difficulty is the clean up afterward cause it ends up everywhere. A good hint...start with thicker foods like yogurt, beanie weanie, mac and cheese etc that isn't runny. This makes it a little easier for them because it stays on their spoons easier. Soon enough she was even eating her cereal on her own. You can also try giving him the spoon but grabbing his hand at the last second and guiding it to his mouth. My kiddo would usually accept this help. Good luck!

Lindsey - posted on 12/14/2009

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Quoting Rebecca :

maybe let him do one spoonful (with his own spoon) then you feed him a mouthful (with another spoon) i have 3 of the same spoons and i let my son hold one for himself. He is a bit younger, but hope this idea helps. :)



When I say he insists on doing it himself and refuses my help- He pinches his lips together and turns his head. Sometimes he gets very frustrated with me and will cry. He really will not let me feed him anymore. I am grateful for his independence- but  man is it trying!!! He used to be such a good eater. I would just say "bite" and he would open his mouth and eat.



 



On that note, I could use ideas for interesting finger food recipes. Anything! Thanks for the idea! But I have tried this... And he certainly isn't accepting my help. :)

Rebecca - posted on 12/14/2009

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maybe let him do one spoonful (with his own spoon) then you feed him a mouthful (with another spoon) i have 3 of the same spoons and i let my son hold one for himself. He is a bit younger, but hope this idea helps. :)

Crystal - posted on 12/14/2009

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My son is the same way but hes 18 months. and now hates when i try to feed him. so i got to the point where i thought he wasn't getting enough so i just had him use his fingers. and i know soon enough he will learn the right way to use a fork spoon. and we still to practice runs where i will make something and let him use the fork and spoon by himself just so he will always remember how to do so.

Betsy - posted on 12/14/2009

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I would let him eat it himself and just give him healthy snacks in between throughout the day it was the same way my son was and he sure never starved he is now 2 and 30 pounds and very tall

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