HomeToddlers2 year old refuses to self feed! ideas?
Posted in Toddlers on 11th December 2010

2 year old refuses to self feed! ideas?
my son is 2.. actually 2 1/2.. and he is very capable of using utensils and eating independently. here lately, like the past few months, he has been flat our refusing to feed himself. even things like a sandwich, cut into manageable peices, or chips. pancake and sausage on a stick.. things that should be (and are) easy for him to eat. he just.. wont!! he pushes his plate to me or his father and says “i need help.” we try to tell him you can do it, just try. big boys feed themselves.” (hasnt worked.) we have tried telling him if he doesnt feed himself he just isnt going to eat. this has not worked either because he will cry that he needs help and im NOT letting my baby go hungry under any circumstances. we also have a one year old son who feeds himself well, so it cant be that he wants attention because we dont feed the one year old. he picks up all his own food and is mastering utensils quite well. sometimes he will actually pick up things, like a chip or a hotdog, and hand it to us to hold for him while he bites it. we thought maybe it was bothering him that his hands were dirty, but even when he eats non messy food he will not feed himself.

so, ill ask you guys in the words of my toddler..


how dare you imply that i discourage my older son and brag on the baby!! i am on an internet website getting advice from adults, not bad talking my toddler. I do NOT spank, i do NOT yell, and i do NOT degrade my children. i do NOT insist that a one year old and a two year old speak quietly at the table or anywhere else. they are children, not robots. they havent even reached preschool age yet! good for you and your “polite” children.

i hope for their sake they dont grow up to be know it all, not to mention RUDE adults.

if you cant answer a direct question withouth criticizing someone elses parenting skills.. mind you someone you dont even KNOW, then might i suggest you learn how to?

dont discourage your two year old.. HAH. honey you have no idea. my children are bright and both of them have an extensive vocabulary that amazes their pediatrician.


Best answer(s):

Answer by eat my pudding
Let him go hungry if he don’t feed himself, eventually, he’ll get hungry and decide to do it!

Answer by speedy_me18
He won’t go hungry, believe me! My daughter, who turned 2 in January started doing this about a month ago. At first I would feed her, and by the time I got around to my food, it was cold. I decided I was not going to feed her anymore. I told her she was a big girl and she can feed herself. After about 2 days of her refusing to eat because I wasn’t feeding her, she finally started doing it herself and it has been fine since. He won’t starve if you don’t feed him, he’ll eat when he’s hungry enough!

Answer by Hereese
I think you should just let him cry. If he doesn’t eat then take the food away, and wait for the next meal. He’ll eat eventually. If you don’t want to go that way, get some fun utensils that have his favorite characters on them – Sesame Street, Blues Clues, Dora, Spongebob, etc.

Answer by rebecca4444
He CLEARLY wants attention. And this is his way of getting it. I agree with one of the answers – that he will eat if he is hungry enough.

So give him plenty of attention in other areas. Play with him one on one. Take him on an outing. But as for eating, leave him be. If he can’t eat without help, eventually he will. And reward him for it!!

Answer by Leigh
thats the problem, you give in when he cries, so he knows all he has to do is cry and you give in and feed him. he is NOT going to go hungry or starve himself if you refuse, just tell him its that or nothing and he cant leave the table until hes eaten, when hes hungry enough he will eat by himself. mommy and daddy are not his slaves who feed him when hes perfectly capable of doing it himself. its simply that he likes you feeding him, no other reason, so its up to you, as a parent, to teach him that he has to feed himself.

Answer by honey
With children it can always be attention. Not saying it is but it could be. You are giving him attention because he isn’t feeding himself which, is what toddlers thrive on positive or negative attention.

Try saying…”you need help!” OK… if you feed yourself one piece of sandwich…I will feed you the next. Or the oppisite, if I feed you this piece you need to feed youself the next piece. Praise him when he feeds himself. Good job. Then talk…tell daddy what yo did today. Feed him a piece. then say..its your turn. then say…I have to eat to, you are a big boy so eat another bite. If he feeds himself one bite..it will be progress. It is a phase, who knows why….playing games and not getting stressed or angry(hard I know) will help.
He is old enough to eat by himself..YES. but for what ever reason he is choosing not to. So,for now work with him. If you didn’t have a one year old that fed himself….to you it probably wouldn’t be as big of a deal. He is a toddler, they go through all kinds of odd unexplainable phases. It will pass.

Answer by Sissy
As a parent you are in control, be firm with your child. Sometimes kids depend on us parents because we try to do everything for them and they may feel that it’s your job. Some kids just don’t learn how to speak because the parent baby-talks to the child and plays the “guessing game,” when the child asks for something and the parent doesn’t understand what the child is trying to say.

You have two children, the most important thing is not to brag to the child that his sibling is doing this and that and comparing that one is doing better than the other, he needs to be encouraged, not discouraged. Treat them equally, discipline them the same, don’t put him down.

Children need lots of discipline, respect, and affection. Try it, sit your child down, set down his plate, grab his arm firmly and look at him in the face and tell him “we are going to eat, here is your food, when you finish, you may go play.” If he starts throwing a fit, you may want to do “time-out,” but don’t fall into his little game, be firm. Tell him that when he calms down, he may come and eat.

Ignore his tantrums, remember you are the parent and the child is not to tell you what to do. You will feel sorry for him but it’s up to you to say who gives orders in your home, don’t give up so easy. After a few times he will learn that you are not going to do what he says and he will start to do things on his own, he won’t have a choice. Praise him when he does.

The last thing a child wants is for the parent to scream back at him or smack him so don’t let him get on your weak side, just be firm and let him know you mean business, praise him, discipline him and give him lots of love and attention but don’t spoil him rotten.

Encourage him to eat quietly, play some soft music. Remind him about manners, not to talk while he’s eating (he may choke on his food) remind him bless his food, to say please and thank you and constantly talk to him in normal language and you will see how fast he picks up a full vocabulary. Children that speak early turn out to be brighter in school because you challenge them at a very young age to speak, to read, to learn and all they need is a little encouragement and disciplining.

Polite kids are wonderful around everyone and you will get tons of compliments, you’ll see. Good luck. You have your hands full, but you can do it.

Answer by Andrea
It might be just a phase he is going through. I have 2 1/2 year old twin boys, and they have gone through this a while back. They started by wanting to feed only themselves and go to flat out refusing to feed themselves. Usually i would go ahead and feed them, but yeah, my food would then get cold. So then i switched it to where we would all sit at the table, and if they didnt feed themselves, they would have to wait for me to finish eating what was on my plate. I dont know if it worked or not, but eventually they decided they wanted to feed themselves, now they want to be completely independent.
You dont have to “starve” him, if hes hungry enough he will eat, but if you eat first it will also teach him patience. good luck!

Answer by cathrl69
Let him go hungry. It’ll last about a day, if that. “No” is a perfectly good response to “feed me” from a 2 year old.

Of course telling him he wasn’t going to eat didn’t work, because you never had any intention of following through with it. If I told my kids they weren’t going to eat, they’d know they weren’t going to eat.

He’s not your baby and it’s past time you stopped treating him like one. He’s old enough for playgroup. Do you really think the staff there will feed him his snack? No, they won’t – and the other kids will laugh at him.

Answer by marrich
Give him his food, and then eat yourself. If he cry’s, he cry’s…no big deal. If he’s hungary enough, he’ll eat. LIttle kids will not starve themselves to get their way. By giving in, tells him that it’s ok to cry because mommy will do what I want. Praise your other kid who will feed themselves and make a big deal about eating on your own. Give him a day, he’ll come around.

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