QuestionChildren's Diet and Nutrition
My two-year-old toddler seems to be completely uninterested in feeding herself. She will only eat if we spoon feed every single mouthful to her. She will only feed herself unhealthy snacks which we don’t want to give to her. What can I do to encourage her to self-feed?
What the Expert Says
It’s great that you are encouraging your child to develop healthy eating habits from a young age.
When toddlers are just learning to self-feed, they might prefer finger food like fries and other unhealthy snacks that do not require utensils, to a bowl of home-made mashed potatoes. Toddlers at this age are still developing their fine motor skills – being spoon-fed or using their hands to pick up food directly from the plate makes it easier for them to put food into their mouths.
Bearing this in mind, you can start by placing a plate of healthier finger food items such as steamed baby carrots that she could dip into hummus; or serve cut-up soft fruits like mango, banana or pumpkin in front of her. Freshly baked mini pizzas will do just as well.
As she gradually eats these foods without much persuasion, you can re-introduce other foods that require utensils to eat.
Another effective way to get your toddler to eat her food is to involve her in the food preparation. Being creative in your presentation is also an added bonus. This way, your child is getting to know her food better and will be more interested to eat it later on.
As with most children, patience and consistency will go a long way. Reassure your child that it’s alright when she accidentally spills her food and give her more time to practice self-feeding.
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