Mealtime Independence

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Categories Feeding, ToddlersTags ,

As they say, with toddlerhood comes increasing independence.  We’re certainly seeing that at my house, and the latest manifestation is with food and utensils.

My kids have always been somewhat independent eaters.  Once finger foods were introduced around 8 months, I found I had to let them have their way with feeding themselves for a little while before they’d tolerate me spooning some puree into their mouths.  As they got a little older, the self-feeding items (pasta, bananas, cereal, etc) became the primary foods and things requiring a spoon were just supplement.  Even then, I’d often have to get an extra spoon for my son to hold, so that he’d let me use the one with the food on it.

I started handing them little toddler forks and spoons with food on them when they were right around a year old.  They did great.  But then they became reluctant to give the fork back to me for more food.  Somehow the phrase “can I help you?” worked in convincing them that I was not stealing the fork, but actually trying to facilitate more food.

daniel and the spoonWell, those days have passed.  Daniel is *this close* to spearing food on his own, though he goes with the wrong end of the fork about 50% of the time. And he loves trying to dip the spoon into the yogurt or applesauce. But I think he knows how close he is, and no longer wants me to help. At all. Any attempt to take the utensil, even to get more of whatever he loves eating, is taken as a personal affront. In toddler world, of course, the slightest insult can quickly turn into a full-blown tantrum.  So you have to pick your battles, and unless imminent injury is involved, I let him rock those spoons on his own. It is messy and ineffective and slow and frustrating… for me.  Daniel, on the other hand, is more or less having a rocking good time figuring out this new fine motor trick.

It’s entertaining and exciting to watch, for sure.  I hope he gets the hang of it soon.  Then maybe we can go through fewer shirts over the course of a day.

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5 thoughts on “Mealtime Independence”

  1. Wow, that is excellent, I envy your patience on this because it is patience I do not have (but probably need). This reminds me that I MUST let them try utensils and soon, as we are overdue. My guys at 18 mos old have not learned any utensils yet. They do finger foods and are very happy to eat from the spoon held by mommy as I rapidly shovel food into one mouth and then the other just to get meal time over with in my rush to the next thing (the naptime or the errand or the cleanup, etc). My biggest problem is cleanup, my husband insists on certain amount of cleanliness which is probably unrealistic with toddlers but I do my best to oblige. The other thing is, mealtime for us must be accomplished somewhat efficiently from start to finish, on most days! But we’ll give utensils a whirl by new year, they’ll probably L-O-V-E it!

  2. Haha. If my husband “insisted” on a certain level of cleanliness, I would happily inform him that he was welcome to clean the house to whatever level he liked. :-)

    Also: having a dog is a huge help. Swear to god, I haven’t swept the floor once since my kids started solids. It gets a good cleaning when the cleaning ladies come every other week, but my dog takes care of every last crumb in the meantime!

  3. Jon used to get so frustrated at the messiness that I wouldn’t let him sit at the table. I literally made him walk away and keep himself busy loading the dishwasher or cleaning up. Me, I revel in the mess because it means one more step towards freedom! Now they carry their little plates to the table, climb into the chair, eat with silverware, and wipe their own hands and mouths with napkins.

    SO worth the mess.

  4. Oh to have a dog to eat the leftovers!

    Today I gave the kids their dinner, walked back into the kitchen and hear giggling. Returned to find them flinging their ham, veggies and macaroni at eachother. I took away their food, got them out of their chairs and told them that if they were still hungry, they could eat the food on the floor.

    I think I am going to have two hungry kids tomorrow morning! That is what I get for giving into their requests for more “cheese” during snack time. When they aren’t very hungry, we have much bigger messes to clean up. (Can you tell I had a short fuse today?!)

  5. Amen on the dog! And the housekeeper coming bi-weekly. What the dog doesn’t lick from the tile, the housekeeper scrapes up when she comes:)

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