Regular Visitor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-18-2014

My toddler won't hold utensils!

Hi everyone!  I need some advice. My son is almost 28 months and won't hold a spoon or fork to eat any of his meals. I've tried just setting him up with it and walking away but all he does is cry and complain until I come back and feed him. I know he knows how to do it, he's done once or twice in the past. He doesn't go to daycare and I'm a stay at home mom, but soon he will be starting the 3 year old program... Help please?

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New Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎03-25-2014

Re: My toddler won't hold utensils!

Lol, don't worry. He'll see other kids doing it and try it himself. My 7 year old, almost 8, won't hold his utensils correctly to save his life. But I keep telling him to hold them correctly and I'm sure he'll stop sooner or later.

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New Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎03-27-2014

Re: My toddler won't hold utensils!

I'm a child feeding expert. From your post I can't do a full assessment. But here's the most common reasons that I see for toddlers not using utensils. Perhaps you'll recognize one of these situations.

  1. Medical concern or developmental delay that affects motor skills. You didn't mention this so I think that it's unlikely. But in case other parents are reading this, I wanted to mention it. The solution: An Occupational Therapist (OT) can be a great help to adapt utensils so that kids with different abilities can gain these skills.
  2. Our expectations don't match their developmental stage. It's normal for toddlers to use a combination of utensils and fingers to eat. Preschoolers too. The solution: It can be tough to do, but resist the urge to comment on their utensil use (or use of fingers). Thier own internal drive to grow up will propel them forward in learning the skills of using utensils, as long as we provide the opportunity and don't get in their way. Drawing attention to it can make them feel self-conscious of their eating and actually get in the way of them practicing and learning how to use utensils.  
  3. Attention seeking. I've worked with many (clever) toddlers who have learned that one of the best ways to get their mom's and dad's undivided attention is to refuse to eat unless they're fed. From your brief post it sounds like perhaps you've given your toddler two options: 1) be fed by you or 2) be left alone at the table. It's human nature to want to share meals. So your toddler's choice is understandable. The solution: have a conversation about how he is a big boy now and you know that he can do it himself. Sit and eat with your child and give him lots of positive attention talking about any pleasant topic except the food that they are/aren't eating. Once he trusts that you really do want him to do it by himself. And, that you won't leave him alone at the table, he'll eat by himself. 

Kristen Yarker, MSc, Dietitian 

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