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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 33

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem: Your child has decided that swallowing is for the weak. It doesn't matter if you've given her a pork chop or a spoonful of oatmeal, that food's new home is her mouth, and it's not going anywhere.  If you want to give her a new bite, sometimes she'll open her mouth to accept it, but the spoonful is going to have to go on top of the foodstuff already simmering in there.  Gross.

Solution:  There are several solutions, none of which work more than 25 percent of the time.  The first route we try is the chew chew chew game.  My husband will make chewing and swallowing look fun.  He points to his cheek and chews saying, first on this side, then points to the other cheek, and says, then on this side.  We repeat this until they are chewing their food and laughing and inevitably forget their swallowing strike.  But, sometimes they don't fall for this.  When that happens, we try asking them a question.  One that they'd be really interested in answering, but can't because their mouths are full of food.  Sometimes it's incentive enough to get them to swallow so they can talk to us.

Ways your Baby Tricks You:

Problem: They couldn't care less about your contrived question, and they're not going to play your dumb chewing game.  They are not swallowing, full stop.

Solution: In this case, we'll try a bit of competition psychology.  We'll start by saying that she can't chew.  "Oh," we'll say, "it's because you can't chew.  You don't know how to chew!  Poor baby who doesn't know how to chew..." or something along those lines.  Sometimes their indignation will force their jaws into action.  Since we have two of them, we also can heap praise on the one that is chewing and swallowing at the time.  The non-swallower normally wants the positive attention, too, and sometimes will bend her position on not swallowing to get it.  Every once in a while, simply getting them to take a drink from their sippy cups will slip the food down there.

Of course, sometimes none of these works, and we simply pull our hair out in frustration.  The key is to avoid getting into a battle of wills with your toddler.  The moment you say, "swallow your food or else," you've already lost.  In a standoff with a toddler, there are no winners.  Good luck.

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  1. I'm of the "put it in front of them and they'll eat if they are hungry" school of mama thought. ;)

  2. Yep. It's my job to offer them the food and theirs to decide if they're hungry.

  3. Yes, thing is, my children will take a bite with glee. And then hold it in there. I don't want them to get into the habit of spitting things out, so if you take a bite, you swallow it. At least so far.

  4. The problem is that if you make a game out of it, that encourages them. They'll hold it in their mouths until they get to play the chew game. They have to swallow sooner or later. Offer consequences if they do spit it out, but otherwise ignore it.

  5. I like the chew game! It might prove very useful to us, thanks. I think it's a whole different kettle of fish when your kid actively won't eat enough to live without intervention...

  6. Thank you for this comment. It's embarrassing for me to say, since my kids obviously aren't going to die from lack of a meal or two, but they were born preemie and I am programmed to make sure they eat. For the first months of their lives, every ounce gained was sacred.

  7. Oh yeah, we used to cheer over every ounce! I really like the feeding theory of "parent provides, child decides", but it just hasn't worked out for us. And anyway, I'm sick of finding food stored in his cheeks later, like a chipmunk preparing for winter. Chew, baby, chew! :)

  8. You do what you do... ya know? Games, tricks, whatever... Some don't want to or think it's 'bad'... but we gotta do what we can to get through this crazy mess called "Life". Am I right?
    What about putting the yummy cookie on a plate on the table ... and saying, "oh, that's right... you can't swallow... well, it's waiting for you when you are ready to swallow food." I am all over bribes ;-)

  9. My kids are great at chewing...they could chew the same bite for 5 minutes sometimes! I really don't get why, once its obviously chewed, they don't swallow. Luckily its easier to get them to do it (tell them to take a drink, or usually even a new bite of food will cause them to swallow). Sure makes for a lloooooong meal some days!

  10. Dammit! I've been engaged in the battle of wills for nearly 4 years, and NOW you're telling me it's not going to work?!

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