If you have a toddler, you know that the “terrible twos” are real.
Just when you thought you had parenting figured out, your cute and cuddly baby turns into a little monster who seems to take pleasure in making your life as difficult as possible.
One of the most challenging aspects of having a toddler is dealing with their newfound independence—including their refusal to eat with utensils.
Here’s a look at why your toddler is suddenly a messy eater and what you can do about it.
The first thing to understand is that your toddler’s sudden messiness at mealtimes is not personal; it’s simply a manifestation of their growing independence.
Toddlers are hardwired to want to do things for themselves, and eating is no exception.
Forcing them to eat with utensils when they’re not ready is only going to result in frustration—for both of you.
That said, there are some things you can do to encourage your toddler to eat with utensils.
One tactic is to let them see you using utensils; toddlers are notoriously imitative, so if they see you eating neatly with a fork and knife, they’ll be more likely to want to do the same.
You can also try giving them their own child-sized utensils to use; sometimes, just holding their own fork or spoon is enough to get them interested in using it.
Finally, don’t be afraid to give them some “practice” food that they can play with; things like cooked noodles or soft fruits and vegetables are perfect for this.
With a little patience and some trial and error, you’ll eventually get your toddler eating like a grown-up in no time.
Dealing with a messy toddler at mealtimes can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that it’s simply a phase they’re going through as they become more independent.
With a little patience and some creative thinking, you’ll soon have them eating like a pro.
In the meantime, try not to stress too much—after all, a few spilled Cheerios are nothing compared to the joys (and challenges) of parenting a spirited toddler.
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