13 answers

Child Randomly Won't Swallow Food

My daughter has recently begun, at random times with random foods, chewing her foods and then refusing to swallow them. These are not new or strange foods. I'm talking normal things, like cheese or apples. Tonight at dinner she had a chewed up piece of fish stick in her mouth literally for a half hour. It wasn't a large piece, and she's had fish sticks MANY times before! We are kind of at a loss for how to combat this, since how many times can you tell a two-year-old to swallow the food before you have her spit it out or reach in and get it yourself? We tried a Time Out but that did not work (it always works on every other issue we've had!) Our outcome tonight was that I had her spit it out, then I actually put my finger in her mouth to scrape out what was left. Dinner was obviously over after that. I was hoping someone would have another suggestion besides time out. And has anyone else's child ever done something like this? While my husband and I do find the humor in this, we want her to swallow the chewed food, not hold it in her mouth (and possibly choke!) Thanks, Ladies!

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My 2- sense: I wouldn't react to it. I would just make her sit at the dinner table til everyone else is done eating. When she gets hungry enough she will eat and swallow her food. Could be a number of things. She is trying to get a reaction, isn't hungry, has an upset stomach or just doesn't want to swallow and is being stubborn.???? Could be testing her boundries and wants to see what happens when she does this behavior. But I would at least make her sit at the dinner table so she knows that she doesn't control dinner time and the rest of the family eating dinner.

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While my children never did this, my sister did. In fact her nickname was squirrel cheeks. I wouldn't worry about it. My sister grew out of it and is perfectly fine. The name lasted longer than the problem.

My 2- sense: I wouldn't react to it. I would just make her sit at the dinner table til everyone else is done eating. When she gets hungry enough she will eat and swallow her food. Could be a number of things. She is trying to get a reaction, isn't hungry, has an upset stomach or just doesn't want to swallow and is being stubborn.???? Could be testing her boundries and wants to see what happens when she does this behavior. But I would at least make her sit at the dinner table so she knows that she doesn't control dinner time and the rest of the family eating dinner.

SO how do you know she is not swallowing? She knows that you are watching her and she is enjoying the power she has learned to have over her parents. HA HA I am not swallowing and they cant make me. Make sure her food is cut up enough so she wont choke, dont give her too much at one time (its better she asks for more than give her too much and then make her finish)and then IGNORE her eating. Chat with hubby, chat with her, but dont mention food, dont tell her to eat, use a fork, chew or anything else. You will ruin her game and she will stop. Remember when she dropped stuff off the high chair and you picked it up? She controlled you then too. LOL

...I have to laugh. My 3-yr-old went through this for a long time and it was very frustrating to his dad and me...all I can tell you is he just stopped doing it. She will do. I can almost guarantee it.

P.,

Either it is a control issue - she wants to control her body - or it's a texture issue. She may not feel comfortable swallowing.

I would NOT force the issue, time out or otherwise. I would seek help from your pediatrician instead, because making food an issue now can create problems later in life for her.

Try having her drink some water (eventually it will wash down, but probably not right away, because she'll have less motor control on keeping things separate than an older child).

Can she talk/form words yet? Ask her what the food is like? Asking her why is pretty much useless; she hasn't got the concept yet (unless she's extremely bright and THEN you have got your work cut out for you!)

I don't know how long you've had this problem with your daughter's eating habits. She does not see having food in her mouth an extra long time as a problem. Either issue (or it may be something different, who knows?) is nothing to fool around with trying different ideas. There are therapists for kids with texture issues out there, and starting sooner is better.

Good luck,
M.

Oh P., I FEEL your pain!! My son does this (27 months) and it drives my husband and I crazy! I usually find that he does it at the end of the meal or when he is no longer hungry, in which case I end the meal for him then. Although sometimes he will do it with the very first bite, which makes mealtime almost impossible. I have also tried time-outs to no avail. He will sit there on time-out with the food in his mouth. Last time he did it, about a week ago, he had only had 3 bites. After a failed time-out, I told him that if he didn't swallow it, he was going to bed right after dinner, no book, play time or anything. And I stuck to it. I had him spit the food out and took him straight up to bed. Pj's, brushed teeth and down. It was about and hour and half before regular bedtime. But he hasn't done it since then. Not to say that he won't. He of course was hungry the next morning, but he has eaten very well since then. Give it a shot I guess. Good luck and hang in there, I know its frustrating.

Don't make a big deal out of it. I have never seen or heard of a 2 year old starving themselves to death.

I would have her checked out by the doctor to rule out any medical cause for the unwillingness to swallow.

Provided there is nothing medically wrong, if she eats great, if she doesn't don't worry or make a big deal. That same meal can be ready to eat at a later time when true hunger takes over the desire to keep the food held in the mouth.

My 13 month old is doing this also. And it is driving me and my fiancee batty. When we leave him eat on his own he just puts more in is mouth. And when my fiancee and I tell my 13 month old to chew and swallow he just sitts there and crys. We have tried his favorite foods and he does the same thing. But he will eat Cookies and Fruit snacks but not real food. And it is driving us batty to where I'm about ready to grow wings and fly away. Lol. Anyone have any hints on how we all can deal with this and get a wonderful eater out of our sons/Daughter.

probably a control issue.

If this continues, it could be a sensory issue. My friend works for Childrens speciailized Hospital (outpateint center) She is an OT who works with kids with "feeding issues" If this continues I would call 888-childrens and ask for a feeding evaluation, it could take 2 months to get the apt. some kids dont like the textures in their mouth and refuse to swallow it.

My daughter did this sometimes, but I started the rule that she is not allowed to leave the table until she swallows what is in her mouth (or spit it out if really necessary) and then takes a drink of water to wash everything down.

Seriously, the more of an issue you make out of it, the more your daughter will test you. Back off, let her take her time and enjoy the food in her own way and just remind her that she will not leave the table until her mouth is empty and she's taken a good drink of water to wash it all down.

Hi There,
My daughter has done that at times in the past. It is probably just another way they try to control the situation (or the parent). Out pediatrician once told us, "there is one thing that Toddlers can and will control, FOOD going in and FOOD coming out!" SO TRUE! The best thing to do is to not make a big deal of it. Just make the rule that she can not get up from the table until her food has been swallowed or spit out. GOOD LUCK!

This is not that unusual. A lot of kids do that. Don't make an issue about it. And don't punish her for it in any way. Let her keep the food in her mouth for a while. I seriously doubt she will choke on it. You can try to give her a drink before she leaves the table so she might swallow it. My daughter used to do this all the time. After a while we secretly started calling her Chipmunk because of it. She finally grew out of it though.

I'm not a Mom, but a "Grandmother" who is taking care of my son's children while he works. I watch two of his six children who are still toddlers, the others either go to school or are cared for elsewhere. I have my concerns about the two that I watch. The 3-yr old is definitely presenting some autistic possibilities, i.e. cannot formulate a sentence or carry on a simple conversation, has trouble communicating, is obsessed with counting items, etc., the one I'm now concerned about is 2-yrs old and has a "FOOD" issue. Neither of my children did this, so it is not something I'm familiar with. Unlike you, I do not find "humor" in this. As described in the initial post, the child will take food in, chew it, then just sit there, or run around with food in their mouth, until they start drooling all over the place. Problem is, this child will not "spit it out" when asked to. If you try to force the food out of his mouth, he clamps down and will not let you scrape the food out of his mouth, usually. However, today, I did manage to accomplish this. I could not even believe how much food this child had packed in his mouth. Oh goodness! He held this food in his mouth for over 45 minutes before I forced him to dump it out. The problem at my son's house is, he's never forced the kids to continue to "sit" at the table until they are finished with their food. Many times, they are allowed to leave the table and go play, or watch TV and come back to eat. I disapprove of this behavior, but they are not my children, so I am forced to allow them to do as my son says. So now I have a drooling 2-yr old running around with his mouth packed with food. Offering a drink does not help. He will stand there and hold his drink cup and look at you like you're stupid; all the while, drool just pours out of his mouth. To me, this is really gross. I'm fairly upset with this, only because I do not understand it. I've never seen this with any child before. I'm trying to find answers because when I tried to bring up the issues about the 3-yr old being unable to articulate speech, I was highly chastised for trying to "interfere" in the upbringing of his children. So I don't dare bring up this issue. I just need to find a way to deal with it. Thanks for any input.

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