7 answers

Toddler Storing Food in Cheeks

My son is 16 months old, healthy and a relatively good eater but has recently started storing food in his cheeks and I am not just talking a few minutes but hours if I would let him. I have found that it is commonly referred to "pouching" but can't really find anything about it online. At first it started off and I just thought that it was because he was sorting out the things he didn't like such as Peas out of tuna casserole and then nuts out of pumpkin bread but now he seems to be doing it everyday at daycare (mainly at lunch time). He is feeding himself these foods so I don't think it is because he doesn't like it, he is the type of kid that when he doesn't like something he absolutely refuses to eat it and we never force it. Is it because he is not hungry but eating because the other kids are??? I don't know. I am not concerned that he is not getting enough nutrition it is just a little strange and I want to know why he is doing this. Has anyone experienced this? What causes this?

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More Answers

Hi K.,

I'm 52 years old and I did this when I was a child. My family nickname became Chipmunk Cheeks or Cheeks and stayed with me even after I stopped doing it. My mom can't remember when I stopped, but she says I didn't do it for too long.

I didn't get cavities, have no food issues, and I look back on that time with memories of security and enjoy the fun we have today laughing about it and telling our grand kids. Kids do the craziest things and some times it's just kids being silly. I think you'll know if the issue becomes one to elevate and get help. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

Have no idea what causes it, but my older girl did this when she was a toddler. She would tuck food into her cheek and an hour after the meal I would see her chewing on something. I would check her mouth and find out that she was chewing on part of the meal. Since she never saved it to spit out later, I didn't worry about it much. She grew out of it in a few months.

1 mom found this helpful

My mom use to say that I would store it until later, so that I did not have to stop playing for a snack. I don't know if it is true or not, but it is a way to look at it.
My oldest also did this.
Honestly I think it is just a child thing.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,

He may have a texture or sensitivity issue. If you search for this, you may find a lot about autistic children. It doesn't mean yours is! It's just a common characteristic of autistic kids. Normally devleoped kids can do it too. You might contact Early Choice Pediatric Therapy in Vancouver, WA to ask them if you should be concerned. They have therapists on staff to help with these sorts of things. Once you know how to help your child get past it, he can learn to be exposed, gently, to different stimuli. If left unchecked, sensitivity issues can become an issue down the road so I recommend getting things checked out by a professional.

My boy had some as a result of Torticollis, but everything seems to be better now and I highly recommend that PT group.

Best of luck!

I'm smiling, just picturing an adorable 16 month old "pouching"! I really think you've gotten some great, nerve-calming advice! Maybe document his behaviors for a week or so and then give the pediatrician a call. It sounds like he's just learned something "cool" his body can do and he's taking advantage of it.

Write about it in his baby book, and get a couple cute pics--it might be a very short-lived phase you will look back upon fondly. "Remember when ..."

K., unfortunately I don't have any words of wisdom. I will suggest, however, that you talk to his pediatrician because storing food in his mouth can cause serious tooth decay. A mouth full of cavities doesn't sound like fun.

My nephew did this for a few months when he was a toddler. It wasn't related to not liking specific foods - he'd eat everything he was given. We found it funny, as he'd be playing an hour after dinner with big chipmunk cheeks. I believe his parents waited several weeks to see if he's stop the behavior on his own. When he didn't, they made him stay at the table until he had swallowed all of his food. I wouldn't be worried about it. My nephew is now 10 yrs old, and so far, he's perfectly normal and has no food issues.

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