19 Month Old Not Feeding Herself

Updated on July 03, 2008
T.P. asks from Mc Cordsville, IN
8 answers

Hi. My 19 month old has stopped feeding herself and wants me to feed her. She started feeding herself using her fingers before she was a year old. She started trying to use a spoon at 13 or 14 months. She started Daycare the 2nd of June and now she will not feed herself. I don't know if it's because she started school or just what is going on. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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answers from Muncie on

Hi T.,
Not to sound cruel, but I would try setting there with her or doing your normal routine (working in the kitchen folding clothes or anything else us moms do while our toddlers are eating) and just make yourself not do it for her. When she gets hungry enough, she will eat. Also try eating at the same time and tell her that you are eating your food and she needs to eat hers and make her feel like a "big girl". It will be hard but try not to do it for her. I was a single mom for 12 years and I know how hard it is but you have to be strong. Good luck!
SAHM of three 14,9,4.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Both of our girls do not like change at all - the other day we went to Chik-fil-a, my dh ordered a salad, and I ordered a chicken-salad sandwich - she had a melt-down because dh didn't order a chik-fil-a sandwich.

We do have a 19 month old, and she does pretty well feeding herself...sometimes more gets on her than in her, but we try to remedy that in some way.

Try to establish a "new routine" and stick to it, she'll come around. Meanwhile, keep offering her the utensils to see if she'll use them. Keep offering the food to see if she'll feed herself. Sometimes we wait until we know she's hungry so we can give her a graham cracker or the gerber cheese puffs thinking "food is food and if she's hungry, then she'll eat those while we're getting dinner ready" and she usually does.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Youngstown on

Hi T.,

I really think there is a connection between starting daycare and her not wanting to feed herself. My son went through the same thing. He goes to daycare all day once a week and decided after 6 visits that he would rather stay with mommy, so he stopped eating. It's their way of expressing themselves. It has been 8 weeks now and he still doesn't eat much there... I just hope he snaps out of it!
Give her lots of loving and snuggles when you are together and let her know you are there for her. Good luck to you both!



answers from Indianapolis on

She wants your undivided attention and is using this as one way to obtain it. It isn't that she can't feed herself, she has just decided you will spend uninterrupted time with her and baby her during this time.
She will outgrow it. If you want it to stop relatively soon I would suggest the following:
Prepare your meal and hers at the same time. Sit down with her with her food on her plate and tray (if you use a high chair) and your food on the table across from her. Sit down and eat at the same time. When you are finished ask her if she is done. If she says "no" sit back and have another cup or glass of something to drink while waiting for her to finish. Once you are done clear both plates, wash her up, and go on to the next thing you would normally do in the morning and/or evening. Do not offer snacks, etc., until you would normally have a bedtime snack and keep the snack light and healthy, then her bath and off to bed.
After several nights of this she will start feeding herself again at meal time.



answers from Canton on

It's normal for toddlers to go thru regressions. As they're learning new things, stuff they've been doing sometimes goes on the back burner with them, even though they may not realize they're doing that. My son goes thru periodic regressions. Sometimes they last a few days to a month. I just cater to what he's going thru at that particular time and try to realize that he doesn't know what he's doing.



answers from South Bend on

It may just be a phase she is going through. I would check out the school because they may not let the younger children feed themselves therefore making it harder on you because your daughter will want you to feed her. If that is what they do then you can request that she be able to feed herself.

I am 31 and have been married almost 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 10,7 and 4.



answers from Terre Haute on

Kind of sounds like she misses her mommy and wants her mommy to do things for her.
I'm meaning she might be experiencing a little seperation anxiety. And she deals with it way different than a lot of other children, so she wants to know if you are still gonna be there and do things for her, because she misses you doing certain things for her. If she acts like her arms are hurting maybe there is something else going on at the daycare center that your unaware of. They can smile in your face and be nice to you just to give you nothing to worry about act, when they can be hurting your daughter.
I've had that problem with my first two children, I had them in a daycare and they were really nice people and what I saw great to the kids as well. Until my oldest daughter started talking about how boys touch and kiss girls at the center (she was 3yrs) and my youngest ended up with a black eye and bruises on her arms. I yanked them out of the day care and reported them. So keep an eye on her arms and hands. If everything is alright, than she just wants moms attention!



answers from Indianapolis on


How are you T.? I too am a single momma- pretty much since I found out I was pregnant, and wouldn't do the unthinkable as he demanded. So I guess I chose to be a single momma, and it has been the best, easiest decision of my life! You never really know the man you thought you were in love with until you end up pregnant and you hear his 'solution' to the pregnancy, rather than him jumping up and down for joy, as this miracle should be. My daughter and I know that we are so blessed, and we are sad for him to be missing out. She knows that it is just too bad that he wasn’t ready to be a daddy, but someday he will want something to do with her, and when that happens, it will be her decision as to how to handle it. The sweet darling is so forgiving, she says that she will give him a chance and she has already forgiven him. :) I guess I have instilled real morals and values of a good Christian individual. It isn’t so easy for me, I suppose because I know the whole truth and all of the nasty details. It is hard to understand how ANYONE could spend a moment without this exceptional child! She is so amazing and my life is so fulfilling! Thank God!

Well, I think you know 'what's changed' to make your little girl have this change... It seems to be starting school / daycare. Some teachers may be more educated in 'child care development' and others may be less so, if any training at all.(Depending on where your darling daughter is going... in home DC or facility DC. Some of your CCPs (child care prividers) may be feeding the little ones, and other may not be, and encouraging the whole group to feed themselves.

I would first start by talking to each CCP (child care provider) that takes care of your daughter's group- or is in the room on your daughter's scheduled days/hours. Hopefully, one at a time you can and ask them 'typically', how does feeding time go with your little girl? Asks specific questions. First, do you know how many kids are in her group versus how many children? Are the eating times at the same times every day? (Routine makes children feel secure- it is very important.

****Let the CCP explain first, before you put your 2 cents in. If they interrupt and ask, "why? Is there a problem?" Simply and very relaxed say, "Oh no, no problem, there have been some changes at home in her feeding habits, and I am just trying to put my finger on it so I can address it and correct it more easily without much hesitation." Then let them go on.***

I am guessing that there are a few typical answers--- some of the CCPs may be rushing time with so few of them and plenty of kids to get through, or they are doing what is easiest, and seems to make things go more smoothly on their end, maybe not even knowing that your daughter is already developing (or developed that skill- of course unknowing that you would prefer that your child continue on learning how to be more self-sufficient. They probably think they are doing the child or you a favor by the way they are handling it. Your child may not have the same eating patterns there...and look at the way things are done, a bit unfamiliar- so the CCP maybe misreading that. I bet that once you discuss it, and tell them how they are- or WERE at home, is how you want her to progress. I am sure that if you have this casual conversation with each of her teachers, they will be more than happy to go along with your wishes, and most likely, push the others in her age category move that direction too. You will be doing the other parents a favor in assisting in their child development with feeding themselves, and well as developing their motor skills, with is very important at this delicate age! Many of the CCPs do not have children, so they could be clueless. Some that may have kids, their kids may be older, so they may not remember what age this stuff happens. Or some may do anything they can to avoid conflict and crying, so they will do anything they can to keep a smooth classroom~~ which we all know is NOT best for the kids in the long run, just an easy fix for a moment. If the CCPs could learn to praise the kids who feed themselves~ the others will want to follow in the 'big kids' footsteps. The CCps need your encouragement because it doesn't sound like they get it from their daycare. Is this a reputable daycare, or an 'in-home daycare?’ One more thing, at this age, structure is very important. The children are sponges and do not need 'babysitting,' their little brains need to be stimulated. They need ABCs and 123s. They need a schedule. Not all play time. It is never too early. Never. Books being read to them daily, hard books they can have hands on and pretend to read and enjoying the pictures, using their imaginations --developing the love of reading and books overall. Speaking of imagination at 19 months, is she into tea parties- serving people 9and cats or dogs little tea-cups of water that she pours. We have found the animals are great attendees for a tea party! It is SOOO much fun at this age. Also, at this tender age, they can learn other languages along with English. Even sign language. Take advantage of the sponge factor. The more you stimulate and fill with information, the more they will thirst for as they get older, which means a more intelligent child with better grades- and a lot going on "upstairs". Which equals happiness for your child and a proud momma!

Not to get off of the subject here- but I highly recommend doing what I have done no matter where my girlie is...from daycare- to preschool- to kindergarten- then 1st grade, and soon 2nd grade- I will volunteer, if nothing else, I get 1st hand info of how things are ran there, plus my 7 year old, she thinks she is slick- but she knows I am there- so she is always be on her best behavior- because I pop in from time to time, if only to drop something off or do a measly half hour of volunteer work- which the teachers totally appreciate. It is nice, because they come to me easily with anything that they think I might want brought to my attention. it is kind of like the luxury of having parent teacher conferences all throughout the year. So you have total control of how things are going, so things can be tweaked to make them correct more easily.

So- I have always taken the time to get to know the teachers and allow them to get to know my child and myself, while my child was there. I am careful to take mental notes of how the teacher was able to cope in the most chaotic of situations. Does he/she use REDIRECTION methods? If not, what methods of discipline or handling a situation do they use. Do they panic or loose control. Do they loose their cool. How are the children feeling or reacting when this happens? Do they have the common sense to call for assistance if things too out of hand? Or do they have that gift to keep things smooth from the beginning, because they have the skill of running the classroom, and the kids are under her control?

What sort of praise is used for positive reinforcement? Is there ever negative reinforcement- and what are the tactics used in the daycare facility? Typically, there are rules for all CCPs to follow per company. (You may want to ask about that sometime- but more importantly- OBSERVE. How do they handle negative behavior from any and all children. Is it how you would want them to treat your child.

I always personally made sure that I got to know everyone not only CCPs (, but cooks, cleaning staff, management, other kids and their parents) that my child would have ANY interaction with, because as a single mom (and I am sure you can relate), it is hard to trust anyone with my most important treasure. Put your mind at ease- at least somewhat more than before- if you hadn't already gone though t his process at least once- but I recommend that you do it regularly- and take notes to monitor if what you experienced is the norm, or is different each time- person to person, or the same person each time- you can be more concerned if the actions are not consistent. Pay attention. You can never pay too close attention.

Diaper changes.... do they follow guidelines by wearing gloves during, tehn dispose of the gloves, wash their hands correctly for a good amount of time? Is the teacher along with the atmosphere VERY sanitary...after all- this is how our kids get sick...in daycares. Sanitizer – sanitizer - sanitizer! (If there isn't any-suggest it to the owner or teacher, or bring in a few- heck, you can get them from the dollar store these days! Supply your child’s surroundings with a cleaner atmosphere than was before. Less sickness for all! YAY...your good deed that you and your family benefit from too!) What are the chemicals in the sprays that they clean the food tables with? The floors, do they get swept/mopped? How about the beds/cots? Toys? How do they sanitize these things? Are the children expected to wash their hands regularly~ and at the appropriate times? Have they been taught the correct way? Not just a pump of soap, a swish across the hands for 4 seconds, then half ways rinsed, walking away wiping their hands on their shorts. What about the snotty nosed kid, how are they handled? Then after they are wiped, does the teacher wash correctly?? Are diapers changed enough? Have you done a diaper count- to see if they are changing her enough? (Not always completely accurate, since they could be stashing a diaper or 2 to look like more changes have been done. Take a day to stay all day. Talk to the owner or manager, and tell them you want to sit though a day and volunteer for the day. They will appreciate the help, and you get a better idea of what’s really going on. Not all of the CCP can keep up their best ALL day long. I know there is so much to watch for...but it is critical to your child’s health at a very minimum.

My daughter who is now 7, spoke quite a bit of Japanese and Spanish early on. We try to keep some of it going around the home, but I am forgetting too. (I bought the book, 'Japanese for Dummies'- and took several years of Spanish in high-school and college, but still rusty). So it is fun for my daughter and I to have certain commands and sentences that she can talk no matter where we are.... like I can say, 'need to go potty?" or "come here- NOW" or several things, ands he knows I am really serious then. Some things are in another language, so no other parents or kids know what we area saying so my girl doesn't get embarrassed.

Anyway, if you have gotten to the end of this long-winded note to you, I appreciate you taking the time to read through my thoughts. I hope you and others can get something from my ideas and how I have personally handled child-care from very early, to 2nd grade- which is around the corner…and I will continue on each year~~ not to be over protective necessarily, but to get to know the teachers and let them get to know my child and myself better. A better relationship really helps your child be more accepted and adaptable to the teachers and other students. Plus, the teacher is more comfortable emailing me or calling me for any reason when it comes to any issue or thoughts about my child. They appreciate that I want to be a part of her education. I am in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. If you need any recommendations- or any other parents who have read through this, I have several WONDERFUL recommendations and some 'DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILD(ren) THERE!' places :).

I welcome any questions or comments anyone has for me. I am sure we are all on the same page~ we all just want what’s best for our precious gifts from God~ our children!

Take care, good luck and God Bless you and your's T. and all you other Mamas out there!


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