Can't Get 2 Year Old to Eat with Spoon or to Eat Very Many Things...

Updated on November 03, 2010
M.P. asks from Bronx, NY
11 answers

My 2 year old son refuses to eat with a spoon! He used to eat applesauce & pudding, but now won't touch anything that comes off a spoon. Even though this doesn't worry me too much, I'm more worried about what to actually feed him. I swear to you, he lives off of Applejacks, Crackers and Chicken Nuggets with French Fries. I would REALLY appreciate any meal ideas that he might be tempted to touch. Thanks!!

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So What Happened?

Hello again everyone,

Well it has been a long time now, and my son is now 3 1/2. I am happy to say that he now eats with a spoon - although he makes a mess everywhere. He didn't really use the spoon though until he he was practically 3. My advice to anyone reading this now (although I know its hard to listen to) is to just let it be. As a new mom, I thought everything was wrong with my son (speech, motor) but as I watch him grow up, I noticed that he's just taking his sweet time, and there ain't nothing wrong with that! Now that I'm a mom again (my baby girl is 1 now), I just relax. She'll do everything when she's ready. And what's the rush anyway, right? Good luck to you all :)

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answers from New York on

Find healthier alternatives, perhaps at trader joes. it sounds like he needs less sugar in his diet

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answers from Utica on

Hi M.
Guess who is serving those things.
Are you afraid he will starve if he misses a meal?
What are you eating?
I am a meat, potato and vegetable person, so that is supper with fruit for desert. Breakfast cereal and fruit. Most of mine loved banana in Shredded Wheat or Cheerios. Lunch-- well there is always the sandwich cut into shapes. Mine loved triangles and it was easy, and when I took the crust off it was remarkable how they could eat. Pickles were a treat so I put one in the center of the sandwich and then cross cut it so that one slice was in all 4 parts of the sandwich.
Why not try custard pie, or pumpkin? It is better than instant pudding and delicious pie but really must be eaten with spoon, or at my house not eaten at all. After all it is grown up food, and grown ups eat with utensils. Try a small fork.
Curious about what will happen
God bless you
K. -- SAHM -- married 38 years -- adult children 37,33,and twins 19



answers from Harrisburg on

I am the mother of 21-month-old twin girls and I am finding it really hard to get them to use any utensils when eating. They will hold them and think that's fun, but when I try to model for them or take their hand and direct them how to use their fork or spoon it turns into a meltdown. After being criticized by one of the twins' grandparents for their lack of utensil use, I was nearly ready to have a breakdown over the issue! I am trying so hard to do the right thing and get the girls onboard. After reading this article I am calmer about their eating habits, as it seems other people have gone through exactly the same thing. Thank you for making me feel better!



answers from New York on

Hi M.,
Yea, another chicken nugget household! :-)

A few things that I've heard (and worked for us) is if you want to try vegies, give them some "dip" ie ranch dressing or anything you think he might like. It's something they don't have to use fork or spoon and for some reason some kids LOVE the dipping thing (including my daughter). I've also started to have to pack her lunches for school so some days I make a sandwhich and cut it with mini cookie cutters. Let me tell you when it's shapped like a heart, pumpkin, etc, she's suddenly the coolest 2 year old in class. And since they're bite size again, no utensils. And yes it's messy but sometimes I give in and let her eat her spagetti with her hands. It's a mess but she thinks it so silly that she doesn't even notice she's eating healthy sauce.

Hope these work for you. Good luck!



answers from New York on

My 2 year old wont touch a spoon or a fork, though he is somewhat fascinated by the fork and if I spear the food for him , he will take the handle and feed himself, or try to feed me. This is his menu for the past year, same thing every single day!!
whole gain pancakes, we sneak shredded carrots and bananas and sometimes apple into the batter. These can be made in advance, easy to freeze, we cut them up, but also they can be made cookie size and can be eaten on the run.
scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese ( I have been told that I am lucky my child will eat this .)
Mini turkey meatballs fried in a pan with a little butter at the last minute we throw some sweet soy or worshistire sauce .
Snacks are rice cakes and health food grahms and goldfish.
oh, and chex cereal.
This sums it up. I have also been at my wits end thinking his diet is so limited, when will he want to taste a strawberry..ect..
Have been told that its a control thing, they will grow out of it.You might want to try the pancake idea, you can sneak in fruits and veggies.The meatballs may also work.
good luck and dont worry too much. As long as he is growing and happy and thriving he will be o.k..



answers from New York on

Hi M.,

My two year old sounds similar to yours. He used to do really well with the spoon but now he won't touch it unless it is his idea....also, he is a very picky eater----nuggests and fries and yogurt drinks are in abundant supply in my house. Have you tried just not offering your son a spoon? Someone I work with gave that advice to me when my son was going thorugh his I won't sit at the table" phase---we sat for dinner---made him a plate but we didn't tell him to sit---eventually he felt lefft out and came to sit with us at the table---worked on the first try.... I have been using the same technique with utensils and food----he wants what is not being offered.



answers from Buffalo on

My son wouldn't eat with ANY utensil until he was 2 1/2 when he literally just decided one day that he wanted to use them. If we were having something to eat that required a spoon, I just fed him. Yes, he was a little too old to be fed like a baby, but I didn't worry about it and sure enough, he did grow out of it! Now he wants to use utensils even with finger foods. Your son may just be going through a phase.

Although, I just re-read your post and I guess I'm not sure if you mean he won't feed himself with a spoon or he won't eat anything that comes from a spoon, even if you are feeding him. You could make lots of different kinds of pasta dishes that he could pick up with his fingers. has a lot of different ideas for dinners.



answers from New York on

Will he eat with a fork? He probably thinks the mushy pudding and applesauce are for babies, but there's a whole menu of foods that aren't spoon foods and aren't finger foods. At two years old, he ought to be eating regular meals, pretty much whatever you and the other adults at home eat. He doesn't need anything different.



answers from New York on

Have you tried letting him hold the spoon? Even if it's just for fun, it might get him used to it again. Instead of french fries, you could make sweet potato fries or zucchini sticks that look like fries - both can be baked. Yogurt drinks or squeeze yogurt. Fruit, steamed veggies, whole-wheat pasta, mini-bagel pizzas. You should take a walk in the organic section of your supermarket. There are so many great ideas there of things you can make that are nutritious but look like things kids actually like. Spinach nuggets instead of chicken, stuff like that.
Good luck!



answers from New York on

If you haven't tried different types of spoons (rubber coated or plastic versus metal) I would do that and I would try forks. My daughter wouldn't really use utensils at that age because it was a lot easier to shove a fist-full of food into her mouth than to patiently try to eat with a spoon or fork, but she would shove fistfulls of green beans, peas, or broccoli - well the broc she might eat one spear at a time :) She only got really fussy about food around 3 or 4, and is beginning to come out of some of that - she just turned 6.

Serve him corn on the cob, mixed veggies (who cares if he eats with his fingers as long as he eats), blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, all fruits (some people would cut blueberries in 1/2 for 2 year olds to prevent choking). Give him the plate of fruit or veggies while the nuggets and fries are cooking. Try pieces of steak, hamburger, chicken breast and let him dip those in ketchup or ranch dressing or whatever sauce he likes - even mild salsa. My daughter was a real pasta kid. At 2 she liked the little tortellini pastas (Barilla) - another good finger food. She ate them plain. You could make mini-meatballs with or without sauce and he can either use his fingers, a fork or even a substantial toothpic to stab them with (as long as you keep you eye on him). Again, give the healthiest items first while he is hungriest (unless he's already hit "meltdown mode") and then fill in with favorites, if needed.



answers from New York on

Silly question.. have you tried offering a fork? The other thing is what kins of spoons or forks are you using, we use the take and toss ones, very colorful fit nice in my 20 mo old's hand. Perhaps those would work or you could take him to the store and let him pick one out. Maybe a character on it would be more fun.

As for meals, my little guy is pretty picky these days too- fries are a big one, I have bought organic shoe string fries (similar to fast food) and bake them and he loves them. We also like sweet potato fries too. You could try a variety of noodles, maybe some fun shapes (my son is in love with the cellentani (by Barilla). There is also Wacky Mac, which is made with veggies so it is colorful. My little guy eats pretty much any veggie so I steam a variety of veggies, cut them up and mix them into the pasta. I will usually do colorful veggies variety with plain noodles, I find that he eats great with variety. I have also mixed ground turkey in with the noodles and veggies and he eats it.

We do a lot of finger foods, He likes to do it himself- turkey and cheese cubed (like a lunchable style) grilles cheese cut into sticks, pizza (sometimes with chicken on it) cut into small slices with the crust so he can still pick it up. French toast or pancakes cut into strips, and you can offer yogurt or applesauce to dip it into. Sometimes he eats a little bit of fruit a bagel (I buy the mini ones) and has a yogurt drink. This is occasionally lunch or dinner. And sometimes pizza is breakfast. Also don't frown too badly on the kids cusine or lunchables. They re not that bad to have occasionally. He also likes eggs, I often add spinach and cheese and he eats them like a champ. I have made him little egg sandwiches on the mini bagels which he loves because he is just like dad.

We also found that Solo makes paper plates with the Sesame street characters on them, My son LOVES Elmo so I use that to my advantage. I get him set as his kiddie table, occasionally His Elmo live is his dining companion, and they eat at their own table and have a meal. I have provided a plate with a treat for elmo, which my son often eats :)

The biggest thing I can offer is to say get your little one involved, include him in sopping for things to eat, even if you make a special trip out of it, make it a separate trip from your regular shopping and let him pick things that he can help mommy cook. Maybe even bring he little shopping list and look for the things. I say to make this separate from your regular trip to give him a sense of ownership of the meals. then when you are cooking later- you could say ok lets go make the grilled cheese for lunch, remember we bought the bread and the cheese today. He is at an age where he wants more independence, letting him in on the choices with your guidance may make it easier.

Good luck, it is a tough age- they just want to be big boys :)

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