What Your Toddler Can't Control

Your toddler can’t control much about their day, so they oftentimes try to exert independence around what they’re willing to eat 🙅‍♀️🙅‍♀️🙅‍♀️ Instead of making it a battle, we can give them more independence around mealtime to meet their growing need to “DO SELF!” 🤣🙄.


Have you noticed that your kiddo is suddenly digging their heels in at the dinner table? Maybe they used to love everything you made, but now it’s a no-go? 🚫🚫🚫


There are a lot of changes that happen in toddlerhood, but one reason this might occur is because your toddler is craving autonomy and independence. Food is of the only things in their life they have a say in. That’s why we talk so much about laying off the pressure when it comes to food. The more you push, the more they push back.


How do we meet their need to be more independent at mealtime so it’s more positive for everyone?

  1. Let them feed themselves. We recommend this starting even earlier than toddlerhood, around 6 months, and continuing as they get older. Yes, it will be messy, but it’s part of the learning process!

    🏆 Bonus: that mess they make is amazing sensory play that will actually help them tolerate textures on their hands/face and in their mouth one day.

  2. Give them a job. The more involved your toddler can be with the meal, the more willing they might be to participate. Depending on their age and skills, they can:
  • assist with food prep
  • help set the table (think: napkins, spoons)
  • ring a dinner bell (they looooooove this)
  • pass the bread basket
  • scoop food onto a plate
  • spread butter onto a roll, etc.


➡️➡️➡️ It’s amazing what happens when your toddler feels included and that they have a say in the process. Plus, the more they interact with a food as they scoop it onto their plate, the more likely they are to eat it #winning 😂


Need more help feeding your picky toddler or warding off future picky eating? Head to feedinglittles.com to check out our online courses!


Feel like nothing is working and that your toddler’s eating is getting worse? Please work with your provider to request an evaluation with an OT or SLP specializing in feeding.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published