Why does my toddler only want the food on my plate?

Does your kiddo only want your food, even if it’s the same thing they’re eating? Why do they do this, and how do you deal with it? 🤔

So, why do toddlers sometimes only want the food on their parents’ plates? Judy here 👋 - I’m an OT specializing in feeding therapy and I see this type of behavior all the time in my clients. Your kiddo may be exercising their independence - “I do SELF” - and they want some control over their environment. They may not realize that the food on their plate is *exactly the same,* but it doesn’t matter - they want YOURS. They may also be testing limits and learning about boundaries. Fun, huh?

So, what can you do to encourage them to eat their own food?

  1. Serve your kiddo the same food you have, as long as it’s safe for them. They’ll want yours if they see you eating food they don’t have 😩 This is one reason why family meals and eating the same food as much as possible are important.
  2. Offer “adult” spoons, forks and plates. Of course, be careful with regular forks for new eaters - this is more appropriate for kids who have used rounded forks for a while.
  3. Offer your child some choices for the meal - which bib? Which plate? Where should you sit? This gives them a sense of control in the experience.
  4. Try serving food family style. Let your toddler plate their own food {with assistance if needed}, and let them plate your food.
  5. Eat some from their plate as they take some from yours. Make it a fun game.
  6. Remember that this is normal, especially if your child is experiencing some anxiety about their changing environment. Kids have been through a lot this past year. If it doesn’t bug you, let them go for it. Try to be patient with your child and remember that this, like every other stage, is temporary.

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