One concern I often hear from parents is about a toddler taking a really long time eating a meal. It can be really frustrating for a parent if you are under time constraints in the morning and your little one seems to eat grain by grain of cereal and you know you need to drop them off at school and then get to work, or if you are at a restaurant and everyone else is done, but your toddler barely looks like they have consumed anything.
If you run into this situation, there are often a couple possible causes of this – one is that the toddler is not hungry, and so she is playing with her food, or the other is that he feels pressure of some sort and is not driven to eat.
My little one often eats really slowly at dinner or wants to keep jumping in and out of his seat. I have found that often this is because for him, he gets hungry around 4pm and often eats a large snack at school before coming home. Therefore, he is not really hungry at night and if I force him to eat, it can take hour(s) for him to slowly eat anything, which is stressful for both of us.
Every day is new day with a toddler. They are inconsistent, so give yourself a break if you are thrown off guard on your child’s eating routine, but if you consistently seem to be having the same challenge, see if you can find clues. Toddlers who come to a table hungry tend to be very focused, eat quickly and then want to get up and play when they are getting full. If your child is not eating quickly, look at the schedule – is your child hungry? Overtired? Or are there expectations your child is feeling that demotivating him to eat – too much on his plate? Foods, he doesn’t like? If you still have concerns, check in with your Doctor to make sure there are no other conditions affecting intake.