You asked

How do I stop my child from playing with his food?

Most children go through a phase where they play with their food. It’s perfectly normal, but it will take a few weeks or months to get your child out of the habit, and it does depend on your consistent reaction to the behaviour.

It’s important to eat with your child. Don’t react to your child’s wriggling. However, if he starts to play with his food, simply take his food away, saying something like ‘Oh, you’re finished eating.’

When you’ve done that, make a point of reminding your child that mealtimes are for eating, not playing. If you exercise this kind of restraint, and follow these tips at every meal time, you should end up having family meals that are pleasant, rather than a screaming match about playing with food!

Remember that children this age will eat when they are hungry, and they certainly won’t starve. If your child seems uninterested in eating, it’s probably simply a matter of not being hungry!

Avoid snacks for an hour before mealtimes to make sure that your child is hungry,  and remember that a quarter of an hour is about the best you can hope for in terms of sitting still and behaving at this age. So make sure that mealtimes are fast, and if it does drag on, let your child play quietly somewhere nearby instead, to avoid the battle.

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