Ways to Trick your Baby:
Problem: Your child has decided that swallowing is for the weak. It doesn’t matter if you’ve given her a pork chop or a spoonful of oatmeal, that food’s new home is her mouth, and it’s not going anywhere. If you want to give her a new bite, sometimes she’ll open her mouth to accept it, but the spoonful is going to have to go on top of the foodstuff already simmering in there. Gross.
Solution: There are several solutions, none of which work more than 25 percent of the time. The first route we try is the chew chew chew game. My husband will make chewing and swallowing look fun. He points to his cheek and chews saying, first on this side, then points to the other cheek, and says, then on this side. We repeat this until they are chewing their food and laughing and inevitably forget their swallowing strike. But, sometimes they don’t fall for this. When that happens, we try asking them a question. One that they’d be really interested in answering, but can’t because their mouths are full of food. Sometimes it’s incentive enough to get them to swallow so they can talk to us.
Ways your Baby Tricks You:
Problem: They couldn’t care less about your contrived question, and they’re not going to play your dumb chewing game. They are not swallowing, full stop.
Solution: In this case, we’ll try a bit of competition psychology. We’ll start by saying that she can’t chew. “Oh,” we’ll say, “it’s because you can’t chew. You don’t know how to chew! Poor baby who doesn’t know how to chew…” or something along those lines. Sometimes their indignation will force their jaws into action. Since we have two of them, we also can heap praise on the one that is chewing and swallowing at the time. The non-swallower normally wants the positive attention, too, and sometimes will bend her position on not swallowing to get it. Every once in a while, simply getting them to take a drink from their sippy cups will slip the food down there.
Of course, sometimes none of these works, and we simply pull our hair out in frustration. The key is to avoid getting into a battle of wills with your toddler. The moment you say, “swallow your food or else,” you’ve already lost. In a standoff with a toddler, there are no winners. Good luck.