This is a new trend that is driving us CRAZY. He'll chew for literally an hour or more - one small bite, one big bite, food he likes, food he hates...It doesn't matter if we eat as a family or leave him in the kitchen alone - we'll come back, and there'll still be a hunk of food he's working like cud. I have tremendous food issues so I never wanted to fight about food, so my strategy has been to basically ignore it, but we've been trying to get him to have better table manners in general, and that means we can't ignore it because we don't want him playing with his food or talking with his mouth full, so I have to address the food in his face. DH gets super angry about it, so I tried to be the calm one in case he just wanted attention, but that's not working either. We don't want to let him "win" the power play because he usually does this when he didn't want to eat in the first place...I'd love to just not let him eat when he doesn't want to eat, but then he'd NEVER eat. Plus, we both work, so we have to be on a bit of a schedule for meal times to make sure he gets proper food. DH puts him in his crib as punishment, which I really don't like both for the food issues, and because I had and have sleep issues - I always felt like bedtime=punishment - but now he lies to us as well to get out of it - says he's done chewing and then we let him down and see there's still food there, so we're now teaching him to try to get away with stuff, which is NOT a lesson I want taught.... I'm just so frustrated. Mealtimes can be fun and timely if he's in the mood, or take over 2 hours if he doesn't want to swallow and I try to let him set the pace...every meal is tension-ridden at this point. Help!
2 year old won't swallow food
Is mealtime the bulk of time you spend together during the workweek? Maybe it is intentional, and he just wants more time with you two? If so - smart little guy!
The food issues are tough. I've been bragging all over about my Little Miss' growth spurt, but you know, now she's decided she's done eating for a while, so I suspect new growth will be a long time coming. We're on day 2 of the great food strike of 2013. Yes. It's HARD to not force food on them. I can relate to food issues. I was force-fed. Yesterday I did the "What does my sweetness want from the pantry?" dance with her for nearly 40 minutes.
I don't have any great advice, just wondering if maybe playing before the meals would help. I know meals are a time crunch as it is.
Also, I would like to encourage you. Hang in there!
It's not a texture thing, is it?
I had a lot of food/texture aversions as a kid (fortunately I grew out of most of them), and as a kid, remember sitting at the dinner table chewing on certain foods forever because I could not deal with the texture of them (but was forced to eat them by my parents anyway). When my parents weren't looking, I'd try to spit them out surreptitiously in a napkin, or hold them in my mouth until I could go in the bathroom and secretly spit them out in there.
Although it's not terribly common, I've also seen kids who will chew on things forever because they either really like (or dislike) certain food textures. (These kids are usually fairly oral)
I still remember what it felt like to have those power struggles over food as a child, so I don't recommend making a big deal out of it or treating it as a discipline problem. When I was punished for it, all it did was make me more resentful and stubborn about it, it didn't make me stop doing it by any means.