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I see a similar question here, but the circumstances are somewhat different.

Our daughter is very nearly two years old, and has a really healthy appetite. However, when sitting at the table at mealtimes, she will only feed herself for (up to about) five minutes. After that, the bowl is pushed away and she wants to play. She will not eat anything by herself from that point, and our attempts (e.g. "aeroplane spoonful") usually result in a tantrum.

If we allow her to be "entertained" at the table (e.g. drawing/playing with a small toy, etc.), she continues to eat well and 99% of the time finishes her meal. However, this means mum or dad are having to feed her while she plays at the table.

Last year she was very ill, and dropped from an average weight to the lowest centile (of which she has never fully recovered). Therefore we are resistant to the "just let them graze" approach.

Things are getting awkward, as it looks like bad manners when we're out. Can anyone please share any similar experiences, and how these were overcome?

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I think this is a very common issues most of the parents face now a days. My child is 3+ and she still does the same. Usually parents make their child habituated from very early age for their convenience. They want the child always to finish full dish and to accelerate eating process they show tv, advertise, music, youtube and other sort of stuffs. Now after certain age, parents feel bored and annoyed when the child never finishes without these entertainments. Ideal practice is screening time, playing time, feeding time, sleeping time etc. should be separated and non overlapping with one another. Due to bad practice of parents child become used to.

So, if this is the problem, and you habituated your child, now it should not change overnights. Gradually and slowly we should separate his/her times. When watching rhymes then no food. When eating then nothing else...try this practice and hope it will benefit.

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    Strict schedules worked well for my kids. Dinner at dinner time, nap at nap time, etc., we didn't arrange our kids schedules around ours, but ours around theirs. They slept well, eat well, played well. – Marc Sep 27 '16 at 1:54
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    +1 for moving towards separating the times slowly. A sudden break would be a bit of a shock for a kid and surely result in prolonged tantrums. – DadOfTwo Oct 3 '16 at 9:49

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