My almost 4-year-old won’t bite his food. He doesn’t seem to know how to. If given a large piece of food, he will try to stuff the whole piece in his mouth or won’t even try to eat it because of its size.

For instance, when given a full cookie, he doesn’t bite it. Instead, he will either try to put the whole cookie in his mouth or just look at it and, as he seems to know that it won’t fit, push it aside and not eat it. Sometimes, he gets upset and wants it broken into smaller pieces so he can eat it. We have tried to help him but he just doesn’t seem to get it. He is a good eater and has no trouble chewing or swallowing.

We do eat as a family, but he doesn’t model after the adults and he won’t bite even soft foods. We repeatedly demonstrate how to bite to no avail. He has never attempted to bite anything, we believe it isn’t his teeth. He is also slow to talk and has been having speech therapy since he was 2 1/2, so even though he is communicating more he is still delayed.

How can we help him learn to bite food into smaller pieces he can then eat?

  • Hello Marcy. Thank you for posting and welcome to Parenting.SE. Can you clarify a little bit? He doesn't bite his food when sticks in his mouth? – SomeShinyObject Nov 14 at 4:03
  • If given a large piece of food he will try to stuff the whole piece in his mouth or won’t even try to eat it because of its size. For instance, when given a full cookie he doesn’t bite it so it will either try to put the whole cookie in his mouth or just look at it and seems to know that it won’t fit so will push it aside and won’t eat it. Sometimes he gets upset and wants it broke into smaller pieces so he can eat it. FYI he is slow to talk and has been having speech therapy since he was 2 1/2 so even though he is communicating more he is still delayed. – Marcy Hanson Nov 14 at 5:11
  • Sorry I tried to edit my post but it said I couldn’t. So after for instance.. he doesn’t bite it so it will be easier to chew. He will either... – Marcy Hanson Nov 14 at 5:26
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    Hi Marcy. Welcome! Did you know that speech therapists also work with children to help them eat properly? I would suggest you mention this to your speech therapist and see if your has an eating issue. He may have to be taught to bite and eat properly. Good luck! – suse Nov 14 at 7:18
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    First of all, I hope you are okay with my edit! Just a thought, but maybe it's worth asking: Might there be a problem with his teeth, especially the incisors? I just wondered, since he can chew (but may rather use (pre-)molars for that). Maybe it hurts and so he avoids using them to bite off smaller pieces. Did you show him how to do it? – Anne Daunted Nov 14 at 16:23

We have requested the speech teacher works with him on this, as well as drinking from a cup, and she is planning to start helping with the biting. She is already working with him on drinking from a cup.

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