My 20-month-old daughter, given the opportunity, will stuff her cheeks full of food she likes (especially cheese, raisins, or green beans) to the point where it's difficult for her to chew or swallow. When this happens, she'll work on the food for a little while and then remove it by hand and give it to me (at least she doesn't throw it or drop it. :-) )

She definitely likes the food; given one or two pieces at a time, she will devour them without stuffing them in her cheeks. Obviously, I can control the amount I give her at a time, but this is probably not a long-term solution. How can I encourage her to only take a little bit at a time?

  • You forgot to add “or hide it” to the end of the first paragraph. I find piles of half chewed food behind the couch when I vacuum, in the doll house, or worse, in the clean laundry basket. :-(
    – Jax
    Jul 23, 2019 at 23:28

3 Answers 3


You stated the first answer, only give her a little bit at a time. I wouldn't worry about it being a long term solution, make a big deal at some age (2 years?)that now she is old enough to put the right amount in her food so you will give her a full plate.

I hear, however, that you do not like this solution. Another option is to be vigilant watching her eat and say to her, that is enough in your mouth please chew and swallow. If needed gently hold her fork or spoon down so she won't take more.

Another idea is to simply limit those foods on her plate and give her more of other things which she eats slower. This will also teach her to eat other foods.

  • It's not that I don't like the solution, I was just thinking that it wasn't a long-term solution, and that I would have to do something like you described in your first paragraph. Thanks!
    – Vector
    Dec 21, 2011 at 14:45

We had a similar problem with my son at about that age. Like Morah suggested, I took the option of watching him like a hawk while he was eating and stopping him if I saw he was putting too much food in his mouth. I would hold his hand and simply say, "Chew and swallow". And after he did that, I would release his hand and he could continue eating. He learned pretty quickly that there was no need to cram his mouth full of chicken nuggets. They would still be there if he ate more slowly. He's four now and doesn't do that any longer.

However, I do still have to use the phrase "Chew and swallow" with him. Only now I'm trying to teach him to not talk with his mouth full. Sigh.


Our daughter is about the same age, and she does the same thing (woohoo, chewed up cheese!). She'll just stuff her face when eating - so we are careful and always give her small pieces.

I've found that this is not really a problem during meal times. She'll rarely stuff her face then. I believe this is because all her food is on her plate. She knows that the food is not going to be eaten someone else, and that it is not going away. If, by any chance, she happens to reach for more from her plate when she is still chewing, we'll stop her and say "finish first" or "chew first." If it is the same for your child (i.e. no stuffing during meal times), try to give snacks in a bowl as well (raisins, cheese, etc.) so they know that their food is not going away and that there is no rush.

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