She Says… Toothpicks are Magic

Owen is generally a really good eater. I’m well aware that this “phase” (if you can call it that) may end, and it may be soon, so I am grateful for it every day. That’s not to say that we don’t have nights where he says “All done” before the plate is even put in front of him. Or that we haven’t had phases where he just threw his food on the floor instead of eating it. Or those meals when I actually give him a choice “Do you want this or this” and he just says, “NO FANKYOO”. Because we have.

(Sidenote: His three favorite phrases recently are “no fankyoo”, “OH YEAH!” and “no WAY” instead of just no, yes and no. Every time he says them, I just about pee my pants laughing. What can I say? The kid is a comedian.).

He’s just a toddler. Exerting his independence. Usually, even when he says “no fankyoo” and pushes his plate away, he’s reaching for it a minute later because he’s actually hungry.

But I recently pulled a new trick out of my hat. And it’s like his kryptonite. The kid can’t refuse it.


Owen likes to eat “big” things. He always has. Instead of an apple slice, he wants the whole apple. Instead of little squares of toast, he wants the whole piece so he can bite it. But just when I was catching on to this trend, he switched it up on me. In the last week or so he would leave big things on his plate, and sometimes, if he was feeling helpful, ask “Half?” (as in, “Will you cut this in half you stupid woman?! I can’t fit it in my mouth!”). Except even when I cut them up, he still didn’t want them. It was like knowing that they were big once upon a time was too offensive for him to eat the little bites at all.

So the other day, out of nowhere, I remembered a tip that my sister had mentioned when we were visiting her and her kids over Thanksgiving. “Toothpicks are magic. My kids will eat anything off of toothpicks.”

I was skeptical about giving my active/sometimes wild and unpredictable/tough little toddler a spiky stick. He uses an adult fork a lot of the time, though, so I figured it was only slightly pokier than that. When I brought out the first toothpick, I gave him a demonstration on how you eat off of one (aka NOT eating the toothpick). Immediately, he grabbed one. Delicately he put the little square of wrap sandwich with hummus and turkey in his mouth and removed the toothpick, just like I had done.

He grinned from ear to ear.

He used the toothpick to poke every last bite on his plate. The next day at lunch I served up his whole lunch on a bunch of little picks, like hors d’oeuvres. Sweet potato cubes, zucchini bites, red kidney beans, even avocado (which he hates recently, presumably because of the slimy texture) went right down the hatch. We’ve even done peas lined up on a toothpick just for fun.

He likes to hand the toothpicks back to me so I can line them up on the counter, one by one. He says, “Mo’ too-ticks?” when I only give him one.

Toothpicks are magic, my friends. Magic.


7 responses to “She Says… Toothpicks are Magic

  1. My kid is the same way about this one stupid Elmo fork we have. She will ONLY eat with this fork. The sad thing is that it was a gift and I can’t find anymore, so I’m constantly handwashing it. She even eats yogurt with it. Too bad you can’t really use logic with a toddler.

    Oh, and with my kid’s habit of sticking things in her ear and nose? There is no way in hell I’m giving her a pointy wooden stick. 🙂

  2. nancyholtzman

    Rock his world with those little plastic “sword” toothpicks, or the mini flags and umbrellas. Party stores and kitchen stores have these.
    Also – another good one: Discover “meat on a stick” (e.g. beef teriyaki, etc). We had a wonderful year where I could serve just about anything “______ On A Stick” and it would be gobbled up. Enjoy!

  3. Fantastic idea. I will be buying some toothpicks tomorrow.

  4. Brilliant, I’m trying that one!

  5. My 2 older kids (3 and 5) used to eat things off toothpicks too. They eventually wised up to that trick… unless it’s a sample of something at Costco or the supermarket. They will try anything off a toothpick or out of a tiny cup in the store. They rave about it, and then when I buy that product thinking they loved it, they won’t touch it at home. For us, the toothpick magic still works in the store!

  6. PhaseThreeOfLife

    This is awesome. It never would have occurred to me, but I bet Ryan would love it, too. Great tip!

  7. You can also use pretzel sticks if you’re afraid they’ll eat the pointy wooden toothpick 😉

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