Chipmunk cheeks. So adorable. Gus owns a set – and I am in love. Everything about those sweet little cheeks make me happy….everything that is, until he keeps his food packed away in there. Gross.
It is called pocketing. And if you have a pocketer, you know how delightful horrible it can be. If you don’t have a pocketer…you’re lucky. If you aren’t familiar with pocketing, it is essentially when someone (most likely a child) chews up food, and then keeps it safely tucked away in their cheek. You know, for when they are hungry later.
So what do you do about this disgusting little issue? Let’s start with what you DON’T do: stick your finger in there and scoop it out. This is a band aid, and typically one that makes your kid gag. So don’t do it.
Instead, try one of these super easy – and productive – ideas! Start by gently rubbing their cheek where the cheek bone meets the jaw bone. This will likely make their tongue move to where the food is, and cause them to move it back and swallow it right on down. A less delicious technique is to tell them to spit it out. Don’t do the whole “Either chew it up or spit it out! That is disgusting!” Just tell them that when they are done with it, they can spit it out. No strings attached, no trouble. Spit it out. No questions asked.
The spit isn’t just to get the food out, it also is a great technique that requires tongue manipulation and cheek muscle to get it out. Who knew spitting it out was such an important skill, huh?
So the next time you notice those sweet little chipmunk cheeks full of corn and carrots, give these techniques a try before you let him run off with his stored winter food.