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Thread: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    14

    Default Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    Hi all. I have a 2 year old who still loves to nurse pretty frequently.

    We have such a tough time with solid foods though. She likes very few foods and even with those foods it's very unreliable whether she'll eat them at any given meal. She just doesn't seem interested in eating. I don't think it's a sensory issue because the foods she likes have varying textures.

    I'm really afraid of falling into bad habits with her in a few aspects:

    1. OFFERING TOO MANY CHOICES: What we tend to do at meal time is sit her in her highchair and keep offering more and more and more choices til we finally find the magic set of things she'll eat at that meal. Some people say that's a horrible habit to get into and we should just give her a set meal and she can either eat it or not and she'll eventually learn to eat what we give her. And on the opposite side some people say: Feed your kids whenever they're hungry -- not just meal times. And present lots of choices and make it fun with food on toothpicks or in muffin tins or in toy cars rolling across the floor. ;-) I have no idea what approach to take.

    2. NOT HEALTHY ENOUGH CHOICES AND NOT MUCH VARIETY: She doesn't eat a single vegetable. We sneak them into fruit smoothies when we can get her to have one of those. The only foods she'll eat are cheese, yogurt, fruit, whole wheat toast, sliced turkey or some beef meatballs but none of them reliably. She's extremely reluctant to try anything new. (She loves sweets, hot dogs and pizza actually but we make sure to make that a rare special treat.) Sometimes we'll sit her down and all she'll eat is a handful of shredded cheese and that's it.

    3. BETWEEN MEAL SNACKING: If we're on the go somewhere she'll often ask to have a snack of goldfish or something similar. Could that be causing a problem? I wonder.

    I'd love to have some advice from others! Thanks! :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Montreal
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    Default Re: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    For sure she could be filling up on the snacks, since they are still pretty tiny people!

    The more I think about, the less I see any contradiction in the methods you describe! Here's my take:

    What I do with my picky eateress is not show her the "good" reliable stuff until after offering and leaving her with the main meal for a while. I avoid paying too much attention to her eating, or making a big deal of it, including any non-eating she does with her food, such as dunking green beans in milk, for example

    I think when people recommend offering a variety of food they don't mean "here's A and if you don't like that, how about B? Or how about C? D?" DH and I have a tendency to do that too, but I think it sends the wrong message. Variety is "here is your dinner of A, B, C, and D. If you don't want it, that's fine, but that is what is for dinner."

    Since you're nursing, you don't have to be worried about a missed meal. Plus, snack time gives you a chance to offer her healthy treats you know she likes, and you feel better because she never has to go long without food being offered at least.

    Finally, whenit comes to making food fun, there is a difference between playing games to trick a baby into opening it's mouth, and "marketing" food ina way that's agreeable to your tot. Everyone likes food presented nicely, in a meal-worthy setting. For us, at this stage, that means small pieces, with a fork or spoon, and maybe off of mama's plate.

    Most of all, food should be fun, right?
    Mama to a sweet kitty born July 2012.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts!

    Speaking of "not making a big deal of it" and so forth... I usually make sure meal time is as low-stress as possible with no pressure and letting her eat as "unusual a meal" as she wants as long as it's healthy. Like today for lunch all she wanted was a handful of shredded cheese and that's it and that was AOK with me.

    But having said that, I tried to be more firm tonight and it resulted in a huge melt down on her part and I'm wondering how you or others would have dealt with this:

    Tonight for dinner I gave her some mac n cheese, some grapes, and a few "healthy" chips (corn chips with black bean & quinoa, but ya know, still corn chips really). She ate all the chips and wouldn't touch the other food despite a little upbeat/friendly prodding. She then asked for more chips. Rather than giving her more I told her that she'd eaten all her chips and that she could now eat the other items but no more chips. She insisted on more chips and threw a tantrum but I held firm on the "no more chips" and we ended up just saying "ok we're all done eating" let's go play now. So we left the kitchen, we nursed, and she got over it and that was it for mealtime.

    I guess I'm sort of at this age old place of confusion where I wonder if she's old enough for firmness like this or if she's still just a baby and doesn't understand the lesson here.

    And, hmm, I suppose I probably shouldn't have given chips at all in the first place! I did it because she didn't want to have dinner at all and I needed a little incentive to get her in her chair. That's something I should probably avoid.

    Ahhh... Parenting is perpetually confusing! :-)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    340

    Default Re: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    Consider me clueless when it comes to fostering a love of solids. We're a chillax BLS foodie household and, while DS24mo will often eat large-ish meals, he is so irregular and unpredictable in his eating habits. Most days, I'd say he's 90% breasted still. The , when growth spurts hit, he'll eat 3oz of meat in a sitting and then have a cup of berries later, or something equally extreme.

    My son surprised me with the things he likes--salmon, asparagus, olives, and blue cheese among the more unexpected items I can think of--then ignores meals for days on end. He seems to disproportionately favour meat when he eats--so much so that I wonder if he's in ketosis. My milk must contain something crazy like 15% fat to keep him growing as quickly as he does!

    I'm sorry I can't help, but I have a whole lot of commiseration with what you're experiencing.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2012
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    My LO is sort of picky -- but getting better in the past month or two with trying new foods. At some point, we just stopped being stressed about what she was eating. But she does eat a couple vegetables, so I guess that made it a little easier. We always have her try what we're having, unless she just flat-out looks at it and doesn't want it. But I let her have one of her "backup" foods if she really doesn't want anything we're having and seems hungry. I know it's not many people's way of doing things, but she's healthy and I'm content with most of her backup foods (we probably have about 7 things we go to). We've found two things help a bit: 1) If I'm pretty confident she won't like what we're having (like collard greens!), I ask her before dinner time, "What do you want for dinner?" Sometimes she answers very definitively about what she wants. Even if I have to prepare something small for her, I know she'll eat it and she got to decide for herself. 2) Sometimes I don't put what we're having in front of her. She seems to like to try things from my bowl or DH's. In fact, the times I forget to offer her my food are the times she seems most interested! That's how she ate a ton of broccoli for the first time in over a year last week. Then didn't eat it yesterday when I put some in front of her.
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  6. #6
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*isabelofmtl View Post
    What I do with my picky eateress is not show her the "good" reliable stuff until after offering and leaving her with the main meal for a while. I avoid paying too much attention to her eating, or making a big deal of it, including any non-eating she does with her food, such as dunking green beans in milk, for example

    I think when people recommend offering a variety of food they don't mean "here's A and if you don't like that, how about B? Or how about C? D?" DH and I have a tendency to do that too, but I think it sends the wrong message. Variety is "here is your dinner of A, B, C, and D. If you don't want it, that's fine, but that is what is for dinner."

    Since you're nursing, you don't have to be worried about a missed meal. Plus, snack time gives you a chance to offer her healthy treats you know she likes, and you feel better because she never has to go long without food being offered at least.
    So with all the above. Especially the part about snacks. Snacking is a normal eating pattern for a toddler and/or young child, and there's data to suggest that adults who eat small snacks throughout the day are eating in a healthier way than those who save their hunger for meals, in that they are less likely to overindulge.

    When my first kid was little, I fell into the habit of offering snacks that were easy and processed, like goldfish crackers and granola bars. And since those snacks added up to a significant portion of my child's daily intake, her overall diet wasn't what it should have been. One day I was at an outdoor concert and I saw this kid sitting in his stroller, peacefully devouring a bag of fresh blueberries. This big light went on in my head- blueberries! Now THAT is what I call a snack!!! So instead of giving my kid a bowl of goldfish crackers or Gerber puffs, I started offering her bowls of fruit (grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, raisins). And I made a concerted effort to banish processed treats from the house and the shopping list. It's a struggle that's never finished. If I have a bag of chips in the house, the kids demand that for a snack. If there are no chips, they are content with apples and carrot sticks. Because there are no other options!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    I gotta say, it's nice to hear other stories of pickiness. Makes be feel relieved that it's normal to some extent. (Even though I know it's normal, it's still helpful to hear it. haha)

    alphawoman -- Good point about "growth spurts." That could really explain the "eating like a bird" for days and days followed by lots of eating scattered in.

    mommal -- Good reminder about healthy snacks vs goldfish! I used to be so good about only giving fruit as snacks and then one day my daughter got interested in goldfish after seeing her cousin eat them and I totally abandoned the healthy snacks. I'm totally going to try going back to them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Toddler is super picky eater. Not interested in food.

    If my experience is any guide, the best way to go back to the healthy snacks is to banish the processed ones. Even when my kids were very young, they knew what was in the cabinets. If I offered blueberries and they knew there was a bag of goldfish in the closet, they would ignore the blueberries or throw them on the floor, walk to the closet and point out that we had goldfish. It was like "Duh, can't you see that there are good snacks in here?!!! Why are you giving me fruit when we have crackers?!"
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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