Picky Eaters??

For the past few months my son, [name_u]Sam[/name_u], has been very picky with what he eats. [name_f]One[/name_f] week he’ll eat something like carrots and not touch it the next. Dinner time has become kind of like a battle trying to get him to eat his food. Usually it’s only with his vegetables and occasionally with fruits. Hubby and I have tried everything we can think of, but nothing seems to be working. When it first started we didn’t pay much attention to it since we figured it was just a phase and would pass, but after a couple weeks I started to get worried. We’ve tried hiding the item he won’t eat in other foods, but he just picks it out or won’t eat at all. We don’t want to have to resort to bribing him to eat and I’m starting to get concerned about his health. I’m worried he’s not getting the proper nutrition.

So my question is, did anyone else go through this with their toddlers? [name_m]How[/name_m] did you get through it? What methods worked and didn’t work?

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

I’m currently expecting our first baby in a couple of months so no personal experience but a blog I follow immediately came to mind. Give this a read, maybe it will be helpful in one way or another? If nothing else, she’s usually very funny and empathetic :slight_smile:


[name_m]Lev[/name_m] ate everything until he was about a year and a half- and we were just so proud of ourselves! Then he started doing exactly what you are saying- one day he will love carrots, the next day he won’t touch them. From talking to friends, this seems like a normal toddler thing to do.

This is what we do: we put the food on the table. He eats what he wants. We just make sure that everything on the table is a reasonably good choice. If he keeps eating nothing but bread, I just don’t serve bread with dinner. We do not bribe him to eat things. I heard that if you bribe kids to eat their vegetables, they are going to assume that vegetables are really terrible. We eat lots of vegetables and we talk about how yummy they are. I try and involve him in preparing dinner as much as possible- if he even gets to stir something, it makes him more excited about eating it.

We don’t try and make him eat anything, though. We really don’t want to turn dinner into a power struggle. We also don’t want to play restaurant and keep offering him different choices- I think kids can really get into that game. The only options are what I put on the table. If he doesn’t want to eat, or if he only eats one part of the meal, that is okay. If he gets hungry after the meal, I will give him his leftovers.

I will say here that he is a normally developing kid. He is growing well and is very healthy. There is no reason to think that he is lacking any nutrition. There are kids with serious food issues and sensory processing disorders that make eating very difficult. There are also kids who are struggling to keep weight on, and you just have to do whatever you have to do to get them to eat. If you are dealing with any serious issues here, I would talk to your doctor and keep asking questions till you get the help you need.

I also sneak vegetables into things, like I add puréed cauliflower to macaroni and cheese. I serve another vegetable along with that, but if he refuses to eat it, at least he gets the cauliflower. Nobody has been able to tell about the cauliflower. I put it in mashed potatoes, too. There is a book called The Sneaky Chef that I got out of the library with lots of ideas like that. And I make green smoothies into Popsicles for him (spinach, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and plain yogurt- it sounds disgusting, but it really just tastes like chocolate and peanut butter, and they just look like chocolate.)

Good luck! I hope this phase passes quickly!

[name_f]One[/name_f] of my daughters, [name_f]Angelica[/name_f], had the same sort of problem. What we did is tell her that she had to eat EVERYTHING on her plate. What she didn’t eat, we’d put in the fridge and whenever she would say she was hungry again, or next time we’d eat (wether it be for snack or another meal) she’d get whatever was left on the plate. When that is gone, she can have something else. For about two weeks or so, she struggled with that system (one day she didn’t even eat lunch or dinner!!), but then she caught on and will eat whatever we give her. That was about 6 months ago, and we haven’t had any problems since. This system was recommended by our family doctor. It may not work for every kid, but it sure worked for ours :slight_smile:

Maybe try smoothies for getting some nutrients in there? Make them mostly fruit, but add in a few vegetables. We use frozen fruit, a couple fresh vegetables, and V8 Juice to make ours, and they’re quite delicious.

But honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much. That is perfectly normal for a kid to be picky. If you think it is serious, check with your family doctor for their opinion.

Its his age. I wouldn’t force anything on him, he will only end up with a bad relationship food if he sees it as something he is forced to do against his will. He will eat if he is hungry. [name_m]Just[/name_m] ensure there are a wide variety of healthy meals and snacks available to him at all times. If he is allowed to eat chocolate or junk food, now is the time to completely cut it out for a few weeks because he’ll just fill up on that.

My biggest advice would be to NOT punish him for not eating. It won’t work in the long term. The less of a big deal you make of it the better.

My daughter went through exactly the same phase and she eats perfectly well now, and has a wide balanced diet.

Yes, absolutely what pinkballerina said. Also, make sure that he isn’t filling up on milk or juice or goldfish or something all day. My nephew and niece spend all day eating fun kid snack food (like puffs and goldfish and fruit gummies) and then they never want food at mealtimes. It helps to make sure that the kid is actually hungry at dinner. I am not saying you should starve them all day, just make sure that there are a couple of hours between afternoon snack and dinner time.

Also, touching on the last post, make sure snacks are healthy. Not just not junk food, but packing some real nutritional value.

If he’s struggling to eat steamed veggies at dinner, offer raw with hunmus for a snack. Or, like someone said, a smoothie with lots of greens thrown in. Goldfish crackers, pretzels, etc. is not a healthy snack.

You can also try giving veggies like carrots with cinnamon sugar on them, or sweet potato. Make zucchini bread, sweet potato pie, put pumpkin purée in brownies or muffins, etc. that’s not going to replace veggies with meals, but can at least add some nutrients into his occasional treats.