19 answers

16 Month Old Picky Eater

Hello,
I am a little frustrated with my little guy. He has got to be the world's worst eater. He was started on pretty much everything very early on so he has already been introduced. He is a yogurt lover which is about the only thing I can get him to eat on a regular basis. Occasionally I can get him to eat applesauce and canned peaches. Once in awhile I can get him to eat some meat at dinner. I offer him a variety of foods. He turns his head and or pushes the spoon away. If I do manage to get a bite in I am lucky that it didn't get spit out. I found that if I keep his hands busy with toys while eating I have better luck. He does not like much fruit or veggies. This is very hard for me. My other children (I changed nothing this time) love every fruit and veggie available. We only cook fresh veggies and fresh fruit. He does not like sandwiches. He will eat snacks and I only provide these occasionally and after I have tried and tried to get him to eat. This is so I know at least he has something in his tummy. I also have started buying the V-8 Fusion with 100% juice and it provides a full serving of fruits and veggies in 1 8 oz cup. I know he will get the necessary vitamins this way. He only gets 3 bottles of milk a day and they are usuallly only 6 oz and 1 cup of diluted juice. Any mom's out there with a very picky eater and what helped????????

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Well working with children 0-3. What I suggest is to bring things to the table such as fruits/veggies. and just put it on the table first and talk about it. The color the size, the smell. etc. Then do this time after time and then you start with letting him/her touch it even play with it!!! I know as moms we do not love this, but it lets them be in controll in a different way. Then eventually give him/her a tast of what it is. My son is a picky eater and he never was as a little guy, but then they hit that 1 1/2 -3 mark....and boy do they know what they want or not want.!! :0) But I do the same thing you do by buying the v-8 fussion and also give him gummie vitamins and we have no problems. I'v talked to his pediatrician and they do not have concerns...just as long as he is getting his daily vitamins some how. Don't worry just keep trying.

With my daughter she has always been very picky. At first we were giving in to what she wanted. She would have totally different dinners when the family sat down to eat. Then we thought this is ridiculous. So I just started making her a plate of what we were having. So now she either plays with her food and will try things here and there or she just try it and like it and eat it. If she doesn't eat that is her dinner. If she does eat we try not to make a big deal out of it. I think it would drive her away from it. So she has been doing a lot better with trying things.

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It could be he's getting too much milk from a bottle so he's not hungary. If you go to http://www.dietsite.com/dt/Diets/InfantsChildren/ToddlerD... and click on the individual servings, it will tell you what a serving is for each. If he's getting three 8 oz. bottles of milk a day when at his age he should only be getting at most 16 oz., it could be filling him up. Then if he's getting yogurt on top of that, his dairy intake is very high.

Also he should be feeding himself by 16 months. If he's not wanting to touch the food, then I would be concerned he may have sensory issues. Something you may want to talk with your pediatrician about. You can also contact your county health department and they will send out a public health nurse for free that will tell you about other things that can help him.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.:
it could be a phase - one thing I remember from Ellyn Satter's book "Child of Mine, feeding with love and good sense" is that it's VERY common for toddlers, even ones who were eating everything you put in front of them a month ago, to go through a phase where they keep refusing even foods they were wolfing down a few weeks ago - it's a developmental phase where they're beginning to assert their independence. Her advice is to keep offering a variety of things and know that you might have to offer something ten times before your toddler will even let you leave the item on his plate and maybe another ten times before he takes a bite. The one thing she advises that parents avoid is only serving the foods they know their child will eat, b/c eventually the child gets tired of those things and the parents feel even more panicky b/c they don't know what else to feed their child and the child can often sense the anxiety and may feel even less inclined to try something new.

So my suggestion is to keep offering healthy choices to your son - it might be that his personality/temperament will mean it takes him a bit longer than it took his siblings to come around to eating a bigger variety of things. Personally speaking I can say this happened in our household - i have 6YO twin girls: one of them never met a fruit or vegetable she didn't like and has always been more willing to try new foods than her sister was. The other one seemed to subsist mainly on yogurt, milk, and rice cakes but over the past few years she's come to tolerate and even enjoy a lot more variety of foods.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear T.,
Picky eaters can be the WORST!!!!!!!!
I, fortunately, never had to deal with that when it came to my own children, but I have had my share of being told at birthday parties or whatever that this child will only eat this or I can't serve that. NO WAY!
First of all, relax. Because he may not be acting picky. Maybe he just isn't hungry. They go through phases like that. Trust me. My kids will eat anything on the planet, but believe me, they went through spells where they wouldn't eat anything. I came to learn it signalled a growth spurt.
For one thing, a child will never let themselves starve, so you don't have to worry about that. They will eat anything they can get their hands on if they are truly hungry. The other thing is....NEVER substitute snacks or make anything other than what the rest of the family is eating. If the child won't eat, you can try again at breakfast.
Honey, you think he's being picky now? If you cave and cater, you're going to have a 13 year old that will freak out if ketchup accidentally touched his tater tot or you will be driving numerous circles through the Burger King drive through if there is a drop of mustard on anything which makes the food completely inedible.
Do not set yourself up for that. One of my very best friends, who happens to be a teacher, of all things, tear herself away from the dinner table to drive and go get the kid chicken nuggets or something because he doesn't "want" spaghetti or the steaks or the salad or the pizza because he wasn't in the "mood" for pepperoni that night. Girlfriend, you do NOT want to go there. Offer your kid what everyone else is having or what you would usually serve him and if he won't eat it, save it for the next day. He could be teething. It could be anything. He will not be a truly "picky" eater unless you let him become one. If a kid is truly hungry, they'll eat dirt on bread.
Don't try to force him to eat, but don't cave.
He will be all the better for it. And so will you. Trust me.

Blessings!

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried mac n cheese? My daughter loves it and you can hide just about anything in there if you puree it... chicken, pork, beef, any vegetable. I can use broccoli, brussel sprouts, colliflower, anything!! Just add mac n cheese and dont put too much puree'd food in there at first. Slowly add it. They will eventually get used to the flavors. Good luck! Hopefully it's just a phase. ;o)
Also, she used to eat sandwiches, but stopped eating the bread. But, she will eat it toasted. So for breakfast I give her toast and eggs - she preferred the over medium to the scrambled. Or you can try grilled cheese too. For lunch she will eat the meat and cheese, just not the bread so I give her wheat thins, or any whole grain type cracker so she still gets her grains.

I have picky eaters (two out of my five. Don't give in, it makes more work for you and feeds into the problem. I have just this year stopped short order cooking for my kids. They eat what I fix (I fix very kid friendly food) or go hungry. What I have noticed is that they wake up hungry, eat a good breakfast (which is a better start to the day) and usually try to eat something at dinner. I don't allow food after dinner unless we have dessert planned (usually Friday) and they don't get that unless they've tried dinner.
Don't feel you have to pander to him. When he gets hungry he will eat. I read somewhere recently that toddlers take in most of the calories before five o'clock. So mabye make lunch time his bigger meal and don't worry if he doesn't eat dinner. He will be fine. He'll give you a run for your money when you stop feeding him carbo snacks, but I totally agree with the other moms about limiting his snacks. I have had to drastically reduce my toddlers snacks. I also have changed what I offer. If they won't take the fruit or veggies offered than they're really not hungry. It met with a lot of complaints at first but my kids have accepted it now. They cry, whine or complain and when I don't give in they either take the fruit or go find something else to do besides eat.
Stay firm and don't let it get under your skin. It does get better.

With my daughter she has always been very picky. At first we were giving in to what she wanted. She would have totally different dinners when the family sat down to eat. Then we thought this is ridiculous. So I just started making her a plate of what we were having. So now she either plays with her food and will try things here and there or she just try it and like it and eat it. If she doesn't eat that is her dinner. If she does eat we try not to make a big deal out of it. I think it would drive her away from it. So she has been doing a lot better with trying things.

This is worse for you than it is for him. Every mom is scared that her child is going to starve. They won't. Even if he eats a little of this and a little of that, you can supplement with vitamins til he eats more varied foods. Also make sure he's hungry so he's more apt to eat than if he's been grazing all day.

Well working with children 0-3. What I suggest is to bring things to the table such as fruits/veggies. and just put it on the table first and talk about it. The color the size, the smell. etc. Then do this time after time and then you start with letting him/her touch it even play with it!!! I know as moms we do not love this, but it lets them be in controll in a different way. Then eventually give him/her a tast of what it is. My son is a picky eater and he never was as a little guy, but then they hit that 1 1/2 -3 mark....and boy do they know what they want or not want.!! :0) But I do the same thing you do by buying the v-8 fussion and also give him gummie vitamins and we have no problems. I'v talked to his pediatrician and they do not have concerns...just as long as he is getting his daily vitamins some how. Don't worry just keep trying.

My saving grace was a product called Juice Plus+. It is 17 different raw, vine ripened fruits and veggies in a capsule, chewable or gummie. They remove the sugar, salt and water. It has made a huge difference in the overall health of my whole family. It is not an isolated vitamin, but whole food nutrition. I was introduced to it by a nurse almst 5 years ago and we will take it for the rest of our lives. Here is a web site for you to check out www.StudiesOnJuicePlus.com They have done many studies on this product that have been published in peer reviewed medical journals. You can read them on this web site. I tell people Juice Plus+ is not a replacement for eating fresh fruits and veggies, but a nutritional seat belt. I know that every day no matter what I try to get my kids to eat that they have 17 different fruits and veggies in their system balancing out their immune systems and keeping them healthy! I would be happy to answer any questions you might have and I wish you the best of luck!

L.
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Hi T.,

Your issue with your son really hit home with me as my 2.5yo son is the same way. Its getting a little better. He is a super picky eater. It started around 18 months. He still refuses a lot of the foods i put down for him at meal dime. I chuckled when you said your son will push the spoon away. That is waht my son did. Now he just says NO NO and has to have the food he doesn't want totally out of site. Up to 18 months he ate everything. He lived on yogart and now i can't get him to eat a single spoon full of it. I feel your pain. My son is in the 97% tile for his height and weight and his dr said don't give in to him. YOu put down what he is to eat and if he refuses then that is it. You tell him no more food till his next meal. That means no snacks. I finally had to lock up the fridge and the pantry. He would get down from the table and head over to nose through what HE was going to eat. They also get sick of the same stuff over and over so i try other foods. Trader Joes makes this great Sweet potato bisque soup in a box. My son LOVES it. I put it in a sippy cup and downs it. Turkey meatballs at Safeway precooked are good too. My other issue is my son hates sweets so he doesn't like fruit of any kind let alone a chewable vitamin. As a baby he ate all kinds of fruits and just about anything i put down. Good thing he likes peas and corn. Sometimes that is a struggle. Unless he is underweight for his age or the dr has told you he needs to put on more weight I wouldn't worry too much about it. It is easier said then done. I know its frustrating. I finally got my son to eat plain pasta for the first time last week. There is Mickey Mouse and Car's pasta shapes at Safeway also that got him interested in trying it for the first time. Just get creative. They will eat when they are hungery enough. Cutting out snacks is a big step. Always put down good foods so at least they are being introduced and they may pick it up and try it. Give less milk at meal time or give it to them after meal time so they don't fill up on it. These are all things the dr told me to try. Its a phase. My son won't even eat the lunches made for him at his school. If you force them it will just get harder. Good luck to you. As the dr said to me. Don't become a "short order cook". It sounds like you do have time to be one either.

SAHM 2.5yo son and baby boy due July. Married for 4 years to a wonderful man.

Our daughter (16 months) is also really picky. Her doctor finally asked us to speak to a nutritionalist when her weight flat-lined and we are now giving her a supplemental drink every day.

First, I wouldn't worry too much about his eating habits until/unless his weight is being affected. It is very very very normal for kids this age to be weirdly picky and seem like there's no way they are getting enough food.

Second, I've noticed that her willingness to eat a more varied diet has increased with the the number of teeth in her mouth. She was absolutely unwillling to eat meat until recently and now loves (go figure) turkey jerky. This coincided nicely with her fully erupted 4 first molars.

Finally, I found that she'd happily eat snacks all day long. This was great, on the one hand, because she certainly wasn't eating enough at her meals so I was happy that she was getting calories SOMEWHERE! However, I was conflicted because I suspected that she might eat better at meals if she didn't eat snacks. You might try cutting out snacks (if he's getting them) to see if it increases his appetite.

I hope you find a solution or, short of that, peace with this frustrating phase... : ) Oh, and keep offering everything - I'm often surprised when she is willing to try something that she's always refused before or stuff that I wouldn't think she'd like (ie: turkey jerky and, more recently, granola)!!

Let's start with the fact that you get to decide what he eats. You are the Momma. When he gets hungry, he will eat whatever you put in front of him.

He is old enough to play "let's make a deal." He must eat 3 bites of everything YOU select for him and then he gets his yogurt or anything else you choose as a reward. I promise that he will not starve but initially this is going to be tough. He will throw fits and scream but if you can hang in there, it should be settled within a week but you need to be CONSISTENT!

Remember - they learn what we teach them and you are getting ready to teach him that Momma decides what he eats. Also, while you are going through this, please make sure he is getting a vitamin supplement. Also, don't give him too much liquid during this time as that will fill up his tummy, at least temporarily. His tummy needs to be hingry while he is learning.

Good Luck - Hang tough - you can do it!

Blessings,
+B+

My 4 1/2 yr old boy used to be extremely picky. NO veggies at all..... What he did and still does like is the "Green Plant" and "Tropical Carrot Juice Blend" from Trader Joe's. We never talked about veggies being in them cause then he'd never touch them. We call Green Drink and Orange Drink. Also, if your little guy likes macaroni and cheese we would finely chopped a little fresh spinach and mix it in at the end of cooking. Again, never say that it is spinach (he still doesn't know) we call it mac and cheese with vitamins. And every one knows that vitamins make you grow big and strong like their favorite character!
hope this helps!
K.

well here is a thought and I am going through it now with my 13 month old...he isnt picky he just wants to eat for himself. he used to love rice and eat all the time and his day care lady told me he isnt eating and he wasnt eating for me then i figured it out and put his food on the coffee table and he snatched it up and ate all his rice....same with cheese put it on the table or handed him his piece and he eats it. he gets his protien from beans right now since he isnt eating too much meat yet but just a thought maybe he just wants to eat on his own. i put his noodles and veggies from his soup on his tray and he grabs it and eats. worth a try

For little kids, the 3 things they have control over are pooping, peeing & eating. He may be attemting to gain control over this situation. You really don't want to start a battle of the wills over this as it could turn into lotsa other problems. Keep offering him foods at meal times, if he eats, he eats. Kids know when they're hungry & will eat. Don't allow yourself to turn into a short order cook & doing the 'how about this? Wanna eat this?' game. Offer him some choice for breakfast & lunch but I'd say limit it to 2 items. If he chooses neither of your options just make him something you know he'll like but if it goes uneaten, that's that. If possible, keep it for later. For dinner, since you're cooking or Daddy is cooking ( you lucky woman!) for all of you, he gets what everyone else gets. If he doesn't eat, then that's that....meal time if over, no more snacks or food until the next meal. Or unless, of course, if he hasn't eaten diddly all day, then you gotta give him some form of food. Kids are smart & quick & if you stick to your guns about not bending over backwards for his pickiness, then he'll figure out Mommmy means business & will start to eat. There are alot of kids who are better snackers than eaters....my g-friend has one & well, now at almsot 5 yrs, her son rarely eats an actual meal cuz she allowed the snacking to get outa control & become his main form of food. I know a lot of diets call for several small meals a day so maybe try to make his snacks a bit more than just some crackers or cookies.....what about yogurt or fruit bars or try some of those veggie chips or any other kindsa food that looks like chips or cookies but has some veggies or fruit in the mix. I don't know if you already do this, but you might think about organic foods. I'm not a total organinc only freak but have stopped buying a lot of snacks from my usual grocery store & have started getting them from Trader Joe's so that they have less addatives, chemicals & all that. This way, you know that even tho he's snacking, it's not chock full of junk. You also might wanna be careful w/the V-8 juice....sometimes those are pretty thick & hearty & can be filling enough for a meal. Hope this helps & good luck!

This could be his way of getting attention. Since you are so busy, this could be his way of getting one2one attention.

My girls go through phases, however I have never been the type to fix (up to) three different meals at one time depending on what they feel like eating.

Offer him what everyone else is having and if he doesn't accept it right away...just leave it for him. Children will not starve and eventually he will eat what is presented to him.

Hi! My 27-month-old son is also a very picky eater. He would rather starve than eat food he won't tolerate. His palate selection is more like that of a gourmet. So although he eats a good variety of food (but not all), they must be fresh, have good texture (no overcooked meats) and be flavorful. I have tried most of the strategies mentioned here, but they don't work with him. He's actually slipped on the growth chart. One thing you may want to do is to determine if he has Oral Sensitivity. Check out Sensory Integration Disorder. An Occupational Therapy can help with feeding therapy. Either get a referral from your pediatrician or go through the state's Early Intervention program. Good luck! I need it everyday!

Cut out the bottles, start giving him his milk in a cup, he will drink a lot less of it and stop filling up on the milk. Also, stop offering him snacks when he doesn't eat what you offer him, he will just hold out until you offer the good stuff. Try offering the food in different forms. If you normally chunk his banana, try giving it to him whole, if you normally put milk on his cereal, offer it to him dry, (more like a snack), etc. I let my kids eat a lot of their vegetables raw. if they are too hard or a choking hazard, they sell those little mesh bags that work great at letting kids get a taste for different foods. And although not always as healthy as fresh, most kids love those canned mandarin oranges. We rinse them in water to wash off a little of the sugar before giving them to our kids. All you can do is keep trying. Continue to offer all different kinds of food, in all different forms etc. I know my son went through a phase where he wouldn't eat anything that had cooking marks on it, so we had to cut off the outside of all his meat for awhile to get him to eat it. But I really think once you reduce the amount of milk he is drinking, he may naturally just start to eat more.

Oh my gosh my daughter is soon to be 14 and we been going through this since she was two. She won't even try anything. She only started eating cheeseburgers a year ago. She is even picky about fast food. It has to be Wendys chicken nuggets and only Rainbow bread at $4 a loaf. She is perfectly healthy even though she has awful eating hasbits. Perhaps you should try making making him wait longer between meals so he is more hungry. He may just not be on the same eating schedule as everyone else.

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