28 answers

19 Month Old Picky Eater

The older my 19 month old son gets, the pickier he gets in his eating habbits. I especially have a hard time with him with dinner. He only eats a few things and this makes it hard for me to prepare meals for him. He usually eats chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, hot dogs, pizza, or sometimes a scrambled egg. I know that some of these things are not the most nutritious, but if he eats them at least I'm happy. Sometimes he won't even eat them. He won't even eat a grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly anymore. He rarely eats any veggies. I still offer them to him once a day, but he usually just plays with them. I have even tried making him little english muffin pizzas and he won't eat that either. He knows it's not real pizza and won't eat it. However, he does love fruit and will usually always eat that whether it is fresh or unsweetened canned. I've been told it is normal at his age (19 months) to be a very picky eater, but I am looking for other things I could try giving him that he might enjoy. I would like maybe some ideas that are easy and somewhat healthy. I get tired of giving him the same thing all of the time. I would appreciate any ideas anyone has to offer.

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

I have continued to offer my son what he likes, but I also put something on his plate about once a day that he normally wouldn't take a bite of. I figure if he sees it often enough, he might be willing to try it. For example, I still put steamed carrots on his dinner plate eventhough he usually doesn't touch it. I have also tried artichokes because those are kind of fun to eat and you can dip them. He hasn't eaten either, but hopefully he will come around. I have also started making my own juice and he loves it. I can make carrot juice and add a little bit to his apple juice or a smoothie and he doesn't mind it.

Thank you everyone for all of the suggestions. I appreciate the time you all took to respond.

Featured Answers

Hi L., my son is also 19 months and a picky eater. However, I can always get him to eat a lil' entre, they are pre-packaged and very nutritional. He loves them.


I have the same problem with my 3 1/2 yr. old. He basicaly lives on cereal. I finally got him to try certain foods by asking him if he wants to be strong like his daddy. He at least eats carrots now. If you find something that works let me know. Thanks

Well, my daughter just loved Pokemon cartoons when she was little, so anytime I wanted her to try something she did not normally eat, I'd just tell her that it was Pokemon food and she would not only try it, but ended up loving it!

More Answers

My 20 month old son is great about eating almost anything, but I think it is because I have exposed him to a lot of things. The best tricks I have found to work in more veggies are: Friday we have a pizza night, I make my own dough,(but you can buy it) I top it with lowfat cheese, shredded chicken, broccoli, other veggies, (or leftover odds & ends) He loves it & it is a great way to sneak in veggies. I also make at least 1 big pot of soup per week, if you puree it you can add all kinds of veggies & kids won't even know. I sprinkle a little cheese on top & he finishes a bowl no problem!

I know processed food is easy to prepare in a hurry, but once kids are "hooked" it is really hard to wean them off it. The Home extension office in my area offers some really great cooking classes for buget minded home cooks. I do almost all my own cooking. I have really saved money, buy not buying any ready made foods, I have lost almost 20 pounds & I feel great.
If you need any recipes, I would be happy to post.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,
I just wanted to add a little more information for your issue.
First of all welcome to the almost 2's. a real fun age because they are much more verbal. enjoy it while you can.

Some things to think about....
1. Your child is not growing as fast as he was in the past. Growth slows down and appetite slows down. Right now his job is to play, have fun and learn about everything (this includes manipulation). Our job is to offer food 5-6 times a day. When I say offer, do not ask him if he wants it, just place him at the table, high chair or somewhere free of distractions. Allow him to pick and choose if he wants it, how much he wants to eat. If you let him graze nonstop thruout the day, then he will forget what it feel like to be hungry and/or full.
2. Your child is also going thru what is called a "food jag".
this basically means he like s 2-3 things and ask for just those items. It is ok to give into those food jags as long as you are offering other foods at the same time.
3. Every person has likes and dislikes. However at this age it does not mean your child will never eat a food he dislikes. Try offering it a different way..... If he wont eat veggies but will eat spagetti sauce or pizza. puree some veggies and sneak it in the sauce. It has to be pureed or they will pick it out. My daughter would not eat veggies until 2 1/2 years old. We found out one day at grandma's garden... it's not that she doesn't like veggies, just not cooked veggies. So try some dips, kids love ketchup. Her first veggie was carrots dipped in ketchup (YUK!, but I'm not the one eating it.) He still may be too young for uncooked veggies but something to think about later on. You may need to place a food on his plate 15 times before he will even touch it. But if we don't put it on thier plate because he didin't like it yesterday, he will never get used to it being there and we're not giving the child a chance to change his mind. Becareful about being a short order cook. It's ok to cook according to the jags, but remember offer other choices at the same time. I had a rule in my house... if my children did not like something, I would not make them eat it. I still put it on thier plate and they could remove it onto thier napkin (touch is the first step of tasting), I would offer atleast 1 thing a night that I knew they would like, but I would not allow snacking until 1 1/2 - 2 hours after meal time. Have you ever heard the word... "I can't eat another bite or I will die", 5 minutes later... can I have a snack. If my child truley doesn't like what we are having for dinner, the last option I offer is, a bowl of high iron cereal thats also low in sugar. But remember there is a big difference
between I don't like and I don't feel like eating that.
4. Do you know how much your child should be eating? The correct serving size for your child is about 1 1/2 tablespoons of food per food group. One jar of stage two baby food is the eqivalent of one tablespoon. I know it looks like alot more. Is your child still on whole milk? children between the age of 12 months till 24 months, should be on whole milk only. They still need the extra fat for a growing brain. However, your child should not drink more than 16-20 oz. a day. If we fill up on milk, we don't have to eat. Does your child drink juice every day? Everybody needs a good source of vitamin c every day. However, he should not be drinking more than 10-12 oz/day. Is your child still on the bottle? This not only effects thier appetite, but you can run the risk of bottle rot (nursing bottle syndrome) and low iron. If you are still using the bottle, its time to go!!!!! TRy offering water only and everything else from a cup. If your child is drinking from a cup but exceeds the recommended allowance for juice or milk, try filling the cup with ice. Ice takes up space but does not change the flavor. Your child is getting old enough to know, I usually get this much, now I'm getting less. Save your self the argument. Quick example.....
your child needs 1150 calories a day in order to grow. If your child is drinking 5, 8oz bottles or cups of milk (equals 730 calories) and is drinking 3, 8oz cups/bottles of juice (equals 345 calories) add those together and we get 1075 liqiud calories and that only leaves 75 calories needed by food in order to grow. If you drank a gallon of milk thruout the day tomorrow, how hungry would you be? How much would you eat besides that gallon of milk? I give my children a choice at meal time.... milk or water? there is nothing else offered during meal time. Maybe even offer liquids after meal time. Drinking with our meals is a habit not a nessecity.
5. Do you know about WIC? I actually work for WIC and have done so for 13 years. I've only been with the Arizona WIC for a little over 1 year but I worked for Massachusetts WIC for almost 12 years. WIC can be (not all) a great source of information. I am not a registered nutritionist but we have one in BULL Head city, Lake havasu and Kingman. Her name is Brenda and she could give you more info. If you would like to call her ... call Kingman WIC @ ###-###-#### and ask for Brenda or Deb. They both can offer more great advice.
Good luck, alot to think about! Try not to make eating a power struggle, ignore it, do not comment, not even try one bite, it often backfires! I am 35 years old and will not eat pea's. I could swallow them whole for a million dollars (but I could eat alot of disqusting things for a million)To this day my own Mother will say... stop picking those peas out of your fried rice. She will say... You can't even taste them. Well, I remember sitting at the dinner table gagging down pea's. It took over three hours and I gagged with every bite. I was permanently damaged as a child, with pea's. To this day, I will not eat them. I still tease her, oh the damage you have caused. Mom, I will never be normal.
Well, I think I covered the most important things on my list of do's and don't with feeding the 1 1/2 to 5 year age group.If you have any further questions feel free to email me a person note.
H. B.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,
Here are my two cents for what its worth.
If your son likes fruit, perhaps yogurt would be a healthy quick snack. Also if you can find a cereal that he likes most of them are fortified with vitamins and minerals and are an easy on the go snack in a bowl or sandwich bag. Beef Jerky may be an alternative for protein. My daughter also loves pretzels, which I feel better about giving her than chips.
Good Luck.

Hunny I'm not trying to be rude, but at 19 months old the diet that you said he is on dosen't sound like the most healthy diet for a 1 1/2 year old. He really should still be eating toddler food. I would contact a Dr. or look up apropriate food items for his age. I say this because I gave my 1 year old that food that we ate, because he wanted it, and now he's almost 8 and has many problems with alergies. You may say oh no not my kids, I did to, and now i wished I would have listened.
Preparing the same things or things that he wants to eat at this age is fine. There tummys are still learning how to dygest food. It may be a combination between certain textures he likes to eat, or what he knows his body can handle, his body will send signals his brain to not eat other food that he may not dygest properly.
Sorry about the spelling it is not my forte. Hope this helps.

He may sense the impending arrival of comeptition and be acting out, but it is probably simply a natural phase. The three things kids learn early on that they can control is what they put in their mouths, where and how they do their "business," and when they drift off to sleep. So what you have on your hands is a power struggle. Rather than make what he eats a huge issue, simply make a meal for your family and then enjoy eating it with him. Eat the kinds of foods you think are nutritious and delicious, and lead by example. Comment how much you like the meal, how tasty it is etc, and not even directly to your son, but to your husband or to yourself, but let him see YOU doing what you want him to do. The most powerful parenting tool, especially in small children, is modeling the behavior we expect of our children. And don't worry, he won't starve himself. DON'T get into the habit of accomodating his fussy palate, he will manipulate you using your fear or guilt into getting his own way.

One thing to consider is how much juice he is drinking between meals. Juice contains a lot of calories, and if he is drinking calories between meals he may not know what hungry "feels" like. If he doesn't feel hunger, then he misses a vital reason for eating-food is fuel first, entertainment last.

I'm single mother of a 22 month old son and a 3.5 year old daughter. My children have there months where there very picky eaters. Its just because this is there off month or two for growing. My daughter wont eat ore than 2 bites of her meals if that on her off months and my son can eat like 3 hotdogs mac and cheese and still have room for a full glass of milk maybe more on his on months. My girlfriend has a son who wont eat any noodles. He did this for about a year after he turned 3 and he was short for his age. He got real tall whle cutting noodles out of his diet and skinny too. Then one day all he wanted was noodles and he got some meat on him. Now he's as cute as can be. So its really about there growth. You can't make them eat. but its not like there gonna get sick if they dont. Just make sure he has plenty of water at least all the bad stuff with get washed out with that.

One idea I heard was quesadillas. This lady on a cooking show said her kids would eat basically anything if it was served in a quesadilla. Worth a try?

I also have a 19mo old son and he wont eat anything that dosent desolve in his mouth
all meats are out
Im hoping he will grow out of it
Good Luck!!

I had the same problem with my five year old when she was two! Her Pediatrician explained to me that children will not starve themselves......they will eventually eat what you put in front of them. He advised to cut all junk food out including sugar intake (a little is ok on special days). Present a healthy rainbow color meal from your basic food groups and your child will eventually eat it. You must remind yourself that your child will not starve themselves (I had a very hard time with that). I did everything he suggested and my daughter started eating on her own. The rule of thumb at my house is "You don't have to eat it if you don't like it, but you have to at least try it each time it is put in front of you". My daughter is now a very healthy eater.

We have now just started this process with my 2 year old son (also picky). He is now taking the one bite of everything, but still not crazy about vegetables. He is coming around though. He actually ate all the carrots (without mommy prodding him) from the Pot Roast we had for dinner tonight!

As mentioned in an earlier reply to your post; plain yogurt makes a wonderful dipping sauce for the kids and it makes eating fun!

The less attention you pay to what he eats the more likely he is to be less picky sooner. At this age he is trying out his independence. Not eating what you want him to eat is a way of being independent. Not that he knows that.

And remember that he will eat when he's hungry and weeks or even months of a less than nutritious diet rarely harms anyone. If it will reassure you, give him multi-vitamins.

Actually I think that the foods you list that he likes are nutritious foods. There have been studies that showed that babies will eat a balanced diet if left to choose their food. They did eat just certain foods for awhile and then switched to other foods.

It is difficult to ignore his eating habits because it is an emotional issue. As another mother said, give him what you're eating. I think it's OK to give him what he likes also if it's not too big of an inconvenience for you. He will eventually get past this phase.

The rule of thumb I found really helpful to remember is, it's your job to provide tasty, nutritious options for food. It's his job to decide how much he wants to eat. Get rid of the junk food, and then be very matter of fact "this is what we have, I don't have any of that other thing you want."

My son has complete meltdowns if he doesn't get food at regular intervals. But if asked he'll deny being hungry and if you try to force him it turns into a fight. We ended up a lot of times with him in timeout for hitting or other bad behavior. I'd got get a plate of snack foods: cut up sliced turkey, pieces of cheese, pieces of apple, some nuts, maybe crackers. Then I'd set the plate down next to him and walk away. 10 minutes later the plate would be empty and he'd be civil again. Then I learned to do the snack plate early in the process. Walking away is key, or at least not fighting over it. Snack plate, and read some stories, we'd both nibble.

As for giving him the same thing all the time, I'd say, as long as you don't have to eat it, what's the harm and as long as it's healthy.

I used to do one pot meals a lot, or sauce and pasta. I now separate things more than I used to. Some meat bites, some carbs, and vegies. He can choose. No sweets unless he's balanced out the sweets by eating good foods.

Well, my daughter just loved Pokemon cartoons when she was little, so anytime I wanted her to try something she did not normally eat, I'd just tell her that it was Pokemon food and she would not only try it, but ended up loving it!

My son was the same way he would only eat chicken nuggets or hot dogs. He loved fruit but I could not get him to eat anything else. I tried all the things that have been mentioned. I just would offer him the food i would make for dinner and try to have him at least taste it and if he did that i would give him some nuggets or a corndog so that i knew he would atlest eat. Eventually he after trying things he started to eat everything and now there is nothing that he wont atleast try but he likes mostly everything. So dont give up it probably just a stage he is going thru. Hope I helped.

My son is 15 months, and is very picky as well. He looks at me like I am nuts when I put food down in front of him. He won't even think about touching a piece of bread, and is really limited to his pasta liking. A couple of things that are "exceptable to his palette" are Morningstar Corndogs, string cheese, canned carrot coins, and strawberries. Good luck!

One thing that really helped us was to have our son help prepare his food, he was more likely to eat things that we allowed him to prepare. Like putting the cheese on the pizza. Also dunking food in sauces works well. We allowedhim to dunk food in sour cream or yougart and he was very pleased and willing to tske a few more bites.

He will out grow it eventually, both my kids went through picky phases. My daughter refused to eat any fruit unless it was a berry, hated all forms of bread, pasta, and crackers. My son refused veggies. I never made it out to be a big deal, and never prepared a special meal for them. They ate what I served or they didnt eat at all, trust me they didn't go hungry. Neither one ever skipped more than one meal. One thing i did do was make them smoothies in the mornings, I was able to sneak all sorts of healthy foods in those. I used a little bit of yogurt, frozen fruit and veggies, and some juice (V Fusion is great for this), also I added a small amount of fiber. I made my own popcycles too, yogurt pops, juice pops, I put fresh or frozen fruit in both. Just keep offering healthy foods and try not to make it a big deal.

Being picky is completely normal. I have three and two of the three got picky. Things that I have tried were letting them "help" prepare the meal. Like giving him a plastic knife and let him "cut" a piece of green bean. Or let him stir the soup. Sometimes letting them help made them more likely to at least try things. Another thing that worked is letting them dip things. I would give them carrots and ranch, or green beans and ketchup (I know sounds gross, but it worked) Eventually they started eating other things, but my 5 year old is still picky. I still have to struggle to get him to eat many things. One thing to remember is: If your child is gaining weight appropriately, and the doctors say they are healthy, then don't stress yourself to much! You are doing a great job! Don't give up!

Hi! I have an 18 month old picky eater. I have resorted to the long process of creativity. She won't eat veggies that she loved before 1 yr. I finally got her to eat carrots in rice that she loves. After trying slicing, dicing, pureeing, etc. None worked until I shredded them. I continually try giving her food that I cook but have a back up. She has surprised me several times. I found that part of the trick with her is to present it on something she knows and loves namely rice, cheese and pasta. She actually has eaten spinach a time or two. Although it only works 2 out of 10 or so tries. It does work. Also she loves tomato based sauces so I have been experiementing with disguising veggies in them and in muffins (zucchini) that I cut the sugar in. All I know is that she hated bananas which I gave her to try every week or so ( from 6 months) until she was 14 months old. I believe persistence pays.

Hi L., my son is also 19 months and a picky eater. However, I can always get him to eat a lil' entre, they are pre-packaged and very nutritional. He loves them.


I can't believe the things I can get my boys (3 and 1) to eat in a soup - give it a try!


Hi L.,
I am going through the same thing with my 2 year old twins. You are not alone!!! They love fruit but they won't eat meat or veggies anymore. They used to eat everything. Sometimes I will make a grilled cheese and soup and dip the pieces of sandwich in the soup and hand it to them. Also, tortillas with melted cheese and snuck-in veggies used to work, but not anymore. I made sweet potatoes or even mashed up canned yams with brown sugar and they can't get enough. They always eat a toasted bagel with cream cheese and berry jam. They love multi-grain cheerios. I will get a bowl with milk and we will all share it. I am so frustrated though. When they were infants they ate so well. Good luck and any suggestions from you would be great. Oh yeah- I made tuna casserole with tuna helper and they loved it. It was the creamy veggie one. I was so surprised. My mom gave it to me and told me to try it.
-Take care, J.

I have the same problem with my 3 1/2 yr. old. He basicaly lives on cereal. I finally got him to try certain foods by asking him if he wants to be strong like his daddy. He at least eats carrots now. If you find something that works let me know. Thanks

I'm lucky, my 19-month-old will eat practically anything if she's hungry. My 3-year-old is more picky, he's only recently became interested in PB&J. Here are some things my kids like and will almost always eat:
Cold cereal (cheerios, kix, etc, Meatloaf (with things like shredded carrots, onions, tomatoes mixed in), corn-on-the-cob (my kids LOVE to eat it with the little holders to hold onto, you just have to watch them carefully), whole wheat toast (with or without jelly or honey), yogurt (including the drinkable or squeezable kind), cut up lunch meats and cheeses, soft tacos, waffles,

He may just be having a "food jag" and he'll eventually just work through it as long as you continually offer him a variety of foods (although he may not eat them). And make sure he's not filling up on juice or milk before meals. Also, just feed him whatever you are eating, don't go to any trouble to make him his own "special" meal and just make sure to include something you're fairly sure he'll eat. He won't starve to death if he skips a meal or two. I found that if my kids don't eat much at dinner, they MORE than make up for it at breakfast the next day.

Hope this helps.
Good luck with the food and the new one on the way!

I went through the same thing with my now 5 year old.. It is very normal. What I started doing was just making dinner.. No special requests. My son then got hungry enough to start eating but it wasn't until he was 3 years old or so.. It is very hard to sit back and watch your child do this but don't stress your self out over this. It is going to be harder with the new baby to try to give in to his requests. I have 2 kids my son ( like I said above) is 5 and my daughter is 4. They are exactly 18 months apart.. So I can empathize with you.. Good luck!!

I would start by cutting out everything you don't want him to eat. Only give him options of things that you are ok with feeding him. If he doesn't eat it, it may be because he's not that hungry. Believe me, when he gets hungry he'll what you give him. I assume you're still using a high chair or booster seat, let him sit there with the food you choose for 20 or 30 minutes, if he doesn't eat it's ok. He's not going to starve from missing a couple of meals. Just make sure you give him a few different things to choose from. Don't force him to eat exactly what you want him to. My daughter is a picky eater too, when she was a baby, I didn't give her junk food or "easy" food. Now I regret it. She is almost 9 and has never eaten a can of spaghettios. She refuses to eat anything frozen, and she doesn't consider it "dinner" unless someone was in the kitchen for at least 30 minutes cooking it. It's good that she eats so well, but it's not very good when I've been at work for 10-12 hours and she's ready for dinner.

You may try making a pizza at home with better ingridents. You can get a ready made pizza dough at market of choice for $4.00 (large) and you can get orgainic pizza sauce at the same store of around$1.50. Then you can get the type of cheese he likes and let him help pcik out what else that you get to put on the pizza. That way he gets to help and it's stuff he wants to eat. I know it's more work, but it gets him to eat and you have the time, why not try? You could choose to get him really great hotdogs. Like uncured and no preservitives. If he prefers foods that seem unhealthy try to do thiose same things in a different way. That way you feel better about what he's eating and he's happy to eat it. You may try home making the mac and cheese too. You can make it look asicly the same and it will be way better for him. You may try combining veggies with an alfredo sauce or a rue( butter and flour based sauc) which you can make into a cheese sauce. Oh, yes with the pizza you might try making funny face pizza. YOu know arrange the topping in a funny face. Then he can pick witch part he wants to eat. Try getting him to help with the cooking just a little (as he is so young) and progressive ly let him help with more. He may be able to wash the veggies in the sink and then he can feel a part of making the decision about what to eat and how it's made.

that is very hard. my kide weren't much of picky eaters i do remember one of them didn't eat a lot then all of the sudden she ate like she was starving to death ( a lot of food for a 2 year old). you can't force a kid to eat or force them to eat foods they don't want. Just keep trying to give him healthy food he will eventually eat it if; there is nothing else. he will get hungry. I am a picky eater. when I am hungry I will eat foods that i don't like if there is nothing else especially when a friend invites me over to eat. I don't like any soda pop but if i am thirsty and that is the only thing to drink, i will drink it.just try getting him to eat thoses that he won't by not giving him anything else he should eat it when he realizes he isn't getting anything else. It might take a while and you might have to listen to him cry for awhile but if you can handle that it is worth it. you can also give him vitamins in place of certain foods he won't eat. Or just keep trying different foods until he finds something healthy he likes. you can also tell him you can eat this or eat nothing.

Im in the same boat. Any help you get I would love it if you can share the ideas.. Thank you.

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