22 answers

19 Month Old Won't Eat

I feel like my daughter is going to have malnutrition problems because she eats so little. She has always been a VERY picky eater, and when I've asked the doctor about it, I was told to provide a healthy meal, and when she gets hungry she'll eat. Easy for him to say! Or easy to say if she was a chubby girl, but she's not.
In a nutshell- today she ate a few bites of a veggie sausage for breakfast (when also offered eggs and veggies and fruit ) a few bites of cottage cheese for lunch (offered veggies, cottage cheese, yogurt) and nothing for dinner when offered squash, sweet potatoes, fish, cheese. She was so cranky I put her to bed early. Plus her day care providers told us she eats next to nothing at day care (2 days a week) except crackers or pretzels. She has gotten a little better about eating fruit, but won't touch anything green ever. I am worried that she is living on crackers and macaroni and cheese because it's the only thing she will eat.
I am at my wit's end. I try to make mealtime fun and not make a big deal of it, but it is getting hard not to be stressed out. Has anyone else had this problem? Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you SO much to everyone for your wonderful responses and ideas. I am so glad just to know I am not alone in this battle. For those of you who advised not to get into a power struggle- you're absolutely right. I am going to try a lot of your ideas and check out some of the books you recommended.
Thanks again!!!!

Featured Answers

dont worry about it lots of kids wont eat the foods that we would like them to eat but when they get realy hungery and thats the only thing for her to eat shell eat it. or you can try mixing into her food that she will eat.I hope that helps you

You are not alone. I went through the same thing. Then I found a great cookbook that is written by a mom who went through it too: The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine. The recipes are quick, easy, nutritous, and even picky eaters will eat them. The only downside is that the first 1/3 of the book is about why she wrote the book, and her philosophy on eating (I felt that she could have covered all of that in a couple of pages).
Good luck, whatever you do!

More Answers

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We, too, have a very picky eater due to some earlier health problems. As a result, we also have a very serious weight problem -- just up from failure to thrive. At 17 months, I can tell you it takes my sone about 20 new times of seeing a food before he will even touch it. The more fun it is to play with, the better the chance he'll eat it. My mom got him to eat frozen peas while she cooked dinner. She put them in a bowl and gave him a spoon to stir with while she stirred dinner. He actually ate the peas after seeing them at the table two more times. Now he rolls them around for a while and then eats them. It's a game of patience. We do often reward for seemingly little accomplished. We also do the added fat idea, cream and butter, etc. Also, he likes Carnation instant breakfast, one serving to 10 oz. whole milk. It gives 10 more grams fat to the ounce as formula does. I realized she doesn't need the formula, but it's great for quick weight gain. Something else we give a little on, is he's allowed to take a food out of his mouth if he doesn't like it. We didn't do that with our first son, but with this one, he's more likely to at least try it the next time he sees it. Good luck. I know it's frustrating.

My 4 year old had failure to thrive when she was born and my husbands sisters (2 of them) have trouble putting weight on, and my daughter does also. To top all that off she is THE pickiest eater in the world.
We actually used to get questioned if we were feeding her enough at mealtimes (which we were just thrilled to have implied that we fed all our other children but she was an exception!) Anyway, we figured out that we could put high calorie "add ons" into her food. Sour cream mixed into mashed potatoes, peanut butter in celery with raisins on top (ants on a log), whole milk in cereal, (porridge and rolled oats work well too,)Pastas are fabulous, breads (esp. banana) Also try search engining foods to give preemies to help with weight gain. HTH :)

my 19month old son is also very picky when it comes to meal time. he is on a primarly meat free diet ( he always picked real meat out of his mouth for some reason) so have you tried the boca meats for your daughter? its the one thing my some will eat consistantly...

Both of mine had a picky phase and one still does. For both of them it was a texture issue. We acutally used the baby food grinder until our youngest was over three. She was more than happy to eat any veggie if it was pureed - wasn't going to happen if it was whole and she still won't eat a cruncy veggie (other than the one bite mentioned below). After she fell off the growth chart because we were following the "experts" advice of letting her feed herself, we went back (at about 20 months) to spoon feeding her part of the meal and still do on occasion (she's now 4). My advice would be to make sure you're serving "superfoods." For example, make the mac-n-cheese only w/whole wheat noodles. Make oatmeal-peanut butter-whole wheat cookies. If mac-n-cheese is a favorite - try variations of lasagne and each time you make it, sneak in a little more spinach until you're up to the amount called for in the recipe. We also insisted on trying one bite of everything served before leaving the table - and started at about 18 months. Again, the "experts" say this is a bad idea - but I don't think they've actually parented real kids. Many times the one bite didn't stay in but at least the taste was there. Now at 4, she's not as good about eating veggies and trying new foods as her big brother is but she does okay. Also, figure out what you can live with. She still can't stand the texture of ground meat. And, you know what, ground meat of any sort really isn't that healthy and commercial meat production has all kinds of issues, so it's okay if she's mostly vegetarian (dad's coming around on this one). Having her help with our garden (another expert tip) hasn't helped one bit on being picky about veggies. What has helped is that each kid gets to choose one fruit or veggie if they're with me at the grocery store (one I don't normally buy). My husband is not thrilled with the beets, endive, rutabaga, etc that's coming home but both kids get very excited about preparing and eating it. And, no, I don't know that much about these veggies - thank goodness for a good cookbook and the internet!

Hi L.: I have an 18 month old and she loves when we give her a meal with a "dippy". Here are some suggestions for combinations:

Whole Wheat Blueberry & Banana pancakes- "Dippy" =syrup
Grilled Cheese on Whole Wheat Bread- "Dippy" =ketchup
Cooked Organic Baby Carrots- "Dippy" =Ranch Dressing
Veggie Burgers -"Dippy" =ketchup

I just give a little pudle of dippy and it is amazing how a whole plate of food will disappear. And I think the control you give her, by being able to dip, and how fun it will be just may do the trick....or so I hope.

Morgan also loves dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries) and cheddar bunnies (found in snack aisle under organic)

My 15 month old is also a pretty picky eater. She refuses to be fed, so everything has to be finger food. You'd be surprised which things she can turn into finger food...like yogurt. She will NOT eat a veggie and pretty much lives on fruit and crackers. Here are a couple things that have got us by:
- mac and cheese (I know this isn't the best but at least it is a complete meal!!)
- "Cottage Doubles" - single serve cottage cheese with a mix in fruit jam, still has less sugar than YoBaby yogurt, and she can make it into a finger food.
- Calbee brand "Snack Pea Crisps" - sort of like a cheeto, but the first ingredient is snap peas and they are relatively high protein. They are with the croutons in the salad area.
- Sunbutter - it is like peanut butter but made from sunflower seeds so there is no allergy issue. I have only found it in health food grocery stores, and I just mix it up with a little jam or mashed banana.

I take comfort in the fact that ALL the books say most toddlers are very picky and most just get by fine. I hope this helps!

Find the items that she WILL eat then mix in (baby food)veggies. If she eats mac & cheese, mix in baby food carrots...the same color...she shouldn't notice. But at the same time, still offer the entire meal. That way she knows you aren't backing down on the meal but you know she is at least getting so veggies when she only eats the mac & cheese.
Put peanut butter on the crackers for protein and fat. Mix the squash and sweet potatoes together so she only "gets the sweet". Mix fruit in oatmeal for breakfast. Mix veggies in with cottage cheese, fruit in yogurt. Good luck!

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