26 answers

2 And 1/2 Year Old Won't Eat What I Cook

My son, who is 2 and a half, and only eats "fast" food like sandwiches, french fries, chicken nuggets, fruit, things like that. It seems like when I try to cook a wholesome meal, he won't touch it. I can't even get him to taste it. I try to make kid friendly things like spaghettie, mac and cheese, sweet potato fries, etc but he won't even taste it. I tried to force him to taste something once and he just got sooo upset. I am thankful that he eats some things, but I feel like his diet is not healthy (a lot of fried foods and nothhing green). My question is should I keep on "cooking" and "trying" the other stuff or just make my life easier and prepare what he likes. It's to the point that when I prepare his usual favorites, things go smoothly, but when I "try" the other stuff, we all end up getting upset. It just seems easier to let it go and hope he will grow out of it. Am I making too big of a deal out of him eating healthy?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I want to thank everyone for their responses. I will stick with my guns and keep preparing the healthy meals. I also forwarded all of your responses to my husband, so hopefully he will help out too. You all are right, our son is doing this because we bought it for him and offered it to him. The taste for french fries did not come out of nowhere. Soooo, we just got to be healthier about our eating all around. I did learn also not to make a big deal out of him not eating. That was one of my big concerns, should I put up a fuss until he tries it or just say "oh well, maybe tomorrow." Now I understand not to get into that battle. Thanks againf or your help!

Featured Answers

Get him some Vemma and let him eat when he gets hungry enough. ;-) If he skips a meal or two, he'll eat whatever you put in front of him! As long as you don't let him run the show!

I completely understand what you are going thru. The consistancy thing is the main issue that so hard to be consistant with ;o). You can try making dinner for the family and if he doesn't eat it, he doesn't eat. They say that kids won't starve themselves. If he's hungry enough, he'll eat. Also, I've read to not make a big deal out of the child not wanting to eat stuff, don't show him how much it upsets you, act like it's no big deal. Maybe then he won't put up such a fight. Good luck!

My 3 year old only eats things when I call them ridiculous names. That or else I pretend the foods are different things. Spaghetti becomes a "hot lava volcano" and we put parmesean on top as "snow". Broccoli has always been called "little trees" and we see how loud we can crunch carrots (we have a contest). But I'll commiserate with you...when given a choice, my son always chooses fast food and chips :-) They must come pre-programmed that way!

More Answers

you buy the food. hes 2! you are letting him control the meals when you give in. don not keep that stuff in your house. he will eat. he wont starve himself trust me on this. good luck and dont cave!

1 mom found this helpful

My pediatrician always assures me that kids will not starve. In other words, if you do not offer him anything that is not healthy, eventually he is going to be hungry enough that he will eat the healthy food. He might skip a few meals but he will eat. I do not prepare separate meals for my kids (girls 2 and 4). They eat what I cook or they do not eat. At lunch they are offered a choice of PB&J or turkey sandwich, choice of 2 fruits, and slice of cheese and glass of milk. For dinner, it is whatever I cook which is usually poultry or pork, rice, and a vegetable. The 2 year old rarely eats much of her dinner but the 4 year old eats it all. If we go out to eat, I do not let them get fries - it's apples or oranges or fruit bowl and white milk. Recently my 4 year old has been choosing grilled chicken with broccoli for her kids meal. If you are consistent, it will pay off. A little aggravation now will save you years of battling later (not to mention forming healthy eating habits for life). Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Children are the ultimate manipulators and you are being manipulated.

Who is the parent and adult - you or your 2.5 yr old? If you allow your child to dictate what he will eat now, you are setting him up for a lifetime of bad eating habits and everything that brings with it (obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc)

Children do not know what is best for them - that is why it is the adults that raise the children. Your husband needs to jump on board to make this an easier transition. He can learn to cook simple, quick, and healthy meals. If you are both only offering healthy foods, your child won't have a choice but to eat it. It might take several tries, but a child will not willingly starve themselves.

You don't have to make the change all at once, but you can find subtle ways at first to make his favorite foods healthier. You really should limit his fried food intake to 1-2x a week or less, though. Let him have french fries (they do actually have potassium, and provide part of the needed daily carbohydrate) but bake them instead of frying. If you use white bread, switch to whole grain white (more fiber) or honey wheat. My son doesnt care for wheat bread but didn't notice when his PB&J sandwiches were on the whole grain white instead of regular white.

If you buy fresh vegetables and your son doesn't care for them, try buying frozen or canned - it could be a texture thing. For some reason, my son hates fresh green beans - but if I buy canned green beans, he has no problem eating them. Try cooking them differently - if you usually boil veggies, try steaming them or baking them or vice versa. Serve them raw (carrot sticks, celery sticks, slices or chunks of green peppers, cherry tomatoes, etc). My son loves tacos, and I started using fresh spinach leaves instead of lettuce. He did notice at first, but I didnt give him any other option (he could choose spinach leaves or nothing, and after the 2nd or 3rd time, he decided to try it since we were raving about how good it was).

Something I have always done is refused to make something different for my son for dinner if he doesnt like what I prepared. He can either eat what I made or go hungry. If he chooses not to eat, he doesnt get dessert or any snacks. He truely will go hungry for the night. By morning, he is hungry and will eat pretty much anything I put in front of him. I dont require that he finishes everything on his plate, but he does have to try everything. At least two bites of everything.

I dont know what kind of quick foods your husband makes for lunch, but if he really can't find his way around the kitchen, maybe you could prepare lunch the night before (leftovers from dinner work well if the leftovers wont be enough for another meal for everyone) so that all he has to do is warm it up. Some quick and easy foods are healthy - grilled cheese on whole wheat or whole grain white bread, soups (noodles with veggies is a good way to sneak in veggies, my son didnt used to eat the broth though), grilled chicken or fish fingers (we use our foreman grill like it's going out of style), mac and cheese (I add veggies like tomatoes, spinach, or broccoli to homemade mac and cheese)

You can try grilling or baking a lot of his favorite fried foods, healthier prep is better than frying and he might not feel deprived.

just keep trying and remember that you are the adult, and the parent. Do not make the mistake of allowing your child to make the decisions for you - he does not know enough to make those decisions.

1 mom found this helpful

Child psychologist John Rosemond has good advice about this. Kids will not let themselves starve, they will eat when they need to. What he says is give a very small part of the favorite food (like 1 chicken nugget) then a very small part of a healthy food (like 2 peas). Make it clear that there are more chicken nuggets available, but you don't get them until you clean your plate (for an older child you'd explain that if you haven't eaten what you have in front of you, then you aren't still hungry). As the child eats the tiny bit of healthy food, go ahead and give more unhealthy food for that meal. Then each meal you increase the amounts of healthy food.

The rule has to stay the same all the time -- eat what you have to get anymore -- even when you increase the amounts. He said his daughter refused dinners for days because she wouldn't eat green beans. Now she's a vegetarian.

This has been pretty successful with our 9-year-old and we are starting to do it with the 2-year-old too. It takes patience, I know, but you can set good patterns now to make it easier later. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
I know exactly where you are coming from I have a 7 year old little boy who has been very choosy with his food since he was about 3. It has gotten really bad at times, not even eating foods that were previously his favorites. I just got a new cookbook called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. It is absolutely wonderous!!! She uses veggie/fruit purees to make foods more nutritious. Since I have already made my own baby food, it was really simple for me. So far, we have tried three of the recipes and my little picky eater gobbled up every bite! The key is to still put those veggies/healthy foods in their normal form on the plate. That way, he still sees them, but you don't feel that desparate need to force them into him!! Let me know if you try it, and how it goes. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Im in the same boat... except I'm a work full time FROM HOME mom who stays home w/ my children...I do try to offer different things during the day, and during our family dinner. My son is stuck on PB&J, chicken, fries (sweet potato fry is a fav too), grilled cheese, and various breakfast items, cheese, all fruits, and no pasta, no veggies!

I consulted our pediatrician, as well as a feeding therapist. Both assured me that 1/2 of all kids they see go through this. I've learned several ways to get veggies in him (Kagome juices, etc) and we're working with what we have. I offer daily a variety, but make sure that I have something I KNOW he'll eat on his plate. We don't fry foods, we bake them all, and we live by the med. diet. because of some family health concerns... so what we're doing works for us.

I also have a 10 year old son, who was the same way at one point...at one point I thought he'd turn into chicken and french fries.... but now (and since around 4-5 years old), my 10 year old will eat anything from Asparagus to Spinich. So I am peaceful in knowing that when my toddler is 10 he won't be asking for a PB&J at dinner time while we eat a traditional meal....

I'm reading your replies, to see if I get some new ideas!! Good luck!! I really hope that you don't get alot of negative people responding and making you feel like you should let food be a power struggle.

Any doctor I've consulted have been VERY clear in letting me know that this power struggle can and does lead to eating disorders, so I've been given wonderful advice that works for us. In providing lots of choices, as well as making sure that I know there's something on his plate he WILL eat. Power struggles are just that - about power. It's not about who's "in charge" - it's about picking your battles, wisely. I'm proud to say that my 10 year old eats ANYTHING we offer him, and trys alot of new things. This is because long ago, when HE was a toddler, we had a very wise pediatrician (who we use now) who said to me "is this about you, or him? is he getting what he needs overall? make sure he's getting what he needs, the rest will fall in place." That doctor was right, it WAS about me at the time, and he WAS getting what he needed through the day... I just wanted to be able to say "eat this" and him do it. But I had to allow him to explore, and once I did - he fell right into eating lots of yummy things... now my youngest is doing the same, he's slow to try new things, but eventually he will! I'm sure of it.

I will close with this - if the worst thing you have to face with your child is PB&J or roast beef power struggles, count your blessings. No one on this forum knows me, but I can say from personal experiance, that there are far worse things that could happen then the battle of the plate. I really REALLY hope you get positive feedback.

1 mom found this helpful

My 3 year old only eats things when I call them ridiculous names. That or else I pretend the foods are different things. Spaghetti becomes a "hot lava volcano" and we put parmesean on top as "snow". Broccoli has always been called "little trees" and we see how loud we can crunch carrots (we have a contest). But I'll commiserate with you...when given a choice, my son always chooses fast food and chips :-) They must come pre-programmed that way!

I think most kids go thru the same kind of thing. Mine did and sometimes still do. What I did and still do with my girls, now 7 and 9, is provide one thing with the rest of the meal that I know is a good item for them. If they are hungry they will eat what we have for dinner as a family. Later in the evening there are no snacks or anthying if they didn't eat the main dish. Plus my husband always says that they have to take at least 3 bites of whatever is put on their plate before they decide they don't like it. It's really for the best that you try to get your son on the same food routine with the rest of your family. Otherwise you will feel like you are running a restaurant when you have to make and serve him seperate dishes than everyone else. I have done this a few times and it's doesn't help anyone, even though they may fuss and argue he will have to learn to eat what is served. Persistence is the key and my peditrician told me that they will not starve if they skip a meal or two by being stubborn. Good Luck!

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