May 21, 2011,
S.C. asks from Lemoore, CA on May 19, 2011
Feeding - Lemoore,CA
My son will be 2 in June. He doesnt eat much food. Im at my wits end. I think that if i can get im to eat baby food, then it better than nothing at all. He can live off of milk,water, juice alone. But everyone tells me no to quit giving it to him ive tried this and it didnt work he stared. I can get him to eat,nuggets,ceral,waffles, yogurt,crackers and other junk stuff bananna,s and all fruits and veggie baby foods. But its hit and miss if he will even eat any of this. This includes the baby food. Please help! I have to older kids 2 girls one 19 one 8 and never had these problems. Any sigestions
B.R. answers from Sacramento on May 20, 2011
My first question to anyone experiencing this sort of problem is how and when you are feeding him. Is he eating with the family at a dinner table, or are you setting him up in a high chair by himself at times other than when you are eating together as a family? Even if you are using the high chair at the table when the family eats, I would suggest taking off the tray and pushing the chair right up to the table so he feels more included.
Then, definitely get rid of the baby food! Cook good nutritious foods for the family that he can also eat. You may have to mash some things more for him or cut them into more easily handled pieces, but let him eat what you are eating. Of course there may be a few exceptions if you tend to eat some things that are too spicy or whatever, but have enough variety in your family meals that you don't have to cook special for him.
Put only small amounts of food on his plate at a time. My general rule of thumb at his age is one teaspoonful of each item. I know that sounds like an awfully small portion of food to set in front of him, but it's less overwhelming to him, creates less mess if he spills and you are there to add more helpings as he needs them.
Encourage him to eat without making a big issue of it. If he isn't eating, don't force him to, but have him definitely sit with you as long as any of the family is still eating. It might be good to institute a rule that, unless someone has an important reason to leave the table early, everyone sits until all are finished eating. By having him sit with you, but not forcing him to eat, and just going on with your own eating and family conversation (seeming to ignore his eating, but including him in the family talk if appropriate) you might just see him start to eat more without him even realizing what he's doing.
One other thing is do realize that even at age two, he may have some definite likes and dislikes in foods. Try to determine what those are and be sure that none of your meals ends up being all of his dislikes. If there is enough food that he does like and eats well, then you can try to encourage him to take a taste of the ones he isn't fond of, but let him eat what he likes otherwise. I always told my children that we have taste buds on our tongues and that those grow and change just as the rest of our bodies do. I explained that what their taste buds don't like today, they may like tommorrow (you notice, what the taste buds like, NOT what the child likes). Then I said "wouldn't it be a shame for you to go through your whole life missing out on eating something yummy, just because you didn't let your taste buds try it out every time you had a chance?"
K.W. answers from Seattle on May 19, 2011
Check out the book "How to to get your child to eat (but not too much)" by Ellyn Satter. That will give you some idea of the range of normal eating patterns.
It does sound like he is outside norms for his age, though. It sounds like he's more comfortable with liquids than purees, and more comfortable with purees than solids. This is a little unusual in a child his age. He may have a overactive gag reflex or some other physical problem.
Texture may also be a problem. Check out the book "The Out-Of-Sync Child" for more information on sensory processing disorder and see if any of the descriptions ring true for you.
Good luck and don't let the turkeys get you down.
N.A. answers from San Francisco on May 21, 2011
This might sound mean, but whatever is for dinner is what you have to eat. I have 3 little kids a 4, 2 and 1. The rule is no milk until you eat your food or at least take 3 bites then you get a little sip of your milk then you have to take a couple more bits. Kids will eat when they are hungry, they won't starve themselves. My kids have to eat what I give them because thats all we have for them to eat, unless I make something I know they all won't like I will give them a second option. Juice I give them %75 water then %25 juice in the cup, but they only get that at lunch and snack time, if they are thirsty they can drink water. You are the provider for food, not them. You have to be firm. I know it's hard, but think there are so many people in different countries that can only offer there kids so little of food and the kids have to eat what they get. Don't give your child the option, just tell them this is what you have to eat. They will eventually grow to like it. Kids like to have a power struggle with their parents to control a situation, but remember you the mom. Hope this helps!
T.D. answers from Sacramento on May 20, 2011
Is he healthy? Is he within the “normal” weight range? Is he active? If not, then I would talk to his Doctor about it, there maybe something you’re feeding him that makes him feel bad.
If he is healthy then I want to encourage you to relax. He isn’t going to starve himself, but he does get a reaction out of you if he refuses to eat. I’m sure he likes the attention.
I once heard a Pediatric Nutritionist speak on this very topic. She had some very helpful thoughts that might help you too. First of all, she said that current studies show that in a two week period of time, kids 5 and under will get all the nutrition they need if given a variety of healthy choices at every meal. They do it naturally. Then she said something that really relieved me from the stress I was feeling about my daughter's eating habits. That is: it's my responsibility as a parent to 1 - give her plenty of healthy choices at each meal; 2 - to set a schedule for meals and stick to it; and 3 - to "set the stage" for meal time. And it's my child's responsibility to choose 1-what & 2- how much to eat of what I offer. I found an article about it here:http://www.ucsfhealth.org/childrens/edu/nutritionResponsi...
This addresses the “picky” eater issue and becoming a “short order cook” which I’m sure you don’t want to do – who has the time, seriously???http://www.ucsfhealth.org/childrens/edu/pickyEaters/index...
This site also looks like it has other articles that may be helpful:http://nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Topics/toddlernutrition_pick...
I offer my kids healthy foods and plenty of it. And I leave it up to them if they eat or not. It is an ongoing battle (my daughter still doesn’t get it that when she doesn’t eat dinner she can’t then have a nutrigrain bar.) I just say this is what we are having, if you are hungry, you need to eat.
With all my best wishes - Hang in there!
T.H. answers from Kansas City on May 19, 2011
My son is 19 months and is a pretty picky eater. My daughter was a champ at this age, but not him, so I do understand. I think you need to be done with the baby food for sure. Cut up fruit and veggies in small pieces and let him feed himself. Does he know how to use a fork/spoon? My son loves using his! He makes a giant mess but I try and let it go! ;)
Carbs are good for little ones, just make sure they are healthy carbs. Waffles are good, so are cheerios, rice chex, and also try whole wheat toast, bagels, muffins, etc. Get rid of the juice. You could try making him smoothies with fruit, yogurt, and maybe even some veggies. They are better than juice sometimes and if he's drinking that much juice he's filling up on calories that way. What percent of milk does he drink? If he's drinking whole milk, consider switching to 2% or skim. He's almost 2 so it's fine to do that now. The higher fat milks will make him less hungry for food too.
It sounds like the food he's eating is fairly good. Don't stress about it. Ask his doctor. To me it sounds pretty normal but you just have to wean him off some things and try introducing him to others. Remember that for a toddler they hit the food pyramid weekly, not daily, so if all he eats is fruit one day, he'll bulk up on something else the next day.
C.B. answers from San Francisco on May 20, 2011
My son was like that. He is now six years old. He began developing health problems at about age 3. Conventional medicine could not diagnose or solve his problems. Just before he turned 4, I took him to a nutritionist. She recommended removing gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and oats) and sugar from his diet. I remember when she told me that, I thought, but what will he eat! It was difficult, but we removed the wheat and sugar from his diet (and the whole family). He is a great eater now. The gluten and sugar literally fill the opiate receptors in the brain and put the child on a "high". That way, they can say no to the good stuff. Once you take away that high, they will eat. So, I told my son after Sunday, no more x,y, and z. I said i'll put food in front of you, and you can choose to eat it or not. I put meats, veggies, etc. in front of him and eventually he ate it. He did not starve to death. Social outings and schools have been a challenge. I always take his snack. But you know what, he eats so much better than the other kids. Plus, you are literally building his brain by what you feed him. The brain runs on protein and fat, not sugar. So he will be so much better off without the grains and sugar. Feel free to contact our nutritionist. Here is her website: