15 answers

How to Get a Two Year Old to Eat

My son is two years old and will not eat. He goes of course for the sweets, but I cannot get him to eat anything else. He was great as a baby, but 17 months and up he just stopped. He might eat a few bites of bannana in the morning, for lunch he eats one piece of salami and then dinner is close to impossible to get anything in him. I end up caving and giving him crackers which he barely eats as well. I use to be picky and give him the healthy things, then I started to switch to the junk food (chicken nuggets, hot dogs, mac and cheese). Is this normal????? I have cut down his milk and I make sure he doesnt get snacks before meals. I thought maybe if he changed to the booster seat he would eat, but no such luck. Should I worry?

What can I do next?

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I have had the same problem with all three of mine. My oldest is now 7 and we have noproblems(as long as we give her something she likes,she is very picky). My youngest is three and the strongest willed of all of them, he still fights us on food but it is getting better. Iasked my doctor about it and she told me that no child that has been offered food has ever starved. You should only offer meals and if he doesn't eat it then put it up and when he asks for food you offer him that. I have actually saved dinner overnight and that is what he had to eat for breakfast. Still he wouldn't eat it but by 10:30am he was so hungry that within 5 min. of me giving it to him it was gone! Also , my kids DO NOT get sweets/dessert unless they they eat their dinner, so there is an incentive to eating his food. Yes there have been fits thrown over no dessert but eventually they get it. This may sound cruel but it really is not. You are giving him a choice and he is not choosing the right choice and therfore he has consequences that he has to face for not making the right choice.Good Luck!-L. W.

1 mom found this helpful

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I have had the same problem with all three of mine. My oldest is now 7 and we have noproblems(as long as we give her something she likes,she is very picky). My youngest is three and the strongest willed of all of them, he still fights us on food but it is getting better. Iasked my doctor about it and she told me that no child that has been offered food has ever starved. You should only offer meals and if he doesn't eat it then put it up and when he asks for food you offer him that. I have actually saved dinner overnight and that is what he had to eat for breakfast. Still he wouldn't eat it but by 10:30am he was so hungry that within 5 min. of me giving it to him it was gone! Also , my kids DO NOT get sweets/dessert unless they they eat their dinner, so there is an incentive to eating his food. Yes there have been fits thrown over no dessert but eventually they get it. This may sound cruel but it really is not. You are giving him a choice and he is not choosing the right choice and therfore he has consequences that he has to face for not making the right choice.Good Luck!-L. W.

1 mom found this helpful

Everyone is right about it being a phase and to give him a choice because it gives him some control. Here's what I started to do to take the stress off of eating with my two boys, I serve them Ovaltine with their milk - it has all of the vitamins and minerals that I may not be able to get into them through the day from their lack of eating. Both of my boys want their milk when they wake up and they get another "chocolate" milk for lunch and then I sneak in a V8 fruit juice for dinner. They eat basically the same thing everyday for lunch and I still make them a plate at dinner and they can eat or not eat. They are developing well and I only fret about the food being wasted instead of them not eating it for their nutrition. Just remember no one starved to death from missing one meal.

Best of luck to you,
T. L.

Hi K.,,
all 2 yr old are picky eaters but you have to not give in no snacks at all ....when meal time comes he will eat if he's hurgry if not dont force him ,,but also dont give him something else ''''yes hot dogs chicken nugetd are all fine but rember they need fruit and veggies too fruit is usally easrier taste better ,just dont forse him he'll eat when he's hungry save his meals that he doesnt eat that day say at lunch at 3pm he says i'm hungry give him his lunch
good luck L.

Hi K.!
My name is H. I have 3 kids 5,9,and 12. I also have an in home daycare so I have had this happen to me over and over! it is very normal for a 2 yr old to have little to no appetite. However, there are ways to try and get them to eat. Have you tried letting him help you make the food? Kids at that age love dipping things. Celery and peanut butter. carrots and ranch, apples and carmel, nuggets and ketchup ect....
Hot dogs are not bad food, I just get the turkey franks and mac and cheese is not unhealthy as long as thats not all he is eating. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut out with cookie cutter shapes is also fun for them. The biggest thing to remember is that they will eat when they get hungry and that is ok. I have never met a 2 yr old that ate on scedule. The doctors always told me the same thing. Good luck! If you ever need any other ideas please feel free to e-mail me @ ____@____.com

Hi, K.. If I were you I wouldn't worry about it. Realize that a two year old is on a fast learning curve. He is exploring his abiilty to make decisions and the food he eats is one way of exerting some control. Give him a couple of options and let him choose his meals. Then maybe he will still have a sense of control and also meet his nutritional needs. Also, instead of unhealthy hot dogs, try the soy based products. This will cut out the fat and additives and kids really can't tell the difference. I promise, he will grow out of this. Good luck!

Hi K.,
My daughter was about one and half when she did the same thing. I got very concerned and took her to the doctor. He checked her head to toe and said she was perfectly healthy and when she got hungry she would eat. Not to worry. So when she got hungry I fed her. It lasted maybe a month or two. I say it is just a spell they go through. She is not 22 and eats just fine. LOL

Hi K.,

I am the mother of a 25 and 26 year old. And a grandmother of
a 3 and 4 year old which I am raising. My 25 year old would eat nothing but cereal and peanut butter sandwiches when he was two years old. Now the same with my 3 year ohild grandson. I took both of them to the doctor (one 23 years ago and one about six months ago) I was told the same thing by both doctors 23 years apart as long as it is something like cereal or p&b sandwiches let them eat it three meals a day. They will grow out of it. My 25 year old grew out of it. The 3 year old will too and so will your child.

No worries mom, sometimes it's just a matter of making it fun or just waiting for him to get really hungry. Try serving things in fun shapes. Use cookie cutters for the cheese for bread. Try some new things too. AND LET HIM HELP!!! if he takes part in prepping the food he may be more interested in eating it. My daughter loves garbanzo beans, Uncle Bens broccoli cheese rice, microwavable brown rice, whole carrots with and without ranch, uncooked brocolli, Whole fruit popcicles...well you get the idea. Just walk through your grocery store and look for some different things to try. If you are comfortable with the idea, you can roll up lunch meat, cut them into small sections and let him try to eat them with a toothpick or chopsticks. Just change it up on him a little.
Good luck

I think this is a very normal stage that most, if not all, kids will eventually go through. The best alternative that I have found recently is on Oprah (LOL!). Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, has written a cookbook called Deceptively Delicious. Basically- she teaches parents how to hide veggies (in the form of puree's) in foods that kids love! So if your son will only eat chicken nuggets, pizza, mac & cheese, etc- Jessica has very easy recipes that will show you how to hide cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and carrots in all of these things!

Check it out and let me know what you think...

http://www.deceptivelydelicious.com/site/

My kids turned picky around that age also. Don't cave in and give him junk! Keep mealtime upbeat and happy, don't act like it bothers you when he only eats two bites and when he's done clean up and meal time's over. Offer lots of variety on fun, colorful plates maybe with yummy yogurt or cheese dips. Whole wheat pretzels, cheese, fruit. My kids love frozen smoothie pops and I let them have them whenever because there is nothing artificial or unhealthy in them. The easiest way to get your kids to eat (eventually all kids get hungry enough!) and eat healthy food is to stock your kitchen with good stuff and stop buying "junk". If you don't have it around they can't beg for it, won't see it, and you won't be tempted to cave in. Makes for a big change for some families, but it will be good for everyone's health. Kids have pure taste palettes at birth and we ruin them by giving them a taste for highly processed, artificially colored and flavored food. Think of it this way, if you grandparents wouldn't recognize the food, don't eat it (or feed it to your kids).
Good luck! I work at this every day and it gets easier with practice but is a lifelong way of looking at food and nutrition and healthy living.

P. (SAHM with three boys!)

When my son did this ( he's now 24) the doctor said find something he will eat. He only ate vanilla waffers for almost 3 months. I didn't stop trying the other stuff, especially if he sees you eating these things. They get bored and start eating. Most times it's just a stage they go thru.

My 2 1/2 yo is going through the same thing right now. All she wants is Peanut butter sandwiches (or waffles). She refused to eat any prepared meals (which are really healthy and delicious). On the extreme side, we had to go to the doctor on July 4th weekend because we thought she had a UTI...she didn't, it was constipation. I say this to let you know to be careful and make sure he is at least getting enough fiber. We had one of the worst days ever this previous weekend because she refused to urinate, because it hurt so bad.

My only helpful advice is to offer a lot of varieties of healthy food and hope he eats a little. The other day I made mixed vegetables and she at least picked out the green beans to eat. I know that it is common for children this age to be picky and want the same food over and over...but we have to make sure its healthy. I was thinking that PB at least had protein, but she was still missing alot of vital food groups.

Hello K.,
I've read where other parents have had similiar problems. You might want to check the archives. One suggestion, someone made and I thought very good, take the sweets out of the house. Just don't buy them. I know it's hard for the rest of the family but heck, everyone can eat healthy for a few months.

Also, my sister does with her two girls (2 & 6), she give them a choice, say.... egg or yogurt, or pancakes or toast. I'm sure you get the idea. It gives your child some decision making choices and you can hopefully find something he will eat.

Good luck!
S.

We've gone through this with our son over & over again- he's now 3 & 1/2... I've noticed that he really stops eating right when he's hitting a growth spurt, and then afterwards he eats everything in sight! I never worried about it, because I figured when he's hungry, he'll eat. He won't starve himself.

He is also a very picky eater. We used to make him seperate meals of things that he would like- we'd have 2 completely seperate meals. It just got to be ridiculous. Now the deal is he has to at least try what we are eating before he can have anything else. If he doesn't like it, then that's one thing, but he is not allowed anything else to eat until he has tried what we're eating. And just because he didn't like it the first time doesn't mean he gets to just skip it the next time. He still has to try it again, and many times he has actually liked it the second time around.

We've also started doing like another poster said and saving his food when he tells us he's not hungry or doesn't want to eat it. He also tells us at dinnertime that he's not hungry because he wants to play instead. At bedtime he decides he's hungry because he wants to stay up. We do not allow him to eat then just because he wants to stay up- he has late afternoon snacks at preschool & also a small snack at home while we're getting dinner ready, so it's not like he's going to starve. He's now learned (in just a couple of weeks we've been really putting our foot down on it) that he has to eat when we do or he's not going to. I think it's best to let kids experience & understand the consequences of their choices.

Best of luck to you!

My daughter is the same way. She is 18 months. SHe use to eat everything. Now nothing. Had to resort to the same stuff. we try feeding her or even letting her eat off our plate and she's not interested.

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