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My 18 Month Old Son Is a Picky Eater!

So my 18 month old son has become a very picky eater as of lately. When he was a baby we would give him a wide variety of baby foods (fruit & veggies) and he loved them all! But now he is starting to become more independent and wants to feed himself. He is not that great with a spoon or fork yet so we try to give him finger foods. His favorite food is mixed veggies. I buy the frozen ones with carrots, peas, corn. And he will eat it all! He also loves fruits - mostly apples or bananas. And other veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers. BUT my problem is that I cannot get him to eat anything else! Especially meat! He will not touch chicken, hamburger, sausage, steak, turkey. I don't know if it's the texture or what. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get him to eat meat or at least get him to try other foods? I don't want him losing out on any of the nutrients that he needs. Thanks!

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He's eating. He will not starve. If it's safe for him, try peanut or sunflower butter for protein. He's just not ready for prime (rib) time. ;-0 Don't worry, he'll get there. The previous recommendations to add a variety of beans to his diet is great. If you add cheese cut them into the veggie/bean sized portions an mix them in. He may not even notice them. Then again, he may eat around them. I'm a 59 year old mother of 4, with the last one out of the nest on May 22 graduating from HS.

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Hey A.! Don't sweat it...my son hates meat too; so he is a vegetarian. I did all the research and found out he can be just as healthy if not more healthy from not eating meat. There was a study I read that followed 100 omnivore children and 100 vegetarian children and showed that the omnivore children were lacking in 9 vitamins and nutrients while the vegetarian children were only lacking in two. It's easy to get lazy when your kids are omnivore, like just assuming they get what they need. When your child chooses to be vegetarian you make sure they are getting what they need. We supplement his diet with fake chicken nuggets, quesadilla (with cheese) eggs, nuts, beans, and quinoa. If you don't know about quinoa, it's amazing. it's pronounced keenwa and is complete in all essential amino acids (typically found in meats) and is packed full of protein. It's way better to use in place of rice and they even make a pasta version. I would roll with it, see if he changes. Some people (depending on their blood type) are just naturally drawn to being a vegetarian, it's funny I was kinda freaked out at first but now it's so normal. I try to respect my son's choices. He's very healthy and happy and is growing just fine. Somewhere along the line someone gave him hot cheetos, THATS what I'm worried about! The kid can't get enough. he begs for them all the time. :) Good luck, if you need any more information send me a message and I can point you towards really good information (non PETA crazy talk).:)

1 mom found this helpful

He's eating. He will not starve. If it's safe for him, try peanut or sunflower butter for protein. He's just not ready for prime (rib) time. ;-0 Don't worry, he'll get there. The previous recommendations to add a variety of beans to his diet is great. If you add cheese cut them into the veggie/bean sized portions an mix them in. He may not even notice them. Then again, he may eat around them. I'm a 59 year old mother of 4, with the last one out of the nest on May 22 graduating from HS.

Almost every child goes through picky eating stages, it's a matter of how you handle them whether or not it will get worse or better. I have found, when working with my kids, that NOT catering to them helps get past this period without repercussions.

Here is how I approach it. First, I do not cater to them. I give each child the same thing as the rest of the family gets for meals. If they eat all their food, they get dessert or whatever other food they may want. If they don't eat all their food, they do not get anything else to eat until the next meal time. If they want anything in between, they must finish the food they had for the last meal.

I know this may seem a little harsh for a young child, but they need to know who is in charge. If you let them control everything at a young age, they will walk all over you for the rest of your life!

Be consistent, be strong and DO NOT give in!!


A friend of mine from Douglas County wrote a book and a website on this topic. www.babybites.info

The cool thing here is that instead of trying this method and trying that method, you can actually find out WHY some children are picky eaters, and then better understand the solution. (p.s. it's not about the taste of the food!)

My kids wanted little to do with meat at that age. The fact your son loves fruits and veggies I wouldn't classify him as picky! That is great!
Get the Gerber soft meat sticks, my KIDS LOVED them, they are turkey, chicken and soft but firm enough they can self feed.
I was always worried as my daughter just did not care for meat at all, hard to chew and just didn't care for it until later. I am sure your son will change later too.
Try really soft meats if you want to expose him to meats, even dice up chicken nuggets baked in the oven.
Funny when my daughter was two I was so worried about her getting protein and iron, so the Dr gave me lists of other foods she liked where she was getting it and then she ate a Cheeseburger from McDonalds while on vacation and I was so happy however not the meat I preferred her to eat. Her Pediatrician said "Well if she isn't eating the fries, and she likes the burgers as long as it isn't every meal that is a positive step and nothing wrong with it!"....So for a while once a week I got her a Cheeseburger from Mcdonalds!
Now she eats fish, chicken, turkey, pork chops, we eat little red meat but she likes it on occassion.
He will change his taste buds a million times, just expose him to it, try and eat with him during meals, that peaks their interest if you are eating the same things too.
Try the Gerber meat sticks though...

I feel your pain. I wouldn't worry too much as long as he's growing and healthy. All kids go through eating phases. It sounds like he is a great eater, the hard stuff for most parents are getting their kids to eat fruit and veggies so your doing great. I have a six year old that was and still is very much a fruit and veggie girl. She still wont do hamburger, ( I think its a texture thing) but has over the years learned to like most other meats. For protein you can do eggs, beans, cheese, and cottage cheese. I cant remember when you can start peanut butter, but if there are no allergies that is a good source too. When you go to your pediatrician next, ask him about a vitamin with iron. Its hard at 18 months to fight them with food, but it can become a control thing. I caved into my daughter for several years because I was always so scared that she was not eating enough ( always really high in height and really low in weight) soon I realized that she wouldn't starve herself so we came up with a rule that she had to try everything we had on our plates, but I always plan dinner so that there was one thing that she liked. Once she ate what we gave her she could have more of the stuff she likes. It takes many times to get use to a new food, so keep offering everything, but don't make it into a battle. I know as an adult it doesn't matter how many times I've eaten a hated food ( I still hate asparagus to this day) I don't like it. Our kids will be no different. Good luck.

Don't worry about it! It seems to be a hassle, but there are other foods that he can eat. You could try a peanut butter sandwich. Nuts are great protein and have a lot of other good things. My son loves chicken nuggets and quesadillas. He just went in for his five year old check and the doctor said that he is great and his eating habits are fine. Now that he is older and can rationalize I just tell him that he has to be four years old again if he can't eat dinner with the rest of us. It works because he wants to grow up and go to kindergarten. When he is a little older and can chew a vitamin I would get a prescription for multi-vitamins from the doctor. Things work out and this is just one of the eating stages he will go through.

I would try frozen soybeans - edamame - you can buy them in the shell or already shelled (my preference as it's a lot less work). They have them in the frozen food section of just about every store now.
Just heat them up and you can add a little salt or butter if you like. Kids LOVE these and it's great finger food for that age.
When my older kids were young, sometimes I'd slice a banana and put raw sunflower 'sprinkles' on it - they liked that a lot. Another good protein source is simply raw almonds or walnuts (don't get the salty kind of nuts). If he'll snack on these - or cheese sticks or other cheese - you may not have to worry so much about him being a vegetarian. I found that when i just give small, simple snacks like this, my kids will eat them up - and I know they are getting healthy food, so I don't worry when my toddler won't eat her dinner.

You could also try things like adding kidney, black, or garbanzo beans to pasta dishes, so he'll get protein in other ways.

Good luck!


My son just turned two, and he won't eat meat either. Don't worry about it! At 18 months his doctor recommended Coleman's beef hotdogs because they are made without nitrates. She wanted him to have red meat 4 times per week. He eats about 2 or 3 of those per week. You might try those hotdogs for the red meat thing. They are expensive, but when they eat only one at a time, it's not so bad. Sounds like he is eating a wide variety of color from fruits and veggies, which should keep his vitamin balance good. You might try meatballs. My son will SOMETIMES take a few bites of one, which gets a little animal protein in him. Also, if he'll eat spaghetti, try making the sauce with ground beef in it. If spaghetti is too rich for him, you can always blend in a little bit of fresh cream with the sauce. My toddler enjoys it that way. Keep offering him the things he won't eat. He'll balance out his needs. You might try tofu as a source of protein. My son likes tofu, and actually asks for it, hence, I am learning to enjoy it as well. Hee hee. Also, mushrooms are a fantastic food! They are a PERFECT protein. My son LOVES them, and all I do is saute them in a bit of butter and olive oil with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and sometimes herbs. Mushrooms are also full of essential minerals! Good luck.

Your son doesn't sound picky at all, just very normal. Don't cater to him, and keep offering him foods you want him to eat. Two things that worked with our boys when they didn't want to eat meat were chicken nuggets and fish sticks. I know they're not the healthiest, but they worked. I think because they were a bit easier to chew. Lasagna also worked wonders. GL!

my daughter just started doing the same thing with meat. Just yesterday I tried putting the chicken in a food processor and then mixing it into her pasta and veggies. She actually ate it all just fine. It's worth a shot.

There's Herbalife kids shakes that I have been giving to my 2 year old and 4 year old. They used to be in the fifth percentile for their growth, but since I started giving them these nutritional shakes a year and half ago, they are now in the 65th percentile. I mix/blend them with soymilk. You can do regular milk also. There's chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. If you want to take a look at it, there's my website www.shopherbalife.com/O. under "targeted nutrition". You can also contact me at ____@____.com.

It's a phase, normal picky eating. "This too shall pass"
Babies love sugar, also, in fruit form or any other kind.
My favorite cook book for baby food, "Blender Baby Food" was indispensable when I started my daughter on 'real' food.
There are options, mixing chicken with apple for instance, sweeet & savory combos usually work well.
Good luck, and good mommin!

It's OK if he doesn't like meat. Try offering beans (my kids love refried beans and hummus dip) or cubes of extra-firm tofu you've toasted in the oven at about 400 for 20 minutes--they are fun to dip in sauce. Dairy products also offer lots of fat and protein, if that's what you're worried about.
Familiarity is everything to toddlers, so keep offering a variety and don't insist--you don't want to create a power struggle.
You might like the book "My Child Won't Eat!" It's pretty new, and you can order it through La Leche League at www.llli.org. Good luck!

You son's growth is slowing, so he doesn't need to eat as much as he did a few months ago. This is the time that he's learning about food, its textures, colors, flavors, etc. He should be touching everything. I wouldn't push using a spoon. This is not the time to worry about the mess he makes. More will end up on his highchair, in his hair, on his face, than will end up in his mouth. This is how he learns about food. His favorite food is veggies! Wonderful. You can be sure the texture of meat is the issue. Keep up the veggies and other whole foods, while placing small amounts of meat on his tray. He will continue to explore the refused food. You can read more about picky eating on my website: http://www.BabyBites.info

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