22 answers

My 2 Year Old Is on a Hunger Strike

For the first year and a half of her life, my toddler was an amazingly good eater. I made her all her baby food, using organic produce, etc., and she ate it right up, everything from tuna salad to tabouleh. Then her eating habits gradually declined, and in the past two months, she eats almost nothing. She has stopped eating breakfast, formerly her favorite meal. SHe use to love oatmeal and granola and yogurt and berries. Now she'll eat a few blueberries and that's it. She skips lunch entirely, and I've given up on it. I used to try to get really creative with her lunches, but now I don't bother because she won't eat any of it. At dinner she eats absolutely nothing. This was the first meal to go. If we let her, she would survive on goldfish, water, and Kefir, a yogurt drink that she drinks instead of milk. I used to limit it so that she would have an appetite for food, but now it's often the only nutrition she gets. She does take those gummy vitamins, which she loves. I am afraid she is becoming like me. I was the world's worst eater - I weighed 40 pounds in 6th grade! Lola and I are both grazers. She doesn't like to eat meals but will nibble here and there if we let her. I read an idea of creating a nibble tray and letting her have a bit her, a bit there, as she wants to throughout the day. I am willing to try this although it is SO not practical. Has anyone tried this? It is SOOOO frustrating to have a child who won't eat. Most of the time she won't even try a single bite of what's on her plate. I never push her to eat at all, because I believe in letting her appetite guide her, but this is ridiculous!

What can I do next?

More Answers

I think a lot of kids do that at about this age. I know my sons eatig habits change all the time. One week he is a lil pig and the next I can not get him to eat. I did do the whole grazing thing for a while and it worked for us. I had no idea other people were doing it, I just did it so he would eat. I found that pushing food made it worse. She is at the point of getting her boundaries and independence setup and sometimes pushing makes things harder. So I would just make his food and put it in his playroom. I am kind of laid back. We dont eat together as a family often due to hubbys schedule so I let my son eat when and whereever. But I do not make special meals for him. He gets what we get, unless I make something he absolutely cant eat. I found that having the food out and avaialable he ate it. One other thing is that their bodies know when they are hungry. She just may not be wanting food right now. I had a doc tell me once that his son would only eat peanutbutter and spaghetti noodles (not together LOL) for nearly 6 months. He said it did not hurt them, as long as they are eating something.

Hope this helps.


Yep, this is typical for her age. I just went through this for several months with my third child, who turned 2 in July. You just keep offering...if she eats here and there, then you have accomplished something. When you say she won't eat anything, I'm assuming you mean that she won't eat what you present to her but she will nibble here and there, right? Keep offering what she will eat and continue to offer everything you eat too. Picky eating is a phase. If you're concerned she's losing weight, then you would want to consult with the pediatrician to make sure there isn't some underlying problem. My bet is she's going through a phase...it passes. Be patient but don't give up.

For breakfast, you could give her a bowl of dry cereal with a cup of milk on the side. Scrambled egg between a piece of toast with jelly? Sounds gross perhaps, but my boy likes it. Pancakes, waffles, french toast. Lunch can be as simple as a cheese stick cut up in small pieces...yogurt, applesauce, cut up piece of lunch meat. Some days my son wants a bowl of cereal for lunch. Whatever he'll eat, I'll serve. It's food...that's the important thing.

Hi N.,

I see that you try to eat well. That's to be commended these days as it's more time consuming to shop and read. :) If she's getting enough nutrition she is probably fine and it's a stage. You did mention the gummy vitamins and I was curious if it is a multivitamin/mineral complex or just vitamins. If it has minerals in it then they are isolated and it will create free radicals and that can cause all sorts of problems down the road.

Fiber is a key also. If the colon is not clean then the appetite decreases because the body doesn't recognize nutrition if it can't absorb it. I'm curious too if you vaccinate your kids and if she was recently innoculated. Sometimes vaccines do things that inhibit the appetite.

Just a few ideas! God bless!


dr told me not to worry ,they would eat when hungry,just make sure dr is aware of her change of eating habits

Hi N.,
I went through this with both my kids;
here are some thoughts to consider
maybe it's time to start something new.
When we would go to the grocery store, I would let them pick out some new stuff that was healthy of course.
I don't know if kefir is alright for kids. I started giving it to my daughter and she just keep going to the bathroom. Sometimes too if I don't drink it for a couple of days, it backs me up to the point where I don't want to eat either. And when I do drink it, I don't eat lunch.
Hope this helps, if it goes on, you may want to consider going to the Ped.

First of all-it is VERY normal for a 2 year old to not eat as much as they did when they were younger (their growth is slowing down substantially at this time) and to become much more picky about it--which is them showing their independence.
I would actually advise NOT to have a nibble tray--this will only encourage her not to eat at mealtimes. When my son was 18 months old-he got breakfast, a mid day snack, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner--and ate them up! At 2--he stopped eating that much and started skipping meals. The first thing I did was cut out that morning snack and severely limit the afternoon one--he gets a small amount of pretzels or some fruit otherwise he won't eat dinner!
So my advice to you is first--find some healthy things she does like and keep that as your base foods--fruits/veggies and whole grains, eggs, and dairy are your friends--my son at 3 1/2 is just now starting to eat some meats.
Make her meals fun-we play a game where I eat a bite of food and then he eats a bite of food.
Eat together at the table whenever possible. Kids want to mimic adults--why should they eat if you are not?
Keep offering her foods she has refused in the past or are new, but also offer her things you know she will eat. I usually give my son something I know he likes for breakfast, his lunches are almost always pnut butter and jelly or mac and cheese, but he gets more of a variety at dinner, where sometimes he eats/tries them and sometimes he does not.
Finally, check out this book: Child of Mine: feeding with love and good Sense by Ellen Satter. It will really help you get a good perspective on feeding babies/toddlers and kids. What they really need, your relationship with them, etc. My friend insisted that I read it when I had my son (so much that she bought and sent it to me) and I have to agree with her--it's one of those books that every parent should read.

My son stopped eating at about 10 months. He just turned 2 and is slowly starting to eat again. As long as he gets at least teaspoon of food at each meal and still drinks milk, formula or pedia-sure throughout the day he will not starve. My son still drinks 2 pedia-sure's a day, used to be more. My DR said they were better for them than milk. Ans as long as he is still putting on weight and not losing it, he's fine.

All of my children and grandchildren have gone through "grazing" phases, it usually lasted a year or so, then back onto normal meals. I feel it's best to get whatever you can into them while they are growing, and work on things like sitting at the table for meals when they are a little older (four and five), but that is my personal opinion, I am sure you will receive others here too. The little ones are so busy exploring and learning about their world, they will sacrafice food to keep moving. By putting small amounts of food they can grab and run with, they eat a whole lot throughout the day. It doesn't always have to be snack food either. Our kids eat fruit, cubed up meat like chicken and ham, cheese cubes, trail mix, etc...

good luck

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.