16 answers

My Two Year Old Daughter Only Drinks Milk and Barely Eats.....

My daughter is two and a half yrs old. She barely eats any food. It doesn't matter what I make or buy or put in front of her. She will nibble at a couple of pieces of strawberries or grapes and some cheese. For the most part though, she drinks milk and juice. She still wakes up at least twice a night asking for milk. I have taken the milk away, but she will basically just wait till night time bc she knows she will get milk then. How can I get her to start filling her belly with actual food instead of milk all the time???

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

This is an article that I found to be very helpful. http://www.parentkidsright.com/pt-toddlerwonteat.html

1 mom found this helpful

It's hard to believe but: don't worry! My daughters barely ate anything when they were two, and I finally heeded the advice to just keep serving three (small but nutritious) meals a day and two healthy snacks a day... and eventually they got the hang of it. Serve milk with her little dinners. She only needs 1200 calories a day-- an easy number to reach. Now my tiny bird-eaters are active, hungry and 7 and 10 years old. They love eating and cooking and can put away three bowls of cereal before school!

More Answers

Hi M.,
First, I would take away the milk at night. By giving in at night you are only reenforcing her behavior. Calmly and firmly explain that there will be no more milk at night, no matter how much she cries. You can try explaining how terrible this is for her teeth and she is too big to need milk at night. Go cold turkey and be firm! Expect some crying for up to a week. At her age, she is more than able to understand what you are telling her and what is expected of her. If responding to her at night without milk makes it worse, don't respond at all. When you put her to bed, tell her you will NOT be coming back until it is time to get up.Then explain that she needs to eat her meals before she will get milk during the day. Try making her food bland, some kids have more sensitive taste buds than others. As the parent, you need to take control of this situation. As it is now, it sounds like your daughter is running the food show! Also, teaching her to go back to sleep on her own at night is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give her. If you have questions or need an ear, email me.

3 moms found this helpful

I also have a 2 1/2 year old daughter, and I know how stubborn she can be! I feel your pain! Mine always wants junk food. Last night we had brownies for dessert and she didn't eat dinner, so no brownies for her. After 5 attempts at throwing a fit (screaming, crying, throwing herself on the floor, sweetly asking Daddy and then proceeding to cry, etc) she finally went back to the table and ate her dinner. She knows (as your daughter does) just how to "work" the situation. As long as you don't give in, you should be able to change her habits. I read the "What to Expect" toddler's book, which suggested measuring out how much milk your kid needs in a day, then pouring from that container. Their advice was for making sure your child gets enough milk, but you could use it to limit her amount. Tell her when that special pitcher is empty, that's it. And I think, until she starts eating, limiting or eliminating juice all together would be a good idea. If there is a favorite food she has, you might try serving that on the first day of your "new life". I wish you luck and patience in abundance!


PS Makle sure her Daddy and caregivers also stick to the program!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,
I'm not sure how much this will help, but my thoughts are about if you are concerned with her nutrition intake while you try to turn this situation around (with some of that other good advice you got already). When my son went through his refusal-to-eat stage, I used to make him very nutritious smoothies. He liked them, and I could feel like he had some decent nutrition. I would use all organic ingredients, and the secret was spirulina powder. It's a powder made from an algae that you can get at organic-type stores like Whole Foods. I don't remember the exact statistic, but something like one tablespoon of it has the same sort of green plant nutrition you'd find in a whole head of broccoli. The main ingredients for the smoothie were frozen strawberries and blueberries (the blueberries are super important, so the smoothie doesn't turn brown! It will be a pleasant purple), apple juice, yogurt, and sometimes protein powder. You could also throw in any other fruit or juice, or sometimes milk. It only takes a few minutes to make in the blender, and it was like a special breakfast thing. I would even freeze it into popsicles in the summer, and he loved it. So for this period of time while we worked with him to help him eat better, I knew he was getting a great blast of nutrition.
I hope that helps, and good luck!
Warmly, G.

1 mom found this helpful

This is an article that I found to be very helpful. http://www.parentkidsright.com/pt-toddlerwonteat.html

1 mom found this helpful

Wow you've gotten some great advice! I just wanted to chime in that I agree with Love that it is time to stop the night time feeds. Your daughter using them to manipulate. You say she will just wait because she knows she can have some milk at night. At this point you need to let her know she can no longer have milk at night. Besides the manipulation, she should be getting a full nights sleep at this age. Waking up at least twice a night is not good for her (or you, I imagine!).

Minta also made an excellent point to stay calm. Really this can't be overstated. Make your decision about how you are going to change this situation, then just do it calmly with the knowledge that you are doing what is best for your child. Stick with the plan for as long as it takes to work, and just keep it matter of fact when speaking with your daughter about it. She will see that you are serious, but that you are not flustered or bothered, just being the mom in charge. She may fight the new deal, but she won't starve. :o)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

When my daughter was that age she did the exact same thing and ended up constipated really bad that I had to call the doctor. I told them about only having milk and not much food. They only suggested inserting a suppository for that. When I actually spoke with the dr. he suggested diluting the milk with water and boy did she notice that. Before that, for her constipation, we added karol syrup for about a week and that helped, but she still only wanted milk until we started adding water. She would even catch us putting water in her milk and then we told her that she needs to eat more food and then we won't add water and she did it.

She also woke up in the middle of the night for milk. I got so tired of it, before she went to bed I told her that milk was ready in the fridge if she woke up, that way she doesn't have to wake me up. I know it was wrong, and I knew that milk at night was bad for their teeth. When we went to the dentist, he found 7 cavities, I told her no more milk at night from now on you have a cup before bed, during reading time or something and then brush and straight to bed. NOw I will put a water bottle next to her bed and she likes that. Now she is 7 and kind of stopped drinking milk as much because she no longer has her "milk cup". So now I'm forcing her to drink at least 1 cup a day. She does have some at school, but I know she is not finishing all of it. Hope this helps and good luck.


3 ideas:

1) Switch to a lower percentage fat milk. It won't be as filling and she might be interested in food.

2) Get her involved in more physical activity. Swimming will stimulate her appetite!

3) Put yummy healthy food on your plate and hold her in your lap as you eat. Don't encourage her, just show that you are enjoying the food. Try it for about a week, and she may start taking from your plate. If that works, she may be willing to eat from her own plate.

If she is healthy and has energy, then you don't need to be worried. It may just be that she doesn't need a lot of food and that you will just wear both of you out by forcing the issue.

Hi M.,

I would also get her to drink water. Good clean water that has been filtered. Too much juice is not good as it is linked to Diabetes 2.

My granddaughter was a picky eater and I added wholefood supplements to her applesauce and milk and juice to make sure she was receiving all the nutrients she needed.

If you are interested let me know and I will share with you.

Have a great day.

N. Marie

My 2 year old son is going through the same thing. He turned 2 in Nov. and at that time he had a really appetite and now over the pass few weeks he will only eat a little of his breakfast, lunch and dinner but we have been going through at least 6 large zippy cups of milk a day. I would love some suggest also.

It's an age-old question with a multitude of correct answers. At age 1 1/2 I started my oldest (now 4 1/2) on a bottle of soy protien and powdered multi vitamin mixed in milk before bed. It gives him all the nutrition missed during the day, satisfies his need for milk (they do NEED it at that age) and gives him a natural source of vitamins (I will only use Shaklee brand as they are natural whole reduced food supplements, organic, kosher, and 100% guaranteed).

Once I started him on the protien and vits at night, he went back to sleeping through the night cuz he was so satisfied.

It is our responsibility to buy, prepare, and serve a variety of foods for meals and snacks. It is the child's responsibilty to eat or not eat, eat a little or nothing at all. But serve nothing in between. Children need to eat every 2-3 hours. In child care we are taught this by the food programs provided by the State of California. I have a new boy who didn't eat anyting for two weeks but drank his milk. Now he is eating everything! He washed his hands, sat down, moved his food around abit, and drank his milk. Now he is eating everything like his friends. I make home made hot food for lunch every day. The kids eat alot of veggies. They can try something new and take one bite and if they don't like it, it is the "no thank you" bite and they don't have to eat anymore of it. Often kids need to see a new food on thier plate 5-10 times before they will eat it. It is just the way kids are. We should not battle with them about eating as it only makes it worse.
They have this power of what to eat or not eat, go in the toilet or not and it is not good to force them or bribe them. My four kids were good eaters too. Start when they are young serving a variety of veggies in their salads. The kids love English Cucumbers. I serve one glass of milk.
When they eat their food they can have more milk. If they fill up on milk they are not getting the nutrition they need. They also have water during the day. Water is very good for them. Many years ago when my children were young I cared for school aged children. One girl only ate popcorn (which is not allowed on the food program), watermelon, and oatmeal. On Fridays after school was movie day with popcorn. We can serve popcorn to the kids over 4 years of age just not count it on our menus. Please keep serving your child good food, and don't pressure her to eat, and serve less milk. Have you talked to her doctor?

Hi M.,
Has your daughter ever been good with solids? If not, perhaps she is going through what my son did. My son, though a preemie, showed no issues with any aspect of development. He rolled over, sat up, crawled, and walked all in what would be considered "normal" time frames. He even spoke early, which is why we never would have guessed about the one area where he had a delay: oral motor skills. He barely ate any solid food. It was infuriating! Because our son was a preemie, our insurance let us visit the developmental clinic at CPMC for an overall developmental assessment where we saw experts in many areas of development. We mentioned our son's issues w/ eating when we spoke to the folks at the feeding clinic. They observed him around solid foods (at least on the rare occasion when he would actually allow a bit in his mouth) and discovered that his tongue didn't quite understand that it needed to push solid foods to where his molars were (or would eventually be -- his teeth were a bit slow in coming). They also discovered that his cheek muscles were weak. We enrolled in their weekly feeding clinic (you need a referral to do this), where occupational therapists (amazing people), a nutritionist, and a child behaviorist worked with a small group of kids (and caregivers) who were experiencing issues with soild foods. Some kids had issues with textures, others had oral motor skill delays, while still others had different issues. We were given homework to help our son's brain remember about his molars before eating and to strenghten his cheek muscles. We noticed improvement after a couple of weeks and were able to stop attending the clinic after a few months. Our son is now six and eats just fine. If your daughter has oral motor skill deficits (and as I mentioned, our son spoke early so we never would have guessed) she might show more interest in strongly flavored foods, which do a better job of telling the brain that the mouth has a job to do. For example, one of the few solids our son would eat before the clinic was smoked salmon. He wouldn't touch baby cereal or Cheerios. Whether the issue is developmental, sensory, behavioral, or something else of which I am not aware, this feeding clinic would address it. I have to admit that I thought the clinic was kind of dumb and irritating at the time, but once I started to see results, I accepted that it was definitely worth our time. I hope this info helps. I know how frustrating and scary it can be when your child just won't eat.

My son did the same thing at that age and now he hates milk but eats a TON of food. I think it was faster and easier for him to drink milk and then get back to playing with his toys. I gave him milk in a sippy cup so he took it with him.
I agree with some of the other moms - no more night time milk - bedtime stories and cuddles after a good tooth brushing routine. Tell her about the new changes in her routine in the morning and then remind her all day. Check with your pediatrician to see how much milk she should get per day and only give her that much and then juice is supposed to be limited to 4-6 ounces a day. She won't starve or waste away - she'll adjust and eat. Nobody likes to feel hungry. Stick to your guns, Mama!

When my daughter was less than 2, I had to switch her to 2% milk, and then 1% milk, because she would fill up on milk and not eat anything else. I also switched to water in her bottle at night. It didn't take long for her to get hungry and actually eat enough solid foods. She is still on the thinner side, but has never been underweight - I checked with the doctor at every check up. She also cycles through periods of ravenously eating some days, and picking at her food at other times, each phase can last days, somewhat tied to growth spurts. She is now 4. She doesn't get juice unless she has eaten some solid food first.

It's hard to believe but: don't worry! My daughters barely ate anything when they were two, and I finally heeded the advice to just keep serving three (small but nutritious) meals a day and two healthy snacks a day... and eventually they got the hang of it. Serve milk with her little dinners. She only needs 1200 calories a day-- an easy number to reach. Now my tiny bird-eaters are active, hungry and 7 and 10 years old. They love eating and cooking and can put away three bowls of cereal before school!

I agree with the opinions given. I want to let you know about something else to deal with regarding the night time milk. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. I worked at the dental society for a while and saw some very disturbing pictures. The rule is, after night time brushing, nothing else but water to drink until morning. Otherwise the stuff just sits there on their little teeth and eats them. Yes, even milk. My daughter, who is now 7 but still goes through the not wanting to eat the dinner given, knows that after teeth are brushed only water during the night. I do agree that any night time awakening should be right back to bed, especially if she is not night time potty trained yet. If she is, then a quick trip to the potty and back to bed.

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