How Can I Get My 15 Month Old to Eat?

Updated on November 05, 2008
F.L. asks from West Covina, CA
24 answers

I have a fuzzy eater who only likes a handful of foods. I am running out of ideas on what to feed her. I am trying not to stress out about meal times with her. My approach has been pretty laid back and I let her choose how much to eat. Does anyone have and ideas suggestions on what approach(s)I should try. Also, I am not to sure how much milk she should be drinking. I have been giving her 4 6oz bottles in a 24hour period. She does not like any juices and only drinks water. Thanks

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M.S.

answers from San Diego on

Keep offering her small and healthy meals. It is very normal for kids to be choosy about what they eat. Milk and water are best for her so don't worry about her not drinking juice. Juice is full of sugar anyway. Give her fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, & other protein rich foods. If you are really concerned about her diet you should talk to her doctor.

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M.M.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

I've found that if my son sees me or his dad eating something, he wants to try it. It worked really well with stuff you can eat by hand, like eggs, or fruits and some cooked veggies. Sometimes it takes him seeing us eat it several times before he tries it, and even though he'll occasionally make a face and spit it out, we keep trying. I know how frustrating this can be! You're on the right track - just keep offering her different stuff and let her see that you like it all too. Good luck!

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L.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

F., for some inspirational ideas...you'll love these 2 websites (my favorites):

http://weelicious.com/

AND http://wholesomebabyfood.com/

DELICIOUSLY YUMMY!!!

ENJOY!!! : )))

LOL,
L. (MAMA to 13 month old Dylan Orion.....29 September 2007). : )))

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Okay first thing, let me just say as a Mommy with a 2 year old there is no timeline you MUST follow for anything. If she is drinking the milk you give her in the bottle that is awesome! Her tastes will change as she progresses, and you'll find that things she may have liked one day she'll not like at all. If/when you begin to transition to cups, the NUBY cups are just amazing and my son loves them.

As for the feeding, I would echo what the first poster said...find smaller things she can do herself. My son has always loved meatballs (turkey, chicken and now beef), dino bites (chicken nuggets shaped like dinos), carrots, lima beans, corn, fish sticks, mini quesadillas (corn tortilla with some mozarella and finely shreded chicken, pasta (esp bowtie and spiral), mini pizzas...things that she can grab and feel like a big girl with and that have flavor. It's great that you let her choose how much to eat. She is the best judge of how hungry or full she is!

I stressed about menus too!! It was so hard to come up with new things that my son would eat and not stick his nose up at, but then I just took a minute and thought about what I was cooking for me and did it on a smaller toddler scale.

1 mom found this helpful
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N.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

You have some great advice here so I won't repeat it all. Just one thing BE SO HAPPY she only drinks water and not fruit juice.... water is the very best thing she could drink!

One thing is for sure.... she will not starve. I have the pickiest eater in the world for a daughter and went through hell for years.... Just keep putting good food in front of her and she really will take what she needs if you stay out of it (and don't cave with bad snacks in between). The minute I backed off completely and just gave up the minute my daughter started trying new things.

BEst of luck. I really do know how difficult this is so keep strong!

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S.V.

answers from San Diego on

In response to the last poster, I do not agree that a 15 month old should only have formula. My daughter is 15 months and a picky eater as well. She drinks milk, she likes a lot of dry finger foods - freeze dried fruit such as apples, bananas, peaches and pears (you can get these at costco or gerber makes some), cherrio's, gerber veggie puffs. I also give her what ever we eat in case she wants some - sometimes she does sometimes she doesn't. She also likes dannon yogurt drinks. She loves pancakes and sometimes likes chicken, eggs, applesauce, certain veggies like green beans, grilled cheese, string cheese. Don't worry, she won't starve. She will eat what she wants. Just keep offereing things to her and one day she will eat them ; )

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J.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

just try to offer her new things along with things shes already familiar with eating. try new fruits and vegies, crackers meats anything. i know my daughters dr says no more then 16 ounces are needed but my daughter is 4 months younger then yours. 24oz a day should be fine. its great that your daughter loves water! so does mine :) just follow what she likes to eat and find new ways of putting other foods into them. like you can puree carrots and mix it with mac and cheese. theres endless posibilities. good luck!

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C.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

I'm a firm believer that we shouldn't label our kids "fussy eaters" (even if that's the way it feels)! It's important to offer your little one a balanced diet at every meal serving small portions. I guarantee that if you keep offering, let's say, peas, after a while she will start eating them. If you're short on time or money, buying organic frozen veggies is a great way to offer a tiny portion without feeling that you're wasting food. This goes for hard boiled eggs (omelets), cheese, freezing homemade chicken nuggets and more.-www.weelicious.com

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L.A.

answers from San Diego on

All a child this age really needs for good nutrition is breast milk or formula. Your daughter will expand her diet when she is good and ready. It will happen. Until then, make sure to offer her a bottle with formula frequently, as well as a variety of foods. Whether she eats the food or not is up to her. The formula is what counts. :0)

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M.C.

answers from Honolulu on

Kids are at the highlight of fussiness around her age and up to 2 years. Just keep at it. Offer her what you eat as well as what she likes and keep doing it. Make sure she gets all of the food groups somehow. My daughter broadened her horizons when she was four. She went to a preschool that prepared the food and everyone ate the same thing or they did not eat. This was helpful, but I hate to say that she is still more picky at home than at school (she now eats school lunch everyday). exposure to other kids that eat a wide variety of foods is also useful, but at her age, the kids all probably like the same foods. Keep at it!

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L.J.

answers from Los Angeles on

This is what I learned raising my daughter and now dealing with my grandchildren. When there is food available, children will not starve. Forcing children to eat only causes stress for both of you. Make sure she has liquids. Water is the best.
Good luck to you both.

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M.L.

answers from San Diego on

Hi F.,
I have a 16 month old and he can be finicky too. Some food items that I found that interest him and could be quite nutritious are cereals for snacks. "Kix" cereals could be fun to eat and fortified with iron and vitamins. Does your little girl like rice? You can serve either white or brown rice with little bit of butter and mix it with pieces of broccoli or cauliflower. 12-16 oz of milk is plenty for this age when they are not eating other sources of calcium, like yogurt and cheeses. Somebody already mentioned about muffin tin pans and cookie cutters. They could entice your little one to eat. But I do think your relax approach is good. Good luck

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B.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

F.,
Children will eat when they are hungry. If you feel she is not eating enough, then you are probably right, trust your intuition. Milk is very filling, perhaps you can substitute 2 of her milks for water. I would like to share with you a note I got from one of my families:
"B., thank you for showing us how to feed our kids in the morning. Who knew breakfast cereals were not for kids! These protein shakes for breakfast truly make a difference in our entire family. We all eat better throughout the day since our breakfast is now the right food choice. Even my 2 year old! Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

If you are interested in getting your family on the right path in one simple step, let me know.

B. H. B.A.:B.Ed.
Family Nutrition Coach
[email protected]____.com

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N.V.

answers from Las Vegas on

A great idea I heard from Dr. Sears, at a lecture he recently gave at a Baby Expo, was to use a muffin tin to put different foods in each portion. "Grow foods" like fruits and veggies (called fun and exciting names to intrigue them, ie carrot wheels, trees, berry eyes), whole grains, dips, etc. Leave it out somewhere accessible for the toddler early in the day, then leave them alone (meaning don't hover). He said this way they'll graze at their own pace, they know where food is and by the end of the day they'll have eaten what they need and you'll know it was nutritious. Dr. Sears said grazing is good. His guideline for toddler eating (and maybe adults too?) was this:

Eat half as much,
Twice as often,
Chewing twice as long.

www.askdrsears.com. I'm sure everything he spoke on that day about nutrition is on his website or in his books. I found it helpful to remember not to stress about forcing food down their tummies. Toddler stomachs are small anyways. As long as we don't let them eat many unhealthy foods, we shouldn't worry about the quantity. Look at their nutrition over a week's time, rather than what they eat in one day.

As far as drinks, milk consumption isn't as important as everyone makes it seem. Yogurt is probably the healthiest dairy and there are plenty of ways to get calcium, other than milk. So, don't overly worry about that. And juice is unnecessary, especially if your child eats any fruit at all. It's really not that healthy. Water is the best way to go, so you're set there.

I think your laid back approach is fine, less stress for both of you. Just be creative in how you serve the food. Many books and websites have great ideas to help you out. Just Goodsearch it.

Good luck, N.

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P.K.

answers from Las Vegas on

We have the same problem. Check out a speech therapist. It has really reduced my stress level. I just feed my son stuff I know he likes at every meal which is basicaly chicken strips and refried beans...weird I know. Each night I will put something different on his tray and just leave it. I don't talk about it or encourage him to try it. The idea is that he will explore it on his own. They also suggested giving him foods very similar to what he already likes. We gave grilled chicken instead of chicken strips. We've had pretty good success and have expanded to about 15 foods. 2 months ago it was 4 foods! Good luck and it's really ok if your kid only eats a few things. They'll eventually round out their diet.

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D.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

my son is a good eater..i think it's b/c i never put any pressure on it..i'll make a big plate and just sit on the couch and act like it's all for me..and when he becomes a bit curious sometimes i act like.."oh no...don't take it" makes him want it more..and he always laughs about it...
i give him Green Tea Pomegranate drink from Trader Joe's..it has less sugar and he loves it..also i don't give him much milk..he gets 4 oz's a day..i will give him almond milk..he eats cheese and he likes broccoli..b/c i put dips out for him..try dips..show her how to dip..they love that..ranch and soyaki are his faves.
make it fun..try different things..when my son is being fussy i make him cheese quesedillas..shredded mexican cheese on a corn tortilla..heat it for 45 seconds in the micro..
then fold it and cut it..also black beans w/ cheese..throw things u know she likes over things she usually doesn't eat..
good luck*

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J.L.

answers from San Diego on

Hi F., try finger foods she can feed herself, some kids get to a point where they don't want to be fed anymore and they want to do it themselves. Chicken nuggets, corn on cob, cherrios, things like that, if I make make a suggestion, at 15 months she really should be off the bottle, if she feels like a big girl vshe may eat more like a big girl. J. L.

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G.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Children need to be introduced to different foods sometimes 15 times before they begin to like and accept it. So don't give up too early....sometimes that's what makes a picky eater, parents give up too soon. Of course, do as you're doing and do not pressure...but keep introducing foods that your family already eats. If they see you eating the same things, they are more likely to try it themselves (cut up smaller of course). Allow them to spit it out onto their plate/tray if they want, but still give it to them at another meal. It just takes awhile sometimes. Allow them to be leary...we are too of new foods! I'm 34 and tried brussel sprouts for the umteenth time last month and finally liked them! HA Anyway, just because they reject a food, doesn't mean you shouldn't give it to them again. They will eat if and when they're hungry. I know it can be frustrating. I have a 1 and a 2 year old...trust me I know. You're doing a super job Mom, keep it up!

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L.I.

answers from Los Angeles on

How old is she? Someone else suggested www.weelicious.com - I checked it out and there were some really cool recipes for toddlers there. But, your baby will know what she needs when she needs it so I agree with the laid back approach, as long as she's not losing weight.

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

My son is a total picky eater. Always has been.
Unless the Doctor is worried, I wouldn't worry.
ALL kids go through this, some more than others.

For my son, what I do is make a variety of bite sized foods for him, put it in bowls, and put it on our coffee table on a cute tray with his kid/toddler sized chair and utensils. Kids like to eat at furniture that is "their" size too.

try not to force it... all kids have different eating patterns. My first born eats no problem, at the dining table, and eats ALL at one sitting. My son on the other hand, is a "grazer", meaning he eats in little quantities ALL day, ONLY if he is hungry. Just because it is a "meal time", he will NOT eat, unless he is hungry. That is the way he is.

there is no point in "forcing" a child to eat. They will not eat unless they want to. I also would not recommend using food as a "punishment" because this will only turn it into a "battle" and they will then think meal times are just sooooo irritating and unpleasant, and it'll be a "control" issue.

YOu are right not to stress about it.

For me, healthy fruit smoothies and home-made soups work. Then I let my son "eat" it by sticking a straw in it, and he "drinks" away. It's funner for him to "eat" this way, and less chance of spilling. Even though he CAN eat/drink soup himself with a spoon.

Ask your Pediatrician how much milk she should be drinking.
Its good she does not like juices. Juice is NOT a necessity... some children just naturally do not like juice. For our kids, we didn't even introduce "juice" (watered down), until much after 2 years old. They don't need it. Water is perfectly fine.
Or, you can see if she'll like V-8. My daughter likes V-8 (the traditional vegetable one).

No worries, at ALL ages, now and later, kids have food phases. It will erupt, then subside, then come back in different forms and different preferences. So, just get used to it now. It WILL, all throughout their childhood, come back. Eating phases are a given.

Also, a young baby/child is STILL developing in terms of their "taste buds." MANY foods are an "acquired" taste for them, and many times kids don't even like the taste of meat. It's normal. Find out what she likes, introduce different things now and then, but just casually.
Pick your battles.

Don't worry, it's all normal... and very common. Sometimes, if a child doesn't like a food, like perhaps eggs, just try and cook it another way. My daughter for example, will only eat eggs if it is cooked sunny side up, not scrambled. Or, she will eat deviled eggs. But not other ways. So, it's the prep of the food too.

Kids also like sauces.
Good luck!
~Susan

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C.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi F.-
I have a 17 month old and I have been pretty lucky that she has liked the foods I put in front of her-75-80% of the time. I always make sure to feed her in her high chair and when she is losing interest in eating (I notice this when she is sucking her two left fingers), I begin to feed her. I also have to put on her Baby Einstein CD's or hr BABY signs DVD.. This entertains her and I also see she will eat of she is watching this.

She is drinking about 3-4, 6-7 oz sippee cups of milk. My daughter also only drinls just water and milk. My daughter loves fruit and mostly fruit is her snacks and desserts. She loves papaya, kiwi, blueberries , guavas, pomogranites..every possible fruit you put in front of her she will eat.

I also steam yams and sweet potatoes for her and cut them up for her. Also, Trader Joes has yummy Turkey balls she loves...plus my daughter loves cheese, especially mozzarella cheese. Plus the yo-baby yogurts are her favorite. I know dinner and lunch sometimes gets boring...but if that is all they eat, what r u going to do?

Good luck!

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C.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

Don't worry so much about it she will eat when she is hungry. If you still worried about getting enough vitamins then try giveing her the pediasure shakes...also @15 months if whe id still getting bottles then that could be a reason why she is not eating food bcuz the bottle is easier and she just be being lazy.

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S.A.

answers from Honolulu on

Sounds to me like you're doing a good job! 16-24oz of milk is what is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for this age. You know, my pediatrician always says "you decide WHAT the child eats, they decide HOW MUCH of it they will eat." Some kids eat a lot, some not much, Just be sure you daughter gets a wide variety of healthy foods and I'm sure she will be fine :)

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M.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Be creative and don't force her to eat. I had a fussy eater and one thing that worked for me was ordering cookie cutters from a website www.cookiecutters.com. I ordered about 20 different shapes and sizes and I use them to cut sandwiches, cheese, pancakes, etc. Anything that is soft- I can use the cookie cutter with. Your daughter will love cheese in the shape of a flower or an airplane. Also try buying sprinkles at the store and use sprinkles on food that you want her to eat. I use rainbow sprinkles on mashed potatoes and yogurt to entice my son to eat. Hope this helps. My son didn't drink milk, so I purchased Carnation Instant Breakfast powder (chocolate) and made Chocolate milk for him. It has a lot of protein and vitamins/minerals. I SLOWLY decreased the amount of Carnation Instant Breakfast powder every week, so now he drinks milk without the chocolate.

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