How to I Get My 2 Year Old Daughter Eat Properly??

Updated on November 22, 2016
A.K. asks from Marietta, GA
13 answers

My daughter who is 21 months old suddenly has stopped eating since a couple of weeks. She ws excellent water and never troubled me with food but don't know what has happened suddenly.
Moreover she wants only milk and no food. Since she is born she wakes up 3-4 times to drink milk which still continues.

Also she only has 4 teeth. It's becoming very frustrating for me because I'm afraid she is not getting the nutrition she needs because she cannot chew many things.
Someone please advice what do I do to make her eat properly and stop her habit of waking up at night for milk.

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answers from Portland on

Well as long as you continue to give her that much milk, and at night, she won't be hungry for food. She may not be well right now (ear infection, teeth coming in, etc.) which also can effect desire to eat.

I have a relative who used to work with children who had trouble eating solids - whose parents didn't introduce them soon enough, or consistently, and the kids would gag or just not eat them. There's foods to try when this happens - and you keep adding to them. You might google it, but personally I would take her in and ask her pediatrician.

You have to get her sleeping through the night. I would cut out the milk at night - I replaced it with a sippy cup of water, and my child had zero interest in it, and laid back down. I was lucky that way. Once you get rid of the feeds at night, she won't wake for it. She thinks it's mealtime.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My guess is that she's teething, and it hurts to chew and that is why she only wants to drink. If she's fussy, try giving her a cold washcloth to chew on.

And the only way to get her to stop waking at night for milk is to stop giving her milk at night. Replace it with a sippy cup of water. She'll throw a fit at first, but if you don't give in, she'll get through it.

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answers from Boston on

We get these kinds of questions all the time from parents - search the Mamapedia archives.

Beyond the age of 6 months, kids don't need to eat at night. The pediatrician and/or the pediatric dentist should have told you by now NOT to give milk at night. The milk coats the teeth and is a major cause of tooth decay.

Kids this age eat during the day. If they demand a bottle, it's not for nourishment but for the comfort of sucking. Break the habit. The "Bottle Fairy" can come at night and replace the bottle with a stuffed animal and a nice bedtime story book.

If you don't give a bottle, she will eat food. Research the Ferber method of getting kids to sleep through the night. It takes 3-5 rough nights of consistent parenting, and then it's done. A child this age MUST sleep at night for brain development, and should NOT be waking up to eat!

If you think there is a sensory issue, then talk to the pediatrician immediately about having the child evaluated.

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answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia, A.!

Your daughter is almost 2 years old and has only 4 teeth? What does your daughter's dentist say about this? What about the pediatrician?

She SHOULD be sleeping the night through and NOT waking up for milk. She's NOT getting enough sleep, in my opinion. When she wakes up? Tell her it's not the time for milk and take her back to bed. No drama. No lights. No yelling. Smooth, nice, comforting talk and keep it to the minimum. Put her back in her bed. Tell her you love her and to have sweet dreams.

She's starting the manipulation. You feed her what you feed everyone else in the house. No special meals.

Your daughter needs to be seen by a licensed pediatrician. She needs to be seen by a pediatric dentist as well. She should have more teeth than 4. She needs to be thoroughly examined to ensure she is, in fact, healthy.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

only 4 teeth? that doesn't sound right. Did you and her father teeth late too? I've heard that some kids don't get their teeth until after 2. Usually because they aren't being given table food at this time.

Please stop giving her milk at night. That's not good for her or her teeth. Milk is good for her, yes, in moderation.

oatmeal, grits, pancakes, french toast are soft items to eat. Give her a carrot to "chew" on so that her teeth can break through. Take her to a pediatric dentist to make sure she's okay.

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answers from Santa Fe on

It is time to teach her she cannot use a bottle to go back to sleep at night. She is old enough now that she does not need it. And once she has less bottles/milk she will eat more food. It will be hard because this is her habit, but as her mom you have to be strong and help her learn to fall asleep without the bottle. People say it takes 3 prepared that for some kids it takes longer. Research a method such as the Ferber method or the No Cry Sleep Solution. Pick one and do it. It will be hard for a while and then it'll be done. If her food is soft enough she does not need teeth to chew it so I would not worry too much about that. Feed her small soft pieces of what you are eating at each meal. By age 2 my daughter was eating just about everything....indian food, lasagne, enchiladas, etc.

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answers from Norfolk on

First have your doctor check her out to make sure nothing is going on.
Teething, ear infections, tonsils, hand/foot/mouth, etc all can cause some pain and discomfort and she might not want to eat if anything hurts her.
If she needs something to chomp on due to teething - try giving her a frozen waffle.
If the doctor has checked her out and there's nothing he can find going on, then you limit how much milk she has per day (something like 2 cups per day is plenty), offer watered down juice or water to drink and offer her healthy foods to eat - whether she eats it or not is up to her.
If she doesn't eat, then put it away and offer it to her later.
Give her tastes of food off your plate.
Our son went through a stage where all the food he ate HAD to come from my plate.
If he liked something, I'd take a portion from my plate and put it on his.
At night - all she gets is water. Period.
Doctors and dentists will all tell you the same thing on that point.

Try soft foods/cereals (oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc), par boiled carrot sticks (so they are soft and easy to gum), baked fries, scrambled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, mashed foods (potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc), soups are great, some crackers/cookies (don't go overboard on these).
Brush her teeth and gums with a soft toothbrush before bedtime.

You also need to keep in mind that it's normal for almost all parents to worry about what their toddlers eat.
As babies they are rapidly growing - fastest rate of their lives (double their birth weight by 5 months and triple their birth weight by about 1 yr old) - and that slows down as they hit toddler stage.
They are walking - which burns up energy and slows down weight gain - but their appetites switch gears a lot.
It'll rev up for growth spurts and drop down to almost nothing in between.
Their stomachs are bout the size of their fists - so they fill up fast and need in between meal snacks.
You just have to make sure you offer healthy choices - and sometimes she'll eat it and sometimes she won't.
When in doubt - keep a food diary of what she eats over a weeks time.
Most toddlers do pretty good - better than their parents think they are.

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answers from Springfield on

There are lots of foods that are soft enough for her to "gum." So don't let the fact that she doesn't have a lot of teeth stop you from trying things.

Have you tried finger foods? Does she like to feed herself? My boys stopped letting me feed them when they were about 10 months. They wanted to be able to feed themselves, so I had to get creative. Most fruits and veggies will work, as long as they are soft. I bought a lot of low sodium, canned fruits and veggies and just put a spoonful or two on their trays. Eggs, cheese, pasta, a small amount of peanut butter spread on a cracker or piece of bread.

There are lots of foods you can try. As long as they are not a choking hazard and are in small pieces, give it a shot.

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answers from Washington DC on

you can't 'make' her eat. but you can give her choices of nutritious foods that she likes, and yes, milk is healthy AND filling and might just be all she wants during this brief phase. could be a growth spurt, could just be a passing thing.
it's worrying when your toddler won't eat, but she won't starve herself. don't succumb to the temptation to turn it into a battle or to start bribing and pleading with her. offer her small manageable portions of good food- cut up apples and bananas, crackers with peanut butter, string cheese, little bitsies of roast chicken- and resist nagging.
the waking up at night is on you. you need to resign yourself to a brief period of frustration, and stop giving her milk at night. it's not only disruptive for her (and your!) sleep cycles, it's terrible for her teeth. start watering the milk down and do it gradually, or bite the bullet and just stop and have it over in 3 nights.
what does her pediatrician say about the teeth? are you sure you're actually seeing them all? only 4 teeth at almost 2 years old is very unusual.

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answers from Boston on

It's been a couple of weeks now, so it doesn't seem to be going away..

I'd hope you'd call the nurse/ pediatrician and have them recommend or ask for appointment. It could be late teething, issues in mouth. Something is wrong though, and I would be concerned if you do not fix this now..

At 2 they can pretty much eat most table foods cut up , and just allowing her to drink milk , she isn't getting any nutritional values. Too much milk isn't good either. She should only be having two glasses or bottle of milk a day at her age. If she doesn't want anything to eat, and you haven't seen her doctor, I would go out and buy baby food -purée her food..

Most children will have more than four teeth at that age. She could be just late with her teeth, but I'd follow up with a pediatric dentist. She could be teething.. some children are in a lot of pain when this happens and you can ask the pediatrician for what to give her. Usually Tylenol helps.

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answers from Atlanta on

You need to take your daughter to the doctor. Schedule a check up and write your concerns down before you go, put the list in your diaper bag and go through all of your questions when you see the doctor.

You need to stop allowing your daughter to drink during the middle of the night. She needs to stay in her bed and sleep.

Only 4 teeth at the age of 2? She should have something like 16 or 20 by now. Has your pediatrician not noticed this? If not? You need to find a new pediatrician.

Do you live in America or do you live elsewhere? allowing your daughter to drink milk during the night will allow the sugars from the milk to deteriorate her teeth. That really needs to stop now.

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answers from Anchorage on

I would talk to her doctor about her loss of appetite. As for the night waking/feeding, she is well past the age to be needing night feedings and is doing so because she has been trained to need food to fall back to sleep, so now you must help her unlearn that behavior by helping her learn new ways to sooth without food.

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answers from Springfield on

you need to contact a dentist to find out if the lack tof teeth is a problem.
you need to contact a doctor to find out if the lack of nutrition is a problem.
around 1 year the milk consumption is supposed to drop, they are supposed to be eating food. not drinking a nutritionist will be able to assist you in finding foods that work for your family. i sugest you find one and meet with them.

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