My 2 Year Old Is a Very Picky Eater - Saint Francis,MN

Updated on July 14, 2008
J.S. asks from Saint Francis, MN
14 answers

Help-my 26 month old has become a very selective eater. As a baby he would eat anything and everything. It didn't matter to him...fruits, veggies, meat, bread-you name it. Now he only eats waffles,pizza,pancakes,cheese,cottage cheese,pizza rolls,spaghetti(noodles only,french fries,bread...i cant think on anything else except some...very few deserts(who knew kids didn't like sweets?). Is this just a phase? How do I get him to eat. Oh, I should mention he will drink a sippy all day long (juice,milk or water-doesn't matter).

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great ideas! We are in the process of implementing a few of them and will let you know how it goes.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Have you heard of Jessica Seinfeld's book called
'Deceptively Delicious" It about hiding veggie in food, you can't even taste them. I have a 4 year old, 2 year old and 17 months. I condsider them good eater but I still use this book to get them what they need. Look it up on Amazon. AWESOME BOOK

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answers from Milwaukee on

J., trust me, he will let you know when he's hungry. Our son went through that stage, my brother went through it. Our son was so picky to the point that we took him into the doctor's to get him checked out only to find out that he was just fine.

Let me share this with you........if he's picky now, wait until he's about 11 years old. LOL! I don't know what happens at that magical little age but they will eat more than your hubby!

Hang in there! He'll eat when he wants.

Many Blessings




answers from Minneapolis on

Kids need nourishing and stabilizing food because they are growing so fast. Also at two they like to have opinions! Trust his instincts and give him the food he wants if it is convenient. Don't turn yourself into a short order cook, making a separate meal for him.



answers from Lincoln on

It could be just a phase. My boys will sometimes eat like horses, then a few days later I can't get them to eat much at all. It might also be that he's filling up on the liquids and doesn't feel hungry when it's time to eat. Maybe you should try to cut back on the amount that he drinks during the day and see if that helps.



answers from Minneapolis on

With my son, we started a rule that he had to try a bite of everything on his plate around age 2. Put what you want him to eat on the plate (a protein, veggie, bread). Don't give him anything else unless he tries at least some of each.

Give him stuff to dip in. My son really only eats meat if he has ketchup or barbeque sauce. (Even if it already has some other kind of sauce on it.) Even some veggies are more appealing covered in ketchup.

Only give him a cup at meal and snack times and give it to him after he's eaten. No walking around all day with it. If's his tummy's full of liquid, he probably isn't hungry.

He will not starve if he 'skips' some meals because he doesn't like what he is served. If he's hungry he'll eat.

Oh - and now reverse psychology is working on my son. My husband or I will threaten to eat his food off his plate (and actually stick a fork in something). My son will scream "NO that's mine!" and promptly shove it in his mouth when we give it back. This is the one upside to the possessive nature of 2 year olds :)

Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

It's pretty typical for kids to have a big decrease in appetite at that age because their growth slows down. It happened to my son. He got much fussier too. However, it might help to limit your son's sippy cup to meal times and snack times unless it's just water. He could be filling up on juice or milk. You're lucky he isn't crazy about desserts. I have a kid who would live on dessert if I let him! Good luck.



answers from Sioux Falls on

I have the exact same problem with my three year old son. He ate everything under the sun as an infant and now has a very limited number of things he will tollerate. I have pretty much given up on forcing him to eat anything. The one bite rule just turns into a battle and an unhappy meal time for everyone. I may try this tactic again once he is a bit older. For now I make fruit smoothies in the blender a few times a week. Amazing that he watches me put in fresh bananas, fruit juice and other frozen fruits such as strawberries, grapes, blueberries etc and will still drink it. He won't touch these foods in their whole form but will drink them. I add a few prunes to smoothies if I notice him becoming consipated. I have also added brocolli to spaghetti sauce by putting it in the food processor so that it is almost a paste and then mixing it with the tomato sauce. He doesn't even notice. He will also eat the pasta roni that has brocolli bits in it. I give him a gummy multi vitamin each day and try not to stress about it too much. One other thing, last year we found out he likes pumpkin pie. Now instead of waiting for the holiday season I make a pumpkin pie about once a month.

Good luck and hang in there.



answers from Des Moines on

My son is 2 as well and would rather drink all day than eat anything. What I have started to do is restrict his drinking a couple of hours before a meal. He has started to eat a better variety of food and more during the meal. The one difficult thing to do is to make sure you give plenty of liquids before the cut off time. I also know that toddlers go through stages of being picky and eventually the snap out of it. I hope this helps.



answers from Minneapolis on

The first step is to limit is fluids. Juice and milk are high in calories and will fill the child up so he is not hungry at meal time. Limit milk to 16oz a day and juice to 4oz. Water is ok if he is thirsty but too much water can sometimes fill kids up. I find it helpful to have milk with meals, juice with 1 snack, and water the rest of the time.

Next step is to put him on a strict meal schedule, if he isn't already. Space meals and snakes with 2-3 hours in between. Do not give him food other times. Not even if it's healthy and a small amount. You want him to be hungry when he comes to the table.

Serve all meals and snacks at the table. Sit and eat with him, he learns by watching you. Turn TV and radios off. Put a small amount of each food infront of him. Let him choose how much and which foods to eat. Limiting his diet to only foods he likes is encouraging him to be picky. Offering him many different foods will teach him to be adventorous. He will eat something off the plate. If he doesn't he isn't very hungry. Don't worry he won't starve.

I would recomend you read "child of mine" or "how to get your child to eat, but not too much" both are by Ellyn Satter.



answers from Milwaukee on

My son did the same thing at about that age. While it's generally true that "kids will eat when they're hungry," it isn't true for all kids. You could have one like mine, who really would get too thin from not eating. Here's what I did: First off, make what he does eat as healthy as you can. If he'll eat waffles, try making them with whole wheat, or sneak in a veggie puree like sweet potato and see if he'll go for it. What I also did with my son was to make sneaky smoothies (because, like your son, he would drink anything). I'd use milk, yogurt, fruit, soy powder, whatever healthy stuff I could get into a liquid. That way, at least he was getting decent nutrition. For juice, try V8 fusion--it has 100% juice and veggies too. My kids don't know the difference. Keep offering the other foods, though. Eventually he'll try them again!

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Pretty normal as growth slows down and they develop their own independent minds. First, don't let him drink all day since he could be filling up on liquid. At meals I give my son his food first and after he's done give him his milk.

I would feed him what he will eat for at least one meal. Then offer him a reasonable meal of what you are eating. Don't give him him something else. He will probably be hungry later...give him his uneaten plate again. I have gotten my son to eat it on the second try. Some kids will be stubborn and miserable, but if you "give in," they learn that you will very quickly! If you're OK feeding him his own meal, then that's OK too.

I think I would also talk with your doctor about your son's eating (be as specific as possible). He/she may have some ideas, and may suggest a supplement. son is not into sweets much either. Thank goodness!

Feeding your child can get very stressful. My best advice is to relax about it, keep in touch with the doctor, and know everything will be just fine.



answers from Minneapolis on

Unfortunately, some kids are picky - however, drinking from the sippy all day could be part of the problem. Our pediatrician once said, particularly in the first three years, think of juice and milk as food, not as a drink - and serve accordingly. You wouldn't let your kid carry around a box of Cheerios all day and then be surprised if he wasn't hungry for meals. As one other mom said, you can offer them milk *after* they've eaten a meal. Also, break him of the sippy habit. He's old enough to be dealing with an open cup. Offer a drink with meals, and at specific snack times. If he asks for something at other times, offer him water in an open cup, and make him sit at the table to drink it, then go back to what he's doing. He may still be a picky eater for awhile, but I'm guessing cutting back on the drink-grazing will help. (Once you've broken the habit, you can use sippies when you're in the car or at the park or whatever - but use the open cup whenever you possibly can.)

Don't get discouraged by the pickiness. Continue to try new foods with him, too. It was around age 2 that we started the "one-bite rule" - you have to try one bite. It's OK if you don't enjoy the food you're trying, and you don't have to eat all of it, but you do have to try one bite. (One part of this that makes it work, however, is that, for example, he has to eat SOME vegetable. It's OK if he tries and refuses broccoli, but then he has to eat peas, or beans, or carrots, or another veggie that he does enjoy.) It's been surprising, too, how quickly his tastes change - something he turned down last month is suddenly discovered to be pretty good.

Good luck!



answers from La Crosse on

Ack, I'm having this same problem with my 22 month old. He is SO particular about what/when/where he wants to eat. It's driving me up the wall.
I have found that it's easier to not fight him, take him out of his seat, let him run around in the living, and THEN when he tells me he's hungry, give him his food again. It's amazing how many times he'll eat it the 2nd time around... especially if we sit on the floor of the living room or something and let him eat it.
We rarely give him juice, and I'm not really willing to limit his water or milk intake. (He doesn't spend all day drinking either, I can't imagine he's filling up on that.)
Mostly for my son I think it's a control issue. Sometimes we make a different meal for him, sometimes we don't. For now we've decided it's a battle we don't want to fight. He always ends up eating SOMEthing, so... lol
He could exist solely on fruit and crackers. I suppose there are worse things, but he's definitely a snacker.
I hope you get some good answers because I really need them, too! Just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone. Good luck.



answers from Omaha on

Keep giving him a variety of fruits and vegetables. Make sure you are eating them yourself - actions speak louder than words. I understand that you don't want to waste food so when I know that one of my children don't like something then I only put bite-sized piece on their plate. He is probably not liking the texture of the fruit or vegetable. I know that is a huge issue with one of my children. I never force my children to eat something they hate but I do have them try at least a bite. Don't give up!

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