Picky Eater - Raleigh, NC

Updated on February 21, 2008
D.P. asks from Greenville, NC
23 answers

Do any of you other moms have suggestions on how to deal with the picky eater? I have an 18 mo that turns his nose at almost everything. I find it to be constant struggle to get him to eat anything nutritious. He has a severe egg allergy, and so that omits everything he used to love that had eggs (like waffles and muffins). He refuses to eat any meat even after many, many tries. He won't eat any vegetables. He used to love sweet potatoes, sweet peas, and squash- now he just spits it out. And when I mean he spits it out, he pulls food out of his mouth partially chewed and throws it on the floor if it isn't exactly what he wants. He also inspects every little morsel on the spoon before he will even open his mouth (which he usually doesn't anyway). Sometimes I can get him to eat more if he is running around and grabbing mouthfuls as he goes -eating "on the fly" I call it. But he will have nothing to do with the same food if he is in his high chair, and I don't want to get him into bad habits. The only thing he will eat is noodles, crackers/pretzels, applesauce (sometimes) and yogurt. How can I get him over this? I am at my wits end....I feel like I feed him the same thing over and over, and worry that he is not getting proper nutrition. But if I don't feed him what he wants, he just won't eat- period. Is this normal for toddlers this age? Thanks for your advice!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great advice. I guess I worry so much because it took a while for us to catch the egg allergy. As a result, he stopped gaining weight for about 6 mos and dropped from the 75th percentile in weight to below the 20th percentile. He is doing much better and has gained a lot of weight since the diagnosis, but I still worry! We do give him carnation instant breakfast packets in his milk, so I will keep doing that. We also do eat dinner as a family, and I will continue to do that and stop catering to his every food whim. Thanks again!

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C.G.

answers from Memphis on

Well...I don't really have any "advice" for you, but I can tell you "I definitely understand what you are going through right now!" My son is almost 21 months now and he is really going through the same kind of thing your son is. I just try a variety of foods and sometimes he surprises me and eats something new. But, one day he'll love corn, the next day he is spitting it out and making terrible faces. From what I have heard from mothers of children this age, it is normal. Good luck!

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C.C.

answers from Clarksville on

Hello,
When children do not get the proper nutrition it causes them to have a poor appetite and it just creates a cycle of not eating, not getting enough vitamins, etc. I would first start him on a children's vitamin that has no sugar or anything artificial. Then I would try a child friendly meal/protein shake (not the kind for body builders). It will have vitamins and protein to hopefully boost his appetite. I am not sure if your child likes smoothies but it can include yogurt and any fruit he likes. Let me know if you have any questions - [email protected]____.com

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M.B.

answers from Charlotte on

first of all, yes it is normal! my 17 month old is very picky!!! go to the library and check out 'the sneaky chef'. a friend let me borrow it and i have tried a few things in there that have worked like a charm!! i also just got 'deceptively delicious' today from the library but haven't looked at it yet. good luck, i know it is very hard to deal with this, but i promise you are NOT alone!!! you can send me a message if you need anything else or have any other questions!!

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H.E.

answers from Knoxville on

I didn't read the posts, so I'm hoping some other Moms had some helpful advice for you! ;) I just wanted to say that I think this picky eating thing is totally normal at this age (based on what my friends and I have dealt with regarding our own children). My son just turned 3 and he is pretty picky (wasn't as a baby, but got that way as a toddler). He goes days without eating hardly anything, and then eats and eats other days ... but it's still a limited array of certain foods. ;) He eats bananas, carrots, apples, crackers, bread, cheese, chicken nuggets and yogurt. Sometimes he'll eat pizza (sometimes) and we got him to eat half a cheeseburger the other day for the first time ever! He takes a multivitamin and drinks lots of milk (and limited amounts of apple juice). He's fine on the growth charts and just had his blood work done at his 3-year check-up, and he's great! I wouldn't stress too much about it. I used to freak out, battle with him, etc. ... but I figure now this, too, is just a stage that he'll outgrow! And, most of my friends' kids are the same way at this age, too! ;) Good luck!

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P.M.

answers from Charlotte on

I am going through the same thing with my 2 year old. I finally had enough and decided to stop letting her be the boss and take back control of her diet. She would be happy eating a bowl of cereal in the morning and a peanut butter sandwich for snack, lunch and dinner. I suggest baby steps for a picky eater. Don't try to lay down the law on food all at once. Start by giving him choices of things you know he likes. Then you may be able to entice him to try new things. Like anything else, the more you stick to a routine and the more consistent you are in your "food discipline", the easier it will be to train him and his taste buds.

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T.S.

answers from Fayetteville on

I know exactly what you are going through. My daughter is 19 mo old and used to eat anything and everything you put in front of her. Now our biggest problem is meats. She won't eat any meat at all. She used to love chiken and now won't touch it. I don't know if you let your son eat his food himself or not but I think that helped us out a little. It's messy but I think it helps her feel more independent. The other thing that we do is not to give her anything other than the dinner we have made. At first we would fix her something else and I think she caught on and would barely even look at her dinner before asking for something else. So we started not giving her something else. If there was one thing on her plate that she liked then we would give her second helpings of that if she wasn't going to eat any of the other things on her plate. I promise I wasn't starving her. She always eats good at breakfast and is pretty good about lunch. I think knowing that the dinner that you fix is it and there are no other options they get a little less picky. Hope this helped. Good luck.

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H.B.

answers from Clarksville on

I also have a picky eater, he is 2. He also inspects the spoon before putting in his, and spits it out of there is anything "hidden". Everyone says this is a stage and normal, but seriously, how long can it really last. He was never picky when he was younger, it seemed to change after he turned one. Some say to put the food in front of him, and if he doesn't eat oh well, that was the meal. I have a hard time doing that because I don't want him to be hungry. I try to make "kid friendly" food, but that doesn't work either. RIght now he will eat eggs, grilled cheese, noodles, mashed potatoes, and mixed fruit (canned, not fresh). I have tried, a few times, not letting him leave the table until we are done eating, sometimes he gives in and eats what he chooses off the plate. I nutritionist gave me a name of a book for kids that are picky, I will see if I can track it down and get back to you, maybe it will help out. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

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P.T.

answers from Raleigh on

Hi!
Sorry in advance that this is a quick note, yet I planned only to be on the net a minute before going back to paperwork. One quick suggestion...is to check out Jerry Seinfeld's wife's new book about sneaking healthy foods into the foods your child likes to add a healthy variety. Hope this helps!

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T.M.

answers from Raleigh on

I too have a picky eater and she's 5. Currently, she is on a hotdog kick. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Early on, we started with the rule that unless she has tried what I made for dinner that night and she really doesn't like it, she has to eat what is put infront of her or she will go hungry. If she doesn't eat what is infront of her, then she is told that when she is hungry, then that will be her snack. It works.

I never make her eat everything on her plate but she has to eat until I think she has had a enough otherwise, the plate is her snack.

I am very overweight and food issues are really hard for me to deal with but we seem to have found something that works for us. Good luck in finding what works for you and your son.

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T.L.

answers from Hickory on

Yes, it is completely normal at 18 mos. Have you tried the Egg Beaters for the waffles etc that he used to love? I am not aware that they contain any egg product. If he will only eat noodles, crackers and applesauce, then give that to him. He won't die, but maybe he will get tired of them soon. Also, you should stop the "eating on the fly" now...if not you are setting yourself up for him to think that is normal. I know how I cherish our "sit down together" family dinners. Good luck!

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A.L.

answers from Clarksville on

First of all, I have a 2 1/2 year old girl who is pretty picky. I did some research about this and found that you need to put what ever healthy food you fix in front of him like 12 - 15 times and they will come around. Do you guys ALL eat as a family for dinner? It's good for him to SEE you eat what you want HIM to eat!! I have been astounded from time to time with my daughter. One day she won't eat chicken, and then I've been surprise TWICE in her life that she ate it. I recently started keeping ENSURE for kids in the house. It's mainly for ON THE GO, because she only eats "frie fries" at restaurants. But maybe you should keep them for at least once a day (you can also hide stuff in smoothies). Ask your doctor about a vitamin supplement for his age. And please don't worry as much as you are. I have a 13 year old, too, he's picky and very healthy. Good luck.

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T.C.

answers from Fayetteville on

My son was the same way and everyone just told me not to give him all of the "crap" and he will eat what he is offered once he is hungry enough, but I couldn't do it. So now at 3 my son eats chicken nuggets, grilled chicken, noodles, rice, bananas, cheese,turkey breast or ham lunch meat, yogurt and a few more things. In order to get the nutrition I give him carnation instant breakfast as his morning chocolate milk. He eats a Kellogg cereal bar or Quaker Oatmeal chocolate chip breakfast cookie(just like eating a bowl of oatmeal) and he snacks on Nutrigrain bars or veggie crisps, the tangy tomato and ranch actually taste like regular chips. I also give him flintstones chewy vitamins.

As far as eating "on the fly" my son has a "picnic" for lunch everyday where he gets to sit at the coffee table in the living room but he has to eat dinner at the table. As far as breakfast he sometimes eats at the big table and other times has a picnic. Good Luck!!

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C.S.

answers from Owensboro on

I am a mother of one and she is 16 years old now. My name is C. this page is listed under her name ,Lydia.
When she was a toddler she would eat nothing but slaw. Not just any slaw it had to be the slaw from Long John Silver. This was a hastle for a while and I got frustrated several times when I had to run out but she ate slaw and grew out of it. I had all kinds of people telling me to just make her sit there at the table till she eats other stuff but I folowed my instincts and went and got slaw. I gave her vitamins and she is a happy health 16 year old now. I just wanted to share what i went through. Just use your mommy instincts and good luck

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M.T.

answers from Nashville on

Well it sounds like it must be normal. My little girl does that but I don't think that she is a picky eater, I feel that she is too busy seeing what is going on around her to eat. I just keep offering it and one of these days I guess she will eat it. I make sure she sees me eating it too. That usually works better than anything.
I just say to keep offering it to him and when he gets through this phase he will probably eat. when my little girl does it, I don't stress over it.
But if you find some miracle that does work, let me know cause everyone that I know with a child that age does the exact same thing.

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A.B.

answers from Owensboro on

I have a picky eater. She's 4. She started out eating well as a baby and around 18 months 2 years of age she quit eating veggies and meats. She'd only eat noodles, rice, bread and junk food. We've been struggling with this for a couple of years now and our pediatrician says so long as we give her a vitamin supplement and so long as she is growing properly not to worry too much about it.

She doesn't like most things you think kids would like. She doesn't eat yogurt, bananas, jelly, poptarts, milk, cheese.....

We've managed to get her to eat meat so long as we put about a quater size dab of ketchup on her plate to dip.

It his and miss some days. Sometimes it's a matter of finding how to serve it. We have found that she'll eat egg if it's in fried rice. But ONLY if it's in fried rice. *laughs* She'll only have milk in cereal. Finding out her little quirks has made the eating a bit easier but we still struggle with getting her to try new things and sat at least one or two of something she turns her nose up at. (eat 2 green beans!)

Good luck and be sure to share your worries with the doc. :)

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K.P.

answers from Memphis on

You can substitute soy flour for eggs, so you can make muffins and things. One heaping tablespoon of soy flour + 1 tablespoon of water substitutes for one egg. I've used this in a variety of recipes and they all work.

My 20-m/o is going through something similar, and my 3-y/o did this about this age too. I'm guessing it's normal, but extremely frustrating, and I'm trying to minimize it, so that the kids are accustomed to eating what's served--both so food doesn't go to waste and so I don't have to fix 3 meals every meal, y'know? What I mostly do is serve him healthy stuff that he likes and give him stuff he should eat but doesn't yet like occasionally. I've heard that "the experts" say that it takes several times of being presented with a food before a toddler will accept it. So put a small amount of broccoli on his plate every meal for a few nights and see what happens.

He *will* eat if he gets hungry enough. It's a normal, biologic function! :-) It's just a battle of wills, sometimes.

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G.B.

answers from Lexington on

Wow! I was reading your story about your son, and it sounded so much like my 16 1/2 month old daughter. She also has a severe egg and milk allergy, which really limits what she can eat. I've come to the conclusion (maybe unscientific) that allergy-ridden kids are pickier eaters, probably for survival purposes. Anyway, people keep telling me it is okay that my daughter is a picky eater and that I should really look at what she eats over the course of the week, rather than each day, since sometimes toddlers need very little in regards to nutrition. She eats very little most days...we are still doing baby food b/c she throws anything besides crackers, little pieces of corn, and cookies on floor. We sometimes have to force her to take the first bite of babyfood after a big tantrum and holding her head and arms still, and then she'll sometimes eat a few more bites if she's in the mood...if she doesn't want to take a second bite after trying it once, we don't continue to force it...it's just about getting her to see that she likes what we have to offer. Anyway, I typically have luck with getting her to eat a Gerber chicken and apples mixture, as well as sometimes sweet potatoes, and sometimes a fruity mix. Everything else, like real pieces of fruit, noodles, even Pop Tarts...they all end up on the floor. I have had to continue to nurse her because of her being so picky and all her food allergies...she refuses to drink soy milk. Anyway, I was a very picky eater as a child, so I am really hoping she grows out of it. In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out how to crumble a vitamin in the few foods that she does eat...
Good luck with your son!

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H.L.

answers from Charlotte on

My son has a severe egg, peanut and sesame allergy. So much that we carry epi pens w/us everywhere. He has never been exposed to these except in my breastmilk and he reacted to that. However, I have found a recipe that substitutes egg in vertually every recipe.
1 tsp of baking powder and 2 tbsp milk = 1 egg
You place your baking powder in a separate bowl from your recipe ingrediants and add the milk. You'll see the 2 react. Let sit for just a minute and then whip it until it forms a fluffy mixture. It should double in size at least if not more.
Add to recipe and proceed as usual. I make pancakes,muffins, cupcakes, cakes, you name it for my son.
He's almost 4 and I wanted to pass on this info as I know it saved alot of heartache in meal prep for me over the years and he now enjoys the food we take for granted enjoying.
I wish the best to you.

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A.R.

answers from Knoxville on

Dawn,
I used to have the same problem with my child. My doctor told me just to give her what we eat and if she doesn't like it don't make her something new. The doctor said your child will not starve herself. It took a while but she began to eat just about everything we gave her. I guess she realized if she was hungry she better eat because she wasn't getting anything else. Last night she ate a large helping of clam chowder. So it works!!
A.

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R.S.

answers from Rocky Mount on

My son is also getting to be a very picky eater. His favorites are noodles but occasionally I can steal slip in some veggies and fruits. He refuses meat except for sliced ham. Try any kind of meat you can think of until you find one he will at least taste. The biggest thing I do to offset his nutrition is to give him formula for older infants twice a day. This provides him with vitamins and good calories. You can purchase it at any grocery store, Wal-mart, or drugstores. Although it is expensive, it is well worth it to keep him fit wan healthy!

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I.N.

answers from Raleigh on

You can easily get egg-free or vegan baked goods and waffles. Try Whole Foods. You can also find recipes for these items on-line. Also, the Farm Vegetarian cookbook (it's actually vegan) would be a good resource for you for recipes. You can use different things as egg substitutes, like tofu or flax seed or banana.

Other than that, this seems like a normal phase. Just keep offering. They need a surprisingly small amount of food. If you're worried about nutrition, just give him a multi-vitamin. You can even get a liquid kind that you can add to juice.

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L.L.

answers from Austin on

Hi Dawn,
You have many responses here and lots of good information to go by, but I just had to add this. You say your mom keeps your son while you work. Does the same thing happen with her or what does she feed your son? We love our moms dearly, but I found with my daughter that my mom did lots of things I didn't approve of when she was with her. Some of the eating habits there was one of the main things. It didn't matter what time of day or night it was, if my daughter wanted a jar of jelly, my mom would give it to her. It didn't matter where she wanted to eat, my mom let her, if it was in the middle of the bed. While at home, I found persistence to be the best thing for us. Also a multivitamin. My daughter went thru stages of only one food at a time. I always said I should have taken stock in ketchup and chicken I could have been rich to this day,,LOL. She would eat any kind of chicken you gave her as long as she had ketchup with it. I didn't fix special things for her for dinner, I would give her a little of everything we ate, she would then either eat it or she didn't, but she had to sit with us till we were all done eating. (actually that was my trick to get to eat myself instead of chasing her around at dinner time,LOL) For breakfast or lunch I usually let her tell me or show me what she wanted as long as it was something healthy and something I had in the house. If it was just a piece of cheese or a hot dog wiener for lunch,(not a jar of jelly,lol) that is what she got. Of course before she was big enough to tell me or show me, I just tried lots of things. She got stuck on one item though and then finally would move onto something else. As time went on, she eventually started eating really good for dinner on her own because it was sitting there in front of her every day. Be persistent with what ever you do or give him, also as to where he eats and what time, and eventually he will see that is what is the norm for him. Don't worry too much, if he is hungry, he will eat what you give him eventually. I made it, and many more moms have made it, you will too. My daughter is now 20 yrs old, eats probably more healthy than I do, and more variety than I do. So it will eventually work its way out if you just keep giving him healthy things and by all means the multivitamin! You also might want to discuss your plan with your mom and insist she do the same as you do. Good luck and don't worry too much!

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J.W.

answers from Wilmington on

Dawn
My son is the same way and has been since he was about 1 (he is 3 1/2 now)
It definitly gets old giving him the same thing over and over but atleast he is eating. I spoke to my pediatrician about it and she said that it is very normal for them to become very picky during the toddler years and for their appetite to increaase during the day and decrease at night. Just give him what he will eat.........he will not starve and if the chocolate pedialite is all he will drink, let him have it. Its always better than nothing. I slo found with my son that if i gave him ranch dressing (he calls it dip) he is more likely to eat something if he can dip it. Fresh veggies and chicken are his favorite. I wish you luck,........i know how you feel but he WILL grow out of it. Wouldnt you get sick of chocolate pedialyte and crackers all the time? Best Wishes!

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