Toddler Won't Eat Table Food

Updated on June 02, 2009
S.T. asks from New Castle, DE
8 answers

My 19 month old son refuses to eat anything but his gerber graduates. I am at the end of my patience. As a newborn he was breastfed and then moved to breast milk with cereal. All of his babyfood was made by me using fruits, veggies, and meats that I would prepare and store for him. He had no problems with that. As he got older I would try to get him to taste different foods but he just doesn't want anything new. I let move into the gerber graduates because I could not keep up with his appetite. Now I have tried making stove top mac and cheese and then transferring it to a gerber cup, going as far as to pull it out of his cabinet in front of him and putting in the microwave. Still he knows the difference and won't eat anything else. Any advice would be greatly helpful.

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So What Happened?

First, THANKS To Everyone's advice. It was very nice to hear that other Mom's think like me too. I have tried just about everything that was shared with me. Then I finally got a hold of my Grandmom and she raised 6 kids so I figure perhaps a little old fashioned advice would help. She just laughed at me. Really, trully laughed. She told me that I was forgetting how Alex just does his own thing in his own time. She reminded me that I called her when he didn't want to walk and she said just let him go and when he is ready, he is ready. She said... this is the same thing. When Alex is ready, he will eat big boy food, in the meantime keep offering it to him. So, I got some of those divided plates and I serve him his gerber stuff with the other food in their own sections. I've noticed that he is showing more interest and has even started tasting some things. I guess this is just a case of one stubborn little boy. Thanks again!!!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi S., Try cooking more from scratch with less salt and seasonings. If you have ever tried gerber graduates they are as bland as wall-paper paste (ewww) and maybe food with "real flavor" is a bit of shock to him. Also, he will eat what you offer when he is hungry enough...many experts say that you have to offer a new food 15 times before deciding if a child really doesn't like it. Remember you are not a short-order cook and if you keep letting him be picky it won't end, it will only get worse. Trust me on that one! Been there, done that, still fighting meals on a daily basis! Best wishes.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

You are in charge here, and your son is not your boss. It is the other way around! Make your meal, present it to him and if he is hungry enough he will eat. Do this night after night and forget about it! No child will starve himself. I would even completely get rid of the Gerber graduates so that it is just not an option. Tell him he is a big boy and that is baby food, and you will not be serving it anymore. I would offer no alternates. He will catch on to this really fast, it worked for both of my boys. Try to put one item on his plate that you know he will eat, and forget about it! It he throws a fit, use time out. You want to get a handle on this before it gets out of control. Best of luck to you!



answers from Philadelphia on

gosh, i've never had this problem! but I've heard Dr Phil tell moms that if they get hungry enough, they will eat! I know it's hard to wait until they get THAT hungry!!!

one thing I've noticed is that sometimes when you hand a kid a drink or food, they will refuse it, BUT if they "stumble" upon something sitting at the table, they are more apt to try it. My sister in law was having a hard time getting her daughter to drink water, she only wanted juice... so i told her to leave a sippy of water just sitting out, and see if she'd drink it, and she did!!!
This theory should also apply to food... I would make something, and just set it on the table. See what happens!

another thing to try would be to make the food look fun... you know how at some restaurants, they'll make a face out of the food for the kids meals? maybe try that! they always have cute ideas for that on Family fun magazine's website.
or I have a cookbook called the "sneaky chef" and she hides veggies in everything, including brownies!

one last thing, on the show "the Doctors", Dr Sears also responded to the same problem... and what he did was sit the entire family down to dinner, and they didn't offer the kid any food, they just filled up their plates and dug in... after a while, the kid decided he wanted some too!

here;s another good article

I hope one of these suggestions works for you! good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi S.,
I love this little excerpt from Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family (

"But many of them (toddlers) will gladly do battle over food. It is their ideal power game. Talk to any experienced parent or grandparent and they will tell you this is true. The sad thing is that these conflicts are unnecessary. Children will eat as much as they need if you keep them from indulging in the wrong stuff. They will not starve. I promise!

The way to deal with a poor eater is to set good food before him. If he claims to not be hungry, wrap the plate, put it in the refrigerator, and send him cheerfully on his way. He'll be back in a few hours. God has put a funny little feeling in his tummy that says, "Gimme food!" When this occurs, do not put sweets, snacks, or confectionery food in front of him. Simply retrieve the earlier meal, warm it up, and serve it again. If he protests, send him out to play again. Even if 12 hours or more go by, continue this procedure until food — all food — begins to look and smell wonderful. From that time forward, the battle over the dinner table should be history."

I love his advice and think this is so true. Unless your little one has any medical/sensory issues with food or texture, it's probably just a control thing. Lovely, right? :)

Best of luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I remember those days! My method was to always put something on their plate they like as well as something they don't like/haven't tasted - just a bite or two. They eventually got interested, though it took a long time. I did a lot of hiding foods in other foods (pureed veggies in spaghetti sauces, etc). It's a tough stage, but don't let your frustration show. As you eat, comment on how good something tastes to you. If he watches your other children eat, he may be inclined to start trying things he sees them eat. Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

This is surely a phase and it will pass. If he decides he doesn't want to eat any food at all, then worry. At least he is getting fairly nutritious food and just keep offering him new things. Good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

You made me smile :) The things we do to make our kids happy! I would have probably put it in the gerber cup!!

What about having him pick a favorite character plate? Or he can "help" you make the food. Maybe that would get him excited to eat it? Don't you love toddlers?? Have you tried some ravioli and meatballs?



answers from Pittsburgh on

Good advice/ideas from Jen.
Ever hear the saying "Don't fight City Hall"? He may pick up on the fact that you BADLY want him to eat other stuff and he's messing wth you! LOL
I'd give him whatever he likes to eat but just put other stuff on his plate too. Maybe take the Graduate stuff out of the container & put it on a plate & he may lose track of what came from where.....
Don't worry, he will NOT be taking a container of Gerber Graduates to his prom! Kids go through weird stages, as I'm sure you know. It's just his little thing right now. Hang in there.

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