How can I get my 21 month old son to eat?

Marelize - posted on 08/09/2011 ( 32 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 2 years old and he eats very poorly. With every meal he takes a few bites and refuses to eat further. Does any body have any suggestions what I can give him to eat.

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Rain - posted on 08/23/2011

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Hi. You need a Health Coach who specializes in little ones. I am a fellow mom and a Holistic Health Counselor and I would love to help you out with some ideas!

Deanna - posted on 03/06/2012

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Wow never paid attention to the fact that we are all complaining about boys here. Maybe there is something to that. My son is 21 months and 24 pounds (which he only gained due to supplements like pediasure) He was only 4.8 at birth so I was told he is tiny so he will probably always be. Why worry about fattening him up? I am not worrying about fattening him up! I am worried that he doesn't eat!!!!! it can't be good just drinking calories for the sake of getting calories. They need to look into why.

Sally - posted on 10/13/2012

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Toddlers don't eat nearly as much as we like to think they do. If he is hungry, he will eat. Forcing him to eat when he is not hungry will set him up for eating disorders and weight problems as he grows.

[deleted account]

I buy the parents choice toddler formula instead of using milk, it has alot of extra nutrients in it, so when my son has those off days of not wanting to eat I still know he's fine.



I'm pretty sure it's just a stage they go through, the not wanting to eat. My son will say "eat" all day long like he's hungry but when I feed him he only takes a few bites and then starts to spit everything else out. Some days he likes feeding himself, and other days he throws his food and wants me to feed him instead.

Kristy - posted on 08/12/2011

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No child in the developed world will starve themselves for the sake of it. Offer healthy food at regular intervals (small snacks & meals). Overdoing snacks or not spreading their food intake will make them less likely to eat their meals. Then, if they don't eat, they are not hungry (enough)! No options, no bribes, no fighting, just eat what you're given or don't. We don't need to teach them to overeat - they will pick that up naturally as they get older!

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Shakthimurugan - posted on 12/29/2012

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My daughter is 21 months old. She is whatever seeing the things suddenly take and keeping in her mouth. She always wants to play outside. One thing she wants means whether it was dangerous or precious things she wants, so i will kept in upper place then she will cries loudly or beating me or broking other things so what can i do for this. If any baby came in front of her she wants play with them. But when toilet is come where she is standing are sitting that place itself she is passing. What can i do this? How to train her in this habits?

Appeal - posted on 10/10/2012

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Hi, just read your comment. my 21months old wont eat solid food and drink juice, except toddler milk and stage 3 gerber yoghurt. Even when he's hungry, he still wont eat solid food. He starts throwing up, before you try to feed him any food. He tosses around and kicks me in his sleep at night in order to get me up and feed him, but wont eat anything unless the baby yoghurt or enfagrow toddler milk. He does not touch any cool stuffs.

Heather - posted on 04/04/2012

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If you put down the drink at the same time as the food, he might just be filling up on liquids. Try putting just the food down and when he's done with all of it (or most of it at least) then put down the drink. This way he gets some food in his belly before attacking the fluids, which don't stay there as long as food does. My son would NEVER eat his food and his pediatrician suggested this. I did exactly what she said and nearly 6 months later, he's back to inhaling his food and chugging his milk afterwards with no problems at all.



Oh and there's a chance of kickback from your son on this if he's all about the milk. It takes a couple days before they get used to the idea and it's completely healthy. :) Hope this helps!

Irene - posted on 03/26/2012

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I have my daughter pick what she would like to eat. I give her choices.( she has no idea that all choices are good for her) It seems that if i let her make her own decision she thinks she is a big girl. During the day i will try to let her make her own type of foods for example today she and i made cheese and tortillas with salsa on top

Angel - posted on 03/10/2012

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Overall, I worry that my son may eat too much, but there are many times that when he starts a meal, he demonstrates the same behavior... takes a few bites, then refuses to eat. Sometimes even on the first bite he spits it out. The trick is to not give up, find something to entertain him with, such as a toy, a book, or even an iPhone or iPad. We found that once Michael is happily entertained, his mouth opens like clockwork, and the food goes in quite easily. When he's full, he will let us know, but that's after he has eaten enough. If he demonstrates the behavior at the start of the meal, I think that's just normal to feel a little bit bored and in need of entertainment.

Amanda - posted on 03/07/2012

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I have found that my daughter, who is also 21 months old, will eat better if I provide her with less on her plate at one time and also give her some dip. She finds it fun to dip her food and I think she likes the taste. So I either give her ketchup or honey mustard (if it is a food that goes good with those). If I provide her with too much on her plate she gets overwhelmed I think and just wants to get down then. Giving her less on her plate has helped. Also, when she has a cold or isn't feeling well, her appetite is poor. Once she starts to feel better her appetite comes back. Also, I find that she likes to use her fork and spoon to feed herself.

Deanna - posted on 03/06/2012

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I have been dealing with this since birth with my son. My son has never been on his own curve for weight or head circumfrance. The doc made me do pediasure and carnation instant breakfast and he did gain weight but at what expense? I hate the fact that the only nutrition he is getting is from a high calorie drink and not from wholesome foods. There are days he will pick at a few things and then other days he just won't eat. He does like a variety of textures so the doctors/therapists say it is not sensory. I almost think it is a GI thing but no one has been willing to look into it. I think it is strange that I have never been able to feed him more than 4-6 oz bottle ever. We use to get excited when he drank a 6 oz bottle and we get excited when he actually eats something! Very aggravating!!!

ANGELA - posted on 09/13/2011

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My 23month old is not only picky but it obsessed with drinking juice and milk (which he asks for frequently) I've tried Pediasure and the like but it gives him the runs. I'm up to chicken nuggets, fries and milk shakes. Its soo hard because my son is so tiny compared to the other kids at his daycare center. He's tall and thin like mom & dad but waaaay too skinny. 26lbs. It seems like it's just the boys?! I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE.

Christine - posted on 09/05/2011

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I would just offer a full variety of food to my son, at that age. I would then give him extra of what he wanted to eat. My son has always loved fruit, so I found ways of getting a little fruit mixed with veggies. He is now 3 yrs 3 mos and loves eating veggies as well as fruit now, but he is very picky on the meats. My son will eat the organic chicken nuggets that I buy, or fish nuggets. He enjoys fish. He does not like turkey or beef, for some reason.
I often give him hummus, almond butter, cheese and yogurt as sources of protein.
Good luck.

Tracie - posted on 08/31/2011

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hello. My son does the same thing. I took him to the doctor concerned because he wont eat, he will eat snacks. he said that its fine. when he wakes up give him Carnation Essential Breakfast that you put in his cup of milk, then give him his breakfast along with it. my son loves his Carnation drink. He is also still growing like he should be so you could try that as a possibility.

Nerina - posted on 08/30/2011

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@ Kari - I'm not sure if your son is ok now but I just want to tell you that about a year ago my now almost 5 year old son also did not want to eat for a long time and when he ate he only ate cold foods like yoghurt etc. I took him to a homeopath and he told me that my child had liver problems and that the smell of hot food made him nausea. He gave him meds and after 2 weeks he started to eat hot porridge etc again.

[deleted account]

My son is almost 2 and I've been dealing with similar issues for over six months. He started eating less and less and became more picky. Now he doesn't eat at all and he's been hospitalized over issues from not eating. I tried everything thing out there and before it became a serious issue he loved frozen foods. He wouldn't eat fresh fruit but he would get a bite or two out of it when I froze them. Same with bread and meats. I would freeze it all as strange as it sounds it was the only way he would eat. But as long as your son is eating something I wouldn't worry. My son went 3 or 4 months without eating anything before he was hospitalized. Doctors had told me not to worry because he will eat when he's hungry and when his body craves nutrients but that isn't always the case so keep an eye on things and don't hesitate to take him to a doctor or get a second opinion. I trusted the doctors and my son almost died. He had to have two blood transfusions and were still struggling with his diet.

Alice - posted on 08/29/2011

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Do you have good routines around food? Meals, food and eating is not just about how much or what it is. Its about the attitude towards food and the way its delivered. Do you get him involved with preparing it? growing it? choosing it at the supermarket? Talk about where it comes from and why we eat good foods/sometimes foods/bad foods. Include emotional desciptions about how they taste, feel look. Play games like what colour is this and were does it come from. Relax a bit more about his weight and how much he eats and get him involved on a fun level. Hope that helps :)

Marjorie - posted on 08/28/2011

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I added little things that would tickle their tast buds like this salad dress that is a little sweet i would put it on rice and my picky son ate it up. My now oldest son would fake throwing up just not to eat eggs so i let them what the yo gabba gabba show that say try it you will like it and supprisingly it helped. Now I make the eggs with cheese on wheat toast and tell him its an egg pizza, cause he loves pizza. Just get creative and sit at the table watching them if you notice they don't want what ever it is cover it and when they r hungry unleash the leftover lol... he will get the point. Remember repetition is key and don't give up!

Gretchen - posted on 08/26/2011

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Is his plate filled with only one thing? Try to offer a few bites of varitey. I always feed our son what we are eating, unless it is challenging, like soup, but also offer some applesauce or cottage cheese, cubed cheese, etc. because he is more likely to eat more if he has options. Sometimes he eats only everything but the main course, sometimes all but, he eats and when he is done, he hands me his plate and, I don't force beyond that because he has made the decision to stop. I just tell myself to be glad that he doesn't over-eat. :O)

Anntoinette - posted on 08/22/2011

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it may be a sensory issue i have a son who will be 2 in oct. he has lots of sensory issues and one of them is food he cant take the texture of certain foods of if it doesnt look a certain way or feel a certain way he wont eat it if he puts it in his mouth and it doesnt taste or feel like it should in his mouth he spits it out and acts like he chocks on it

Jo - posted on 08/22/2011

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I have the same issue with my 21month old, we went to see a paediatrician last week and she said to keep on offering her new and rejected food and give her plenty of what she will eat, toddlers need calories and not to worry too much about how many servings of fruit etc. Keep the milk or formula to no more than 2 cups per day. Mine will eat cheese, yoghurt and toast so she gets her calories! She is very healthy, active and very bright so that set my mind at rest. Some toddlers are 'grazers' and will eat little and often as well so we have food available at all times for her and at meal times. good luck!

Sarah - posted on 08/19/2011

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Hi i suggest making food fun get some cookie cutters if you dont already have some and make man shaped sandwiches fruit stars if its a food that you can use a cookie cutter on to give it a shape do it for food that you cant try make it look appealing by turning it into a face and also get him involved in helping make his food good luck

Melanie - posted on 08/19/2011

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I agree with Karen on the idea of dips! My 22-mo. old son was a big eater on baby food, but now that he's on real food, he is very picky. But he loves to dip! So I try to give him ketchup for meat, dressing for veggies, yogurt for fruit. Good luck, I know it's frustrating, but he really will eat when he is hungry!

Karen - posted on 08/13/2011

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kids at that age go through phases of poor eating. i have 2 little ones and they have days where they skipped all 3 meals. dont offer snacky foods cause then they live off those, and keep the milk to a minimum, they can get a lot of calories from it and not even need food. try adding dips, my son puts ketchup on everything, including bananas. offer healthy foods and healthy snacks and eventually theu will eat. no child will starve themselves, when they get real hungry, they will eat. no parent likes to see their kids not eating and most will offer snacks, avoid doing that cause your just rewarding the behavior. my son actually has therapists to work on some of his feeding habits, and these are all tips we use to get him to eat.

Nerina - posted on 08/13/2011

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I also got a lazy eater but what seems to work for us is when we go outside - he then looks at the birds and does not mind that I'm feeding him. He is not really into finger food - just messes around with it and takes forever to chew. I sometimes give him a herbal tonic which also helps with the appetite. The dietician told me not to make to much of a fuss about food - she said just to give him 1/2 an hour to eat and if he does not finish to take the plate away and then not to give anything else - try the same plate later on and see if he wants to eat then. She also told me to give less milk and juice because that can also spoil their appetite - this also worked. For my older son who also did not eat any veg or meat or fruit I gave a nutritional shake once a day but stopped that about a year ago because he needs to learn to eat proper food.

Nadezhda - posted on 08/13/2011

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the same situation with my 21 month old son and one of the ways though quite unpleasant for me and for him is to exert a little bit force over him . For example yesterday I made him by force eat bread in a sauce of my dish /brew of potatoes with chicken and green peppers and onion, parsley as well/ and he ate half of his bowl I remained a little bit relieved that he had put sth in his stomach and today I offered the same meal to him and in the beginning he tried to refuse but later he ate it all. So I just applied a little bit of force over him. I know we mummies suffer from the "force" situation but after all it helped me to feed him again.

Marelize - posted on 08/12/2011

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Thanks for all the advice, a mom just can't help to worry. His school teacher say that he eats good at school and I shouldn't worry to much if he doesn't really wants te eat much at night. They get a healthy lunch and snacks during the day. At home we eat alot of fruit and veggies ect. I try to not give him alot of milk, so we will see. I'm sure he won't starve himself.

Kayla - posted on 08/11/2011

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My son is doing the same thing!! I have to chase him everywhere just to get a few bites in! He loves to drink tho :/ Im scared hes not getting all the nutrition he needs. I work at CVS tho and as I was doing my rounds thru the store a couple of nites ago I saw a powder formula that is for kids up to 36 months to ensure nutrition. It was Similac go and grow or something like that. Does anyone think this is worth trying. It's 30 dollars a container.

Carmina - posted on 08/10/2011

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if my son decides to be like that i bribe him with his books or playtime outside etc, only good things of course! but it works for us, i tell him he has to finish eating or he cant go outside to play etc. i also let him feed himself which he enjoys. im not sure what you feed your son but my son snacks on fruit cheese and crackers during the day, and for dinner he will eat anything i cook always with meat and lots of vegies. sometimes i make gravey for his vegies he loves it! he also loves lots of different cereals for breakfast, and yoghurt for dessert. he LOVES pasta and noodles too.

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