If they're hungry, they'll eat?

Cori - posted on 06/28/2011 ( 12 moms have responded )

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What is your take on picky eating or refusing to eat? Do you make alternatives for foods your kids don't like or make them try what everyone else has? What about toddlers? Do you ever put little ones down for a nap or bed if they are refusing to eat (due to being tired)? Just seeing what others in this community think.

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Cori - posted on 06/29/2011

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I have a (just turned) 2 year old that seems to have good eating days and bad eating days. Some days he'll eat anything you put in front of him and ask for snacks all day and others he'll barely touch anything. He is a lot like my little sister was. She was a finicky eater. Something she liked one day, she'd refuse the next. He is just like that. He barely eats anything meat and is pretty picky about stuff. I'm try to just keep putting stuff in front of him and hope he'll eventually go for it. Lunch tends to be the biggest struggle. I know he is hungry but if he starts getting tired he won't eat. So if he reaches that overtired point, I'll eventually just put him down for a nap. (He knows that nap time is after lunch.) We try to make sure he knows that getting up to play instead of eating isn't an option. (You know 2 year old boys don't like to slow down for anything!) He can either eat and then take his nap or just go straight to nap time. For a while I would usually make something different for my son to eat because he had such a big gag reflex and would choke on "big people food" really easily. But now he is 2. He can handle the food but has gotten picky. I'm trying to make sure I stop offering alternatives and that I put even the stuff he doesn't like on his plate to get him used to it. For lunch it is just him and me and we usually do something easy that we both like. (I'm pregnant, so a lot of pb&j, fruit, yogurt, and other quick healthy fixes.)

I remember my mom (who was definitely pro-spanking) would try to force my sister to eat and it really didn't work. In fact, she eventually ended up being massively underweight and unhealthy in her early teens. She is very tall and had a hard time understanding that yes, her friends may weigh 20lbs less than her but they were also a good half a foot shorter. I've always been overweight. I love my mom, but I don't think she set up healthy food boundaries for us. I knew I wanted to do something different.

Sorry that was so long. But that is the story. I've already got things I'm doing but I wanted to know where other positive parenting mommies stood on the issue. :)

[deleted account]

Sounds like you're doing most everything right, in my humble opinion anyhow.

I just want to mention one more thing. I think you're doing the right thing by not catering to him, but I also know from experience, that it won't be easy at first, especially because he's used to you making whatever for him, and now you won't be. I must warn you that it will be challenging and you won't get an instant fix. It might take days for him to finally give up his quest, and begin to choose from your choices. Hang in there, and remember that he WILL eat if he's hungry. No child will willingly starve.

Cori - posted on 06/29/2011

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He also had a habit of throwing stuff on the floor when he didn't want it. It had graduated from messy early toddler eating to willful mess making. So now he knows that after he eats, he gets to help mommy clean up his area and pick up anything on the floor. This has helped with the "dumping food overboard" a ton! It has also gotten him to use his fork and spoon the correct way. He wants to play and run and not have to clean up things he flung off his plate.

Lissa - posted on 06/29/2011

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I'm going to add this in there is a line between picky eating and food phobia. If you think your child has a food phobia take them to a doctor. When I was a child I HAD to have food on separate plates because I was absolutely convinced different foods would contaminate each other. I literally mean potatoes on one plate, chicken on another, veg on another. I would eat everything on one plate then move on so I didn't mix my food. I was terrified of the texture of a number of foods, to this day I can't eat a number of things because I the texture creeps me out. Although I have my food all on the same plate these days, if for instance my potato touched my chicken I would cut off the little bits that touched and leave them to the side. Of course as an adult I know this is ridiculous but it's the way it is.

Jenni - posted on 06/28/2011

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It's best not to push toddlers to eat... or make special meals. The more you push and the bigger of an issue you make of it the more they will push back and refuse. It's a power struggle you really want to avoid and approach passively instead of offensively.



I too have a picky eater (he's 3 years old now).

What I've done is offer him a variety of healthy choices in 6 small meals a day to ensure he's getting his nuitrion for the day. What he didn't eat in half an hour, got taken away and saved for leftovers (eventually thrown out). When he got older I'd offer him choices for his snacks (healthy choices of course) but meals were what I served. That way he has some level of control over what he eats. At dinner if I made carrots and corn, he was allowed to choose one or the other or both. But the main course was not up for debate.

Make sure you praise him when he does eat or tries a new food but ignore when he doesn't. He'll make it up at his next meal (and offering 6 ensures he does).



I know how you're feeling though, it use to stress me out big time and he still struggles to try 'new' foods. But you just learn to go with the flow. He's improved soooo much in the last 2 years and eats a wide variety of foods. He also loves veggies (YAH!) so I heap those on his plate. ;)

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Cori - posted on 06/29/2011

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It is also hard because I am pregnant and we've done a lot of meals where we make things to where we can all have whatever we want or "fend for yourself" type of nights. There are a lot of things that still gross me out, even into my third trimester. I have a hard time cooking the same way I used too. My husband has picked up the slack a lot but many nights we are both so tired that we do easy things like sandwiches, cereal, or eggs and fruit. So those nights he still gets catered too a little bit because we'll all end up eating something different.

I have a lot of friends in a similar place. Their little ones are turning 2 and 3 and they are realizing things that they always let their kiddos get away with because they were still babies or young toddlers. Now, they (along with myself) are starting to pick on things that need to be worked on now that the child is cognitive of their behavior more. You have those light bulb moments as a parent. "Why am I still catering to his food choices, he can chew everything now?" "Why is he not doing more of the picking up after himself?" Definitely a process!

[deleted account]

My husband has a serious issue with onions. He's not a picky eater at all; he will try almost anything. But onions disgust and repulse him.



I blame his mother. He didn't like onions as a kid. But her idea of dealing with that was to turn it into a power struggle. She would chop up onions very fine, use it in the dinner, then lie to him and say there were no onions. She wanted to "catch" him eating and not noticing them. I guess she thought he was being unreasonably picky and fussy.



To this day, my husband is "suspicious" of food that might contain onions. I don't like onions either, but I'm not hung up about it. My parents never made me eat anything I didn't like.



Anyway, long story short: don't force it.

[deleted account]

I agree with Jennifer, Cori.



I definitely wouldn't press the issue, because you risk backing them into a power struggle and I promise you, you won't win. Young children don't have control over much in their new lives, but what they put in their mouths is solely up to them. It's their way of asserting their control and independence. Don't fight it and hopefully it'll work itself out.



I also wouldn't prepare different meals for them. It sets a horrible precedent and you'll cause more problems in the long run. I *have* done it on rare occasion when what I make is too spicy, not appropriate etc. for my daughter to eat.



I *would* offer several healthy choices and allow them to choose. Again, it will help by giving them a sense of importance, and control.



"Roxanne, would you like an apple and cheese, or some carrots and hummus, for a snack?"



Occasionally she'll whine and ask for something different, but I explain that those are her only options, and if she doesn't want either of them, she doesn't get anything. 98% of the time, she'll pick one of the two choices. Those were just examples.



In regards to putting your child to bed when they won't eat......if I *know* that Roxanne is tired and she's whining about her food and doesn't want to eat, then ABSOLUTELY I've put her down for a nap. She loves food and typically isn't picky or difficult about eating so IF/WHEN she is, I know there's a bigger issue.

Stifler's - posted on 06/28/2011

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I make kids friendly foods for our whole family to tell the truth. Well sometimes I make salad and quickly steam some veg for Logan as he's not up to eating salad yet really. My kid is always overtired and it drives me nuts I just make sure I see him eat a few bites of everything and if hes throwing it I let him down if he's eating alone because Damian is late home but we usually eat together at dinner so it encourages him to eat if he sees us eating.

Lissa - posted on 06/28/2011

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I do have to say if I know they are overtired but need to eat I just don't make dinner for them because that would just be a nightmare. In that case which isn't very often I would just make them a sandwich with fruit and yogurt.

Lissa - posted on 06/28/2011

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I don't make an issue of it with my kids. I wouldn't make meals I know they don't like but when I put new foods on the plate they need to try it but I'll only put a little on with other things they like so if they don't eat it it's fine. My house is very much here is your dinner eat it or don't but if you aren't hungry for dinner you aren't hungry for a sandwich etc. If they don't eat and then complain of hunger I put it back out for them. Kids are great self regulators they will eat if they are hungry.

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