Food

Victoria - posted on 08/26/2013 ( 25 moms have responded )

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My 2 year old son wants to eat only mac and cheese?????
He refuses to try most of the food I offer him?
Doctor said try not to feed him, so he will get hungry and eat real food.
Any idea what to do?

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Janessa - posted on 10/14/2013

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I have done what the doctor told you to do with all of my children, it works eventually, and they don't starve. Typically breakfast and lunch is always easy so I let them choose between some options I give them, but dinner they get what I make, or they don't eat. None of my kids have ever complained. They know that it is their choice. Even my little 2 year old now understands that, I will be very clear with her, and say you cannot have this (sometimes we offer desserts if they eat), if you don't eat that, and sometimes for them it just isn't worth it and that is okay with me. When they get older it does become worth it. My older kids eat beautifully. If you start young they will not starve themselves. They catch on quick. I only share this with you because it worked for me, I do not say you have to do this if you are not comfortable with it, but for me it has worked.

Julie A - posted on 09/27/2013

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All these are great ideas. My son is 2 and for me, I've found that I NEVER say in front of him anything like "he won't eat, he doesn't like or he is a picky eater." I've kept many kids in my home daycare and find that whatever you say, becomes true . And trust me they are listening to everything. When it's breakfast , lunch, or dinner I serve his plate of whatever i made and we all sit down and eat. If he doesn't eat and gets hungry later, I don't give him snacks I just ask why he did not eat supper and the kitchen is closed. They understand. I also notice If I'm not constantly saying eat and nagging him about it, he eats more. Good luck.

Zirallan - posted on 08/29/2013

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If you just give him what he wants, even if you 'hide' veggies in it with baby food, he's just going to learn that all he has to do is demand it and refuse other stuff and he gets it.

Your doc is right. A healthy child won't starve himself. Put his food in front of him and tell him that's what he gets. If he doesn't eat it, he goes hungry. If he wants something later, put it right back in front of him.

If it truly is a new food, make him try a few bites of it (two or three should suffice) before offering him an alternative. In this house, the alternative is always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Our picky eater will eat it, but doesn't love it so it's not a reward for refusing whatever the meal is. Don't be afraid to offer the same meal that he insisted that he didn't like repeatedly and make him try it every time. It can take several tries before they decide that it's really not so bad after all. Use your own judgement to decide that he actually doesn't like something and isn't just turning it away because he's being picky. Once he's said he likes it once though, don't let him change his mind about it. Our 5 year old is notorious for that one when she decides she just doesn't want to eat whatever we're having that day even if it's something she usually enjoys.

Diana - posted on 10/20/2013

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When I was working as a nanny, I would always put a very small amount of something else on the plate with their favorite item. Count on them NOT trying it several times, or just taking a bite. Eventually, they will try that, & other things. It certainly isn't uncommon for kids to go through phases where they will want only one thing, then want a variety of things. Just make sure that there is variety available & around. Another suggestion is to add something to the mac & cheese, like a mild vegetable puree. Cauliflower & butternut squash come to mind. Try things that won't change the appearance of the mac & cheese.

I've also found, in teaching cooking classes to kids from 2 1/2+ that kids can be more adventureous (sp) eaters than you might think.

I should have also mentioned that it can help if a child 'helps' in picking out healthier options at the grocery store & in preparing meals. That doesn't mean they have to cook a dish, just helping to add some ingredients to a salad or helping to roll meat, fish or poultry pieces in the flour/bread mixture helps them to feel a part of the prep. Kids who have an investment in the meal tend to eat it.

A great place to introduce this is in the produce section of the grocery store or taking them to the farmer's market & letting them either help in picking out some colorful items or carrying an item to 'help' you goes a long way in making them more willing to try new things.

Helen - posted on 10/12/2013

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Exactly what the Doc says! Sounds mean, but they won't let themselves starve.
Just give him small portions of whatever it is you want him to eat. Don't make a fuss - just give it to him, give him a reasonable amount of time, then take it away again. Continue this each meal/snack time.

It is a lot easier to do this if you sit at the table to eat as a family and all eat the same thing. Don't make any comment to him about his eating (or lack of) but include him in conversations about other things, and comment about anything he does eat to others at the table. Let him make a mess - picking up and playing with food is important as he'll be learning about textures, and may well lick his fingers to investigate taste before actually putting any food in his mouth. Putting food in his mouth and spitting it out again is another step in trying new textures and tastes, and is exactly what my 2 year old has been doing recently before starting to eat tomatoes!

I personally don't like the idea of saving and reserving meals - for one thing I wouldn't want it done to me (and there are things I won't eat, so some parents here would do it me if they followed their own advice!) and secondly there health implications - do you serve things re-heated or cold? How many times do you reserve/re-heat? etc Also we are trying to not make a fuss about food, so we want food to be different, fresh and interesting, not old, boring and yucky!

Our 4 yr old often says 'but I don't like that' at meal times, but still has to sit at the table and has a plate of food put in front of him. We don't say anything about his eating but more often than not he will at least try what is on his plate and usually will then eat it! Sometimes he reiterates he doesn't like it, then it's eat what you want to and leave the rest. When we are all finished whats on plates gets thrown and pudding is offered - usually yogurt and usually eaten. They then make up for any lack the next day :)

hth!

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B - posted on 11/24/2013

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I used to give the meals I cooked names and tried to relate them to what he liked.
I make an awesome avocardo pasta and its called teenage mutant ninja turtle pasta and he loves it now.

try relating it back to there favorite show

Bek - posted on 10/31/2013

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What's better 4 bad nappy rash- bepanthen or sudocrem??? Any other great 1's or ideas 4 my 5 yr old that has daily toilet accidents??? Plz help

Bek - posted on 10/31/2013

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He will grow out of that one & then b in2 the next food fad - kids r fussy eaters mostly

Cheryl - posted on 10/13/2013

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As he is only two I would go with creating meals that have the pasta - elbows but not cheese etc. Just keep trying heaps of different food and try not to have Mac and cheese. Try fun stuff like sphagetti, foods to dip into sauces like humus etc. Get him to help you cook and then he may appreciate it more. In the summer get him in the garden and plant some vegies. I tend to find that boys like this sort of thing.

Jenny - posted on 10/12/2013

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ok if you dont buy it you cant make it haha tell him sorry i forgot , and try to make other food with the same noddles ,and for the moms i i would think would say thats wrong and teaches the to lie, well what do you think hiding veggies is i think you should just teach the young to eat as you tell them parents the LET there kids choice what they will and will not eat end up having kids that r either fat or picky eaters i have two kids 10 years and 10 month we all eat veggies first and if you dont eat thats not my problem but be sure that youll be eatting it later if you get hungery stop buying the bad food if you dont wont them to eat it i tell my son if he wants extra candy (other then the ones i buy ) then he can buy it with his allowance its just a fact cant see it can eat it lol

MacKenna - posted on 10/08/2013

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Put out a muffin tin with a couple of items in each whole - grapes, mandarin slice, cherry tomato etc. leave it within reach then just ignore it. In my experience kids will pick at it when hungry and if it is a control issue then he will eat it. If you keep serving the same healthy options over and over again he will get used to the idea that 'this is what we eat'. Eta those foods yourself at the table.
Google recipes like Jessica Sienfield's Mac and cheese recipe with hidden cauliflower puree. Or a simplair book ' Sneaky Chef' At 2yrs you need to develop his tastes for a variety of food or you will have the same issue with your child until after 5yrs...or longer. Make it look good, taste good, sneak in fruit and veg and serve it in different ways (the Dollar store has cheap themed plates, napkins, bowls etc to add variety)

Maggie - posted on 10/06/2013

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My advice is pick your battles. In my experience, with two year olds it is often a control issue. If you force him to eat only what you say he has to, you are in control and he will most likely respond defensively. It encourages a power struggle and an unhealthy relationship with food, as does creating a reward system built around food intake.
What I have done with my kids (who are somewhat picky eaters) is I give them a lot of the nutritious foods they enjoy, but I also enforce the one bite rule. They are expected to eat one bite of everything on their plate, chewed and swallowed. I make it clear that they do not have to like it and it is ok of they think it is terrible.
If you are concerned about him getting the appropriate vitamins and minerals, give him a multivitamin. Flintstones vitamins taste like candy.
Getting him involved in the cooking process in age appropriate ways might also help. He may be more inclined to eat things that he created. You can also try books like Green Eggs and Ham to help reinforce the idea of trying new foods.

Diana - posted on 09/26/2013

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My suggestion, as a former nanny, is to put just a small amount of another food on the plate with his mac & cheese. Don't expect him to try it at all, it usually takes kids 7 times, or even longer, to even try a new food. Sometimes they'll surprise you! I've taught cooking classes for kids as young as 2 1/2, every time hearing parents say "Oh, MY child will NEVER eat THAT!", only to find that they've tried something 'new' & love it.

I also did this with some of the kids I cared for, putting just a green bean or two (more can overwhelm them) on the plate with their mac & cheese or pizza--what do you know, they tried it & asked for more! Surprised the parents & me.

I always try to have a little something extra around that they see at the table or that they see those around them eating & eventually they will usually at least try it.

Jenny - posted on 09/17/2013

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i think doc was right give him what everyone eats and if he dont eat it then put it in frig for later dont give him a choice

Donna - posted on 09/14/2013

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Try making it fun and educational by getting your child involved in making the meal of course you do the danger parts like chopping or cooking on the stove /oven. when peeling the veges peel a slice of carrot taste test what kid can resist taste testing. I ask my kids what they would like for dinner i give them choices first to make from and then they tend to hang around to help and when they refuse to eat i remind them thats what they chose and wanted to make. My kids will eat basically any thing that is put in front of them. If it is possible get them to grow their own veges in a garden or pots and eat from the plants they feel proud to see the plants growing and then can't wait to eat them . I would start with small steps though sit down your child and maybe go through say pictures of food in magazines and talk about what goes in it. Also healthy foods vs unhealthy foods. Typically if you give choices your child will have to choose from what you have suggested. I now have at least 14 quick easy meals that i can make from the ingredients i get each week in the groceries or from the garden. Good Luck and remember not to let them wear you down. Also a scare tactic of mine is if you don't eat you will get sick and i will have to take you to hospital and to put food into you they will put either a tube up your nose or a needle in your hand and feed you that way... your choice food or needle.

Kim - posted on 09/03/2013

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I make what I plan, and if they don't eat it, I save it for when they decide they are hungry enough to give it a try. My mother did the same.

I find if I ask my kids what they want the answer is always noodles. I don't think they understand the concept of thinking about it, then choosing. They are just accustomed to saying noodles. So I stopped asking and started telling instead.

Kim - posted on 09/02/2013

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My little boy went through this same thing. I started putting little tiny bits of broccoli in the Mac and cheese. Enough that he could see it but not really taste it. At 1st he flipped out at the sight of it but once I made him take a couple of bites, he ate the whole serving. I gradually added more and more. Now, one year later, he's still pretty picky but doing much better.

Jessica - posted on 09/02/2013

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Yes...if weight and all ok with health good then you should tell him what's for dinner and if he doesn't eat it then it will be wrapped and put in the fridge til he's ready to eat. This is what happens with mine...breakfast lunch and dinner. And no other snacks are given/offered until his main meal is eaten. It must also be explained to children from a young age the importance of eating a healthy meal... the nutritional value and benefits of eating good food. My son from the age of 3 has handed me products in shops he was interested in asking how much sugar was in it and if he could have it. When I said 'no it has too much sugar' there weren't tantrums he'd answer with'ok mum...it'll make me go crazy' :-)

Jamie - posted on 09/01/2013

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In my house, he'd be hungry. And I have 3 kids who all were at one time or another "stubborn hungry"... We are now on a reward system, try a new food earn a marble, cash in your marbles for something cool (ie NOT a toy... More like have a picnic, visit a museum)

Tricia - posted on 09/01/2013

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Unless there is a concern with your child's growth/weight, etc, let it be. Offer stuff but don't force it. I have three kids ranging in age from 5-17 and I never once made them eat their dinner. They all love fruits and healthy food now and they all have their individual dislikes but eat amazingly well. I never argued about what any of my three ate or did not eat and my kids eat asparagus, spinach and brussel sprouts. My five year old even loves sushi. Eating should be a great family time at the table discussing your day.

Jen - posted on 08/30/2013

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First of all, how is your son's weight and growth? If it's normal, don't stress too much, many 2 year olds are picky. There were some good suggestions below, and I'm sure you can see that different parents handle this in different ways. Be warned, though, if you make your son whatever he wants, and let him eat "junk" instead of meals, he will continue to do it. I know this from experience. If you don't want to be really strict about finishing whatever is on the plate, try something like having a single backup - ie "You must try what we are having for dinner - if you don't like it after a few bites you may have a PBJ sandwich". Otherwise you will become a short-order cook, and your son will become a junk food addict. Good luck!

Oh, and if your son's weight/growth is NOT normal, then definitely consult with your doctor about how to proceed.

Danicia - posted on 08/29/2013

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with our daughter when she gets picky and decides not to eat what is served, she gets it for the next meal (and the next if she still doesn't eat it) until at least half of the meal is consumed. I try not to do snacks between a repeat meal but make sure she is well hydrated while she's stubborn on eating what is served. That's what my parents did with us, it worked. she may be stubborn for a few meals but she'll eat eventually. you could try cheesy veggies to see if it's the cheese flavor he likes or if it's a texture thing (our daughter will not eat ground meat, like in a stir fry, but whole meats like chicken or pork she will). good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 08/27/2013

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My son goes through phases where he will only eat certain things. I let him help me cook and that makes him want to eat whatever we made. Also I hide veggies in his food so he is getting more in his diet. I buy the Berber stage 1 baby foods and add them in. When making the ame and cheese you can add in the squash and it doesn't change the color. Start out with a half a container so he gets used to the small change in taste and then add extra after that. I also put the carrots and green beans or peas in when I make meat loaf. One of my sons favorite things to make are what we call smiley chicken guys. I make up a "stir fry" of chicken and veggies, then we use biscuits from a can and flatten them just a bit, then we add the chicken filling, fold the biscuit in half and seal with a fork to make the bottom look like smiling teeth. I poke two small holes for eyes and just bake according to the can biscuit directions. He eats them with no problem but if I make the stir fry and put it on his plate, he won't eat it. I don't let him use knives or the stove so he gets to use the fork to close the mouths and after I cut the veggies he puts them in the bowl for me. You have to try to engage him in making a meal. He will be proud and be willing to eat.

Alicia - posted on 08/26/2013

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The local libraries have kid cookbooks, (Also you can look on the internet) I like to look at them because I have a 4 year old boy, he is a picky eater too. In the kid cookbooks the food is more appealing as in presentation and colorful foods that would make it be more likely he will eat it. I know its hard but children can be very stubborn to what they want. Sometimes, my son doesn't want to eat his food so I don't let him play with his toys until he finishes his food regardless of whether he likes it or not, I also try my best to give him a choice between two different foods so that he gets the chance to pick one and be more likely to eat it. The other thing I know some parents do is give healthy smoothie drinks that help with the nutrients they are lacking but i personally think that should only be a temporary fix. Hope that helps and best of luck I hope things improve.

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