My toddler wastes food.

Tamara - posted on 11/16/2009 ( 13 moms have responded )




DD is 26 months old and has taken to asking for a particular meal for lunch, etc. but than refuses to eat it, instead asking for animal crackers, popsicles, and whatnot. I'm usually pretty laid back about most things but I draw the line at wasting food.

How do you deal w/this? I don't want to be that mom who brings out the same thing @ every meal but at the same time, I want to nip this in the bud


Karen - posted on 06/26/2011




Two things jump out at me about DD: 1) your child is very intelligent, and 2) is trying to control you by making you fix a particular meal and then not eating it. She's figured how to make you do what she/he wants, no doubt thinking, wow, look at me! I can make Mom, one of the most important people in my environment, to do what I want! :-D It's very exciting for a toddler to find she can wield that kind of control.

While you can congratulate yourself for raising a very intelligent child, you also have to nip this behavior in the bud. If she asks for a particular meal and then won't eat it, tell her that no, she doesn't get any other food until she eats what you fix her, and emphasize that SHE asked you to do it. If she refuses to eat what you fixed/throws a tantrum, then put it in the refrigerator and tell her that it's clear she's not hungry enough, so you'll just put it away until she is hungry enough to eat what you fixed.

Trust me, if she's smart enough to figure out how to control Mom in this very sophisticated way, she's smart enough to figure out pretty quickly that food is for eating, not controlling Mom. If she's especially stubborn, it may take a while, but she'll come around.

I'm afraid I'm chuckling to myself about this...I, too, have a strong-willed and intelligent child who played these kinds of mind games with me when he was a toddler, and I had to be quick on my feet to respond in a rational, logical, and firm way. He's 24 years old now, and turned out to have a highly intelligent and legalistic kind of mind, the kind that can catch people in inconsistencies and lies as if he has a sixth sense. He'd be in a law office now if there hadn't been a downturn in the economy (he still has a good job, though).

I will say that, IMHO, this kind of child needs quite a few creative outlets so that she can express that need to control her environment in a satisfying way, without having to control her parents. If she doesn't want to eat what you fix, you might put the food away and then bring out crayons and paper and say she can draw until she feels ready to eat.

Angie - posted on 11/16/2009




If a child specifically asks for something, they need to eat it. I am not so crazy about putting food on a child's plate and making the sit and eat it all before they get up. Instead, if my children ask for something, they finish it all. One of my children wanted Wheat Thins one day and didn't want to share so she spit in the box. She got her regular meals but dessert and snack were Wheat Thins until the box was empty.

Kari - posted on 11/16/2009




I have a rule in my house that you eat what is giving to you. If they don't then they don't eat very much. That is probably bad of me but I have seen many children only eat certain things and they aren't healty most of the time. If my daughter doesn't eat what she is giving then she get a half of a pb&j. That is it. We had a problem with the same thing but once I started doing this we didn't have as many issues. When we serve meals it is the main dish with a fruit or a veg, and a glass of milk. My daughter now eats mainly everything but once and awhile she doesn't eat the main dish. But she knows she doesn't get anything else til the next meal or snack time. Good luck!


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Lisa - posted on 11/16/2009




Maybe you could try giving her small ammounts of a few different things, if she doesn't eat it atleast its not alot being wasted. Don't allow snacking in between meals on junk, make healthy choices and try to give her snack far befor the next meal. Maybe you could offer her a small ammount of what you would like her to eat and tell her that if she eats that then she can have the animal crackers or whatever for dessert when its finished. Good luck, I'm lucky enough to have a non picky eater

Sharon - posted on 11/16/2009




I gave my kids two choices. A or B.

Then I served their choice. if they didn't eat it, oh well. I'll wrap it up and put it back in the fridge until they are hungry.

Angella - posted on 11/16/2009




I have dealt with this myself and I had to put my foot down. When it came to meals I would give my daughter what I decided she would eat and NOTHING else. If she didn't eat I would put it aside and warm it up for the next meal. By the end of the day whatever was not eaten would get pitched but this only lasted about 2 days. After the 2 days she really began to appreciate what I gave her. I know this may sound strict but now she eats whatever I put in front of her. Also don't give to big of portions, if your child is still hungry give more but start out with smaller portions. Good luck

Joanna - posted on 11/16/2009




Make sure you push the fact that it's not good to waste food. At a certain age they can comprehend waste. What I normally do with my girl (26 months as well) is I give her a meal with usually quite a few things on the plate (IE, lunch right now is chicken, rice, peas & carrots, cheese, pineapple, apples, and vegetable ritz crackers). She will usually eat what she wants. Whatever she does eat I set to the side/refrigerate, and if she wants a snack, she gets what she didn't eat for lunch.

Joelle - posted on 11/16/2009




Our rule is that you must eat at least half of everything that mommy puts on your plate but if you take it yourself, you must eat the whole thing. Reason being...mommy sometimes puts adult servings on the plate. My girls are very healthy eaters. They are more likely to have an apple than a bag of potato chips. For dinner tonight, we're having liver. How did I get them to eat it in the first place??? They've never been told it's yucky.

Valeria - posted on 11/16/2009




I am experiencing this with my 1 year old son. I would try to feed him something and he throws a fit as if he doesn't want it. I would force it into his mouth and soon as he tastes it, he starts eating perfectly normal. It is so strange and I go through this everytime i have to feed him.

Danielle - posted on 11/16/2009




I would give her two choices, to many choices may confuse her, say one or the other. Make eating fun! turn off distractions like tv. give a reward system. Be realistic about how much they eat. toddlers go through many spurts and sometimes they eat a ton and others hardly nothing at all. Give her littler portions and if she wants more thats fine. They will not starve they will eat when they are hungry. Oh and also cut out junk a few hrs before meal time, and limit milk they can make them feel full. hope this helps. i have a 19 mo old and a 4 yr old. I know it can get frustrating but give it time. Hope this helps :)

Renee - posted on 11/16/2009




There are several ways to deal with this. We sometimes do this. Make the child eat as many bites as they are old. This way they are still introducing themselves to new foods and getting some sort of nutrition at the same time. Whatever you do don't give into your child when they throw a fit. My husband and I usually tell them that this is what was prepared for dinner and if they don't at least try to eat some of it or try it then they don't get anything else. Our children usually throw a fit and walk away from the table, but after a while toddlers always become hungry and they come back anyhow even if they threw a fit prior. Toddlers will eat if they are hungry let the food sit they will come back to it.

Shelley - posted on 11/16/2009




My son does the same thing, but I don't allow him to eat the other items he is asking for, instead telling him that he has to eat what is offered, or not eat at the end he will eat the original item....and then he can have a popsicle etc afterwards. He doesn't have to eat all of the offered item, but at least a few bites.

Katherine - posted on 11/16/2009




You have to offer many choices. It's part of the developmental process and isn't unusual at all. My daughter did and still does the same thing, and it drives me nuts!!

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