2 year old not eating, what to do?

Cathy - posted on 11/26/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My two year old son does not want to eat for me, he will eat for my sister though. He stayed with her for a night and ate spaghetti bolognese for dinner and for breakfast but the minute I cook it for him he refuses to eat. He still drinks a bottle when he goes to bed and I make that on water and milk so he is not filling up on milk and he does not always drink a full bottle at night. I have tried the cook different food and I have given him what he likes to eat, as I don't eat red meat I have tried giving him meat other than chicken, I have even resorted to trying to eat meat myself, but still no luck. when we get home from daycare he usually has a fruit roll up and he plays with our neighbour who will generally give him some biscuits but nothing huge for him to fill up on.I hav tried giving him meals and if he doesn't eat them he goes with out, i have even resorted to not turning the tv on for him to watch his favourited shows. I will endeavour taking him to a nutritionist and doctor but I am hoping other mums have some suggestions.

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Laura - posted on 11/26/2010

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First of all, don't fret too much over this--as long as you are offering him healthy choices of food, he won't starve! Kids are really good at paying attention to their bodies and will eat when hungry. Your son may be filling up just enough on the snacks (though I know it doesn't sound like much) to not be hungry enough to eat at actual mealtimes. Try cutting out the snacks and milk before actual meals to see if his appetite improves.

The next thing I would try is establishing a firm routine with meals and sticking to it. You seem to have become so worried over his eating habits that you are giving in to whatever HE wants, when he wants it. You are the parent and are the one who needs to set the routine and limits. You are on the right track with some of this, but you need to stick with a set routine (no TV at meal times is a good idea anyway!). As I said before, as long as healthy food is offered at regular intervals, your son will not starve! He may not eat very much at a meal or two, but he will eventually get hungry enough to eat what is placed in front of him.

Another component of this routine is a time limit. Prepare the food for everyone, sit down to the meal and offer your son the opportunity to eat. When you finish dinner the meal is over or you can choose to give your son a few more minutes, but no more than 10 minutes, as an example. That's it. Clean him up and put him down! If you do this consistently, he will adjust to the mealtime routine fairly quickly.

Remember, too, that childrens' appetites fluxuate with growth spurts. There will be times where you can't seem to give your son enough food and there will be times when he hardly eats anything. This ebb and flow of the appetite is pretty normal behavior. Your son could be in a slow growth period right now and truly isn't as hungry. Again, just offer him healthy food and he will eat what his body needs.

Finally, try not to make a big fuss about this. Kids are VERY perceptive about parents' behavior and emotions--if you are nervous and upset over mealtimes, then he may be sensative enough to be picking up those negative feelings. Mealtimes are a routine that you do, nothing more nothing less. It's an opportunity to feed the body, if it's hungry. If your son doesn't eat, he at least had the opportunity and can wait for the next one. And if you are a vegetarian there is absolutely no reason for YOU to change your eating habits! You were letting your son dictate food choices and that's backwards! Vegetarian diets are quite healthy and you are perfectly able to raise children quite well on vegetarian diets. Vegan diets are a little tougher though.

Remember, relax, this isn't really a huge issue unless you are concerned about excessive weight loss. Then you need to see your doctor. Otherwise be consistent with your mealtimes and offer him the opportunity to eat healthy foods. Then let it go, he should adjust in short order. Hope this helps and Bon Apetite!

Jana - posted on 11/26/2010

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Two year olds often go through stages where they seem to eat almost nothing. If he is not losing weight, he is fine!

While it's great to prepare things he likes (we don't like to eat food we hate, do we?) and to try to make it inviting, try to get away from the mindset that he is eating "for you." This is setting him up to manipulate you and may eventually set him up for an unhealthy emotional relationship with food.

Just have nutritious and appealing food available for him at meal and snack times. If he doesn't eat, don't react or beg. If he does eat, don't react or praise. Just be matter-of-fact about the whole thing.

That's not to say you can't make food fun for him. Cut food into interesting shapes. One thing I liked to sometimes do was to serve my kids lunch in a 6-cup muffin tin. Put 3 or 4 grean beans in one cup, 3 or 4 small pieces of meat in another, and so on with potato, carrot, fruit, cheese. I don't really know why they liked this, but they did!

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Cristina - posted on 11/26/2010

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My 2 year old eats when he wants, I was getting worried and spoke to his doctor and she told me that this is usual for this age group, they have to drink tho, like water, juice and milk, I also give him his multi-vitamin every day. She told me that as long as he drank liquids he would get back to his eating habits soon enough. I do use a juicer and juice out carrots spinach beets and so on to add vitamins to his juices, hope it helps.

Paige - posted on 11/26/2010

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I have a 4 year old who has gotten very picky. He started about a year ago. I provide meals, offering a variety of items throughout the day, but if he does not eat his meal~NO snack. He knows the rule. . . If he does not eat his meal then I wrap it up for when I hear him say, "I'm hungry." I then say, "You did not eat your lunch. You may have your lunch or you may wait until supper." If he does not eat his meals he also may drink water, but rarely will he get juice when not eating. The doctor even says, "He will eat when he is hungry." I do not make it a struggle. I simply say here it is.

Louise - posted on 11/26/2010

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My two year old is like this she will eat and eat one day and the next just pick at her food. She has barely eatten anything all week this week but I think it is her back molars coming through that has made her feel it is not worth the discomfort to eat. She will happily eat yoghurt or banana but refuses point blank any solid chewable food. Check his mouth and see if there are any obvious signs of teething. If not Laura has about covered everything.

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