My 18 month old son will not eat anything...besides junk food, what do i do?

Megan - posted on 03/16/2009 ( 20 moms have responded )

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the only thing that is half good that he will eat is a chicken patty, but even then he is starting to not want them either....he eats crackers, fruit snacks, and chips, oh and of course chocolate...he doesn't like fruit or veggies or anything else...

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Mahima - posted on 12/06/2011

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Hey do not expect your toddler to sit down and eat a full meal three times a day.This may sound little harsh but try reverse pschology at mealtime, have everyone sit down at the table and begin eating. Sit baby in the highchair, but don't give him any food. Pretend he is not even there. He will watch everyone else eat, and realize he's being left out. He may then ask for your food or reach for your plate. Do not have a plate of food ready for him, because if you then set a whole plate of food down in front of him, he may reject it. When he asks, give him a bite of food off of your plate (this can either be your own food or something you've prepared for him). Don't offer him a second bite until he indicates he wants more. Continue giving him bites while he is interested. Don't pay him too much attention. Act like he is interrupting you to get bites of food. The second you sense he is becoming a bit resistant, stop feeding him and go back to the ignoring phase. He may again start to feel left out and ask for more. Before baby realizes it, he has eaten twenty bites of food!

Stifler's - posted on 12/07/2011

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this sounds like a certain little boy i know. don't buy chips or crackers just offer him breakfast if he doesn't eat it fine but he only gets fruit or something else healthy until lunch. my kid only ever used to eat rice crackers or other crap i just stopped buying it because he'd eat that and not his tea because he knew i'd give him something else salty and fatty to get him to eat. they will eat what they're given if there's nothing else.

Denikka - posted on 12/06/2011

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Please please please deal with this now!! Take whatever advice you can get, try whatever you have to, but STOP letting your child continue with this.

My mother did this with my brother. He had a condition that caused him digestive problems. She was told, when he was very young (about 1.5-2yrs), to introduce as many high fat/high calorie foods as she could to get some weight on him. He was borderline failure to thrive at one point, so gaining weight was VERY important. My mother actually resorted to beer to get the calories into him (not a full can or anything, but if his dad was drinking a beer, he was allowed a few sips at under 5yrs old).
He ended up eating a LOT of junk foods. He's 11, almost 12yrs old now, and still skinny as a twig. But SOOOO unhealthy. My mother literally cannot have junk food in the house if she doesn't want him to eat it. He will go 3+ days with NOTHING in order to have junk. She keeps giving in because she's worried that he's not eating. He throws fits when asked to eat normal food (full out, screaming, crying tantrums). He has major sugar issues, totally hyperactive because of it.
He has an addiction to sugary foods. And I'm not exaggerating. My mom drinks coffee and so has white sugar in the house. He has been known to take the sugar jar, in the middle of the night, and eat it. Just like that. Take a spoon, and eat it.
It's sickening.

So please please please, do whatever you need to do to deal with the problem now. I know what my brother, and what my mom goes through on a daily basis now. I dread what will happen in a few years when he's fully into teenage-hood. Don't make my mom's mistakes :)
Good luck with your little one, you've got a lot of great suggestions there :)

Theresa - posted on 03/17/2009

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I believe that there is always a point which most kids do become "picky" eaters during the age 1-3. Both my older children have done it and I personally had a hard time with the approach of just flat out saying no to the foods they favor. What I have found out works however might be worth a shot is at meal times not dishing out anything for them. At meals times set their plate empty in front of them, you and the rest of the family carry on as normal. Try to pretend that it does not bother you they are not eating. I have found that after a couple of minutes they start to point to certain foods on the table they want. When they show interest give it to them and sooner then later they are eating everything, or at least almost everything they should be. I was skeptical that this approach would work but I have used it on both of my children and had great success with it. Hopefully this can be of some help for you !

Catherine - posted on 03/16/2009

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don't give it to him! my daughter eats hummus, fruits, veggies, pitas, salads, milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, you name it healthy she eats it! but i don't give her any processed junk. Her snacks are wholesome things. It will take some weaning but he will adjust in time.

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Crysta - posted on 12/08/2011

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Instead of the junk food. Pick out two different healthy foods and ask him which one he wants, he will be more interested and more likely to eat the food that is given to him if he feels like he has a choice. It sounds to me he is trying to be more independant and wants to be able to choose things for himself and when he can't do that he will refuse everything all together. My son had those moments but now I let him choose his snacks and when I am making a meal I let him pull something out that he would like and I mix it in with our meal and he eats all of it because he feels like a big boy making a decision like that.

Shauna - posted on 12/08/2011

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Try yogurt and cheese, crackers with peanut butter, and dipping things like fishy crackers in tuna or avacado, maybe. Try apple slices with Nutella or peanut butter. As he starts to like those other foods, just start tilting the ratio. I hope you find some things to feed him! But he is old enough, I think, to start saying, "No chocolate for breakfast. You can have __ or __. Which do you want? __ or __?"

Heather - posted on 03/17/2009

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my son is 18 months now and will eat all of his vegies before anything else. it's not good for a kid that age to be eating like that, nobody should. i give my kids smoothies made with milk, yogurt, anykind of frozen fruit, and i always put fresh spinich in them. i give my kids choices of what they want but offer healthy ones. pretty much when i go grocery shopping i start by produce and go around the store by the refridgerated and frozen items. I only go down the other isles if i need pasta and bread. another thing is to switch to wheat bread. i get the store brand because it doesn't have the hard wheat berries in it.

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My guess is that you probably know the answer to this problem but know it will be rough, am I right?  Obviously if you can't get a 18 month old to eat healthy, you will not be able to get a 3 year old, or 6 year old or 14 year old to eat healthy either.  You are his mother and it is a part of your job to teach him how to eat properly, who else will teach him.  You owe it to him to offer healthy snacks and meals, if he doesn't want to eat them, he doesn't have to.  But you cannot offer junk food just to get something in him.  If he refuses to eat dismiss him from the table.  When he want to eat bring the same plate back out of the fridge and heat it up and offer it again.  In a few days he will get the hang of it.

Jamie - posted on 03/17/2009

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Quick fix, get the junk food out of the house. Dont give him junk food he may go hungry but hes not going to starve himself. My step sons mom only feeds him junk food, so when hes at our house he doesnt want to eat (the biy even asked for syrup to put on his eggs) he went hungry at a few meals but eventaually he gave in.

Helen - posted on 03/17/2009

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be cruel to be kind. Get rid of ALL the junk food and dont get any more. Be firm He eats what you give him and nothing else. Show him that there is nothing unhealthy in the kitchen. At the same time make it fun - play with the food get yoghurt on your nose etc. he needs to be relaxed ( you cant eat if you are stressed or upset) just dont give in - if he wins on this at his age wht will he think he can win when he is 10 or 15!

Kasey-Louise - posted on 03/16/2009

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a friend of mine had the same problem. she would hide veges in food. like make a pasta and hide them in there. he ate veges and never knew the difference

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If they are hungry, they will eat. If they are thirsty, they will drink. If junk food is offered then I would expect him to chose that over healthy fruits and veggies.  Our daughter is 20 months so I can understand the fussiness, but she doesn't get junk food or ask for it. He will eat when he is hungry enough. Good luck!

Anneke - posted on 03/16/2009

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i agree with Lindsay... if kids are hungry enough they will eat almost anything. heck, when they're babies you can't stop them from putting anything in their mouths.  but aside from advice about trying to make healthier snacks look more fun and stuff like that, have you tried having him checked for any sinus problems. i think it's a long shot but generally people (especially picky kids) won't eat anything they don't like the smell of or can't smell.  other than that, i guess just remove the junk food from the house and have faith that he will come around and start eating what is offered.

Lindsay - posted on 03/16/2009

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Advice that I was given...
at this age.. kids will eat when they are hungry.. if they are hungry enough, they will eat it. Don't give him any junky alternatives... be creative using healthy foods that may loook like junk, but have a lot of nutritional elements. Maybe make a healthy breakfast bar packed full of goodness, but throw in some chocolate chips for kid-friendly appeal.
Stay strong, and don't cave... he will come around... in his own time... set a good example.. it will get better if you work at it.

Megan - posted on 03/16/2009

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my son used to eat everything...fruits, veggies, pastas, etc. and he only got gerber snacks for his snack foods...but after her turned one, he refuses to eat everything, so being worried because he started losing weight, i introduced whatever i could...which included junk foods...now, i am still having this problem, and i try to get him to try new things, but he spits everything out...even something that he loved like banannas and chicken patties, he absolutely refuses to eat...

Crystal - posted on 03/16/2009

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How does your son get all that junk food? How was it introduced? My son has never had added sugar or anything fried. I wouldn't offer it. I don't know what to tell you... did he used to eat fruits and veggies?

Amie - posted on 03/16/2009

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Be prepared for a few rough days and stop giving in. My own kids like their treats but they know that if they do not eat their regular healthy food first they will get nothing. Even at that they don't get it everyday. If it's really hard to not cave stop buying it until his habits change. Start with changing your own too. Kids learn a lot from watching us. When mine snack I snack with them so they know it's not something I'm making them do but that mommy likes it too. I made up a fruit tray this afternoon with cucumbers and carrots on it too. Then sat there and watched a movie and ate it. It's just part of the everyday and have always been raised this way so we haven't had to many problems. Though there are the odd food issues, kids can't like everything! lol. Hope it helps some though.

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