How do you get a picky toddler to eat?

Brandy - posted on 06/08/2011 ( 31 moms have responded )

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I have a 2 year old that doesn't like any fruits or vegetables. She only wants grains and some meats. She loves yogurt and milk but I want her to eat fruits and veggies. Any ideas? I also am on a very tight budget. Any low cost solutions?

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Jennifer - posted on 06/13/2011

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Hide it! Steam then blended yellow squash in Mac n cheese, my kids had no idea. Same with broccoli in spaghetti. Spaghetti or marinara sauce can hide alot. Jerry Seinfeld's wife has a book or 2 out that has some really good recipes.

Colleen - posted on 06/09/2011

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I have the best solution ever.....I have been doing these recipeso for 2 weeks now and they r great. Look up The Sneaky Chef. She has books and free recipes on the site just for that.....sneaking veggies into ur toddlers food, completely undetectable! My 2 yr old (and husband) love these dishes! Check it out they r amazng easy recipes!

Nicola - posted on 06/09/2011

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someone i know got a juicer and made up there own fruit juice vege combos for there kids who wouldn't eat vegies. personally i just feed my kids what we are eating but smaller portions with a mix through the week of there favourites and our but if they have eaten very badly one day i will do another day of one of our favourites rather than theres as they are likely to be hungrier and more likely to try it if they don't eat there dinner they don't eat. they are only offered healthy snacks fruit and veg they get a sweet treat of homemade cake normally full of carrot and apple lol after lunch and thats it i found if i made dessert all the time they wouldn't eat the healthy meal if they have a really busy day and are hungry its vege sticks and fruit as extra's. If you only offer the healthy things they will eat them after a while but it can be very stressful when they seem to be loosing weight. just remember survival instinct is very strong and they really won't starve them selves. it does depend a bit on age of course but start early and hopefully you won't have any problems. my daughter alsoloved to stand on a chair and help make dinner which involved her asking what all the veges where called and then trying them all she even used to eat raw onion and garlic.

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if he does not like whatever we are eating I insist he take one real bite chew and swallow then if he still does not like it I give him something else. after it hits the taste buds so many times they get used to it, and every time it is different for one reason or another. if that does not work here are some things I do. have them help pick out the foods (give two choices your okay with) let them help make it if your cooking and they cant help give them some play food and old food containers ask for their ideas of what you should make. and some times I let him dip things, like chicken nuggets in applesauce. some times I bribe him too, he really likes his bread so I keep it when I give him his dinner and he has to take one bite of... then I give him one bite of the bread. good luck.

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Angela - posted on 06/14/2011

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We I live in The Netherlands we do not have Ranch or Carnation instant .... But to be honest I can make any dip with yogurt, she wont eat it with the dip, she will just eat the dip! I tried pediasure... she wont drink it. My daughter is so picky she does not like chocolate.
I do worry of her getting proper nutrition, I give her vitamins and omegas daily, but she has not gained any weight in months! She has grown some however. The doctor made note of the lack of weight gain and she will see him again next month. That is always my worry, her weight and proper nutrition for good growth and development.

Julie - posted on 06/14/2011

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Let her dip her veggies in Ranch dressing... BUT DO NOT MAKE A BIG DEAL OF IT - something in children simply recognizes the power struggle and they will pull back and assert their independence.
Offer raw fruits every time she is hungry (before a meal).
A drink of water helps too...

Karen - posted on 06/14/2011

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LIZ - you and I have the same mold of a child!! My daughter is the pickiest eater ever!! She has been going through this now for a year, and believe me it breaks my heart, but she drinks carnation instant breakfast and gets nutrients!! She is growing and gaining weight so something is working!!! BUT I wish she would eat better, but I know eventually it will happen! My doctor said to pick my battles and not make this one, one of them!! Thanks for letting me know I am not the only mom out there going through this!

Karen - posted on 06/14/2011

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I discovered that my daughter will only eat veggies with "sauce". The sauce will depend on your child, but for my daughter, she loves RANCH dressing and she will eat ketchup once in a while, but mostly the ranch, and it works great with veggies!! Try that, might work! She thinks it's cool to dip the veggies, but we tell her to take a cookie monster bite of the veggie with the sauce on it!! BUT it gets her to eat the veggies!! FRUIT she doesn't have any issue with! So I can't help you with that one! Good luck!

Liz - posted on 06/14/2011

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You can't make a picky toddler eat, it's a stage which they will eventually grow out of. If you're worried about getting enough nutrients you can add protein shakes (we used carnation instant breakfast at the suggestion of our pediatrician) and they also make kids drinks now sold in the baby isle. Other than that, just make a plate of the food you would normally serve her, just include something that you know she will eat, and don't make a big deal out of it. One day she'll surprise you and just start eating everything. My 3 yr. old is currently going through this and my other daughter just turned 5 in may only outgrew it about 6 months ago. Oh, and in the frozen section of your grocery store they should have some smoothie mixes-frozen fruit and yogurt, all you need to do is add milk(or juice depending on the brand) They are delicious, both of my girls love them.

Angela - posted on 06/13/2011

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I did do the steamed and mashed veggie last night with mac and cheese homemade with whole grain pasta. I steamed mixed veg(not any squash) and put in my food processor! It worked! She did eat it!

Angela - posted on 06/13/2011

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My daughter loves to prepare and help but won't eat eat it, she has tried it however...than goes yuck and spits out the offending fruit or veg, but the steam and mash has helped. I do hide in the marinara sauce but she does not always eat the sauce, just wants the pasta. I tried that in mac and cheese...she would not eat it!

Katrina - posted on 06/12/2011

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Have you tried getting her to help prepare the meals? Failing that, find recipes that "hide" the fruit and veg!

Angela - posted on 06/12/2011

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NEWS FLASH Claire ate spinach via a sneaky way. Claire loves potatoes, Mashed is a big favorite. Yesterday I roasted a chicken(her favorite way to eat chicken) and made mashed potatoes. I had some frozen spinach. I cooked it and realized this stuff is pretty mushy and started to mash it with the mashed potatoes. I kept tasting them and stopped adding as soon as I the taste of the potatoes started to change a little.
Results, she ate them up, did not even notice! Maybe she did don't know but the good news she ate them. I don't think she did notice because alone she won't touch spinach. not even try it.
So I thought well why not cook other veggies to mash constancy and mash them with the potatoes. ..well have to experiment tonight carrots.

Jill - posted on 06/11/2011

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my children are now almost 12 and 13 and i find making smoothies with ice cream and adding the fruit to it is a good way also finely chopping it and adding it to their favorite yogurts without telling them till they say how much they like it has worked wonders also extra play or tv when they eat fruit naturally or adding it to there weetabix is a fun way it sometimes make them feel its forced upon them where as a comprise uselly helps a lot as they choose what fruit to have

Jill - posted on 06/11/2011

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you tried making ice cream smothies and adding fresh fruit to them my children are almost 12 and 13 and i find to get them to have fruit i have to add it to there favorite things also i reward them with xtra tv time or play if they have fruit

Brandy - posted on 06/10/2011

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I will definitely look into the sneaky chef website. Its so encouraging to know more mommas out there are dealing with picky eaters this young. I have four other children who are not this way so it is difficult for me. Thanks for the idea o mix it as a sauce and pour it over her meats. Always looking for new ideas.

Angela - posted on 06/10/2011

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well my Claire is 2.5 years and she is still picky! In fact when she first started solids she was not as picky... but I never make a issue of it, she just does not eat much or like much.

Layla - posted on 06/10/2011

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If your toddler has just over an illness then you have probably found their eatings habits regress while they were ill and it makes you feel like you're starting again from scratch! It makes feeding them very stressful and this then creates tension around food and shows them that they can control things around them by playing up with their food! The easy way to deal with this is too just make sure they are getting plenty of calories during illness as this will help them fight the virus also I tend to turn a blind eye to refusal to eat healthy for the duration of illness as they always take a step backwards. Getting kids to eat healthy is pretty difficult but be rest assured they will and in 6 months you'll be wondering why it was such a big deal. My 2nd son is 2 and a half he was a nightmare to get fruit and veggies in to him! 6 months ago I was on the phone with the health visitor because of it. We just persisted with the veg we could hide in amongst his gravy dinners like carrots and broccoli and cauliflower completely mashing them in his gravy and putting it on his spoon with a bit of crunchy breaded chicken (he loves crunchy food! Not keen on mash potato) also we still give him fruitpot purees bought from any supermarket even though now he will eat apples, pears, bananas and strawberries. He hates peas and sweetcorn and had to train us to learn what he likes and dislikes. It's just a huge learning curve and finding out together what they like and really won't give in to! Make it fun and prepare the food together, have a teddy bear picnic and set out plates for all the soft toys to share the food. Just make it a really relaxed affair so that the child doesn't learn to use food to get to you. Sometimes experementing with giving them a grown up plate and proper fork is all it takes to get them to try something new. My son will eat a varied amount of veg now but if he sees green on his plate he won't eat it so we just mash and hide it still! Hope this helps. Good luck just remember they aren't little for long and they can soon tell you what they do and don't like! :-)

Erin - posted on 06/09/2011

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You could mix yogurt fruit and ice and make her a smoothie. Mix fruit and yogurt together and freeze it to make popsicles. I also grind up veggies in my meat. Like carrots in meatloaf or even taco meat. Also my daugter love the V8 veggie and fruit juice. They have one with half the sugar so it is healthier. Good luck!!

Amber - posted on 06/09/2011

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This is my 3rd toddler...and they can get pretty picky at times! I felt as long as they were eating(mostly good stuff) they are okay. I would keep introducing them every so often. Eventually they starting eating the fruits and veggies!

Molly - posted on 06/09/2011

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For car rides, we always give him a carrot. Does it ever seem like you get in the car, and the first thing you hear is, "i'm hungry!" ugh, we have been giving him a carrot since i can remember, and he always eats it. Carrots are cheap, clean (for the most part) and much less than what a happy meal would be.

Serve fruits and veggies as an appetizer while you prepare the rest of the meal. Also, in between meals, offer fruit/veggies. Do applesauce and cinnamon or put berries/preserves in her yogurt? I also will cover his meats in a sauce- like homemade parsnip soup, cranberry sauce, or tortilla soup. He also likes dips- salsa is a great one. GL

Angela - posted on 06/09/2011

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going to take a look at the sneaky chef...but i try to be sneaky hope she is better than me!

Brandy - posted on 06/08/2011

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Love the muffin tin idea. Gonna give it a try. I've tried mixing veggies and fruits in smoothies and she wouldn't touch them. Couldn't even get her to try it. Its so frustrating to see her not eat what she needs. She loves yogurt so I will be on the lookout for that one. =)

Angela - posted on 06/08/2011

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Sadly we don't have that brand of yogurt here but maybe I could try it myself, she loves yogurt but she likes it plain... strange I know. I have a food processor I just will have to make it really smooth, maybe cook it first(fruit).
I just offered steamed spinach with a bit of creamcheese stirred in, purred it, she ate only a bite did not spit it out, (she loves cream cheese) but that was it.... it was a start!

Cori - posted on 06/08/2011

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Some of the organic yogurt companies make yogurt with fruit and veggie puree on the bottom. I know Yo Baby does. It is called 3-in-1 meal yogurt. They get one serving of fruit, one of veggie, and one of yogurt in each cup. More expensive than regular yogurt but it was work it for us. We also do a lot of smoothies. I'll throw frozen and fresh fruit, a hand full of spinach, a couple scoops of regular yogurt, and a little juice into the blender. He drinks it just like juice and I usually have a cup too. You may also try the cook book "Deceptively Delicious" for more ideas. Good luck!

Angela - posted on 06/08/2011

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I like the muffin tin idea! Yeah she would just eat the dip :) but once in a blue moon she has tried a strawberry, or cucumber usually she spits it out but she does try it.

I think it is a texture thing, she likes smooth stuff. I tried the smoothies, she did not like the bits of stuff from things so I would have to strain it so that was a huge chore so I just buy the veggie/fruit mix juice.

I will try your suggestions! The muffin tin is a great one!

I try not to stress, glad to hear you little is fine! She is tall for her age so I know she is growing, she is just skinny minnie! But the doc looked worried last visit. Basically she has not gained weight in about 6 months

M - posted on 06/08/2011

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My oldest went through a picky stage and was considered a "failure to thrive" baby, so I understand how upsetting it can be! You may have already tried some of these.
He was more of a grazer as a lot of kids are at that age, so I started setting out snack trays (or muffin tins) with a variety of foods. You could just do fruits and veggies with a dip. And see if she will come to it within her own time. Or if you think she'll just end up eating the dip, you could skip that part.
Smoothies were very helpful to us. Not sure if it would work if she really doesn't like any fruit though. But if she likes to drink them, you can sneak pretty much any fruit or green veggie into a smoothie.
I found that I was also only offering my son veggies that I like, prepared in ways I like. He had his own ideas about what was good! In general, he prefers raw vegetables and could eat a pound of steamed spinach in one sitting. Maybe offer veggies in new ways.
And lastly, I wouldn't stress it too much. We flipped out, not going to lie! It was so stressful and so not worth it. He eventually started eating more things. He's still very small but back on the charts. Just make sure you're offering a variety of healthful foods and you're probably good. She may never love fruits and veggies, but simply refusing them is probably just a stage.

Angela - posted on 06/08/2011

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So what to do lol, I only worry about her weight... my oldest hated most meat but I gave her other protein foods like cheese, peanut butter, etc. She would eat just about anything so this is hard for me with respect to my Claire.
I have heard from one doctor to force it, meaning don't feed her anything else and that when she gets hungry she will eat and be less picky. But for a while she was sick and very thin, she was even on formula after her second bday. At least with the formula she was getting all those vitamins. Now I worry about her getting enough vitimins and her weight is in the 9th percentile at the moment, at 5 percent they start to really worry... She is just getting over an ear and upper respiratory infection, lost weight and it always makes me anxious to see her so thin.

Stifler's - posted on 06/08/2011

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My kid HATES meat. He will only eat veggies and doesn't even like white potato just pumpkin adn sweet potato and carrots and pea it's annoying.

Angela - posted on 06/08/2011

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Oh I was so hoping to see some answers to your question! I have the same problem! She likes whole grains, bread, pasta and milk, juice, yogurt very much.
She eats some meats not a lot and will not touch a veggie and rarely fruit. If she eats fruit it is a bite of a banana but most of the time not that!
She is tall and is very thin, I am starting to worry she is getting underweight.
I give her the gummy disney vitamins and omegas daily. I am going to make a doctor appt. to see about her weight and what to do.
I do try to sneak in veggies and fruit with a drink but she only likes certain ones. I do get her to eat a few veggies in soup but they have to be tiny and very soft.

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