How to get your toddler to eat the majority of their food??

Serena - posted on 08/18/2010 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My 2 year old picks at his food and lives off drinking water or juice

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Alleah - posted on 08/23/2010

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My policy is, don't let her think I'm trying ot get her to eat it. I don't mind her grazing on small healthy snacks all day, and having a small dinner. She has all sorts of things over the day. First thing in the morning is a drink of milk, or water. Later on we'll give her cheerios, or fruit, or yogurt, later on, she'll have a bit of bologne lunch meat, or whatever Mom's having because Dad lets me sleep in until about her second snack! (love that man) Usually that'll be something like toast and jam, or cheese cubes. Usually a little more fruit or a fruit smoothie. I make them with fresh fruit, and no ice, but whole milk and vanilla yogurt to make them a bit sweeter, and she loves them. She can usually go a few hours after that without eating and them she usually shares whatever we're snacking on, instant noodles, or sometimes veggies and dip or tortilla and salsa (LOVES anything she can dip). She always eats a small portion of whatever we have to eat at dinner, and she's adventurous, she'll eat almost anything we put in front of her. Loves all pasta, lasagna, loves chicken and even spicy foreign foods! Only toddler I've ever met who loves curry! Yeah, I think the trick is, to allow them to come and go from their snacks, so that they can graze a bit, and when their attention span ends, go play for a few minutes until their tumblies start rumbling again. When I sit her in the high chair, I ignore what she decides to do with her food, as long as it ends up in the mouth eventually. The only thing I insist on is no throwing food off the tray. Sure she gets messy, and sometimes leaves a trail of cheerios through the house, but she's such a fantastic eater because of it.

I think it's important that their little tummies are smaller, and attention spans shorter than ours, and offering less more often throughout the day will ensure that more of it will get eaten. Also, I'm being a total hypocrite here, but the doctors advise against fruit juice, even natural because the sugar will fill them up, and cause them to be a lot pickier about what they do eat. Ever since Anna's eighteen month checkup, I've cut juice out of her diet, and she's happily finished everything I've given her.

Sorry for the ramble...I hope some of this helps! :)

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Allison - posted on 04/26/2011

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I agree with alleah. I let my 20 mth old have a snack mid morning and midafternoon, with drinks after, so she is essentially grazing. The other thing i agree with is dipping. We have to make food fun and I use ketchup, donair sauce or salsa as dips to keep her entertained and eating. I also find she eats better if she has been helping prepare the food. I let her stand on a chair and put the veggies in the pot as I cut them (after a good hand scrubbing!!) and she 'shakes' our shake and bake. I always find when she has been a part of the process she eats better cuz I can say 'Eat some of the carrots you cooked' or whatever it is.

Debra - posted on 08/21/2010

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I agree with the previous comments 1, they will not starve - my doctor said they will eat when they are ready and need to - even if it seems like it may be a long wait for us. 2. we must limit the amount of drink just before a meal because they do fill up quickly - i also 'distract' my son with a book or singing a song to keep him eating as very often he eats almost like a machine if he is busy doing something else. He likes to pretend that he is a train station and the train is going in etc. I also tend to puree all of the veggies i want him to eat if i know that he's not in the mood to eat them and hide them in his favourite foods. Also, we have read and have been told that food must not be a punishment or a reward as it will lead to bad habits and expectations down the road so to keep introducing things over and over and just wait out the pickiness until you finally have some success - my son loves olives, hummous and several other things i would never have expected him to like because hes been exposed to them often enough - and although he previously would fight re broccoli now he actually likes it - so we must be patient and just keep making creative meals that expose them to everything that we would like them to eat. It will happen in time - like bottles and pacifiers- none of us drink from bottles or have pacifiers, and yet many of us were attached to those when we were small - just takes time and patience, and not filling them up with water or juice or snacks.OR - making sure their snacks are healthy choices so that they get the nutrition that they need from those if you are really concerned. Good luck and keep counting to ten during meal times - i know we often feel like a restaurant!

Dora - posted on 08/20/2010

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Don't give your toddler a drink until they are done with their food. If they seem thirsty in the middle of eating than reduce the amount you give them. That is what I had to do with my son. I noticed in the beginning he would drink all of his milk and then be full. I cut is back significantly and now he eats his food and knows to drink only when he is thirsty.

Nicole - posted on 08/19/2010

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Kids go through phases with eating. My daughter is 2 as well and we deal with this eating issues. Kids won't starve themselves and will eat when hungry. It's normal for toddlers not to have a hearty appetite. The serving size for toddlers is 1 Tbs per year of age which isn't a lot. My advice is not to allow a lot of snacking when going through this phase so they are hungry when it's time to eat. What has started to work for us is at dinner she has to try 1 bite of everything before she can leave the table. Most times she'll cringe and take a tiny bite but then will eat more; where before she wouldn't eat anything. She also likes things to be really bland. She doesn't eat at every meal but this has made a difference. Again it's normal and not a huge issue.

Theresa - posted on 08/19/2010

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My daughter is a huge milk drinker. To get her to eat her food I bribe her with M&Ms. If she finishes all her food she gets 3 M&Ms, if she doesn't finish she doesn't get any. A lot of times she will finish her food to get the M&Ms.

Jenni - posted on 08/19/2010

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The moment i stopped trying is the moment my 2 year old started trying! He's still quite picky but has a heartier appetite and is more open to new foods. Just keep offering her a variety of different foods to sample. Re-introduce foods she has snubbed in the past, you may get a surprise. My son too loves to drink, i found when i slowly cut back on how many drinks he had his appetite for foods increased.

Erin - posted on 08/19/2010

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Some kids are just pickers. My son is. Just offer healthy things. Another good thing to give him is French toast because of the eggs then I add a little sweet potato puree to the egg mixture then he'll get some veggies. Cheese is a good source of protein as well. Homemade smoothies with fat free yoghurt and frozen fruits in the blender you can also freeze them to make popsicles. And I am in total agreement with Brittany don't give the drink until he's eaten a little of his food first.

Brittany - posted on 08/18/2010

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YOU CANT lol at least i can not. I try to give my daughter a variety of foods, little at a time. And i try not to let her even see her drink untill shes eaten a little bit otherwise she will drink her tummy full. Mine LOVES fruits and veggies and ketchup, she wont eat meat at all but i try to substitute peanut butter, nuts and eggs for her protein just try to substitue as much as possible for the food groups. Also cut down on snacks throughout the day,so he or she will be hungry at meal times

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