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What do you feed your toddler?
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jdblack78 posted:
My DS will be 3 in July. He used to eat very well for me when he was younger but when he hit about 16 months all of that came to and end. He is extremely picky!! I am at my whits end! I am pregnant with baby #2 and am really sick of making my DS separate meals.

He eats no fresh fruit other then bananas. The only other fruits I can get him to eat are the Dole peaches and pears in 100% fruit juice. He won't eat an apple or grape to save my life!

Proteins consist of all beef hotdogs, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, lunch meat, chicken vienna sausages.

He used to eat string cheese and now the only dairy I can get him to eat is yogurt but it has to be yoplait trix flavored yogurt. He will eat applesauce but not the kind that doesn't have any sugar added.

He loves popcorn, pretzels, cookies, pizza, and chips...of course because most of that junk is bad for you. I have to try to give him a healthy choice of meals like chef boyardee ravioli or beefaroni. That is the only way I can get him to eat a veggie. He will not drink smoothies and when it comes to mac and cheese you can forget it. He does love turkey bacon thank goodness since its not so bad for him and eggo waffles.

I am out of idea of what to feed this child if he won't eat anything else. I guess I'm asking what everyone else feeds their children and how they get them to eat it if they are super picky. I try to make him eat what we eat but it always ends in a huge failure resulting in a 3 am scream fest because he's hungry. He has a huge problem with textures of food. It could be very good but if he doesn't like the texture he'll spit it right back out.

Thanks for any advice.
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Jackie03291 responded:
I know that it's hard, but I always said from day one that junk type food would be occasional treats and that was that. My daughter would eat what we ate when we ate it. I have never fluctuated on that, even at those times when she didn't want to eat. I'm really glad I stuck to my guns, because despite the fact that my child LOVES chicken nuggets, french fries and pizza, she knows and now enjoys everything that we serve for dinner with a few minor exceptions. I mean she eats salads full of every type of vegetables, tons of fruits, healthy lean meats, etc etc. Your child will not starve themselves, so from my personal experience and the great success that we have had, our pedi can't even believe how well she eats for a 2.5 year old, just be strict. Serve him only what you are making for yourself and that is that. Tell him that he can have a cookie or ice cream for desert AFTER he eats a least a little bit of each part of his dinner that you serve. There is also a great cookbook that I bought called Deceptively Delicious, which luckily I never ended up needing, but it is a great way to "hide" vegetables in healthy versions of kid friendly food. I've tried a couple of the recipes just for fun, and they are actually pretty good. Who would have thought that you could hide cauliflower in mac n' cheese?! So anyways, from my experience, be hard, be consistent, explain to him that he has to eat his healthy food before he can have a snack. That is exactly what we tell my daughter and she eats GREAT! It really is unbelievable how little fuss now we get to eat anything. Good luck, I know that it can be difficult. I was a very picky eater as a child and I did not want that for my child, which is why it was important for me to get her to eat a variety of healthy foods.
Jackie (26) Bryan (34) Ava 10/14/08
 
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earleyml1012 replied to Jackie03291's response:
I agree with Jackie. DD has to try at least a few bites of everything before we give her something else and most of the time she ends up liking whatever it is we made. She's not AS good of an eater as Jackie's Ava but she still does pretty good with most stuff. Just this weekend she ate some salad on her own will for the first time and completely surprised us!! The more they are exposed the more they are likely to start eating the food. There are a few occassions that we'll make DD something different b/c we know she flat out won't eat something but most of the time it's either what we have or nothing. Yes I have sent her to bed without any food but the next evening she eats better.
 
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lenono97 replied to earleyml1012's response:
I agree, especially for dinner, it's what we have or nothing. I know she won't starve. But one question, how do you get your DD to "try" a food. I say that to my DD all the time and she won't even look at it or pushes it away. Thanks.
 
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jlynnpaine responded:
We have done things very similar to Jackie and our DD is a great eater. I have only ever fixed DD a separate meal from what we were having when she was recovering from the stomach flu.

I do not insist that DD try a bite of everything on her plate. I just put helpings of everything on there and she can eat what she chooses. Sometimes she will finish all of one item and ask for more without touching one of the other items. I'm okay with that because she does eat a variety of fruits and veggies and everything on her plate is healthy. Also, she usually winds up clearing her plate, she just takes her time and finishes an entire food group first. DD doesn't get promised a treat or dessert for eating her dinner. We rarely have dessert ourselves. We also don't keep things like chips or cookies on hand. Some evenings DD will ask for a banana or yogurt melts or fruit snacks after dinner when it's close to bed time and we allow her to have those.

I think the biggest thing is just holding out longer than they do. If your DS wakes at 3 a.m. screaming because he's hungry, offer him a healthy snack. Some cereal, a piece of fruit. If he leaves the dinner table without touching a bite, I'd offer the same thing heated up close to bedtime and see if he's hungry enough to eat it then. The next day, start again. Serve him the same thing everyone else is eating. If he's hungry enough, he'll eat it.

I always try to have at least one item that I know DD likes on her plate so that if she wants nothing else, she can eat that thing. Luckily for me, she likes just about everything. She is leery of new foods. We recently had asparagus and she refused to try it. I will just continue to serve it when we have it and eventually I'm sure she'll take a bite and determine if she likes it or not.

Good luck. I know it's stressful. You can do it!
 
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leftcoastgirl replied to jlynnpaine's response:
I do the same thing as jlynnpaine. DD gets a little of everything we have for dinner, but I don't force her to eat anything. She will occasionally get a little something extra added to her dinner if I know we're having a meal she doesn't care for, but that something extra is typically a banana or a cut up avocado (something quick and healthy).

I think it does help to keep trying with different foods over long periods of time. My DD liked baby food carrots back when she was an infant, but she only recently started liking the real thing. In the interim, I threw away plenty of steamed carrots that she refused (or ate them myself), but eventually she came around and now likes them.

Also, I think if there's a healthy food that your child likes that is a staple, keep serving it regularly and serve new foods alongside it. With my DD, I can always count on her liking sweet potatoes, pasta with marinara, mac and cheese (which I don't consider to be a junk food b/c I either make it myself with real cheese or get a store-bought version made with real cheese - no powder), cut up chicken, etc. So, if I'm serving something new or something she isn't a fan of, I'll always have a favorite food to go along with it. That way, she fills up and maybe tries a bite or two of the new thing.
Me (34), DH (34), DD (2)
 
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jdblack78 replied to leftcoastgirl's response:
Thanks for all the replies. I was able to get him to eat about 3/4 of a grape today! That's a huge accomplishment...only because he wanted more ketchup and I told him to try a grape. He put it in his mouth and spit it right back out because he didn't like the texture of it. He wanted me to cut it in half, so I did that and he tried it again...it came right back out. Then he wanted it cut again into pieces. So, I had little slivers of grapes on his plate and he actually took about 4 bites of it. I almost overjoyed!!

I went to the store today to buy healthier versions of his yogurt...got the lowest sugar ones available. I really am against giving him artificial sweeteners so I got what was better. Hopefully he eats it.

I think I am just to the point now where either he eats what I give him or he starves. I think he will hopefully, eventually, start eating what we eat. I guess we'll see! I'm thinking of not buying anymore of his old foods that I don't want him to really eat anymore so I won't have the urge to give it to him when he won't eat. I just give in because I feel bad and know he is hungry but won't eat. I am such a sucker! I have to learn to stand my ground!

Thanks again for the replies!!
 
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sarahann1978 replied to jdblack78's response:
After reading your original post I wanted to suggest that maybe you try different fruits or veggies. My DS loves mango and kiwi. You might also try berries, some kids really like blueberries or strawberries. Also if he does not like the texture of fresh fruit try dried fruit. DS won't eat fresh apples, but loves dried apple pieces.

Your second post mentions ketchup, when I was visiting family a couple of weeks ago my sister showed DS to dip steamed carrots in mustard. Not my taste preference, but he ate three helpings. Maybe try other dips like BBQ or ranch to help some of the food go down.

I load DS plate with what we are eating and let him go. If he really goes after one thing I will give him more of that and don't make him eat the other stuff first. We try to encourage him to try everything, but don't force it. We will sometimes give a dessert for eating most of his dinner, but not always. He definitely gets no treat if he does not eat at least half of the food on his plate.

I don't have much problem with DS, but my brother and SIL had to withhold milk from their boys until after they ate a majority of food or they would fill up on the milk first. Does your DS drink a lot before and during the meal?
Sarah (32), DH(30), DS (Jan. 09) sarahaburger.blogspot.com
 
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eliguns841984 responded:
okay, please do not take what I am about to say the wrong way. I do not want you to feel attacked at all and I think that you are a good parent, or else you wouldn't give a crap enough to ask these questions. With that being said...

I think you might take a bit of time to educate yourself a bit further about healthy foods. It's hard nowadays to make healthy choices because so many foods are marketed as "healthy" options when indeed they are not! Do not forget to check labels for things like sugar, saturated fat, and sodium...SNEAKY fillers. Hydrogenated oils are bad too, and can be found in many "kid-friendly" packaged foods. Do not be misled by labels that simply SAY they are a healthy option or that say things like "whole grain" as though that automatically makes it healthy.

"Proteins consist of all beef hotdogs, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, lunch meat, chicken vienna sausages"

These are not healthy options. Nor is yoplait trix flavored yogurt, sugary applesauce, or anything chef boyardee. Frankly, turkey bacon is not much better for you than regular bacon, either.

With that being said, I understand as a mother of a child the same age (DS will be 3 in July) that it is not easy to get them to eat healthy foods. But you have got to stop buying the unhealthy stuff. If you continue to give in and let him have that stuff, he will continue to expect it. It's hard and it takes more time because packaged foods are quick and convenient, but they are not good options. As many have said before, children will not starve themselves. They eat what they are offered IF they are hungry. If we find ourselves slipping into a habit of overindulging DS, we pull it right back and cut out the snacks altogether until he gets back to eating his meals. If we sincerely feel he does not like something, we give him another option. If we make something we know he likes and he's just being picky-well, he can eat at the next meal or we will pull this one back out of the fridge when he's hungry. End of story. It is your job to teach him healthy eating habits and get him accustomed to healthy foods, and he will likely not do this on his own. Stay strong, stick to your guns, and continue to offer foods that you know he doesn't actually dislike. He will eventually eat them.

Good luck mama!!!
Noel (26) DH (31) J.T. born 7/23/08 Abram born 11/08/2010
 
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jlynnpaine replied to jdblack78's response:
That's fantastic that he tried the grape. For my DD, the way food is presented makes a big difference in whether she eats it or not. We used to cut her grapes, bananas, etc up for her into small pieces. Then she quit eating them. So we tried giving her whole pieces instead and she started gobbling them up. So if he refuses to try something one time, maybe try presenting it a different way the next time and see if he's more willing. Especially if he doesn't like the textures, this could help.

We had tatertot casserole awhile ago and I'd served DD's on a plate. When she got to the table she said "Shae Bear don't like that. It's yack (yuck)." I said, "You haven't even tasted it yet, how do you know it's yuck?" She said, "It looks yack." And it did. But once she tried it, she liked it.

I agree with whoever recommended the sauces for dipping. DD loves dipping her baked potato and chicken into bbq sauce. Keep it up. I think eliminating the foods you don't want him to have is a great step in the right direction. If they're not there, it's not tempting you to cave and serve him that instead. He'll learn in time that he'll either eat what's served or he'll go away hungry.
 
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alliegirl77 responded:
One creative suggestion I have for you is to involve your LO in the buying and preparing of the healthy stuff. I know that sounds odd at this age but it has been fun for us. We have gone to the local farmer's market now that it is spring and she picks out all kinds of fun fruits and veggies and then we go home and peel it, clean it, wash it, etc...whatever it takes to get it so that she can eat it. Just the fact that she is involved in it and actually picked it herself versus me forcing it on her is reason enough for her to try it. She doesn't like all of it of course but the whole point is to show her a variety and it's just plain fun for our LO's.

Now, that being said in our house, she also knows that at dinnertime in particular she must take a "no thank you bite" of everything on her plate. if she does not like it she does not have to eat it. There are times if I am making something spicy or something that I know she does not like I will make something else for her but otherwise she gets what we have and if she doesn't want it she must not be hungry that night...she is definitely not starving.

You have to stand your ground on this stuff for sure. It is our job to help our kids learn to eat healthy as hard as it is sometimes. Being a momma isn't easy!
Me(33), DH(37), and DD(2)born 9/22/08. She's amazing!
 
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jlynnpaine replied to alliegirl77's response:
Your post just reminded me of something. I've seen in parenting magazines where you cut fruits or veggies or even sandwiches, etc out with cookie cutters, or make them into little designs and it makes it fun for the kids. So that's another idea to get them interested in trying new things.


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