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Tips for a picky eater (2 1/2 years old)????

My 21/2 year old has become very picky lately. She will eat a few foods, such as pancakes, hot dogs, grilled cheese, pb&j and nutella on bread. She will eat some fruits, cheese & other healthy snacks, which is great, but meals are tough.
Breakfast & lunch aren't usually too stressful because we let her choose what she wants to eat. BUT when dinner rolls around, I want to get her into the habit of eating what is served. I will not make 5 different dinners every day.
She used to eat almost EVERYTHING! Chicken, pasta, pizza, noodles, etc. Now she looks at it & says she doesn't want it & screaming from her usually follows.

My problem is that she is still so young that I wonder how much she understands, but at the same time I do not want to mold a picky eater. I've also heard if you're too tough on your child, they can develop eating disorders! As you can tell, this is stressing me out just a tad. (which is also why she probably screams every night at dinner because we're stressed).

Also, FYI we do not believe in spanking, so that is not an option. Thanks!!

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Asked by tmp1283 at 4:21 PM on Aug. 27, 2012 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 6 (119 Credits)
Answers (17)
  • Offer the food. It's HER choice whether to eat it or not. If she doesn't eat the meal, she can have it again at breakfast. Kids are picky because the parents allow them to be.

    I would also curtail how much choice she has at breakfast and lunch, that's not helping at dinner. From HER view, she gets to dictate what she eats at breakfast and lunch, but not at dinner. It's now a power struggle. Instead, give her small choices: strawberry or cherry yogurt with breakfast. Grape or peach jelly on her toast.

    Same with dinner. Would she like green beans or carrots with dinner? Also, set a 3-bite, no thank you rule. She has to eat at least 3 good bite of food before she gets to say she's done/she doesn't like it/she's full.

    My kids have tried to pull the picky eater crap on me, but by doing what I outlined above, they got over it fairly quickly.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 4:29 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • I don't think anyone would suggest spanking for not eating! Just make what you make and keep serving her. Try cutting out snacks and making lunch smaller so she's very hungry at dinner time. Milk and juice can fill up a toddler too. Sit down and eat together and if she doesn't eat she doesn't eat. The screaming worries me- that's a little far.

    Answer by staciandababy at 4:30 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • You do not have to spank. Put food in front of her. If she does not want it. You get up. take the plate. Go to the trash and thow the food in the trash. Tell her she will get nothing else tell the next meal. Execpt water. She will not starve. If you do this. You will not have a picky eater anymore. When I say nothing else I mean no food or drinks tell the next meal. Execpt water..
    Let her scream,,,in her room.

    Answer by louise2 at 4:31 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • Forgot to add. The only thing my kids drank at meals was water. Kids will fill up on milk and sweet liquids.

    Answer by louise2 at 4:35 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • Thanks for your input everyone. The reason I added the spanking comment is because while this site has been VERY helpful to me, it never fails that on many posts, people suggest spanking, so I wanted to make that clear from the beginning.

    My child LOVES milk so maybe giving her less of that would be a good idea, thanks for that suggestion.

    The 3 bite rule is very difficult because she will refuse to take a bite. She will close her mouth and I do not want to shove it in, you know? But as she gets older I can try that one, thanks!

    Maybe lessening snacks would be good & I like the suggestion of letting her have a say so in part of her breakfast & lunch, but not the whole meal. Good ideas that I will try. Thank you! :)

    Comment by tmp1283 (original poster) at 4:39 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • Stop making "kid" food and give her stuff that you eat as well. Eventually she will get hungry enough and start eating. She will also learn to eat a wider variety of veggies and proteins. My kids developed a very grown-up palette at a very young age. They love cavier, sushi, quinoa, kasha, farro, all kinds of veggies (roasted in oven is their favorite way to eat them). They also love fish. I make salmon burgers from canned salmon that has been my kids comfort food from a very young age.

    Answer by robinkane at 4:55 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • Not everything works 100% of the time, nor does it work from the get-go. The more tips, tricks and tools you have in your parenting toolbox, the more likely something will work.

    The biggest "problem" I've found with my kids is that they DO NOT come with an owner's manual or a trouble shooting guide. All we can do is the best we can.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 4:55 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • i will cover veggies with cheese sauce or gravy or add veggies to macaroni.

    Answer by mandielynn23 at 5:10 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • My son did this for a while, but he'd still eat anything on anyone else's plate. I'd make myself a plate, on his plate, sit down to "eat" and once he started wanting what I had I'd say "Oh fine, here you can have this one then" and I'd give it to him and make my own plate lol. Probably not the best solution but it worked and luckily it was just a stage. Once he started eating more "meal"-type foods he got over it.

    Answer by maecntpntz219 at 5:33 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

  • I just offer something that I know my son will eat with every meal.. pasta, rice, chicken, etc. He doesn't have to eat everything that is served. My older son was so picky, but he out grew it himself when he was around 8. I'm not worried about it at all.

    Answer by mompam at 6:10 PM on Aug. 27, 2012

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