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My 2 year old son will NOT eat dinner

I'm so frustrated! Dinner is usually between 5:30-6 pm. He eats lunch at 12:30. A light snack at 2. So he *IS* hungry at dinner time. It has turned into such a battle to get him to eat, let alone, take *a* bite! & then, when he does take a bite, he holds it in his mouth forever! He refuses to chew/swallow it.
I've tried just letting him go to bed hungry, but I feel so awful, because he *is* 2 years old. He has to eat right?
I refuse to make something he does like (ex. PB&J) for dinner because I want him to eat other foods.
I've tried making him sit there until he take a bite.
I've tried having him take a drink, w/food in his mouth, so he will have to chew it. Turns out he will spit the food in his cup, then take a drink! *gag!*
I don't know what else to do! I'm tired of hearing, "he'll eat when he's ready" BS! Doesn't happen. Its been over a month. This habit/phase, has got to end!! :P


Asked by Ellie19 at 10:17 PM on Mar. 15, 2009 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 18 (5,578 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (12)
  • I have a two year old also. I think maybe your son knows your hot button! He's power-tripping on the food business.

    Try setting his dinner down in front of him and don't say or do anything else. After dinner is over, take the plate away (put it in the fridge) and get him down from the table. Don't say a word, or act like anything is wrong. Just clean up the dishes and go about the rest of your night.

    I'm guessing he will be like my son and an hour later be asking for something to eat. Give him the dinner again. Don't say anything, just set the dinner (warm in microwave)in front of him again and leave him alone.

    If he doesn't eat it then, take it away and get him down. By then, it will probably be time for bedtime routine. Let him go to bed hungry. You may have a hard time doing it, but YOU are in charge. If you cave in and give him junk because he won't eat what you make, HE'S in charge.

    *Buck UP* He'll ea

    Answer by timelessglass at 10:28 PM on Mar. 15, 2009

  • He'll eat.

    Answer by timelessglass at 10:29 PM on Mar. 15, 2009

  • I think timelessglass has a good idea. my idea was similiar.
    but if he is making a choice not to eat then you need to remember that is HIS CHOICE.'s not like you refusing to feed him or you didnt give him enough of an opportunity. He has to learn not only to eat what you have given him to eat, but also when it is appropriate to eat. It's not okay to eat RIGHT BEFORE bed. it's bad for your teeth and your digestive system.
    remain consistant.
    Good luck!

    Answer by outstandingLove at 10:32 PM on Mar. 15, 2009

  • At my home daycare, I see this problem all the time. I don't make a big deal of it, I just cheerfully and matter of factly put the food down in front of them but after that it's up to them. In a couple of weeks they realize that what is put before them is what's for breakfast (lunch or whatever) and they won't get anything else until snack or lunch. It sounds kind of mean but it's all in your attitude. If he sees you and the rest of teh family eating and chatting happily, chances are, he will want to as well. Hang in there, Mom, you're doing a great job :)

    Answer by TessaBianca at 10:38 PM on Mar. 15, 2009

  • I think the first idea is great as well. And I commend you for not giving into feeding him one thing every day/night. Too many parents do this and its not a good decision to let your kids choose chicken nuggets and mac n cheese every day! Or pb & j as you said. :-) good mommy!

    Answer by MamaChamp at 10:43 PM on Mar. 15, 2009

  • My friend has the same problem. Her 2.5 year old refuses to eat foods he doesn't like. She gets so panicked that he's starving, she just gives him whatever he wants. He eats waffles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The other day he had pizza and they let him have 2-3 slices because they were so excited he was eating and congratulated him on eating so much (I thought...over-processed starch, sugar-packed tomato sauce and processed waxy cheese...and you're EXCITED?!). The foot needs to be put down. If you don't eat what is put in front of you at the table, you don't eat. If you decide you want food again later, you can have what was had at dinner, nothing else. If not you go until breakfast (if I pulled that crap, my parents would make me eat what we had at dinner for breakfast until I finished the meal...needless to say, my "power strike" didn't last long). Good luck!

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:25 PM on Mar. 15, 2009

  • Thank You Sooo much for your support ladies!!! & great advice/ideas! I really appreciate it!!!
    I'm just ready to try anything! lol!
    Family members say that I'm starving him, but like you guys said, it is HIS choice not to eat. But then I feel so guilty, like I'm a bad mom because he doesn't eat.

    grr... Kids are super fun! Everyone should have them!! ;)

    Answer by Ellie19 at 12:25 AM on Mar. 16, 2009

  • Wow! My 2 year old chews food in his mouth for a long time too! I thought he would never stop this awful habit! One night he held food in there till the next morning, His breath was so BAD!!!! Anyway, the good news is, I have started to literally dice up his food for him and give him smaller portions. I've figured out that if too much food was on his plate he wouldn't eat it. So I gave him little mouse sized portions and then added a little more each time he finished it. It worked for us!
    Then later on, started using dessert as a reward, now it wasn't always sugar, but something like 3strawberries and a little whip cream, or 2 apple wedges and peanut butter. His food would dissapear FAST! ANd don't feel bad if he doesn't eat, you are giving him food,chances are he will get over the texture of the food and chew it up and swallow it down.

    Answer by calatres at 12:33 AM on Mar. 16, 2009

  • Sounds like he's try to control the only thing he thinks he can control. I haven't read all of the responses, so sorry if this is a repeat. Try offering an option. Don't be offeneded if he says no. Don't make a big deal out of it or try to force it. It will only make it worse. Try letting him come to the fridge with you and offer grapes or apples and see which he chooses. Just something to give him more control. Ask which plate he would liek to use. A spoon or a fork. Let him grab the one he wants and be part of the preperation of his plate of food. I know all kids are different to will respond to these ideas idfferently. Try one at time and give it a week so he has time to adjust before giving up on it.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:00 AM on Mar. 16, 2009

  • I went through this with my daughter..shes now 20 months old..turns out she was just drinking to much during the day and by the time dinner came she wasnt hungry! Another thing that helped us is she has her own little Dora table..She doesnt like sitting at the big table with us, but she loves being a big girl and eating at her very own table. She eats really good now and we dont have a problem.

    Answer by madisonsmom7197 at 11:02 AM on Mar. 16, 2009