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Advice on getting my toddler to eat again? Desperate....

My daughter is 2 1/2. About a year ago, she became a picky eater overnight (literally). From the day she began eating solid foods, she would eat anything. Her favorite foods were things like peas, beans, and sweet potatos. Then, one day, she suddenly started refusing foods. First, it was vegetables, then others followed. She won't even touch mashed potatoes anymore! Basically, the only foods she will willingly ingest right now are: cereals (hot and cold); most basic fruit and some more exotic varieties (loves avocados); tortillas (flour); white rice; corn on the cob; some pasta (only with a tomato sauce); and refried beans. And, of course, sweets (I recently cut her off from those entirely). Occasionally, she will eat a PB&J sandwich, or canned black bean and vegetable soup (random and suprising, I know). Aside from the corn (and let's face it, not much nutrition there), vegetables are a no go.
I realize that most children go through a similar phase during these delightful "terrible twos", but I am really growing concerned about her health. Yes, I give her vitamins, but those can only do so much for nutrition. I refuse to resort to just handing her Pediasure and such drinks, because that would only increase her desire for sweets and teach her "hey, if I don't eat, I get a sweet drink". Besides, she is lactose-intolerant.
She is not getting enough calories, but I don't want to fill her with empty ones. I have raised her on a vegetarian diet, with very few processed foods, and I intend to keep doing so (please, no negative comments on this fact).
Please, any helpful advice would be more welcome than I can express.

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Asked by KarmicChild at 7:56 PM on Jun. 2, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 8 (249 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • I think you are doing GREAT! I have a very picky 5 year old. It has been a long road and he is finally coming around to trying a bite of vegetables now and then. We have spent years of making sure he had some on his plate at dinner time every night. But we let him eat as much fresh fruit as he wants. We always have a variety of fruit, and he loves nuts, too. So I let him make his own trail mix with dried fruit and nuts and that seems to work well for him. I have been known to sneak veggies into blueberry smoothies now from time to time, but he won't drink them regularly, so it doesn't happen very frequently. I tried the whole sneaky chef approach but it was just too much work. Think about the Inuit in Alaska and how all they eat is whale blubber 80% of the time, and they had robust health until processed foods came along. Just keep introducing stuff and don't let it deter you. cont. . . . .

    Answer by nepenthe429 at 8:07 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • as for the weight gain, unless the doctors are shouting 'failure to thrive' I would stress much about it. Try a whole food vitamin supplement (there are powdered ones you can stir into juice). You could also figure out ways to add good fats like coconut oil, to some yummy fruit smoothies. She's going to be okay . . . You're a good mama.

    Answer by nepenthe429 at 8:09 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • ^ i would *NOT* stress much about it. ^

    Answer by nepenthe429 at 8:10 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • Children go through phases; it's normal. My dd has gone through eating everything I give her to only eating one meal a day, back to eating a lot. She also goes through phases of loving a food item and then hating it. The pediatrician told me not to beg her to eat. He said "she must be getting her nutrition and energy from something, it's not like she's living by just breathing air!" Plus the more you make a big deal out of her not eating, the more she might refuse. Just offer her different things, if she still wants to stick with cereal only for every meal just give it to her. She'll get tired of it and move on to other foods. Also, if she's refusing to eat nutritious stuff you can refuse her treats like desert or juice. You say that she eats fruits, but no vegetables. Well, fruits have a lot of nutrients too. Continue offering her vegetables on her lunch/dinner plate but don't push her to eat. good luck. :)

    Answer by Ashoonik at 8:14 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • Thank you for your advice and kind words.

    Comment by KarmicChild (original poster) at 5:54 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. The more you worry, the pickier she will get. Serve her whatever is for lunch, supper, snack, etc. and if she doesn't eat then she waits until the next meal or snack. She won't starve, toddlers are notorious for being picky.

    Answer by missanc at 8:28 AM on Jun. 3, 2011

  • my 6 yr old was a wonderful eater until he turned 3 and then he decided he hated food. For 3 years I have battled him and his eating and people tell me all sorts of ideas and their thoughts but the bottom line is nobody really knows what it really is like to deal with a kid who will not eat and will really starve themselves. He is what I can tell you, that when there is a growth spurt they will eat and eat things they normally don't eat. like my son hates banana's but every so often he will eat 3 in a day with big glasses of milk, he grows a little then he is back to being picky. Another thing about picky eaters is they get constipated so get some Benefiber and mix it with juice, they can't taste it. Do do force them to eat and allow the child to pick out food while shopping. Also if they want a cookie say " you can have one after you eat 5 grapes" it is a hard thing to deal with but just be tolerant and loving

    Answer by wheresthewayout at 5:26 PM on Jun. 11, 2011

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