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How to get toddler eating better(23 Posts)
I'm really disappointed that my 2yo just doesn't eat well as it all started so well and we eat quite healthily as a family but not her. She's become more and more fussy and now will basically eat only:
Cereal e.g. Shreddies or porridge (sweetened though)
Any organix type snacks
And a few healthier things like
Baked beans (we buy low salt/sugar)
And anything sweet she can get her hands on such as cake or chocolate.
We always offer a plate with vegetables at least with dinner although I must admit I don't tend to with lunch as she always leaves it. We sit round the table together to eat and did blw.
Does anyone have any tips on how to get her eating better? Is this normal? She's not grown much recently and I wonder if the two are linked...
I wish I could offer some advice, but you've basically just described my 2yo's diet to a T!
I do the same as you - try to make veg available, try to do family meals whenever possible, try not to make mealtimes a battle. So far it has not made a jot of difference!
He gets a daily vitamin supplement and the quantity he eats is fine so I do my best not to fret and hope this is a typical toddler stage (speaking to friends it seems more common to have a fussy eater than a happy omnivore at this age!).
I think it's very normal. My DD is2.6 and can smell a vitamin a mile off. Just keep offering healthy stuff in various forms and keep the real crap to a bare minimum, it's all you can do.
I don't think they grow as much in toddler hood as before. DD wore the same skirt on Christmas Day as she wore last Christmas and she's pretty big for her age.
Thank you for your replies. I don't have any friends with a child of my dd's age as their kids are mostly younger. Their babies are all loving veggies at the moment and dd was too at that age but it's a bit of a shame that she's now totally against them all! And most fruit, meat and fish Oh well will keep going with offering and try to avoid bad stuff.
Yeah I naively felt all smug-mum when we started weaning as DS ate everything going, had wholesome organic veg every day, munched broccoli for a snack. These days I consider it a nutritional triumph if I get him to eat a bloody fishfinger!
One thing we did was to insist that DC had ONE mouthful of each thing on her plate.
We never insisted that they had more afterwards. Just one mouthful to taste.
After a while (think 10+) the taste got normal and they started to eat more.
I also found that, at that age, stews were the easiest way to make them eat vegetables and meat. We came to the conclusion that when the meat was very soft (think slow cooker), it was easier to eat for them.
As well as 'hidding' them into other meals, e.g. Grated courgettes or carottes in spag Bolognese or sherperds pie.
I got a bunch of colourful silicon cupcake cases in different shapes, then put a tiny bit of different things in each - so one floret of broccoli, a couple of strands of pasta in another. It was surprising how many things ds tried that way. He liked feeling he had choice, I think.
We still use them now at 4yo, though with more in them!
does she like sauce on her pasta.sneak in veggies.blend if need into tomato sauces.
what about veggie sausages?
ask her to pick her favourite colour,then a begetable of her choice in that colour at the supermarket.
when you are all around say so she feels all adult " tonight name is going to choose our vegetables."make them seem like her choice.
peanut butter on celery boats?
peanut butter on banana slices?
cheese on toast with slices of tomatos?
when choosing which healthy option lift two up and say right which one shall we have tonight,you choose.again her choice.
Although her diet is a bit limited, not much in there is really that unhealthy except ice cream, so try not to worry too much. My 15 month old has suddenly hugely limited what she'll eat, I think it's quite normal. We've found that making meal times interesting in some way helps a lot, for DD that can be making her food into the shape of a face, giving her a fork with patterned handle or letting her use a grown up plate/eat off our plates. It's not ideal but she'll eat much more that way.
Thanks again there are some good tips here that I will try. I have some little silicon cupcake cases so I could do that easily. She does usually eat pasta with tomato sauces so that's quite healthy and can sneak in some veg though she's quite adept at finding it and removing it!! Will try stews for meat as I hadn't thought about the softer texture. Feeling slightly more positive about it now!
I found with dc1&2, getting them to 'help' with shopping, by making their own list (drawing easy looking items e.g. Banana, broccoli etc) that they colour in then take to the supermarket helped to a degree., also if there's a way for them to safely help out whilst you're prepping with cooking. Dc3 stands next to me on a chair, I get him a few plastic bowls and couple of spoons and give him bits of the veg I'm peeling.
And floor picnics with a rug and lots of bits in different pots, get the teddies out, use toy plates etc if you have a set. Dc3 is just at this stage now. So frustrating when they used to eat a good variety previously. And he's dairy intolerant to boot so I can't even do the cubes of cheese / Philadelphia type sandwiches or in oat cakes etc!
She's the child. You're the parent. She eats what you give her to eat. No healthy child will starve themselves to death. Give her healthy balanced meals and no alternatives if she refuses. It won't hurt her to go hungry once in a while, and she'll eat next time. Remember that toddlers don't actually need that much in terms of volume so don't panic if some days she doesn't want to clear her plate but if you're giving manageable portions, then she shouldn't be getting sweets or cake if she's not eating her meals. I find a baffled "but you can't possibly be hungry for cake, you didn't eat your lunch, it doesn't make sense" rather than using sweets as a reward or punishment usually works. Also cut out snacks. I'm constantly astounded at how most toddlers of my acquaintance appear incapable (in their parents calculations) to go more than an hour without a snack. Give water and nothing else between meals and she'll be hungry enough to try new things. Try putting a dab of butter on vegetables, or having her help to mix a salad to get her interested. If I sit with my DS and eat the same thing and ignore his showy refusal and calmly eat whatever it is, after about five mins of being distracted he'll usually at least try it.
By the way, I agree with a pp though, she's eating fruit etc even if not many types, shouldn't be too hard to expand on that!
EXACTLY the same diet as my 2yo! I just try not to worry and always offer her some of what we are eating. I do Jamie Oliver seven veg pasta sauce which is pureed. Also try to sneak a bit of fish in with pasta. Presume she will grow out of it eventually, as DH and I have varied healthy diets...
Mine is the same. He is brilliant with fruit, rubbish with veg. The only veg he will eat is sweet potato, carrot and cucumber. If there is veg in a dish, or on a pizza etc, he will pick it out. He generally also refuses anything with lentils or beans in it. I need to get better at hiding veg.
Generally we eat all our meals together. He also likes to watch or "help" us to cook, so I think we are doing all the right things. One policy we have started implementing, is that if he wants fruit or yoghurt after dinner then he has to at least try everything on his plate.
Give her healthy balanced meals and no alternatives if she refuses. It won't hurt her to go hungry once in a while, and she'll eat next time
I don't routinely give DS snacks between meals, and I don't offer substitutes or any pudding if a meal is refused. He can quite happily go from lunchtime all the way through until breakfast the next day with nothing other than water and a cup of milk at bedtime. Still won't eat veg.
Have you tried letting her serve herself from bowls on the table? That's how we got round Ds2's eating issues. Everyone helps themselves from bowls of veggies, pasta, whatever in the middle of the table. It means sometimes he had chicken with a variety of veg and other times he had a plate of carrots, but it worked. We kept on with it (his issue is textures) and I'm convinced it's the reason that my 3yo (younger than him) is the least fussy eater I've had.
Will she eat soup? If so, there's loads of potential there.
If she eats sausages, will she eat meatballs? There's a really good meatball recipe on Annabel karmels website.
Make your own blended veg sauce (tinned tomatoes, carrots and courgette is one that doesn't alter taste too much) for pasta and pizza.
I'm increasingly convinced a lot of (well intended) advice given on fussy eating is the equivalent of a lot of the advice on sleep - i.e. people swear by 'solutions' that only work if you didn't really have that problem to begin with, or appear to work but only because It was a phase they'd have come out of anyway.
I'm hoping the 'one bite' approach might work when my DS is slightly older and actually understands this but at the moment any attempt to cajole or insist on anything offensive being tasted ends up in tears - short of actually forcing food into his mouth it's a non-starter at the moment.
I'm currently envisaging the mountains of plain white carbs that would be consumed if I let DS have a choice and help himself.
I honestly think at this stage OP is doing all you really can with a very fussy toddler - keep up good mealtime habits, keep up exposure to non-favoured or flat-out rejected foods, keep them involved in food preparation etc. But largely I don't think there are any miracles to be expected at this age.
You don't mention egg. Will she eat that as egg is pretty good especially if she isn't great on meat.
If she likes baked beans how about a can of mixed beans with a drizzle of olive oil (or other flavouring)?
I use cheese heavily (unfortunately DD has never eaten any type tomato based sauce, even as a baby - so cheese is our 'go to' to make things more palatable). I practically never give cheese to DD as a snack but she gets it grated and melted into veg, or veg dipped in cheese sauce.
Potato cakes with mashed potato, cheese again and other random veg thrown in.
Cheesy tuna pasta has some veg in (normally blended kale, peas or broccoli)
If she likes dairy can you do a traditional carbonara (cream, eggs, Parmesan) but with lots of veg in - it gets eggs into them and coats everything - DD will eat piles of peas, mushrooms, Sugarsnap peas and even a tiny bit of leek snuck in if I do this. It's her favourite meal.
Hummus is served on veg rather than toast (broccolli florets are good as the hummus gets everywhere rather than something like carrot where it can just be licked off)
Honey glazing carrots may help.
I never give pudding unless DDs plate is cleared (or almost cleared if there is something she was trying a spoonful of). Sometimes she doesn't eat until she sees something she wants them will quickly eat everything on her plate to get it.
I always try to make sure DD is hungry at a mealtime (ie not much snack)
As pp have said involve her where possible - I pick DD up from nursery and we swing by a fruit stall and choose an apple for her (she wanted a giant cooking apple one time!). We sit on the sofa and share tangerines together.
Also I think they do eat less at this stage - toddler DD is 75th centile for weight and eats less than she did as a baby and less than 25th centile baby DD.
I find that having the attitude that 'it's ok, you don't have to eat it" helps. If nothing else I find this helps my sanity! (I'm assuming here that your DD isn't underweight)
I also found that ds ate worse for me than anyone, as he knows I do the cooking, therefore he thought there was the possibility of alternatives - whereas with everyone else, what was there was all there was! He is a fantastic eater now (4.6), but we did have to go through the "nope sorry, that's all there is. You don't have to eat it but there isn't anything else."
It also helps that he hates going hungry!!! And I do actually know what he genuinely dislikes (he is allergic to dairy, anything that reminds him of those kind of textures he hates) so I don't serve them.
Your list doesn't look too bad to me. Toddlers do tend to get a bit restrictive in what they'll eat at that age. Are you able to have some meals together where you have some vegetables on your plate? Things on mummy's or daddy's plate are always more appealing to small fingers than when it's on their own.
I also found that ds ate worse for me than anyone
I think this is normal, toddlers do tend to reserve their worst behaviour for those they are closest to. I've always been strict no alternatives, no pudding, no pandering to fussiness - but he is still worse with me. Just as I get the worst tantrums, worst bedtimes, worst stubbornness.
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