How do you get your toddler to eat?

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  1. Hello All,

    I'm kind of at the end of my rope when it comes to trying to get my 4.5 year old to eat. My DH and I spend all morning making lunch for Devon or all afternoon making dinner for him - trying to come up with different meals for him so that he'll want to eat, but for three meals a day - he just sits there and pushes at it or holds the same bite in his mouth for hours on end. It sometimes takes him as long as 2 hours to eat each meal - and even then, he doesn't finish it.

    Any suggestions on what we can do - ideas on what kind of food to give him? We've tried everything we can think of - begging, pleading, bribing, getting mad, threatening to take away his toys/TV - nothing works anymore. We try to give him food he likes, like instant noodles or pizza - but the next time we try to give it to him again, he picks at it - and they are not healthy foods anyway.

    My mother insists that we spoon feed him to get him to eat coz she thinks he's not eating coz he's lazy...but even when I feed him, he just holds it in his mouth or chews it until he gags on it.

    What can I do?
  2. It really sounds like you've got some power struggles going on with your son (from this and your other post). Is there a way to make it not a big deal, but if he doesn't eat at meal time, then that's it? He's old enough to eat with you and your husband, so perhaps put him on the same schedule- if you guys are eating, so can he- but if he's not done by the time you are, tough beans.

    Hmm..other things...

    One thing I've learned about toddlers is that they won't starve themselves(at least mine won't!). You may think he's not getting enough to eat, but three bites might be all he wants/needs- and whatever you do, don't force him to finish everything on his plate (I remember my parents making me eat everything, and I'm pretty sure that's part of my adult weight issue- I have a hard time leaving anything on my plate, even if I don't really want it). What does he like? If there's something he'll reliably eat, just give him that. And offer different foods, and even if he doesn't eat them, keep offering- it takes a while sometimes for them to warm up to things. We have a deal with my 2 1/2 year old- as long as she tries something, she can say she doesn't like it and doesn't have to eat it. But she can't say she doesn't like it of she won't even taste it. Maybe something like that?

    My daughter is younger than your son, so some of this may not work for you- but maybe it's worth a try. If nothing else, ask your pediatrician?
  3. Also maybe you should try having him help prepare, something to eat...Maybe he'll get into it more
  4. My son is the same way. I just stick to the foods he likes and I leave them on his little table. Toddlers and preschoolers are so "busy" with what they are doing so they pick here and there. Some techniques I use are making pbj sandwhiches and cut them into fun shapes. Also trying to hold off on giving him drinks right before meals. The above poster suggested having him help, this actually works with my picky eater to a point but they can be quite obstinate about this. I think the other person who said that they will eat what they need is right. Just make sure he has a multivitamin and keep trying he should be fine. I know how frustrating it is and have gone through the bribes getting mad threats thing myself. This is a common issues so you are not alone !
  5. Have you tried talking to your doctor about it? Although my son is only 2.5 years I have the same problem with him. I have gotten to the point where if he eats then he eats if not he will sit at the dinner table until everyone is finished. Then if he is still not wanting to eat then he gets nothing else (except what he was served, if it happens at lunch for instance until his lunch is gone he gets nothing).

    Also there is times where he will eat all day long, so it just depends on the day.

    I know your problem is not really with specific foods, but you might want to try Jerry Seinfelds wife's cookbook. I think it is "Curiously delicious??". It has worked for other people that I know!

    Good luck
  6. An elderly man once said to me when he saw my son in a restaurant "they eat every 3 days" and he was right !
  7. Thanks, Elara! He usually likes cheese sandwiches and PB&J sandwiches, so we usually give him those for lunch when he goes to preschool (he goes full days). I find he's not much of a breakfast eater...I barely eats anything in the we don't try to make him eat much in the morning coz my DH isn't a breakfast eater either, so I figure it might be genetics? Personally, my breakfast is the biggest meal of the day. :P We just make him drink a full glass of warm whole milk so he has something warm in his belly for school and maybe some Cheerios and/or toast on the way to school. Dinner is the most challenging...he won't eat any meat - he'll eat chicken, but in very small amounts - a bit or two here or there, whether I spoon feed it to him or not.

    I have checked with our pediatrician, and she says that they all go thru this phase of not wanting to eat - to give him what he wants/needs and he'll eat when he's ready.

    I guess it's just very hard to just let him eat what he wants when my parents and my in laws are constantly saying how thin he is and that it's our fault because we're not spoon feeding him his food! :cursing:
  8. Thanks Geminiz06 & Mrs. MC! :yes: I never thought of getting him to help prep the food...perhaps he WILL have more fun that way and want to eat it. We'll try that! And thanks so much for the support Mrs. MC! Sometimes when DH and I are just at the end of our tether...we really wonder if it's just us...but it's nice to know this is NORMAL. :lol:
  9. Thanks, jen6292! We've talked to the doctor about it, but she just says he'll get what he needs from what he does eat and that they all go thru this phase of not wanting to eat. Every evening, at dinner, we do the same song and dance of "eat what's on your plate or you get nothing else", and our son just sits there...happy to not eat anything. We usually send him to bed right away after dinner with no TV, no playing...and this doesn't seem to bother him a whole lot. :hysteric:

    We actually picked up the "Curiously Delicious" cookbook a couple of weeks ago, but haven't had time to make something from it yet. Our son has the flu right now, so once he's better, we'll definitely try it ou! Thanks so much! :yes: