Picky toddler

  • Does anyone have any advice on getting my 19 month old to eat a better variety of food?  Her meals consist mostly of applesauce, grilled cheese, canned fruits (in their juices), cold cereal, chicken nuggets, bananas, and plain bread.  I've tried giving her the same thing we're eating for dinner, but she either takes the plate off her tray and puts it on the table, or throws it on the floor for that dog to eat.  I've also tried showing her that we're all eating the same thing, but she's too stubborn for that to make a difference.  any suggestions would be appreciated!  Thanks!

  • May sound mean, but have you tried a little tough love and letting her go hungry for a meal or two? May be unethical these days, but i was mostly raised by my grandparents and at our house if you didn't eat what was made then you didn't eat for that meal. It may be too early for a 19 month old for this method but it worked when we were a bit older. We went hungry a time or two until we realized that we weren't going to get anything special and that it was better to eat what was made than to be hungry all night. We also had to take turns cooking as well. On our night to make dinner we were allowed to choose what was made and my grandma would teach/ assist us in making it if need be. Also i read that children who help their parents in the kitchen are more likely to eat what is made and like it. it's never too early to start helping in the kitchen. at 19 months old it might be good to let them hand you the vegetables or spoons ect.

  • Thanks for the suggestion Brinny.  That would be something I would consider, but I think 19 months is a little too young for that method.  She's just too young to understand the reasoning behind me letting her go hungry, and I've found that with other battles it's 99% impossible to reason with a 1.5 year old :)

    I do like your suggestion of letting her help in the kitchen though.  I've had her help me make cookies before, but for some reason I've never thought of having her help with dinner.  I'll definitely give that a try!

    Thanks again for your response!

  • You have an ADORABLE profile picture!  I think that the key to food with kids is to offer variety AND to not become a line cook.  I also think that the bigger deal you make out of vood issues the bigger they become.


  • Thanks for the advice Jess.  Becoming a line cook is something I'm definitely worried about...especially with #2 coming in January.  I'm worried enough about balancing 2 kids' happiness at once...I don't want to be making 10 different dishes every night.  We'll just keep trying to offer a variety to her.  Her language and comprehension skills are definitely developing fast, so hopefully we'll soon be able to explain to her that she needs to try her food before deciding it's yucky :)

    And thanks for the compliment on my picture!  It's an older picture, but it's one of my favorites of her :)

  • I have a little boy who is very similar. We have adopted an approach where we place one child sized serving of everything we are eating on his plate. He often will eat the bread or noodles, for example, first and then not want anything else. He will just ask for more of the "good stuff". So, the rule is that he needs to take one "no thank you bite" of everything else before he can have more of the good stuff. If he truly doesn't eat, I don't make a big fight out of it but his options at that point are limited to fruits and veggies that are cut up for him. It's not super easy to do at first but eventually it gets better! Hang in there!

  • If someone had a simple answer here, they could make millions. I agree with Jess that food issues are what you make of them at this age, but it is also a bad precedent to prepare several meals at a time as well. Also check w your pediatrician to see if vitamins are recommended to supplement your toddler's nutrition.

  • sgmitch -It's been a bit since you posted so I just wanted to check back and see how things are going.  I'd love an update when you have time,


  • Thanks for checking up on me Jess!  And thanks to everyone who offered their advice.  AnswerDad I loved your answer--I think there are a lot of bay/toddler answers people cold make millions coming up with :)

    We've kind of decided to mix everyone's answers into something that works for us.  We give her a small serving of whatever we're eating.  Sometimes she tries it and likes it (like the lasagna we had).  Sometimes she just refuses to eat it, so I let it sit in front of her for about 10 minutes and if she still won't eat it I offer her something else.  I think the hardest part is that she doesn't quite have the comprehension skills to understand why I want her to try different foods.  She understands that I want her to, but she's a stubborn toddler who doesn't like to do things any way but her's :)

    Thanks again to everyone who offered their advice.  Hopefully if we just keep trying to offer her what we're having she'll decide it's ok to be adventurous and try new things.

  • I think you have it exactly right! Just putting foods in front of kids over and over eventually gets them to try some new things. For a long time, I couldn't get my child to understand the one bite rule because of his comprehension skills as well. I just let it slide but eventually he began to understand my requests. I think that every kid struggles with food at first. My mom certainly said that I resisted foods but I love veggies and salads and all kinds of things now. I think food/healthy food can turn into a big stressor when they are little and it doesn't need to be. You are doing great!