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Help with convincing a toddler who can't talk yet to eat @_@

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

My boy is 2 years old and we finally got him off the bottle and on the sippy cup. At first he wouldn't eat at all, then he would eat cookies and crackers. Now we've convinced him to eat a couple things, but he doesn't seem to want to eat anything more than peanut butter and banana slices on a spoon or sweets. He likes noodles, but will rarely eat them. He hasn't learned how to talk yet, so I can't tell him he won't get dessert and making him sit in his chair doesn't do much because he likes it. If I put something in his mouth and he doesn't want to eat it, he'll hold it in his mouth for hours. I've actually seen him hold a bite for 2 hours straight and tonight I had to give him peanut butter so he'd swallow spaghetti O noodles. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE let me know! We're trying everything we can think of, the airplane spoon trick, letting him eat it off his tray, letting him see us eat it, making it fun to eat, being stern when I tell him to eat or chew and swallow, giving him his own spoon and fork, nothing is working.

post #2 of 11
I also have an almost 2 year old who doesn't eat very much. I would love it if she would consistently eat peanut butter and bananas!
She still nurses so I know she's getting calories there but I had to make a decision not to get into power struggles with her over food. I didn't want to set us up for battles later and I'm too lazy to fight. I offer a couple of choices on a plate, sometimes she eats, if she indicates she's done, I let her down and I might offer a snack later or milk in a special sparkly cup that grabs her attention. I offer often and she will eat when she's hungry.
post #3 of 11

I think you need to stop worrying. Only offer nutritious food at meal times and snack times. YOur job is to choose the food and prepare it. Place the food in front of the child and relax. it is his choice to eat or not to eat. YOu do not need to get into any struggle over eating. Do not offer alternatives and stop spoon feeding unless he asks you to. Put food on his tray or plate. Let him sit in his high chair 15 minutes or so and if he is not eating just say I can see you are done and lift him out.

He knows you are worried and it is giving him too much control. Once you stop being concerned about what and how much he is eating I know he will eat more. Present him with a suitable meal and leave it at that.

Some suggestions that may help. Serve his food on red plates. Make sure he has kids cutlery. Cut his food into bite size pieces. Eat at the same time so he can see you enjoy your food. He should be eating the same food as the rest of the family now. Offer a variety of different coloured foods each day but only put small serves on his plate.  Do not stick to things you know he likes. Keep offering new foods as well as familiar foods.Candies, cookies, ice cream etc are not food and should not be offered except on special occasions. Dessert is not necessary. fruit and yoghurt can be offered after the main course.

Restrict his milk intake to two cups a day after meals not before.

Establish a strict routine of meal times and snack times. Invite other kids over for lunch. Peer modelling works wonders.

Never ask him if he wants to ear. Just tell him it is time to eat lunch or dinner now. You need to eat your food. Then say nothing more about the food.

Get him involved in food preparation even if it is just watching you prepare it. If you have a garden grow some simple vegetables. Let him help you select fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. Let him hold them and sniff them. A certain amount of play with food is necessary at this age. Let him have dry cereal and or dried fruit in a container as a snack in the car or when you are out. Introduce him to dips and let him dip crackers or vegetable sticks into home made dips or hommous.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeanetteHannah View Post
 

I think you need to stop worrying. Only offer nutritious food at meal times and snack times. YOur job is to choose the food and prepare it. Place the food in front of the child and relax. it is his choice to eat or not to eat. YOu do not need to get into any struggle over eating. Do not offer alternatives and stop spoon feeding unless he asks you to. Put food on his tray or plate. Let him sit in his high chair 15 minutes or so and if he is not eating just say I can see you are done and lift him out.

He knows you are worried and it is giving him too much control. Once you stop being concerned about what and how much he is eating I know he will eat more. Present him with a suitable meal and leave it at that.

Some suggestions that may help. Serve his food on red plates. Make sure he has kids cutlery. Cut his food into bite size pieces. Eat at the same time so he can see you enjoy your food. He should be eating the same food as the rest of the family now. Offer a variety of different coloured foods each day but only put small serves on his plate.  Do not stick to things you know he likes. Keep offering new foods as well as familiar foods.Candies, cookies, ice cream etc are not food and should not be offered except on special occasions. Dessert is not necessary. fruit and yoghurt can be offered after the main course.

Restrict his milk intake to two cups a day after meals not before.

Establish a strict routine of meal times and snack times. Invite other kids over for lunch. Peer modelling works wonders.

Never ask him if he wants to ear. Just tell him it is time to eat lunch or dinner now. You need to eat your food. Then say nothing more about the food.

Get him involved in food preparation even if it is just watching you prepare it. If you have a garden grow some simple vegetables. Let him help you select fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. Let him hold them and sniff them. A certain amount of play with food is necessary at this age. Let him have dry cereal and or dried fruit in a container as a snack in the car or when you are out. Introduce him to dips and let him dip crackers or vegetable sticks into home made dips or hommous.

 

:yeah   And just because he can't talk back, does not mean he can't understand you.  I had an early talker, but even pre-talking days, I had full conversations with my 4 mo babbling child - she would babble, I'd ask her questions, listen and allow her to answer, and it was all fun.  She's almost 2 now and can carry a conversation better than some adults I know, but even at 1, pre-conversation days, I'd give her simple instructions and she could follow them to complete a task or understand that x wasn't going to happen until she did y.  Understanding language comes before speaking it.  So tell him point blank like PP mentioned "it's time to eat now", set him down with his food, and if he doesn't eat, don't sweat it.  Unless you feel he's struggling to gain weight, he's just testing your limits now.

post #5 of 11

I agree, a 2 year old should definitely be able to understand you, even if he/she can't respond back to you. First, is he getting too full on milk? Or something else that he's eating/drinking that you aren't realizing that's making him feel full? 

 

Next, I'd try starting by offering things you know he likes – noodles for example – and only offer that. If he's hungry, he will most certainly eat. Think about it, if you were offered a cheeseburger after refusing your spinach every time you ate, you'd never eat the spinach. You'd always wait for the cheeseburger. I have a feeling that your problem isn't that your child only eats cookies, it's that he's a smart cookie. ;)

post #6 of 11
As a mom of a reluctant eater, I second all the advice that's been given so far. I also really would stress NOT to fall into the trap of giving him "more appealing" kiddie foods, cookies, etc, just to tempt him to eat. Banana and peanut butter is pretty awesome!
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your advice so far. It does help, and it's given me a couple ideas for what to try with him. Thank you so much!

post #8 of 11

I second pretty much everything JeanetteHannah said. I have a picky 2-year-old too, and I have had to learn what to do and what not to do.

 

Above all, be patient. Abandon airplane and any other "make them eat" game, because it does more harm than good, by taking away his choice to listen to his appetite and decide what goes into his body. Remember that nutrition is not over one day, but more like over a span of days. A toddler will eat only a tiny amount for a handful of days, then tank up. That's normal. Your job is to be consistent about when and what, and his job is to say whether and how much he will eat. If he says none, then it's none, and 2 hours later is time to offer the next snack or meal.

 

It is really, really important to model eating family meals. We give our son what we're eating, plus his milk. We always have a "bread and butter" side dish on the table to be offered if he won't eat what we're eating, and we eat that sometimes too. So, some meals, all he eats some milk and a bite of bread and butter, then he wants down. Fine. Later on he eats a whole bowl of oatmeal. What's really important, is we don't jump up to get him a little nut butter, a special cracker, or this or that just because he isn't eating what there is. I do offer my son whole milk (and water) at every snack and meal. Even if that is all he wants, he is at least getting the calories. He doesn't have anything but water between meals and snacks, and we space those 2-3 hours apart to help give the best chance of an appetite for meals.

 

You said in your post you tried letting him see you eat, but it's not really a thing you see immediate results from trying. It's something you just have to keep doing consistently, and know that he will do what you do... eventually. Ellyn Satter, an expert in children's nutrition, says in her book Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family that it can take 37 exposures (touching, licking, spitting out a food) for a child to finally "accept" that food. But food acceptance is more important than eating a certain meal. It is like learning how to catch a fish. So even if all my son does is pick up his broccoli and put it down, and smear his lasagna across the plate, while watching us eat ours, I consider that progress. My son is learning that meals area  nice time when we all sit together, no one gets mad or pushy, and we talk to each other and enjoy the food we like. This is better than him eating at every meal.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by madymomx2 View Post
 

My boy is 2 years old and we finally got him off the bottle and on the sippy cup. At first he wouldn't eat at all, then he would eat cookies and crackers. Now we've convinced him to eat a couple things, but he doesn't seem to want to eat anything more than peanut butter and banana slices on a spoon or sweets. He likes noodles, but will rarely eat them. He hasn't learned how to talk yet, so I can't tell him he won't get dessert and making him sit in his chair doesn't do much because he likes it. If I put something in his mouth and he doesn't want to eat it, he'll hold it in his mouth for hours. I've actually seen him hold a bite for 2 hours straight and tonight I had to give him peanut butter so he'd swallow spaghetti O noodles. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE let me know! We're trying everything we can think of, the airplane spoon trick, letting him eat it off his tray, letting him see us eat it, making it fun to eat, being stern when I tell him to eat or chew and swallow, giving him his own spoon and fork, nothing is working.

 

It's perfectly normal for a baby to be on a bottle til age 2.  That's because bottles replace the mother's breasts and bf needs to continue for a minimum of 2 yrs.  So no worries there.

 

Does your LO have any developmental delays including perhaps oral apraxia?  It seems a possibility considering he doesn't speak, has trouble eating food, and you seem to think he can't understand what you say to him.

 

Peanut butter might not be a good choice for a 2yo with weak mouth muscles...choking hazard and all that.  Noodles are not very healthy for anyone, but especially for a baby with a limited appetite.  Try healthier options like grass fed meat, avocado or eggs (I guess allergies aren't an issue in your family, considering the PB).

 

The best way to feed a toddler is to offer a wide variety of super nutrient dense foods and allow them to graze at will all day.  Fill a muffin tray with all sorts of items and set it out and let the LO pick away.  Mealtimes at the table are important for social reasons, but don't expect him to eat a huge quantity then.  Just let him sit and be with his family and never ever make a fuss over eating or you will spoil all the warm fuzzies he needs to get by being with his family.  Allow mealtimes to create only happy memories!  Don't stress over food, let kids respond to their bodily cues and you will set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.  Best wishes!

 

ETA:  If a 2yo only wants to eat cookies and crackers and other sweets, it's bc his/her adult introduced those things.  If you want him to eat only nutritious foods, then only offer nutritious foods.  Even media-saturated 2yo's won't demand to eat a Happy Meal if they've never had one.  Treats aren't bad occasionally, but until you feel your LO has expanded his food repertoire, stop offering junk.  :)

post #10 of 11

How is it going madymomx2?

 

I didn't want to start a thread since my situation is fairly similar...

 

My DS is 15 months and has been a great eater since he started eating (6 months old) ; he would eat ANYTHING (as long as it was easily eatable or previously chewed by mama - beans, fish, fruits, meat, veggies, etc). The last few months, he started refusing almost everything but dairy (will sometimes eat a few bites of oat meal or egg in the morning)... I'm trying to lower his intake of cow's milk and all he wants to eat is cheese and yogurt... I'm worried because I know too much calcium is bad... Also he wants to drink more than eat (I read it was normal) so I started making smoothies so he gets at least his fruit intake that way. And I put ground flax seeds in his yogurt...

 

Any other ideas or inputs? It just seems weird that he eats 10x less now that he is active than wen he was just sitting there lol! It should be the opposite no?


Edited by Jaxy - 12/7/13 at 7:35pm
post #11 of 11
This is totally normal!i have read that between 2 and 3 kids don't need that much food bc they don't grow as much as between birth and 2! Just keep offering healthy options. Always put a fruit or veggie on their tray and one day they are gonna have a growth spurt and gobble it up! I also would hide things like purred fruits or veggies in pancakes or applesauce. You could even try putting purred veggies in yogurt!
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