Can't get my 20-month old to eat protein - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 04-20-2011, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I'd like some ideas on getting my 20-month old to eat protein, and also a more balanced diet.


It seems like all he wants is pasta & bread. When I lay everything out on his plate he picks what he wants (pasta), and leaves the rest (meat/chicken, veggies).  So I started giving him only meat first thing he sits down at the table (when he is the most hungry), and wait till he's had some of the meat/chicken/protein before bringing him the rest of his food.  That worked for a while, but now he'd refuse to eat the protein dish I bring him, and ask for something else. That's when I don't know how to respond -- I can't say we don't have anything else because that's not true and he knows that; if I say "eat some of the chicken, and THEN I'll get you something else" he'll start whining and escalating to a real fit.  I don't know if it's a matter worth fighting like that, but I do think it's important for him to eat balanced meal and not just pick pasta to eat (the days we don't have pasta he'd eat nearly nothing).


What can I do to get him to eat his proteins now that he's out smart me?

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#2 of 4 Old 04-20-2011, 05:03 PM
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I had to stop giving him those sorts of things daily. He might get something carby a few meals a week now. Usually a handful of Annies bunnies at lunch, when he asks for them.

I also had to really pay attention to getting flavor into his protein. He doesnt care for meat from the interior of a roast, for instance. I have to add Sriracha to his scrambled egg. I feed him link sausages which are highly flavored. He also likes ground meat patties w lots of flavor - i make him mini patties and he devours them. He likes beans that have been cooked w aromatics and spices, but wont eat them if theyve just been boiled in water.

So, a typical breakfast here would be a scrambled egg w sriracha, a sausage, half a banana or several strawberries. Sometimes i'll add a couple small sweet potato pancakes or some cooked potatoes, but thats not daily.

Lunch is usually a piece of string cheese, some fruit, asparagus or broccoli if i have it, sometimes another egg or sausage. Whatever leftovers i might have in the fridge. Sometimes a cup of applesauce. Or he's just starting to like hummus.

Dinner is whatever we're eating. Plus some fruit. Usually breakfast is his big meal and dinner is his small one.

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#3 of 4 Old 04-21-2011, 07:18 AM
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I do a lot of mixed dished. If he eats pasta, the sause has ground meat and veggies in it. I do casserole and other things where most of the time it would be very hard just to pick one thing out. I need to reduce our grain consumption though, so it will be much harder then. He likes his carbs too much too!

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#4 of 4 Old 04-21-2011, 05:09 PM
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I have given birth to 2 vegetarians, the first during my own veg days, so at least I felt like I knew what I was doing....My second, DD (28 months) from the beginning would eat fruit,vegetables, whole grains. Protein has been an issue since day 1. I'm still learning with tf, so not sure that all of this works perfectly, but she is eating a lot more protein now. But, looking back, it did get rough around 18 months or so. Up until then she'd at least try a bite or 2 of something, but then she started refusing outright any animal source of protein.


I went back to my vegetarian days, and try to make sure that she gets a good mix at each meal of things she will eat that together make protein: rice, beans, yogurt, etc. I always put a few pieces of whatever protein we're eating on her plate also, and sometimes she will eat it, sometimes not. There are a couple of things she will eat with fair regularity, and I try to keep small portions of those in the freezer and pull them out when I'm tearing my hair out otherwise. I have the girl who will pick out every last bit of ground beef from the spaghetti sauce......


I try to only serve what I want her to eat, if that makes sense. And we don't talk about what's on our plate. No, "just one bite" or any of that. I try very hard not to bargain in any way. We went down that road briefly, and it soooo didn't work. If anything, I might mention to DH that "This is the yummiest xyz ever" or something along that line. She will usually try things now, and has recently started adding to the animal protein foods she will eat. For snacks, I also make sure she has nuts, seeds, beans, nut butter, anything with protein available.  Then when all she will eat for dinner is the tortilla wrap from the chicken pesto wraps I made (tonight) I don't panic. She had pistachios and yogurt for her afternoon snack. Not perfect, but better than nothing. I do feel like if I'm offering only whole healthy foods (well, mostly) and making plenty of protein available, then she will eat it if she needs it.

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