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Discussion Starter #1
...sorta. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it is only slight.

My 2 year old only eats PBJs, crackers, pancakes, granola bars, oatmeal (a specific way), veggie straw-chips, cornbread, banana... and those mush bags (however rare). And diluted formula milk.

He gags at everything else and won't even try anything.

How do I "make" him eat new foods without forcing and without starving. This child will skip a meal if he doesn't like something. I always serve bread but this kid can't live on bread forever! Can he? :) He is bigger than my now 4 year old when she was 2 years old... so clearly he's growing well.

PLease help me feed my child. :)
 

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If he's truly gagging, it may well be a sensory issue, and in that case I don't have much advice. I have friends who have kids like that, and it's basically a long journey until they're eating more food.


OTOH if he's just showing distaste, I would pretty much offer him whatever you were eating, without any "kid foods" in the house until his palate adjusted.


Either way, I suppose, the advice is similar - keep offering, offering, offering different tastes and textures. And try to limit foods that are fun for him but aren't very nutritious. (I'm thinking the veggie straws, certain granola bars... those are good for treats but if it was a struggle-free food, it might be tempting to overindulge in them.)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I never considered a sensory issue... probably because I think it's more of a taste issue. Although, he won't even eat ice cream. Such a strange child.

Yes, good idea. I have started to limit granola bars. I didn't consider limiting the veggie straw chips... since it's one of the salty things he'll eat. But, we'll try it.

My BIL is the only other one in the family that eats the same way... pure JUNK. But he has IQ issues. And, he's over 30. This is why I'm concerned he won't grow out of it.
 

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Maybe "sneaky chef" type tricks might help you broaden what he eats, like squash-almond meal pancakes, chickpea chocolate chip cookies, if he'll try pasta with sauce make pureed veggies in the sauce. More protein would be good, I'd keep offering more meats, nuts, cheese, and maybe fruit whey protein shakes mine really enjoy those. Might need more vitamin A as well, sweet potato chips would be a yummy source. Put out a variety of fruit ready to eat too. Just patiently offer things repeatedly, eventually he's likely to eat some of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
He is very aware of change in a food he is used to eating. Sneaky chef has to be super sneaky. :)

He seems to be getting better. I tried veggie chicken nuggets and we found one brand he likes. But, it's not labelled non-GMO. He ate a couple bites of grilled cheese after first having him eat a grilled PBJ (w/ PBJ being an approved food for him).

He is exploring a little more since I posted this... he hasn't eaten any pasta.. won't even touch it. If he ate pasta, then we'd have to find a sauce he likes also. Could be a while...

Thank you for the ideas, reminders, encouragement.
 

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I started hard boiling eggs and peeling them and giving them to him in a pan with a spatula so he could cook them himself. He loves eggs now!
 

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I have noticed a few things. One, the more I involve the kids with their food, the more they want to eat it. If I let Maisie help me put things in the cart at the store, or if she helps me grow something, or pick it out, or cook it then she is really much more invested in eating it.

Plus, one thing I was just told is to keep offering whatever it is I want them to eat and eventually they will start eating it. I don't make a big deal if they don't want to eat it.

I did baby led solids so the girls have been eating what DH and I eat for a long time, so I admit my perspective is colored by that, but I don't like to do the separate meal for mom / dad and kids thing. I try to cook things that we can all eat as a family.

That being said - Baby Led Solids or not, my 2 year old is a much pickier eater than my 17 month old. My 17 month old will eat any old thing, and the 2 year old takes little nibbles of most cooked vegetables (but will eat raw vegetables like they're going out of style), and likes to have sauce to dip things in.

Which brings me to another point... my 2 year old will be 3 times more likely to eat something she normally might not eat if I offer her something to dip it in. She may not eat raw zucchini slices on her own, but if I give her some hummus, she's all about them. She might not like to eat celery, but with peanut butter she'll eat it all day - for example.
 

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I never considered a sensory issue... probably because I think it's more of a taste issue. Although, he won't even eat ice cream. Such a strange child.
Taste is a sense. If this has been going on for a long time and it doesn't get much better soon, I'd definitely look into professional help. Talk to his pediatrician for advice. An occupational therapist will be good for sensory issues. He also may need to see doctors about any potential stomach problems, in case the reason is due to digestive distress. Someone who has experience with food sensitivities is a good idea. Sometimes, when a person will ONLY eat one food, it's actually because they have a very negative reaction to that food. Counter-intuitive? Oh yeah. With gluten in his diet, my toddler will live on bread alone- when you cut gluten out, he's got a wonderfully varied pallet. Cutting it out is not fun. (I'm not advocating doing this unless you have good reason to believe it's the problem: 1. it may not be gluten so you could end up doing multiple elimination diets; 2. it's HARD)

Can you get vitamins into him? A good multi-vitamin will help cover anything he's missing and give you peace of mind while you work this out. It's not a replacement for a well-balanced diet, but it's better than nothing. I have chewable multi-vitamins for kiddo that we dissolve into juice.

That said, if this has only been going on for a little while- it may have just been a phase. My toddler goes through "potato only" phases where he basically just eats potato and maybe a little veg or meat if we're lucky. Kids have different needs at different points. If the overall view is good, it's okay.
 
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Sometimes, when a person will ONLY eat one food, it's actually because they have a very negative reaction to that food. Counter-intuitive? Oh yeah. With gluten in his diet, my toddler will live on bread alone- when you cut gluten out, he's got a wonderfully varied pallet.
Wow that's so interesting! I never knew that!
 

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Are there any signs of gut issues? My thought is that if is gut bacteria is out of balance, it can make him crave things that the bad bacteria like, while keeping him from wanting foods that are healthier for him. Is there was a way to sneak some probiotics into him?


One of my DDs has sensory issues and cooked fruit was palatable to her sooner than fresh fruit ways, so canned pears were OK when nearly all produce was out. Canned green beans, especially if she could just eat them with her fingers, were also OK to her when there were very few foods she would eat.


(please no post about how nutritional devoid processed foods are.)
 
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Discussion Starter #12
I started hard boiling eggs and peeling them and giving them to him in a pan with a spatula so he could cook them himself. He loves eggs now!
I need to try something like this! When I am baking muffins he wants to help... and I think that is so he is certain they get made!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hmmm. I am wondering about the sensory and gut issues. I just don't know. For a child who doesn't even taste something for the first time... how can he say "no" to something he's never had? He doesn't know he doesn't like rice, beans, potato, corn, cukes, etc. if he's never had them! His 'gagging' is fake. I'm certain of it.

I made DS a tortilla spread with peanut butter, some omega seeds, and a piece of banana. I rolled it up and squiggled some white chocolate with carob. If it didn't have that squiggle of carob he would not even touch his burrito. He has never eaten tortilla until I did this. He ate half. Miraculous.

I started buying him the "mush" pouches and little glass jars of baby food. He will only eat the fruit ones (with kale, or spinach, or carrot). He doesn't like the non-sweet ones. But, this is also good news... he's eating fruit other than banana.

Lately, I also got him to eat more french fries, veggie chicken nuggets, and green smoothies!
I am now going to make crepes (he hasn't had egg) ...and try to get him used to an egg-ier tasting food.
I made a pineapple-mango-cashew raw-food/healthy/ pudding and he didn't like that. *sigh*
I'm going to try an avocado-carob pudding and some savory empanada like black beans with sweet potato/pineapple. Empanada looks like dessert!

I need my own chef just for this kid! (I have to make this all by scratch since we try to eat non-GMO/organic/real fodd... this stuff is hard to find already made. :)

I'm trying harder now.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I'm back. :-( I tried a whole bunch of foods I thought DS would eat. Like garlic bread, potato cake (hash brown), veg egg rolls... I tried crackers with different cheese or cream cheese type fillings... and I even made empanadas with sweet potato and pineapple.

He did NOT eat any of it!

The crepes didn't work. The pineapple-mango pudding didn't work. Helping make food didn't work. NOTHING WORKS with this kid. Saying "you stay home with dad" while DC#1 and I go to town only worked once... he ate watermelon! But, he's on to me. He stayed home next time even though he liked the watermelon and smiled when he had it. Now, he doesn't even touch it! I know this isn't a natural consequence, but natural consequences don't work either.

I am just so glad he is eating the mush (carrot and apple or peas-spinach-pear type mush).

I even upped his formula (not as diluted). And, I have him on food-based vitamins.

So, would it be weird to just serve him a veg chicken nuggets, PBJ, banana, and mush for EVERY lunch and dinner meal and not deviate from that? The goal would be to not buy chips, crackers, cookies type junk. The nut butter and jam we use has NO sugar (fruit-sweetened). And mush too. So, it is "healthy". And, I can sprinkle some hemp seed in there. The veg chicken nuggets doesn't say non-GMO soy :-( but its the only brand he'll eat.
For breakfast, he will eat chia-oatmeal and pancakes both with maple syrup, of course. Maybe I should water that down! Why didn't I think of that before. He wont take anything else on those pancakes.

He might be getting tired of the same ol' food... and he does want me to serve him the food that the rest of the family eats... but he NEVER touches it.

Losing hope...
 

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A few thoughts....

1. When I was recently pregnant it occurred to me that little kids could experience food aversions, the way you just look at something and want to run because it's just gross. My DD has also actually gagged/puked at certain things on her plate. Strata, for instance. She does have some food texture issues and I think it's related, so don't be too quick to dismiss this possibility.

2. BUT. She eats a pretty good selection of foods, and I'm happy with her nutrition. She would never eat most of the foods you mentioned because of the texture/mixing of foods. She eats her foods simple and separate, and often crunchy/firm/uniform is the best texture. Puddings - even store bought sugary puddings are totally out. Enchiladas with multiple ingredients - no way. Tortillas and all the other ingredients - yes.

3. You may be pushing for too healthy too fast. Crackers and chia seed puddings are, like, light years apart. I think I would aim instead for a simple foundation in the basics.

4. If you think his food issues are really serious, maybe he should see an OT. If not....may I gently suggest that this may be behavioral and you are inadvertently catering to it? What happens if you just present him with a mix of foods ranging from likable to not likable and then just ignore it? Will he eat, say, just the crackers on a plate including fruit and cheese? If so, I would just say that's all the crackers he can have, if he's still hungry he can eat the other stuff, next meal is at such and such a time...and that's it. Make sure there are "friendly" options or the ability to pick and choose the parts of the meal he wants to eat (broccoli and rice instead of mixed, for instance, so he doesn't just reject the whole meal). And then just....let him be. And if he has a fit, he has a fit. If you present him with 3 meals and snacks a day you know he will have another chance to eat soon, so you can feel okay about the "but I'm huuuungry!!!!!" pleas.

I think that if he is just normal picky that an approach like that should help. And if it doesn't, and you really feel his nutrition is lacking, you might involve a professional.
 

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...sorta. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it is only slight.

My 2 year old only eats PBJs, crackers, pancakes, granola bars, oatmeal (a specific way), veggie straw-chips, cornbread, banana... and those mush bags (however rare). And diluted formula milk.

He gags at everything else and won't even try anything.

How do I "make" him eat new foods without forcing and without starving. This child will skip a meal if he doesn't like something. I always serve bread but this kid can't live on bread forever! Can he? :) He is bigger than my now 4 year old when she was 2 years old... so clearly he's growing well.

PLease help me feed my child. :)
Just monitor his weight. If he is losing weight or underweight, discuss it with your doctor. But that is obviously not a problem now. Give him a multivitamin or equivalent just to ensure adequate vitamin intake.

Kid's that age go through periods of slow growth where they eat relatively less food because they need less.

Just fix what you want to eat plus a "safe food" that he already eats.

Treat eating as his responsibility. He chooses what to eat, you choose what to serve. Stop putting food on his plate now or as soon as he can serve himself. If he complains about the food or gags either ignore it or just say "You don't have to eat it" in an unemotional tone of voice, give it as little attention as possible. Focus your attention on healthy food and healthy eating. Comment with fascination on anyone's healthy eating, including your own, and on his healthy eating when it finally starts. And comment with fascination on healthy foods. Show through your actions that you find healthy food and healthy eating interesting.
 

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I'm back. :-( I tried a whole bunch of foods I thought DS would eat. Like garlic bread, potato cake (hash brown), veg egg rolls... I tried crackers with different cheese or cream cheese type fillings... and I even made empanadas with sweet potato and pineapple.

He did NOT eat any of it!

The crepes didn't work. The pineapple-mango pudding didn't work. Helping make food didn't work. NOTHING WORKS with this kid. Saying "you stay home with dad" while DC#1 and I go to town only worked once... he ate watermelon! But, he's on to me. He stayed home next time even though he liked the watermelon and smiled when he had it. Now, he doesn't even touch it! I know this isn't a natural consequence, but natural consequences don't work either.

I am just so glad he is eating the mush (carrot and apple or peas-spinach-pear type mush).

I even upped his formula (not as diluted). And, I have him on food-based vitamins.

So, would it be weird to just serve him a veg chicken nuggets, PBJ, banana, and mush for EVERY lunch and dinner meal and not deviate from that? The goal would be to not buy chips, crackers, cookies type junk. The nut butter and jam we use has NO sugar (fruit-sweetened). And mush too. So, it is "healthy". And, I can sprinkle some hemp seed in there. The veg chicken nuggets doesn't say non-GMO soy :-( but its the only brand he'll eat.
For breakfast, he will eat chia-oatmeal and pancakes both with maple syrup, of course. Maybe I should water that down! Why didn't I think of that before. He wont take anything else on those pancakes.

He might be getting tired of the same ol' food... and he does want me to serve him the food that the rest of the family eats... but he NEVER touches it.

Losing hope...
There has been some research done that shows kids and adults sometimes have to taste a new food more then 15 times to learn to like it. I would slow down introducing new foods and focus on repitions. So for now one of his "safe foods" appears at every meal, as well as a new food. I would work on two or three new foods at a time and try them different ways, so if you are introducing a new veggie, offer it steamed one night, roasted another, in a salad another etc. Our rule is you don't have to eat it, you do have to try it. If he is resistant to even tasting new foods, emphasize it can be a small bite and if he doesn't like it he can spit it out in a napkin. Plan on him trying one bite and refusing the rest of the serving for a while.
Our routine is based on a book called "French kids eat everything" it's a worthwhile read when you are struggling with a picky eater. It's written by a mom who worked with her kids to get them eating better and has a good mix of the theory and practical advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
How long can a 2 yr old go without eating...?

muddie: That's a great idea monitoring the weight!
newmamalizzy: I have served him several food options with one being what he likes to eat. He only eats that and he will wait til the next meal to eat again. I didn't understand your comment about "the basics"... and pushing healthy too fast. What did you mean? (See my last paragraph too.)

How long can a child go without eating...?
People keep telling me he will eat when he's hungry. NOT TRUE. This kid has gone a straight 28 hours before he ate anything. By that time, I gave him bread b/c he outlasted me. We were going to a party too (with cake and ice cream) and I wasn't going to let him eat cake first. Although he did it pretzels and crackers there too. This clearly didn't work and won't work for this child. Strong-willed perhaps? If so, I'm in for quite an adventure with this one...

I am trying not to push it... as much. DH talks about forcing him but I believe that will cause more problems. I read him some things online that do not recommend this. So, not the road we want to take.

I don't think I'm pushing too healthy too fast. He can even pick out the "healthy junk food" at the weekly potluck. This kid knows junk! ;-) The pudding I made was a raw pudding ....mango-pineapple-cashew-lemon-sweetener. It was a healthy pudding. Very yummy, dessert-like but healthy. :)
 

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Sorry for not being clear. What I mean is that a food is only healthy if it gets eaten. So your lovely healthy pudding sounds like a nice way to get a pudding-liking child to add more fruit in their diet, but it probably won't be helpful for a kid who doesn't like pudding or fruit in the first place. By sticking with the basics, I mean you'll probably have better luck adding tortillas to his repertoire by sticking them on his plate over and over. Then once he likes tortillas you may have luck spreading something healthy on them or melting cheese on top, or dipping in beans. Take things one step at a time basing your steps on the foods he already likes.

Also, did you know you can buy little pouches to fill with whatever you like? That might be a good option for you because those pouches are ridiculously expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Oh, newmamalizzy. That makes so much sense! I understand what you mean now... and love that way of thinking. Pouches? What an awesome idea. I should look into that.
 
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