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Got a Picky Eater?

My sister had a baby three months after I had my first.  As they grew, I would sit in amazement as I watched her child eat two full jars of baby food at each sitting.  For me, it was a good day if my child decided to consume half a jar.  I didn’t have any concerns — my child was developing normally and growing well.

A few years and a couple more kids down the road, I’m still amazed at what kids will (and won’t) eat — and the steps we will go through as concerned parents to make sure that their little bodies are getting what they need to grow strong and healthy.  Even though the pediatrician reassures me that a child will not let himself or herself starve, it’s frustrating when you see their appetite disappear.

So what do you do when this happens, especially when it is a toddler?  By the time a child is around 4, it’s easier to explain to them that they need some “healthy growing food” and can’t have snacks all the time.  Toddlers are another story.  Here is what I’ve done when my kids go through one of those spurts where their appetite isn’t there:

  1. They still want to drink.  When my kids were young, they weren’t big fans of cow’s milk.  So, I would give them a sippy cup with some not-from-concentrate juice, reduced fat coconut milk (beneficial fats), and some whey protein powder (vanilla flavored).  That way, I knew they were getting some decent nutrients and not loading up exclusively on sugar.
  2. Try something new.  I know it sounds strange, but now might be a good time to experiment.  My kids were crazy for fresh berries and avocados.  I started offering these as soon as my kids were capable of mashing them up and swallowing them.  To me, they are a great transitional food from baby food to table food because they are very soft.  I also fed my kids bananas (mashed up until they had a few teeth) and whole milk yogurt.  As always, check with your health care provider first!
  3. Stay consistent, and watch for a pattern of behavior.  I have a friend whose toddler wouldn’t eat a meal, but about an hour or so after the meal would want to have some sort of snack because he was hungry.  When my friend stopped offering a snack food and instead, reintroduced the food that had been refused at mealtime, the child learned that he was going to get to eat what was in front of him.  He started to eat more at the actual meal time.  My friend’s mind was more at ease, and she had some more free time.

Keep in mind that an aversion to a specific food might be your child’s way of letting you know that food doesn’t agree with them.  If you have serious concerns, please contact your doctor or health care provider for advice that is specific to your child.

I’m curious, though.  What did you do when your kids didn’t want to eat?  What was the one food you could always get them to eat, no matter what?  I’m looking forward to your responses!

3 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Hi! I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog.

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