I often teeter somewhere between not caring if the picky two year old eats, and desperately trying to get him to. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll probably roll your eyes that I am blogging about how I hate feeding my kids.
But, this time, I thought I’d share 5 things that have actually WORKED when feeding my picky toddler in the hopes that it will help some mom save her sanity too. If the average two-year-old is anything like mine, then there are moms all over the world frustrated. One minute he gobbles down something that surprised you, and you make a mental note, “I’m making this dinner every week from now on.” Sound familiar?
But, the problem is that the next time, he won’t even pick up the fork. It reminds me of that Katy Perry song I hate,
‘Cause you’re hot then you’re cold
You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out
You’re up then you’re down
You’re wrong when it’s right
It’s black and it’s white
We fight, we break up
We kiss, we make up
Aside from the breaking up part, I never realized how easily this song can work for a two year old too.
But, back to the tips. I have learned after three kids that the #1 thing that the toddler wants while eating is for it to be FUN. That’s right. For some strange reason, he doesn’t care one bit about actually eating, or nutritional facts like eating ritz crackers for every meal is not healthy. He doesn’t care about any of that at all. So you have to keep changing things up to keep them interested.
Here are 5 tricks to feeding picky toddlers that have worked for me!
1. Involve his favorite stuffed animal. One night I was so frustrated that the 2 year old wouldn’t even pick up his fork to take one single bit of a food he loved, that I got desperate. I talked him into eating while I pretended to be one of his stuffed animals that was feeding him. It worked! He laughed the whole way through, and had a blast.
2. Switch up the serving dish. I’ve blogged about how if you serve my kid anything with a dixie cup and a spork, he’ll eat it. Well, that’s still true. Sometimes I just have to make it fun. Toothpicks, dipping things, dividing it up in small cups. It’s exhausting, I know, but it works.
3. Letting him feed you. This has worked countless times for me as well. I will tell him, “you feed me a bite, then mommy will feed you a bite.” This is his favorite game.
4. Get siblings involved. My older kids are so sweet. They always try to help. Sometimes they feed him and that works, but other times, we make up games with them. We have races to finish our green beans, or we clap when he takes a bite. Sometimes getting the attention from older siblings is helpful. If there are no siblings, find a pet dog, fish…anything!
5. Examine the time of day. My youngest eats best when he is hungry. I’m trying not to starve him, but I’ve learned that if I can keep snacks away for at least an hour before mealtime, he eats better. Sometimes, moving dinner time up a half hour or back a half hour can make ALL the difference.
You could always resort to food art like this:
Isn’t it amazing? I had to ask the blogger/artist if she actually let her kids eat this. I was going to die a little inside if she said yes. I was relieved when she said no. Because honestly, how could you let a two year old destroy something like this after all that time and energy?
Oh, wait. I let my kids do that to my clean house every day.
Do you have any tricks for getting picky toddlers to eat? Please share!
Ana Lynn says
I’d love to tell you that toddler stage is where it ends but I have a kindergartner here who is still a picky eater sometimes. Pretty much the same rules apply make it fun, funny names help, and sometimes they just win.
Ugh. I know. My first spoiled us because she at least TRY anything. I’m hoping he does grow out of it eventually, but I know there are no guarantees. I just had a mom tell me that she was so worried when her son moved to a foreign country because he was still SUCH a picky eater at 19 years old!
We are trying for our first baby this year (fingers crossed). I shall practice some of these tricks when I get a kid of my own.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Good luck on trying Caroline!! 🙂 Life just gets crazier and crazier the more kids you have, so crank out some more of that beautiful food art while you have the time!
We actually had to give up with our oldest… The options had become: get him to eat what he wanted OR have him try what we were having for dinner and clean up the subsequent vomit. Between the vomit and him losing weight, we gave up.
We still put both dinner (and what he’ll eat) on his plate and just let him eat what he will. Ah well. Here’s to hoping he grows out of it
Ugh. That’s so hard. If vomiting was involved I would totally give in way more believe me!!
Oooh goodness. I love children but reading posts like this always makes me happy I can give them back… good luck 🙂
Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. says
Meredith, I needed this SO much today! (My toddler ate jack squat for dinner tonight.) I know you and I have similar toddler food problems (Eat Something, anyone?) and this was super helpful for me. Thank you!!
Oh good!! I know. Mine had to eat tonight while I let him walk around playing. So frustrating!
Megan Lisica says
Great tips!! It’s so hard, that line from thinking they are really hungry and feeding them anything or waiting it our and letting them “starve”. Our pediatrician told me that all kids will eat when they are hungry enough, so I try to remember that 😉
I’m missing Manic Mondays!!
I KNOW!! I’m missing them too. It just seems like it was too hard for me to do every week. I think I may switch it to a monthly thing instead….what do you think?
Preston Davis says
My wife and I are guilty of bribing our child with her favorite dessert. We’re not proud of it, but it works.