Toddler Mealtime Battle – 101 Things to Try for a Kid Who Won’t Eat

Surrender and Other Tactics

For lack of a better title, here are 16 more tips to help you survive a picky toddler. And yes, surrender is included here. Every parent is sure to have at least one of these nights. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

  1. Offer your kids “dips” with their meals. Some children, like mine, love the option of dipping things into something before eating it. Try veggie dip, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, cheese dip, and anything else you want to offer.
  2. Try smaller portions, offering more food rather than overwhelming your child with large, heaping portions he’ll never finish.
  3. Try the rainbow approach, including foods of every color of the rainbow throughout the day. You may not be able to do every color every single day, but it can be a fun experience and also a great help in ensuring your child gets the needed nutrients each week.
  4. Let your children pick out their own food at the takeout buffet. They will be more excited to eat it when they’ve selected it themselves.toddler-takeout-buffet
  5. Try to avoid giving snacks close to meals when possible. Even a small snack can totally throw off a young appetite.
  6. Try offering a small amount of new food earlier in the day when your child is likely to be in a more accepting, positive mood.
  7. Don’t get hung up on a longtime favorite food falling to the wayside. Your child may simply be tired or bored of this particular item. Give it another go in a couple of weeks while you try new things in the meantime.
  8. Keep a few different boxes of cereal in the house to rotate through, giving enough variety that your child will come to enjoy cereal on a daily basis.
  9. Eat a different cereal than your spouse in front of your child. Your kid will likely want to try some of mommy’s and some of daddy’s. Our daughter is now hooked on Crispix because that’s what my husband was eating that time.
  10. Don’t give milk within an hour of mealtime. Milk often creates a full feeling, reducing the amount of food your child will eat.
  11. Practice what you preach. It’s silly to expect your kids to eat things you won’t touch, so be sure to set a good example.
  12. Let your child scoop his or her food from the serving bowl onto his or her plate.
  13. Occasionally just smile and realize it will all still be okay if your child: (a.) Skips dinner completely, (b.) Wears more than she eats, (c.) Throws more than she eats, (d.) Gives more to the dog than she eats, (e.) Eats cookies for dinner, at least just once in a while. (Regarding cookies for dinner: See above in intro and file this under if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.)
  14. Avoid pleading with and begging your children to eat. This sends the wrong message that the child is in control and undermines your authority as parent.
  15. Don’t fall to the fate of the same five foods cycled into meals throughout the week. Keep trying to get your kid to eat new and different foods. Even if unsuccessful, the continued exposure to the food is still valuable.
  16. Speak with your pediatrician if you are concerned about your child’s eating habits. A sudden low appetite can be a sign of a cold, virus, or ear infection. You may also speak with a dietician, nutritionist, or allergist to determine if your child has any GI issues or food allergies.

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