Parenting Toddlers (1-5) Community
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377493 tn?1356505749

Help dealing with toddler eating issues

Hi ladies.  Once again I need your expert advice.  Ryder had his 2 year well baby check with his pediatrician today.  As usual, my main concern was weight gain.  For those of you that don't know, he was born a low birth weight baby, then lost a great deal of weight with rotovirus.  Since then it's been a struggle to get the weight back on.  He is healthy, but gets the usual numerous virus' that they get when they are exposed to other children (he is in daycare 3 days a week and unfortunately me staying home full time is just not a financial option).  Like most children his age he stops eating or at least eats minimal amounts when sick. This also happens whenever we are getting new teeth (again, normal I know).  He is just getting over a throat infection and bronchitis combined with the arrival of his first two year molar, and at 2 is down to just over 22 lbs.  He also is a picky eater.  And trust me, he does flat out refuse to eat if he doesn't like something.  I have been referred to a nutritionist and also have a great list of high calorie foods and tips.  Fortunately, he will eat some of them.  What I am looking for is tips on getting him to actually eat a whole meal or snack.  I have a heck of a time getting him to stay at the table and actually eat.  He is very active, and just will not sit through a meal. I can strap him into his high chair but he just screams his little head off wanting to "sit on bum" which means a regular chair (he kneels on it, won't let me use a booster seat). He also tends to be a grazer, and I am wondering what your opinion is there?  More harmful or more positive.  I am careful not to turn meal time into a power struggle and I do not push him to eat.  But I admit I am concerned, and I guess am looking for tips to make meal time fun.  We do eat together most of the time, tv, etc. off and talk to each other. But he will start playing peek a boo or giggling at something and it's almost like he forgets about the eating part?  Ideas and thoughts?  Thanks so much!
8 Responses
973741 tn?1342346373
Hi,  feel your pain!!  My oldest has his sensory issues and eating was greatly affected by this.  Still is and in fact we've worked with an occupational therapist on his eating and are starting again next week.  This is not the kind of problems you are having but it has been insightful working with someone on kids feeding issues.  

Your little one is more like my younger one.  He was born at normal weight but didn't gain weight fast enough as a newborn, so he was on a feeding schedule right from the start.  He is and has always been a little guy.  He was about that weight at 2 as well.  And once he hit 2----  he became ultra picky.  I was a mean mommie and made him stay in his highchair.  He ate better in it and one of the ways I made it fun was I would put him in it for other things.  he liked to play with little things in it or we'd do finger painting, etc. so that the chair didn't just represent captivity but a place where fun thingd happened,.  I don't know if it is too late for that though with your boy as he's gotten a taste of freedom.  

Anyway, what my pediatrician told me was to give lots and lots of snacks.  He ate breakfast, and two hours later a snack and then two hours later lunch and then two hours later another snack and so on.  She talked about little stomachs and how they don't hold that much so just continuously fill it.  
My son was picky picky picky until he turned 5 or a little before that.  Now he eats most things that I want him to and probably more vegis than me! He stayed on his growth chart but is still thin.  But healthy.

Oh, and I remember well teeth coming in.  We now have teeth falling out and grown up teeth coming in and it is the same thing!!  My son was so very grumpy and out of sorts and had a runny nose until his top front tooth fell out and you can see the new one coming in.  Just a heads up that teething goes on for a LONG time!  LOL  

well good luck

964234 tn?1331952807
I don't have this issue with Franky although at 18 months he is becoming a little more selective he still loves to eat, and eats at the table in his highchair at mealtimes.  I am coming accross the issue with the molars.  On days I can tell they are bothering him, he seems to eat less and that is always worrisom to us moms.  I always give him some tylenol and try to offer softer foods.
I am home with him, so what has helped is just giving him meals and snacks (meal and two hours later a snack like mentioned above) at the same time always in his highchair.  Maybe you can have the daycare provider do the same as what you are doing at home?
My sister  is going through the same thing you are going through with Ryder with my niece, Lily who just turned 2.... she has always been a picky one, but it has seemed to get worse in the recent months.  For christmas I bought her a place mat, plate, utensils, and cup with her favorite Dora the Explorer on them.  She hasn't skipped a meal since...lol.  She is so excited to eat at the table with the Dora set.  Maybe something simple like that will help encourage eating with Ryder too?  
377493 tn?1356505749
Thanks so much to both of you.  I think that sort of forcing the issue with the highchair will help.  I always dread the fight, but sometimes I guess you just have to do what you have to do.  I do think that removing the tray and have it pulled right up to the table would make a difference in his willingness to sit there.  Heather, I also really like the idea of the placemat, etc.  and think that might help keep his attention on his meal.  As always, I truly appreciate the input and advice.  Thanks so much!!
Avatar universal
Other than the things mentioned above, do you think you could let him help with choosing/making dinner? When our daughter was near that age, she started sitting on the counter and I would let her make decisions like whether we would have orange or yellow bell pepper, or whether we'd make stir fry with chicken or shrimp. Every child is different but it seemed when she is involved in the preparation, she is more inclined to eat the meal.
377493 tn?1356505749
I do try to let him be involved in the decision making process whenever possible ie: would you like oatmeal or a bagel for breakfast? And yes, no question it helps. I hadn't thought of preperation, but will certainly give it a try.  He does like to be my helper in other things.

I am also beginning to think that my expectation of what a portion size should be isn't reasonable?  I mean, no question when he's sick he stops eating, and at the best of times it's hard to get him to eat proteins such as meat or fish,  But I am wondering if I think his portions should be bigger then realistic?

His daycare gave me their complete recipe book.  It is primarily healthy casseroles.  I have been making them and he loves them!  So I think perhaps I wasn't making toddler friendly foods as often as I thought I was.  Learn as I go I guess..lol.

Thanks again for all the great suggestions.  
973741 tn?1342346373
Our pedi opened her hand and said that a 2 year old could eat what would fit in the palm of a hand at one sitting.  That's it.  I have about 4 friends that all have kids the same age as me.  We all were at lunch one time (a rare day out!!) and of course, talking kids.  We all noticed the same thing----  our kids eat 2 smaller meals and one bigger meal.  doesn't matter what time of day the bigger meal comes (and by bigger, I mean that they seemed really hungry and ate good portions), the other two meals would be smaller in comparison.  A small case study of about 7 kids between the five us at the time.  

Two is fun amanda . ..  I look forward to  many posts from you in the year to come!!  It is fun going back in time through others kid's experiences!!  
Avatar universal
I never thought of asking our daycare for their recipes! Great idea! I read somewhere that toddler portions should be distributed in tablespoons rather than portions of cups as we do for ourselves. Good luck!
973741 tn?1342346373
So, I had a major success this weekend and wanted to share . . .didn't know where else to do it.  Some here know I have a sensory kid much older than Adgals 2 year old but it is like feeding a toddler sometimes with his issues.  Our OT gave me a suggestion that worked better than I ever imagined.  My boy likes pasta noodles but you could hardly put anything over it.  Spaghetti sauce with meat??  No way.  So our OT said to puree the sauce in a blender.  I did this and called it pizza spaghetti----  he ate two bowls of it, meat and all.  Then I blended something that had ground turkey in it.  Put if over a potato (I know weird, but he likes baked potates with things over it) and he ate that.  My OT said a lot of kids have troule with chunky and texture so if you make it all smooth, they'll eat it.  AND my boy did!!  
This is exciting stuff for a sensory kid!
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