Dealing with a toddler who is fussy about food

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fussy eater

We’re having some problems getting Toddler Adams to eat. The little monkey is going through a phase where she refuses to eat what she’s given. Alternatively, Elizabeth will ask for food (a satsuma for instance) and once given what she’s asked for, refuse to eat it.

There’s definitely an element of the terrible twos at play. Let’s just say that other elements of her behaviour are also proving a little challenging as she pushes boundaries.

The food issue, however, is proving particularly challenging because her big sister, Helen, generally eats very well. She had her fussy moments but was not quite to the same level as Elizabeth. When both kids are sitting at the table eating together I find my attention is constantly on the little one when Helen may need some help or simply want to chat.

I know it’s just one of those inevitable parenting scenarios that you simply have to deal with. I also know that Elizabeth will grow out of it soon enough.

Come on parents of the blog reading world, some, of you must have dealt with similar situations. It’s not that she’s a fussy eater, if Toddler Adams wants to eat then she will and there’s very little she won’t try. This is more of a case of her simply refusing to eat.

Have you faced this issue? What did you do about it? Does this family simply need to grin and bear it until this phase passes?

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12 thoughts on “Dealing with a toddler who is fussy about food”

  1. This is one of those horrible parent and child scenarios that happens. I’ve had the same with my youngest james. Neither boy is fussy, although my eldest has a geographic tongue which makes it interesting, but James did do exactly the same as toddler Adams.
    It didn’t matter what I did it was simple refusal. I’m the end, and it sounds bad, I gave up. I made what we were eating, placed it on the table (not directly in front of him but in arms reach) and then just ignored him and we ate our dinner. No fuss and no questions. The first day nothing was eaten. Second day the same yet by the third day he ate and has eaten since then.

    my only thought was that he caused a fuss because he could. So I didn’t respond and just ‘carried on’ as normal.

    He still had his breakfast, lunch or snacks whatever he decided he wanted to not be fussy over so it wasn’t like he was starved.
    Just refusal to acknowledge the fuss.

  2. The comment I was going to leave was the same as Martyn. Put out the food, carry on as normal. As long as you are offering food you know they like and refusing snacks in between none eaten meals then all will settle.
    When my son did this breakfast and lunch were always finger foods, things that would not spoil to much and were left on the table. Breakfast was removed when lunch was put out and lunch removed when tea was put out, tea was removed after tea and binned.
    The only rule was if he wanted to pick at what was there he sat up the table he did not get to wander and eat.
    Never had this with the first 2 children, though middle child did go trough a fussy age at about 10.

  3. Our youngest did nothing but eat Bread and Butter, he is the youngest of 5 and with 3 older boys with their preferences and a disabled daughter who would everything on the table, usually with her hands and off other peoples plates, we ended up just letting him eat Bread and Butter none stop, he was eating, he wasn’t hungry between meals and more importantly it made our lives easier at meal times.

    Prior to this ‘stage’ he was weaned at 6 months, he loved all foods, fish was his favourite and he loved broccoli, we have no idea what made him change his diet. We didn’t push him but we noticed that more and more he was having toilet issues and behavioural problems, the toilet issues were so bad between aged 5 & 7 we took medical advice and as to his behaviour, he tied a rope round his neck and threatened to jump off the 2nd floor landing. After calling emergency social worker, meeting with psychiatrists and doctors we put him on a gluten free diet, his toilet problems improved as did his behaviour. Letting him eat all that wheat wasn’t do him any favours. It was a constant battle especially with family members who refused to acknowledge the issues, we battled, we fought, we made threats, we stuck at it and things started to improve.
    However we then got to the stage where the slightest bit of gluten in his diet would send him back into the realms of depression and with support from the medical services we slowly reintroduced gluten back into his diet, he tested negative for coelics, but we had all his food on prescription and the most amazing support.
    But and here comes the killer….when I say ‘we’ who i actually meant are the staff at Malvern College where we boarded him from the age of 7 so they could battle and fight him, so they could deal with the issues because we couldn’t

    1. Wow. You really have experienced quite a bit with your family haven’t you? I just don’t know what to say. Thankfully we’re not having anything like the issues you have faced.

  4. Right I accept the comment above is unique but here’s what we did with our other kids when they wouldn’t eat.

    Give them their favourite foods, let them eat at times they need to eat and if that means at separate times to the rest of the family then so be it, but when you have the main family mealtime, sit them at the table with you and let them have a little treat, that way they start to see mealtimes as family time where everyone sits together and it’s a fun experience.

    Introduce new foods to your toddler bit by bit. if you feed them pureed veg as a baby in separate blends, rather than mashing everything up together, they get to experience individual tastes, then as they get older let them have some pureed broccoli for example with a piece of broccoli so they identify the taste with the actual food.

    Encourage your child to shop with you, not just sit in the trolley, pick one meal as you go round the supermarket and let them help you select the veg, meat etc and make sure that, that is the meal you have that evening. When you’ve finished your shopping, got home, put everything away, separate the chosen shopping and have your child sit with you in the kitchen while you prepare dinner.

    Use the time to teach matching colours, letters, what does it smell like, look like etc. Then during dinner as a family you can talk about the whole experience and hopefully your child will start to want to make more exciting and different foods.

    But last of all, our fiddly, picky kids will now eat more foods than I will, they will chose fish over a burger at a restaurant, they will ask hubby and I to prepare certain dishes when they come to visit.

    1. I am liking the idea of taking the kids shopping and geeting them invovled in buying the food. Toddler Adams loves going to the shops. This may work well.

  5. I’d like to say it will resolve itself easily, but I’ve got two fussy kids and it’s only in the last year my 13yo has started to come through it. I think it’s just puberty and growing which are making him hungrier. He’s vegetarian and only really likes carbs – he doesn’t like vegetables – but is learning to like quorn and spicier food.
    My daughter has a tiny appetite and eats very slowly. She likes meat and sweet food. She will do anything and everything she can to get out of eating meals and, even at 9, believes that the main reason for eating is so that she can have pudding. (Somehow she manages a full size pudding, even though she can’t manage a full size meal!)
    My younger son (11) has never been fussy, but years of focusing on his brother and sister have meant he has become increasingly fussy over the last couple of years and won’t try new foods. He also has days when he insists he’s ‘not hungry’ and eats tiny portions – and it shows in his size. He’s got very slim lately.
    Sorry! That’s not what you wanted to hear. I’m sure Chicken Ruby’s comment isn’t what you wanted to hear either, but sadly these things are very common and we just have to deal with them as best we can and not worry about what others think of our decisions (I regularly make three or even four different meals for my family because it’s the only way to get them to eat – I’ve tested the ‘he’ll eat if he’s hungry’ scenario and it doesn’t work!).

    1. Ah. I see. Well, er, here’s hoping Toddler Adams’ fussy habit can be nipped in the bud. I am now living in fear of what the future holds.

    2. Sarah
      i’d rather make 3 different meals that i know the kids will eat rather than have unsettling meal times, tantrums and tears and that’s just from me. The one thing we’ve always done whether they’ve eaten or not is to sit together as a family at the dining room table to eat/drink/chat/sulk

  6. Pingback: Sorry Toddler Adams, you’re not a fussy eater after all | Dad Blog UKSorry Toddler Adams, you're not a fussy eater after all - Dad Blog UK

  7. This really echoes our current situation with the mouse. She is only 18 months though so maybe it’s still early days? Hoping it’s a phase, but always a worry when she has off days as she’s so tiny.
    On the positive side, she does have amazing days where I wonder what I did right! 😉
    Have a safe journey home!

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