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Picky eater


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#1 Ayende

Posted 12 December 2018 - 05:36 PM

Hi guys, I'm struggling at the moment with a picky eater and wondering if anyone has any new ideas for me.

Also, I know that there are lots of threads on this topic, but I've tried most of the strategies I've found with no luck, so I'm posting this in the hopes someone has some new ideas.

DD is 21 months now and has been a picky eater since about 12 months. When it first started I tried a few strategies including

1 - serve something she likes with every meal (worked for a while, until she stopped eating those foods too)

2 - not making a fuss, just taking the food away if she didn't eat it and try again at the next meal

3 - offer something new first, then something she'll eat if she refuses

4 - go with the flow and just offer what she'll eat (made it a thousand times worse since she very quickly started refusing to eat most things).


After a while, she reached a point where she would literally only eat yoghurt and infant cereal, and she stopped gaining weight.

At that point (she was stating to look obviously skinnier), I put my foot down and had a few strict days where she could ask for a meal whenever she wanted but would only be offered one meal each time, and no yoghurt or cereal. If she refused, then she could come out of high chair and we would try again next time she asked. It took until mid-afternoon for her to try to eat something but by the next day she was eating every meal quite cheerfully and even started getting interested in the foods I was eating as well.

She was quite good for a couple of months after that and started gaining weight again, but lately she's started descending into pickiness again. It's nowhere near as bad as it was - at the moment, she'll eat weetbix, toast, yoghurt, jam sandwiches, strawberries, blueberries, and some snack foods eg biscuit/rice cracker/fruit bars.

She won't eat vegetables, meat, pasta, rice or any other proper "meal" foods, however. She also won't eat sandwiches with anything other than jam.

At the moment, I'm just giving her things that I know she'll eat through the day but trying to change it up at dinner. The result is that most days she doesn't eat any dinner, which means that she has nothing to eat from about 1:30pm until 6:30am most days.

I'm just curious about what you guys think. I know that pickiness is perfectly normal but every week she's refusing more and more foods and I'm really worried about her ending up back where she was again, so if anyone has any new strategies I'd be keen to hear them.

Thanks in advance,

Edited by Ayende, 12 December 2018 - 05:38 PM.


#2 alfoil hat

Posted 12 December 2018 - 05:50 PM

Following. I’m having trouble getting my toddler to eat too!

#3 Daffy2016

Posted 12 December 2018 - 06:10 PM

My DD is only 15 months so take this with a grain of salt, but I’ve had more luck trying new things as lunch when she’s less tired than dinner.

#4 Ayende

Posted 12 December 2018 - 06:12 PM

 Daffy2016, on 12 December 2018 - 06:10 PM, said:

My DD is only 15 months so take this with a grain of salt, but I’ve had more luck trying new things as lunch when she’s less tired than dinner.

I did try that at one point, but she just ended up refusing it and eating more for afternoon tea instead.  How do you manage that aspect of it?

#5 Mel1609

Posted 12 December 2018 - 08:41 PM

After 3 kids myself,  and seeing numerous other children of friends and family go through similar issues, I've come to the conclusion that unfortunately us parents contribute far too much to our children's eating problems.  We offer too much choice,  we hover over them with concern which creates anxiety and gives way too much attention to what is a normal,  easy,  everyday function of eating. It all comes from a place of love and care, but young children learn quickly that if i refuse this,  another option will present itself.

Im certainly no expert,  but i have 3 good eaters,  and with all of them i offer one meal only.  We all eat the same thing so the kids don't see different meals for each person being served. If they don't want what's offered, fine,  meal over. I always looked at the food intake over a 24 hour period rather than meal by meal,  it's a much better indication. Also ive let them feed themselves from an early age.
Just a quick story that always stuck with me- at my sister's house once and she had a friend over who had 3 kids. She was talking about how fussy her eldest was.  Id bought some cakes over,  all different sorts,  and cut them up into small portions for morning tea.  Her dd wandered over and picked up a piece of orange cake and was about to eat it when her mum said " that's orange cake,  .you don't like oranges. " her dd put it back and walked away.  
Her mother was truly oblivious to what she'd just done.

We may not realize it,   but i truly believe if we just gave them a meal and walked away many eating issues would not exist.  Just my opinion though.



#6 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 12 December 2018 - 09:22 PM

Mel you can have your opinion and shove it IMHO.  Count your blessings of having non fussy children. I have an ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Child - think extreme fussy), an eat anything child and a standard try on fussy eater (ignore and they will eat). Children can be complex no matter how you parent, in all areas of life.

#7 Mel1609

Posted 12 December 2018 - 09:32 PM

 Veritas Vinum Arte, on 12 December 2018 - 09:22 PM, said:

Mel you can have your opinion and shove it IMHO..

Ha, ok I'll shove it if it makes you feel better.

#8 DM. 2012

Posted 12 December 2018 - 09:44 PM

I am going through this too. Mine is 6 years old.  I went to a workshop recently on fussy eating run by some dieticians and th basic jist of their advise was just feed them what you want them to eat and if they eat it they eT it and if they don’t, then don’t make a fuss, but don’t give them something either.

They also advised not to give them any drinks with their meal or beforehand.  They also did say that they think multi vitamins are a good idea for these kids.

So far I haven’t seen a change, they said it could take a looooong time.  I don’t know what else to do.



#9 Jenflea

Posted 12 December 2018 - 09:53 PM

Does she eat raw foods? DD preferred(and still does at 8) her veggies raw. She'd eat a red capsicum like an apple.

Have you tried a tasting plate of just veggie sticks, cheese cubes etc and let her serve herself?

Does it coincide with her teething?

#10 Ayende

Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:38 AM

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Re Mel - I have tried putting food in front of her and walking away, and it did work when she was younger.  The last time I tried that, though, she just cried for a while then threw it all on the floor.  I didnt give her anything else when this happened, and she just ended up going without dinner for a week, then started to cry every time she saw the high chair, so I gave it up after that.

I do try to keep meal times fairly relaxed and generally don't make a fuss if she doesn't eat.

RE Jenflea - I have tried that a few times.  She sometimes tries the cheese but generally won't touch anything else.  It may be worth revisiting.

Dm2012 - thankyou for sharing your story.  I haven't tried separating her water from meals and she does drink quite a bit, so I'll definitely give that a go.  Good to hear the dietitian advice more or less lines up with what I could find online, too - that's very reassuring.

#11 seayork2002

Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:43 AM

With DS (now 11 and still fussy) we made sure he had one thing on the plate he would eat and just gave him a variety and left him to it.

#12 Daffy2016

Posted 13 December 2018 - 11:24 AM

 Ayende, on 12 December 2018 - 06:12 PM, said:



I did try that at one point, but she just ended up refusing it and eating more for afternoon tea instead.  How do you manage that aspect of it?

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I just keep offering stuff, usually one thing at a time - it seems to make it worse if I offer lots of things at once. I’ve also had a tiny bit of success with snack plates and letting her choose one thing at a time off the plate.

I also offer random stuff I don’t think she’ll like and there have been a few surprises in what she’ll eat. But very much a work in progress.

Good luck OP. It’s tough.

#13 Dadto2

Posted 13 December 2018 - 11:48 AM

 DM. 2012, on 12 December 2018 - 09:44 PM, said:

I am going through this too. Mine is 6 years old.  I went to a workshop recently on fussy eating run by some dieticians and th basic jist of their advise was just feed them what you want them to eat and if they eat it they eT it and if they don’t, then don’t make a fuss, but don’t give them something either.


I think that's when the problem arises. Our friends daughter subsisted largely on milkshakes and jam sandwiches until she developed health problems and they had to be stricter with her diet. As long as there is an "option" which invariably is going to be more yummy than their dinner, they're going to take that. Why wouldn't they? She would pick at her dinner, eat nothing and be given jam sandwiches.

I think parents argue that their child would starve themselves rather than eat vegetables, but that's a long, slow and very painful death, over a month. If a child chooses that rather than enduring a plate of vegetables then there is something else going on other than being a fussy eater.

Note with my friends daughter, she is eating relatively healthy now since her hair started falling out and her bowel was stretched due to chronic constipation because of the bad diet. She's on long-term medication to resolve the bowel issue.

Edited by Dadto2, 13 December 2018 - 11:50 AM.


#14 Silly Old Elf

Posted 13 December 2018 - 12:03 PM

My toddler 1 was the same, went through a phase where pretty much only ate at childcare or Vegemite sandwich. Now as a primary schooler will eat pretty much everything.  Toddler 2 was the same and is slowly eating more things. They were/are offered a meal, but if they don't eat will get yogurt/milk/sandwich. Child one no longer fussy, child two coming round slowly.

#15 Beanette

Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:00 PM

Have you tried not using a high chair? DS prefers to sit at a real chair, I guess makes him feel more grown up. We have a little table and chairs, I sit with DS while he eats.

#16 Inkogneatoh

Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:12 PM

Could you try a different setting? Instead of trapping her in the highchair, sit her at a little table or throw a blanket or sheet on the ground and have a picnic. Still have a definitive "end" sign like if she gets up and leaves, the meal is over.

#17 Mooples

Posted 13 December 2018 - 02:24 PM

I know it’s a terrible habit to get in to but ds eats so much more if he’s watching tv. Every night he has a plate of snacking veggies (capsicum, cucumber, mushrooms, carrot, mini tomatoes, peas/corn, steamed veggie fingers whatever I offer) while he’s watching tv and I’m prepping the main meal. He eats it all but if I didn’t do that and just put them on his dinner plate they wouldn’t be touched.

#18 Nerdette

Posted 13 December 2018 - 02:25 PM

Full disclosure: DS currently will eat almost anything, and I fully accept this is just who he is.
However, he did go through a fussy phase. I was having him eat his meals at a different time to DH and I and I just sat with him. He started refusing food more and more often.
But he was always keen to try things on our plates. So I changed up our schedule, we now all eat dinner at the same time. If he sees us eating something he is much more willing to try it.

Good luck!

#19 Drat

Posted 14 December 2018 - 05:44 AM

My daughter is generally a 'good' eater from my friends observations.

However, there may be weeks when she doesn't eat dinner. Not once does she wake in the night from hunger.

It's easy to think that they will 'starve' but for most kids that's not the reality. I give her what we are eating, I tell her before what we are eating and we all eat together. If there's new things on the plate we talk about what they are called and what colours. I have completely taken away 'like' from the conversation as I noticed when I did that she would automatically say that she doesn't like something.
Some days she eats everything, some days she eats hardly anything. She's on the small side of normal too, so other people seem to worry more about her weight that I do!
I'm also much more flexible with lunch and breakfast, I often let her choose either of those (or both) if we are at home.

Also one thing that really helped through picky phases is getting her to help me prepare food. Peeling veggies, stirring or mixing, she actually tried some raw onion and raw mushrooms a few weeks ago without me even coaxing. There's also a cool Teeny tiny Stevie's song called I ate a rainbow and we listen to and watch that and talk about our 'rainbow' while we eat the veggies.

It's hard to change when they are older, the tough battles with 2 year olds will pay off in the long run.

#20 Ayende

Posted 14 December 2018 - 07:15 AM

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

A few people suggested not using the high chair - it's a good idea but I don't think it's that useful for my DD.  She loves her high chair and walks over to it asking to be put in whenever she's hungry.  I've given her food at her little table and chairs before but she always gets really distracted when she's there and barely eats anything (even food she would normally wolf down).

I do think separating water from food, helping with prep, veggie platters and maybe trying to change up lunch again rather than dinner are very good ideas though and I'll give them a try.  I'll also continue to not offer alternatives and not kick up a stink if she refuses.

Thankyou once again for all your kind replies.  I'm definitely feeling more confident about handling this again.

#21 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 14 December 2018 - 08:24 AM

As for starving I have seen my ARFID go 7 days before he decided to try something new. That was not by force but by circumstance.... we were snowed in in a Village where he did not like the bread (too grainy) or cheese (too creamy), so DID NOT EAT. Our hands were tied.

So yes if your child misses dinner one night or every night they will be fine if they are eating other things during the day.

Paediatrician had told me that starving out a child takes around a month but parents usually buckle at 2wks. That was not a route I wanted to take.



#22 seayork2002

Posted 14 December 2018 - 08:28 AM

Not sure if this helps at all but as I stated before my son is now 11 but in the last few years we have realised he does not like big meals, he likes little and often.

This always sticks in my head when my mum took my brother the doctors (years ago!) as she was concerned about his pickiness so he asked her to tell him what he ate over a whole week not just in one day, when she did she realised for him atl east there was no issue.

Over a week we are not concerned about DS pickiness now

#23 MontyMumma

Posted 14 December 2018 - 09:37 AM

Picky eating can be caused by a variety of reasons.
It can be behavioral - Some children refuse to eat one thing in order to try and get something they like better, or to battle for control with the parent (sounds extreme but it's more common than you would think)
Then there's also just the usual fussiness of some kinds refusing to eat foods they don't like, not for any other reason. I was this category as a kid, I would literally sulk and refuse to eat certain foods, to this day I still cannot stand roast chicken if it has gravy on it.
Then there's the physiological reasons, some kids won't eat certain types of food. Often they might only eat "bland" foods like chips, bread, chicken nuggets etc, in some cases these children have an undiagnosed medical reason for their choices, such as coeliac disease, food intolerances or even being on the Autism Spectrum.

See if you can work out the why and then you can figure out how to fix it.

#24 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 14 December 2018 - 09:59 AM

View PostVeritas Vinum Arte, on 14 December 2018 - 08:24 AM, said:

As for starving I have seen my ARFID go 7 days before he decided to try something new. That was not by force but by circumstance.... we were snowed in in a Village where he did not like the bread (too grainy) or cheese (too creamy), so DID NOT EAT. Our hands were tied.

So yes if your child misses dinner one night or every night they will be fine if they are eating other things during the day.

Paediatrician had told me that starving out a child takes around a month but parents usually buckle at 2wks. That was not a route I wanted to take.

Oh VVA, I’ve been worrying about my kids recently as we are going away soon. DS is still breastfed and eats  toast, yoghurt and cheese, so hopefully will be ok. But 4.5yo DD will be offered kids meals at the place we are staying, and she doesn’t eat kid food. I suspect she’s going to be surviving on toast and yoghurt too, and I hate to think what that will do to her bowels (along with a bit of reluctance to poo on strange toilets). Why oh why did I agree to this holiday? It would be ok if we were self catering the whole time, but we aren’t.

#25 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 14 December 2018 - 10:15 AM

We survived one trip with DS1 eating icecream breakfast lunch and dinner. He was 10yrs at the time.

So yes travel can be fun with eating disorder children who can detect batch differences in commercially produced irems.




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