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Our 16 month old daughter is a great kid. She is active, social, goes to day care (part-time), happy kid. The primary issue that we have at this stage is her eating. She does not care about food much except for crackers, milk and other crunchy snacks. We try to distract her quite a bit during breakfast and dinner to get her to eat, but it does not help much. She won't budge. For the last one month, my wife has been playing rhymes and poems on youtube to distract and it does work, but I feel its probably the wrong approach. One she should not be having any screen time till 2 and two she really is not getting any connection to her food.

How can we improve this situation? I guess it gets worse, because we both are working and are time bound on how much time we can spend in getting her to eat.

Thanks.

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    Have you tried feeding her adult food? We have been feeding our 18 month old daughter adult food almost since she started weaning. I remember having her suck on oven roasted brussels sprouts cooked in garlic oil, and poached salmon carefully crushed between my fingers. Tonight she had salmon and watercress tarts, and she's a big fan of smoked salmon. I think this is because we give her a varied diet and regularly take her to cafe's and restaurants. Her only problem now is she's not a big fan of eating raw fruit, but she will taste it before saying no to it. We just give her juice instead. – Engineer Dollery Jan 6 '16 at 1:41
  • Yes, that is what we have been doing often. I guess one issue is how to know how much is enough? If we just leave her to her hunger cues, then good luck getting her to eat often. – vivekian2 Jan 7 '16 at 5:30
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    @EngineerDollery Please don't answer in comments -- write an actual answer instead. – Acire Jan 7 '16 at 13:08
  • @Erica -- that's not an answer, it's an opinion and a personal observation. Answers should be backed up by facts, and this isn't. – Engineer Dollery Jan 7 '16 at 14:31
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    @EngineerDollery Comments are for clarification (e.g. "Have you tried feeding her adult food"), not opinions or personal observations that mimic answers (e.g. "she'll eat when she's hungry" and "it's all good"). You can't avoid backing up an opinion-based answer just by leaving it as a comment. – Acire Jan 7 '16 at 15:05
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Something that I find helps is a structured dinner time. Always eat dinner at the table, together as a family, at the same time. This way the child knows what to expect.

Also, as others have mentioned, I find it helpful to always feed the child the same food as us adults. Usually, I'll give her smaller portions and I will cut it up for her. Also, I'll usually include one extra item that I know she likes. Then I place the food in front of her and tell her to eat as much as she wants and that's all I say. No coaxing, cajoling, or anything.

The first day or two it was the same routine, but eventually hunger sets in and she started eating. I think giving the whole thing less attention helps: children are always seeking attention and will get it however they can. Eating is a natural part of life, though, so it shouldn't be something we have to "teach" them. It will come naturally, a d they will stop acting out once they stop getting the attention they desire by not eating.

  • Great! We are going to try this for the next week. Thanks. – vivekian2 Jan 12 '16 at 20:34
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1: Avoid food fights

As they say

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink"

Kids are pretty powerless over their parents, but there are two domains where they rapidly discover that they do have power: eating, and sleeping.

Of course, the more you care (and show it), the more power they have. (It can be useful to do a bit of self-examination to discover if it maybe is about power for you too: depending on how you were brought-up you may have very strict 'principles' about food and obedience which might merit a rethink).

This is why wesanyer's suggestion is good: routine, sitting down together, and you just get on with your thing. Now the mealtime is no longer about her, it's about all of you.

2: Sometimes it's staying still that's the problem, not eating

At the toddler stage, their main interest in life is moving and discovering. Just sitting down eating is boring. So engage in conversation, talk about stuff and don't sweat it too much (at that age) about staying at the table until she's finished.

3: They won't die of hunger

Human bodies are amazingly efficient. You'd be amazed how little you can get by on, and a child's little body even more so. Balance and discovery is more important than quantity. I think that it's Brazelton who suggests setting out a variety of different bite-sized finger-foods on their plate and letting them choose what they want.

  • Great answer. And I absolutely agree that being less strict about having the child sit down to eat is helpful. At times, I've allowed my kid to get up and go keep playing whatever it is she was playing, as long as she understood that it was still eating time. If she ended up getting too engrossed in her game, I'd remind her that this is the last meal of the day and there would be no snacks before dinner. That's it. There were a few nights of tears when she didn't eat enough, but she learned quick that I wasn't messing around. – wesanyer Jan 14 '16 at 18:12
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A lot of kids that age regress in what they want to eat. She'll be fine. Also, kids go through growth spurts where they want to eat more, your kid might just be out of one of those, and the new normal is lower than you are used to. Just keep on offering a variety of healthy foods, she'll get what she needs. It's a phase that will pass. (My pediatrician just told us this at out 15 month appointment)

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