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My two-year-old daughter won't eat most of what we give her. She was eating fine about a month ago; she would normally eat a bowl of soup at lunch and dinner but now she eats almost nothing. She won't touch soup and will only sometimes eat fish sticks or chicken nuggets and some fruit. We don't give her snacks during the day. I'm getting more worried because she has been drinking less and less milk, I'm afraid she's not getting enough fruits and vegetables. She doesn't lack energy. Can anyone give some ideas on how I can interest her in food?

I forgot to mention: we have talked to the doctor and he said it was just a phase, but told us to pay attention so that she doesn't lose weight (she as always been quite thin for her height).

If anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated.

  • Thank you for all your answers i will try your sugestions and post back the results – Diogo Grunho Nov 28 '17 at 9:39
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    Please don't add "thank you" as an answer. Instead, accept the answer that you found most helpful. - From Review – SomeShinyMonica Nov 28 '17 at 10:05
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    I am not an expert at this at all, so not an answer. What about the consistency of food? Have you tried giving her something she can actually chew on for lunch and dinner instead of soup? Maybe she wants to use her teeth more now and would prefer more solid foods to soup and milk in general. – skymningen Apr 5 '18 at 10:10
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You say "we don't give her snacks during the day" -- why not? Have you considered changing that? Toddlers' appetites vary constantly and aren't well-confined to mealtimes; the best way to get them to eat nutritious foods is to put diverse foods in front of them, in small quantities, often.

You may find your daughter is much more apt to eat some apple slices and cheese on the run at 10 AM, or crunch nuts all afternoon, than sit down for a proper breakfast and lunch; at this age, that's okay.

You may also find there are days where she simply doesn't eat much or insists on just one food; that's normal too, although definitely enervating for the parent. Toddlers' calorie and nutrient intake is better measured by the week, not the day.

(I don't mean that you should stop offering structured meals as well -- that's important for many reasons -- but rather that there should be plentiful snacks in addition, and thus that it shouldn't be a calamity if your daughter rejects a meal.)

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If she's acting like she feels okay, she is okay. At age 2, if she is hungry, she can say so. Don't force her to eat if she isn't hungry. Just keep offering her a variety of healthy food that you know she likes. Teach her to respect her body when it tells her "I'm full".

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My wife and I refer to this as "air fern mode." It's important to remember that a child's appetite can vary dramatically based upon if they're gearing up for a growth spurt.

I recommend finding things she does like to eat and making them available as snacks. Some people do better with a "grazing" pattern of multiple smaller meals during the day. My youngest is about the same age and I've found it's very effective to have things like high-protein pancakes on the counter where he can reach them. He gets a lot more food throughout the day if we give him multiple smaller meals than three main ones.

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I was the same way as a wee one. Grandma thought Mom was starving me and Mom thought I was sick because I would never eat very much. But the doctor said I was fine for my age and I was healthy. I never had a big appetite as I grew up after that but I certainly ate more as I grew older. So, I wouldn't worry about it. Just keep an eye on her like the Doctor suggested. And bring her in to have her checked up regularly for her weight and other vitals.

As for enticing her to eat, Mom would nickname my food and give me lots of small snacks in between meals. Apple and Fruit Sauces were my favourites and she called it "Monkey Brains." Or I would do simple cooking with her (really I just stirred the dough until I was distracted) to make Oatmeal or Chocolate Chip cookies. Being involved made me enjoy eating it too.

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Some kids do better with "grazing" than full meals. Be mindful that a "grazing" pattern means that they won't eat a full meal at meal time though.
During the nicer months, I will put out a bowl of fruit in the morning after we sit down for breakfast, and 2 of my kids are big "grazers" and will come back for this after they do 50 laps around the yard. We also have a farmers market at the end of our block which helps us make sure we always have fresh fruit and veggies in the house. I also planted a big strawberry patch (I would get about 10-20 quarts if the kids didn't eat them all, which is by intent), 2 blueberry bushes, a loganberry bush, a blackberry bush and raspberry bush patch. Plus my wife will plant a rather large garden of veggies. ALL of this is intended so that while they are playing outside they can "grab a snack" that is healthy and continue on, while also learning about how to take care of plants.

What this means is that during lunch time they might only have a smaller portion, such as half a sandwich.
I like the "grazing" idea, as long as its done properly with good nutritious foods (and not something like a basket of candy from the last holiday).

Overall, this could be a phase, but check back with the doctor whenever possible. My kids went through this as well. I have a 2 year old who is in the middle of that phase...so some days he is a great eater and other days food is his mortal enemy.

Something I noticed with my kids while going through this phase. There is also a tendency that kids are interested in what's going on around them more at this age and if there is some distractions or someone else getting up, then they will be more disinterested as well. For instance, we would be eating, my wife gets up to get some more water, now my 2-year old is interested, stops eating and gets up and follows her to the next room and wants water. Then to get him back in his seat he gets distracted 20 times before taking those 10 steps back to the table. We found that fewer distractions (no matter how small) help our kids focus on the task at hand, eating.

One other thing to possibly try, is to cut back or eliminate or change the milk. We switched to almond milk due to lactose intolerance with the kids, which changed eating habits, weight and diet and such. But depending on the type of milk and how much, this could be very filling while not giving enough protein and other nutrients that they might need. Maybe going down to 1 glass or half a glass a day might be good. She is only 2, and 2 glasses could be enough for an adult. Sometimes switching from Whole to 2% or 1% or Skim would help.

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If she drinks a lot of milk, gradually reduce the amount of milk. My son also had the loss of appetite. I completely reduced milk and biscuits. Now after 4 months of kindergarden on seeing other children he is trying new foods. And I used to tell him it's so tasty "tasty tasty". And he also eats and he also repeats "tasty tasty". I had this problem from 8 months and now he is 3 years. Now only he is starting to eat much better than before.

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