I am tired of my 2yo (25 mo) basically only eating amongst: pizza, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, or peanut butter sandwiches. There are a few other "healthy" things he'll eat that we do, but very few.
George has been on this strike since New Year's (4 full months).
I should mention George really doesn't talk. He has alot of difficulty (that's another story). So while he understands everything it seems, I cannot be sure he does and converse well with him about food. Can't really reason.
I was concerned that he doesn't get too much good nutrients, so I offered him those 5 options that he likes when he doesn't "try" our food. Now I'm wondering if that is too lenient - perhaps I should not let him eat meals unless he has some of what we eat? What if he refused "good" food for weeks on end?
Thanks. I don't make a big issue out of it (my mother has said so!), but it gets very tiring how he won't eat much but 1 thing at meal time, that is out of a choice of 5. It also means going out is a struggle.
Generally, right now at dinner, I put what we have on his plate. We wait a bit. Usually he just gets whiny and squirmy (mini tantrum), pushing the plate away, etc. Then I ask him if he wants a), b), c), d), or e) (all 5 items), and we make that for him.
Is this too much choice? Perhaps at least I should just put something he likes there, but -my- choice?
My theory has always been that your kids will only be as picky as you allow them to be.
Our rule is that you will try at least 3 good sized bites of everything and if you hate it, you don't have to finish it.... but you will try it. 99% of the time, they end up liking the food and will eat it all, but there are some foods that they just don't love right away. I keep serving it to them though, and eventually they learn to at least tolerate it enough to eat a reasonable serving.
I very respectfully disagree with what Misty800 said when she said, "When he refuses to eat, SMILE, put him down to go play and go on as if it is no big deal. When he wants something to eat again, serve healthy snack or meal," because I feel like that gives him way too much control, and teaches him that if he would rather go play than participate in a family meal, all he has to do is throw a fit about what's being served.
I strongly recommend that he stays at the table until everyone else is finished eating, and then he can be excused to go and play or whatever. The reason for this is that he will learn that dinner time is spent at the table eating or not..... and as children are wonderful little mimics and learn by example, he might just follow suit and learn to start eating what's being served.
As far as giving him choices a-z.... yeah, you're giving him WAY too much control there. My trick is to put a smaller serving of something I'm not sure they'll like, and load up the rest of the plate with things I know they like.... HEALTHY things, usually vegetables.
A good option if you want to give him choices at dinner, is to make a variety of healthy side dish choices and let him choose a few of them at the table.... to be eaten with the main course. My MIL cooks up at least 10 different veggies for each meal and everyone gets to serve up whatever they like. She'll cook carrots, squash, broccoli, peas, corn (my kids LOVE the steamable corn!!), sweet potatoes..... you name it, she's got it on her table! And she has 6 kids, and about a million grandkids, and not one of them have ever had a problem eating their vegetables!
Another thing you can do is allow your son to help you make the dinner. If he's helping make it, he'll be more excited to eat it. My daughters LOVE helping and started helping around your son's age. Little things like letting him sprinkle spices, or stir something (NEVER on the stove, of course!), or crack eggs or whatever, are perfect for his age. Let him help set the table with napkins or silverware. It will make him more excited about dinner time and more likely to be more cooperative.
Anyway.... maybe something here can help? Good luck!
I tend to be verbose so I did not tell much background. 1 thing I will state here that is relevent is that back in the Fall, George would eat just about anything. He learned to use a fork and thus helped expand his range (some messy things he wouldn't eat with his fingers). Fork is now passe - he's back to being "finger-based" and won't use it. Anyway, George ate many things up until about New Year's. So I know he's tried things before and liked them, but now refuses to eat them. Indeed, the year prior, when he was under 1 as a true baby, he would eat ANY baby food we gave him since we started that (started with green veggies).
So it's not as if I'm concerned he's not "trying", per se - I'm more concerned he's gone "on strike" as if his tastes totally changed. Really, in the past he's eaten ALL our standard meal foods (except veggies, until he had a fetish for them just before the "strike"), which was great. That's all I'd ask - not even that he MUST want them every day, but just most of the time he'd take something of our meal. *sigh*
How can you make a non-talking 2yo "try" something? Isn't "fighting" them (i.e., he's thrashing around to avoid you even showing him the food) and forcing them (i.e, I guess shoving the food in) bad for their attitude toward mealtime?
"How can you make a non-talking 2yo "try" something? Isn't "fighting" them (i.e., he's thrashing around to avoid you even showing him the food) and forcing them (i.e, I guess shoving the food in) bad for their attitude toward mealtime?"
Based on my experiences with my own children, I'd say no. I forced my kids to eat things they didn't want all the time when they were little, and they have great eating attitudes and habits now.
Starting from the time they were somewhere between 15 and 18 months I started enforcing eating rules for my girls. Sometimes that required "forcing" them to take a bite of something (which meant I would squeeze their cheeks - which opened their mouth up - and shove a bite in). Yes, it was a fight sometimes, and yes, I had a lot of people telling me to just let them eat what they wanted, choose your battles, etc.... BUT, because I went through that with them then, by the time they were 3, they were pretty much trying everything and eating most of it. Now at 4 and 6, my girls will try everything that is served to them without any argument.... that doesn't mean they'll always love it (most of the time they do), but they will eat 3 bites of it before they really decide if they just hate something.
And serioulsy, I actually have had arguments with my daughters about why we can't have steamed spinach for dinner tonight because it just doesn't fit the rest of the menu (that was on taco night!).
So I'm not really an evil dictator forcing my kids to eat something they hate.... they do have a choice to finish the food or not, but they can't really know if they hate it until they've really tried it, you know?
I think it's how you go about it and the attitude you have about mealtimes that will really set the tone for future meals. Sure, we battled it out back in the day but, there was a lot of love and praise involved in the process too.
(Just so you know, I'm currently battling it out with my 22 month old as she doesn't want to finish her carrots and turkey.... right now it's just a test of wills to see who will give in first, but she's being so darn cute it's hard to not let her get away with it!!!)
It sounds like your child is totally normal. This is two-year-old classic behavior. There are many things going on here; power play, independence (choosing own food), attention seeking, contest of wills, and so on. This is all par for the course. Two points, first, 99% of fussy two-year-olds will end up eating most things as they grow older. Secondly, how many children in the western world in normal healthy families die of malnutrition, or get sick from it? I think worrying and fussing and forcing gives a child this age a tool to beat you over the head with. It becomes a challenge for them. Remove the challenge, offer the food and let it go. You are making a rod for your own back by then offering him his alternatives - he knows that he will get his choice of meal whatever he does, so why should he try the first offering. I agree with the poster who says, just smile and feed him when he gets hungry. Food is to feed a person who is hungry, we do ourselves no favours by attaching all this ritual and drama to it. My little brother lived for over a year on peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk. Nobody really bothered although he was served his meal every time and occasionally ate a bit of it. One day he just finished a meal and that was over. I think of all the worry, drama and fights we could have had to end up in the same place. Force and praise around food is a blueprint for eating problems later in life. Sera.
"how many children in the western world in normal healthy families die of malnutrition, or get sick from it?"
I mean no disrespect, Seraph (you have a lot of good things to say about raising children), but isn't the whole obesity problem that is happening throughout the world pretty much a result of this kind of thing? I would say that obesity is an illness and I definitely blame it on parents who let their kids dictate their own eating habits.
The smile and feed him when he's hungry thing drives me crazy, because I just don't see how that can work in real life. What do you do when you're out and he hasn't eaten all day and he decides to hate whatever snack you might have on hand? No it's not an impossible problem to solve, but it can sure be a hard one to solve if you're in the middle of an appointment where you can't just drop everything and leave.
I just don't believe in letting my children dictate how I will spend my day. Don't get me wrong..... I am a stay at home mom, and I spend 90% of my day doing for and with my kids (and at least 85% of that time, they choose how we spend that time). But if I have things to do (errands to run, doctor appointments, hair appointments, school functions for my oldest, etc....), I can do them with my kids, and I can plan my day without the worry of my children disrupting those plans. I can do these things because my children know that what Mommy says, Mommy means.... eating is no exception.
I guess my point is, if eating were the only area in my childrens' lives that we ever battled around, then I could see where it might end up with eating disorders and whatever later on. But I treat every aspect of raising my children with the same degree of importance..... eating, clothing, bathing, keeping the house clean, whether or not they are allowed to play in the street (um, they're not, I just threw that in because I feel that learning to eat healthy ranks right up there with learning to stay out of the street!!!)..... and because of that, my children are healthy happy children who know they are unconditionally loved.
Oh, I just read that last paragraph..... and I guess I wasn't terribly clear before, so let me clarify. We don't have to battle about food anymore. We haven't in years. We fought that battle WAY back starting when my kids were 15-18 months old. They are 6 and 4 now. It really only took a few times of "forcing" the food. Even my 22 month old, when I said we were battling it out, I never had to force feed the child, she's just ridiculously slow (she's been my best eater so far, and I think it's because she's following her sisters' examples!).
ANYWAY.... I just really wanted to explain a little better so you wouldn't get the wrong idea.
My granddaughter is 3, a little older and is exhibiting the same type behavior. My daughter has found that if she allows her daughter to participate in fixing the food (some small contribution, I know it is limited) that she will eat whatever she "helps" to fix. Might want to give it a try.
Something I failed to mention, that can definitely be a factor in a change in eating behaviors is cutting new teeth. Make sure your son isn't cutting his molars or anything like that. My daughter (22 month old) is getting some new teeth in and she doesn't like to eat things that are harder to chew, so I do have to make some allowances for that kind of thing. Another thing that can cause a sudden change in eating behaviors is ear infections, but since you said this was going on since the new year, I'd doubt that would be a factor in your son's case. But do check his teeth, as that might be a cause.
Sorry I have neglected you all, but I thank you all for your viewpoints.
I am still struggling with this. My boy is now 2-1/4 in age and still doing this. Just now, I am going to start giving him no choice at dinner. He can only eat what we have - and if he doesn't eat at all, his "snack" can only be the dinner food.
Forcing him hasn't worked (although I've not tried it much) - he can spit it out and worse, he flails his head about about so it's both difficult to get the food to him and he may get stabbed by the fork/etc. That seems a bit too dangerous to me to chance.