"I won't and you can't make me!"

My 2-Year-Old Doesn't Want to Eat Solid Foods

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell

If you've been trying to drop a few pounds, losing interest in solid foods can feel like a dream come true. But when your 2-year-old turns his nose up at anything other than liquids it can be worrisome to say the least. Appetite swings are normal for toddlers, according to Loraine Stern, M.D., FAAP clinical professor of pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. Following a few tried and true tips may help renew your 2-year-old's interest in solids.

Fair Notice and Routines

Preparing a healthy meal for your liquid-loving 2-year-old won't do any good if it just sits on the plate collecting dust. Giving your child a heads up ten to 15 minutes before it's time to eat may help give your endlessly busy toddler time to wind down physically and become mentally prepared for a meal, explains the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Children thrive on the comfort routines provide. Serving meals at set times with family members who sit in their "assigned" seats may help a 2-year-old gain interest in eating solids when he sees everybody else at the table enjoying their meals.

Try, Try Again

If your stubborn 2-year-old refuses to eat a particular meat or veggie, try another. If greens end up on the floor or remain stuck on the plate, maybe he'll eat a few kernels of corn. If fish fails to please, he may find turkey tasty enough to give solids a go.

Taking a little extra time to make food look more appealing may be all it takes to get it from plate to palate. Making a smiley face with pasta noodles over a casserole or cutting bread into star shapes may help entice your tot to eat. Don't give up if your child initially rejects a food. It may take several attempts before he decides it's not so bad after all.

Be Patient, Not Pushy

Refusing to eat can be a tactic toddlers use to express their independence. But turning away from solids doesn't necessarily have a hidden meaning; it may simply be a sign that your tot's not hungry at the moment.

Don't insist that your child eat or force him to clean his plate, advises the Mayo Clinic website. The last thing you want is a power struggle over food or to inadvertently train your tyke to associate food with frustration and anxiety.

Encourage your child to smell or touch new foods before diving in to unknown cuisines. Less is more when it comes to serving a tot who's iffy about solids. It'll help keep your child from feeling overwhelmed. Serving new foods with old favorites can help keep your 2-year-old's tummy full.

Dining No-Nos

Mealtime should be reserved exclusively for eating. Allowing your child to watch TV or have toys at the table can steer his attention away from food, notes the AAFP. Keeping family discussions as pleasant as possible will help your tot regard eating as a positive experience.

Don't be too concerned with your 2-year-old's dining etiquette. Good manners will come in time. For now the emphasis should be on making sure your toddler is eating enough solids even if things get a little messy in the process.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

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