Tips on feeding a picky 2-year-old?

My two-year-old does not want to eat anything that’s food. Junk food, yes gladly, juice, water, milk…but not food. I have to repeatedly tell my two-year-old to take bites, and when she finally does, she’ll chew the food but won’t swallow it. She’ll just keep it in her mouth until it makes her gag, and she has to spit it out. I have told her if she’s not gonna eat her food, she’s not gonna get anything else besides water. The only problem with that is she’s not faced because she’ll get filled up on liquids (water)and I can’t tell her no she can’t have any water. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and her kids were staying with us. She had trouble getting her kids to eat, and they would chew the food but hold it in their mouths, my daughter loves them and would mimic everything her kids did. My 2year old is an only child, so she’s never seen how other kids are. A day here and there with her cousins but not daily like she was with my friend and her kids. It makes sense it’s other kids she’s excited she wants to do what they do, but it’s really become a problem, and I have tried just about everything. Time out, taking away her drink, politely asking her, taking her toys away, no cartoons, spanking her butt, taking tablets away. She will not give in, and I also can’t force her to eat. Any advice on how to get her to eat? Or tactics I could use.


Dont smack her for not eating!! :rage::rage:


Don’t give her the junk and she will eventually be too hungry to refuse to eat?

Following, cause I also have a little 2 year old boy who ONLY wants to eat bread, potatoes, and sweets

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Go the “Division of Responsibility” route. Punishment is just going to make her rebel more.

Okay so, my 3 year old wouldn’t eat.
I put extra on my plate because she would eat what I have but she wouldnt eat what she had. So I scraped it off my plate and gave it to her.
This is how I got her eating at first.
Eventually I didnt have to “share.” Because I showed her that we had the same thing.

You ever think maybe she might have a feeding issue? Swallowing issues? Look into that…

She’s two…so you keep offering her foods, never restrict access to water, and remember her stomach is about the size of her fist, which is why it seems like she doesn’t eat anything. Give her milk, and regular snacks. Sometimes kids will hold food in their mouth that they can’t yet manage. I can tell you one thing though, punishing her for not eating isn’t going to help your cause. You’re just going to be punishing her and she won’t fully understand why. She’s only 2…


It’s honestly a phase they go through. But punishing them not to eat is just going to make them not want to eat anymore. Doctors will always say if you can get them to eat just give them what they will eat something’s better than nothing. Offer better snack choices and don’t forget their stomach is 10 times smaller than ours

Try smoothies, frozen fruit, yogurt, milk or frozen fruit and fruit juice, I have also done frozen fruit and coconut water, other additives like ground flax and cocoa powder and stevia in the raw, monk fruit in the raw, splenda!

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At 2 she doesnt understand them rules. Toddlers go thru that its the only thing they can control. Also tastes and texture changes. My 20 month old used to love pb and j and barely likes bread anymore. Pick your battles some times my toddler eats chicken nuggets for 3 days bc that’s all she will eat other days she eats tons of stuff. Try fruits when she dont want to eat.

Have you ever thought she may have an issue with certain textures. Im sorry but some of the punishments your doling out sound like child abuse. She’s two for crying out loud

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It is a stage thing. Our doc recommended this to help supplements the calorie and nutrition

She’ll eat when she gets hungry enough. Just offer her plate at meal times and don’t give her anything in between. I know you don’t like seeing your child not eating but she will not starve herself. Punishing her is only stressing you and her. Give chewable vitamins to supplement.

My 3 year does the same thing. I only give healthy options and limit drinks to 1 cup of milk or juice at each meal then water through the day. I don’t give in to her and tell her that what I made is what’s to eat. She can either choose to eat or wait until the next meal. Sometimes she doesn’t eat them asks for a snack so I just calmly explain that she won’t get a treat or snack until she eats real food. Kids are stubborn and like to test the limits. Stand your ground. She will eventually decide that it’s best to eat the meals she’s offered. As for chewing the food then keeping it in her mouth until she gags… At that point it’s just a losing battle. I normally have mine spit out the food, take away her plate, and explain that we need to eat the correct way or we will have to wait until the next meal. Also, give her some choices to get her involved and more interested in the food. Maybe let her pick out a side to go with the meal (give her 2 choices). Good luck. It’s just a stage and it will get better.

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Fruits, veggies, lean meats, healthy foods. If you don’t introduce kids to junk they wont want it. Water, milk. Limit juice.

I feel these “not eating” post over greatly over exaggerated…
There’s no way your child is going DAYS without eating solid food


You can certainly limit her water intake an hour or two before meals. You can also eliminate most of the junk food. If its not there, she can’t fill up on it. She will eat when she’s hungry. I have the same problem and the same guilty feelings with my 4yo. If you give in and let them eat what they want, instead of what they need, it will never get any better.

Edit to add: no judgement whatsoever, I swear. I just re-read this, and I promise I didn’t mean it as harsh as it sounds, just trying to offer a few ideas.

Don’t cave in and give her the junk food and stop giving her junk between meals too until she starts eating her regular meals again. When she asks for a snack offer her real food and when she is hungry enough she will eat what you offer her. Right now she’s testing her boundaries. My daughter went through this phase around this age and got over it. My sister in law’s son is 6 and still wont eat other than junk food and chicken nuggets because his mom just caves in.

We stopped giving our toddler a drink with her dinner. We also pushed feeding times apart further by an hour, don’t give her snack times as much, and if she refuses to eat we do force her to take a bite to show her the food tastes good and she’ll usually eat afterwards sometimes. We also started to give her ultimatums: bed or eat. It’s working better than anything else we tried. We stick to the ultimatum too, we don’t let her crying cave us and we aren’t making her different things.