A mom writes in asking for advice about her almost-three-year-old toddler daughter. She says she is not much a meat-eater. She is also, as of recently, not much of a veggie eater. She’ll take a single bite of dinner and refuse to eat more. In short, she’s a very stubborn picky eater. It’s gotten so bad overall that her daughter is waking up in the middle of the night hungry because she has refused to eat. Advice?
A member of the community asks:
“My toddler isn’t much of a meat-eater: Advice?
I was hoping to get some advice. My daughter, soon to be 3, isn’t much of a meat-eater. She used to LOVE veggies, but now she’s refusing to eat those too. Dinner every night has turned into a battle of wills. She’ll take a single bite and then refuses to eat anymore. The only meat she seems to enjoy is spicy Italian sausage. My mom says to start making everything we give her spicy since she loves it so much, but IDK if that will help.
We’ve gotten to the point where if she refuses to eat, she goes upstairs in time out for a minute, then we bring her back down, and she’ll maybe lick a veggie and be completely done. We put her plate on the counter, and if she asks for a snack later, we give her back her dinner plate, but she’ll refuse to eat it. It’s starting to affect her sleep because she’ll wake up in the middle of the night screaming because she’s hungry.
Should I just give her whatever she wants at dinner? Which is usually a snack. Snacks in our house consist of some type of fruit or a yogurt; we don’t have candy or chips. Is that so bad? I don’t want her to think she can get whatever she wants just by screaming and refusing to eat, but I also hate sending her to bed hungry too. Her doctor says she’s on target weight wise and he’s not that concerned about it because she’s not losing weight. Any advice would be helpful at this point.”
Community Advice for This Mom Whose Toddler Is a Picky Eater and Not Much of a Meat-Eater
To see what advice the Mamas Uncut Facebook community has for this mom in need, read the comments of the post embedded below.
The community offered this mom in need a lot of great advice. Read some of their responses below.
“All these people saying do NOT give in, what is wrong with y’all? The child is 3, it’s VERY common at this age for kids to only want to eat one thing, ie fruit and yogurt and there’s NOTHING wrong with that! You should NEVER force children to eat, it’s JUST as psychologically damaging as starving a child, what is wrong with y’all?”
“Don’t start catering to her. Fix dinner as usual and have her eat what you fix. If she refuses to eat, save her dinner, and when she wakes up at night heat it up and give it to her. If you cater to a picky eater while they are little it will never stop. She needs to learn to eat what is given to her. I don’t mean to sound mean but picky eaters are a giant pain in the butt.”
“We give our toddlers kids’ nutrition drinks to fill the nutrition gaps. Then I don’t feel guilty about them “missing” something, their tummies are full, and they are getting what their brains and bodies need.”
“If I were you, I’d give her what you know she’ll eat & maybe try “new” to her foods daily. I’d also recommend not putting her in timeout for not eating.”
“I used to let my picky eater help me cook. She would eat most of what she helped prepare. When everything was done and we were preparing plates I told her, okay you gotta taste everything and make sure it tastes good. We would do three-bite taste tests. Then she would eat 3 bites of everything on her plate at least.”
“I think you should stop the time outs for sure. Never punish a kid for food-related things as it can lead to several different eating disorders. My girl isn’t a meat-eater either. She is always served the dinner I make. If she wants something different, she has to take at least 3 bites of everything before she is allowed to have something different and only if the something different isn’t junk…
… She’s 4 and so I make it age-appropriate, but she also has to be able to ‘prepare’ it herself. It’s likely a phase to see how much control she can have. But no meat truly isn’t the end of the world. There are hundreds of other ways to get protein in.”
“Maybe she doesn’t like what you are giving her. What if someone forced you to eat something you didn’t like? Fruit is fine. Try some healthy oatmeal. My two kids did not like the texture of meat at that age, with an exception for easier to chew meat like hamburger or lunch meat.”
Do you have any advice for this mom? Leave a comment to help another mom out!
Over on the Mamas Uncut Facebook page, our robust community of moms is always having a conversation about topics that matter. We like to highlight those conversations from time to time. Important mom questions. Thoughtful mom answers.
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Submit it to the Mamas Uncut Facebook page, and we may feature it along with some of the best answers on this site! You can remain completely anonymous while still getting the information and support you need from other moms who know what it’s like.