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Ag nee man! Your kids look absolutely g&d - hardly starved. They all go through the stage of not eating (I know you know this!!!) My son went through a stage where he would only eat Woollies macaroni & cheese. If it will make you feel better give them a kiddie multivitamin in the morning!

Don't worry Tertia, my little 2 year old munchkin is also going through this stage. Some days she will only eat two small yoghurts, a cheese wedge, and icecream for supper. I have eventually taken away the formula in the morning & evening, and replaced it with tea with a little bit of full cream milk, and it didn't take her long to get used to the new "bottie". She is also not very fond of veggies or fruit, except bananas, mielies and peas, and then not every day either. I give her a multivitamin every day, just to make sure she gets a bit of everything.
I also reckon as long as they eat something, that is good, no matter what it is, except of course for sweeties and chips!
Wendy

It is totally normal. And so is your reaction.

I have a 2 year old, almost 3 now, and we still struggle with her diet. She used to eat only yogurt and cheese, now we have worked back in fruit, but most veggies are off limits. We just keep putting them on her plate, making a big deal about how yummy they are. At her age now, we have started bribing (you can't have a yogurt until you eat 3 green beans, etc).

Good luck!
Amy

I agree with Lizelle and the others. Your kids look healthy. I do believe though that sometimes one has to be a bit strict about these things. I have a daughter of 41/2 and she went through quite an ordeal in the 1st few months of her life, where she was breaking and eventually diagnosed with a form of temporary brittle bone disease. Long story, but I just decided whilst I am still in charge, I would make sure that she eats what I give her. Everything within reason. Give a multivid. Cucumber, tomato in any form is fantastic, fruit slices with a protein, veggies with a nice sauce. I have to admit that I sometimes have to convince her that she has to try something to taste that it tastes nice... sho, does that make sense..I watched Super Nanny once and it was about what to put on your childs' plate. I took the slices of fruit from there. I don't allow my daughter more than one sweetie a day, and much rather give a dried fruit as a 'special' treat.
Without sounding like I want to tell you what to do (I just like to give my opinion...hehehe) food first, milk later. I run a little afterhours drop-off and go babysitting business. Just for a bit of extra income as I'm a single mommy. Most of my kiddies sleep over and through the years I have noticed that most mommies give too many bottles of milk and juice and too little food. My daughter also knows that no juice gets given before meals. Drinking during a meal is out! If they fill up on juice and milk just before mealtimes or during, then they get fuller faster and then don't want to finish their food. With the problem that they get hungry sooner and sometimes this also hinders their sleep. Anyway, everyone has their ways, but I still believe that we as the caregivers of these precious little people, need to do what we were meant to do...Teach, Instruct and Nurture to the best of our abilities. All mums that put effort deserve praise!! So here's a big 'cheers' to you and all the other moms out there.

"I told him that I bet every other mother gives her kids home cooked organic meals with all the essential food groups"

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAA I hardly think so. Well not most moms, unless you have an usually inoordinate amount of time on your hands. I've started using treats as bribes. A no no in the good mommy handbook, but I'd rather her eat a portion of good stuff for one hershey's kiss than NO good stuff and chips with pop. She didn't eat hardly at all for a few days, but she came around. Marko's right they will eat eventually. I just keep offering her good stuff everyday. Well most days. This morning she is going to have a pop tart for breakfast lol.

No no no and no. My son is just 15 months and he does NOT eat,if its not in the form of an omelete or vianna it does not pass his mouth! The multi vitamin is a great idee, Triston gets one every morning after breakfast and then I know he has all he needs to sustain him.

Your kids are happy and healthy, and I know it doesn't make you feel less guilty, but we all think your a great mom!

Toddlers with bottles don't eat.
Ditch the bottles and start making smoothies.
(blended banana, milk, strawberry...)
They are getting everything they need from the formula, so you needn't worry - but it's time to stop.

My 28mo old was an amazing eater up until about 20mo. Now she's all about yogurt, cheese, goldfish (little cheese-flavored crackers), and pretzels. Occasionally she wants a hot dog, but that's about it for meat. Fresh fruit is hit or miss and veggies are definitely not a high priority for her--except she does like carrots so she can dip them in salad dressing. She's growing and doing just fine, so I figure we offer things and over time she'll start to eat a more varied diet. The other day I was eating salami with a ground pepper crust and she asked for some. I didn't think she'd like it, but I gave her some. Her response? "I like 'lami." So it will come.

And Marco needs to realize that with G&D comes the occasional emotional meltdown. I'm right with you in reaching for the bread knife some days!

Ah, same thing at our end. Polly used to eat everything, now...not so much. We're fortunate that she loves fruit, but veggies...not so much.
Things we do:
1) I discovered that she does eat if we give her a "big girl" (ie not plastic) plate and fork. I put her food on a regular dessert plate so it has the look and feel of mommy and daddy's plate. That seemed to work a bit.
2) Knowing she probably won't eat it, I always put something green on her plate, at least so she gets used to seeing it there. Maybe some day she'll fall for it (and I'd rather do that than have her be suprised by green later on).
3) We trick her. She loves macaroni and cheese so we blend in pureed carrot - she can't tell the difference with the color of the cheddar cheese. She can't resist gnocchi so I chop up a couple of tablespoons of spinach very finely and mix them up wiht the gnocchi. She adores banana yogurt so I put chopped green beans inside. It takes her a while to figure out what it is, and by then she's eaten a few.

But I agree with Marko - they'll eat eventually. As long as they still look healthy, this too shall pass.

Part of it is the age, part of it is what you do. They know that you will eventually give in and give them what they want or if they hold out long enough, the sweets. Toddlers are notoriously stubborn. So you need to decide what is important to you, what you will and will not put up with before mealtime.
For example, in our family(and each family is unique)we wont make them anything else if they dont eat. In fact if they absolutley refuse a bite, we will wrap it up and serve it for the next meal. That works for us... but doesnt for everyone. Some people just throw the food away but dont give any snacks/sweets or food til the next scheduled meal.

Most kids are going to choose sweets over the good stuff. Thats a given, so deciding how much they get and when is up to you. You cant battle everything with toddlers or youd end up in a padded room, so you really just have to decide what is most important and let the rest slide a little. Hang in there, you have the double trouble going there!

MJ

I have discovered that being a parent means that you never think you are good enough. You always compare yourself to other mums, thinking "Wow, their kids only watch 30 mins of TV a day, mine can recite the scheudle", or "That mum does all her own cooking, while I just turn the microwave on". As a mum there is no-one to give you a mark out of 10 and you don't know how well you've done for about 15 years at least! No wonder we get stressed.
As far as the eating is concerned please try not to worry. I am completley different to you in the way I do things, but I still suffer the pain of food strikes (I am not eating that, in fact I shall throw it on the dog!). I home cook all her food (yes, I do work full time, but I feel guilty about that and the food is one way of making me feel I am a good mum, so when she goes to bed, once a week or so, I will fill the freezer with protions of food. It helps that i love cooking). Also, if she doesn't eat her dinner, then I will offer the pudding I have chosen for the meal, but NOTHING else, until the next meal or snack time.
I read a book called Toddler Taming by Christopher Green and he said that no toddler has ever starved themselve through being stubborn. Now I don't think I could let it get to near startvation (joke), but in my family it works that I am firm about mealtimes. I also try and eat the same food as her when I am home for tea time (I work shifts), which helps as oftem she will not eat hers, but will happily accept an offer of "Want to help Mummy at this"
Of course if I offer something new and she doesn't like it then I will offer a sandwich or something, but I will keep trying the new food every now and again, just in case (plus I cook everything in huge batches so I probably have a freezer full of it!).
This is what works for me, I am not saying that it is the only way, but most of the time she eats, and I feel OK and less like a bad mother.
Your kids are fine, and G&D of course. I read you blog and often think "Tertia is such a good Mum, why don't I do it like that!" Then the guilt starts off again. Bloody guilt, never mind sleepless nights, they should warn you about the guilt!

Mine don't eat much either. John more than Anna (Emma never ate, thus the g-tube.) One thing I can get Anna to take is liquid yogurt, I put that in a bottle with milk and she'll drink it (with her sugarry powdered donuts.) She throws all of her food and sometimes will eat nothing at all (now, she'll eat candy at the drop of a hat but I'm talking food here.) Some days she may have a bite of a banana and a few noodles but other days it may only be chocolate poptarts, chocolate donuts, etc (doesn't milk chocolate count as milk?????) It doesn't help that she is so small for her age (3 1/2 yrs old, maybe 25 lbs & 33" tall) so I worry. John is bigger and eats better but I still can see his ribs, etc. The doctor says he's fine but I worry.

Talking with other toddler moms you'll find that there is a general consensus that they stop eating when they turn 2 and drive their mothers crazy with worry. I guess it's to prepare us for later turmoil! This is just the beginning!

Anyway, if they seem healthy and look healthy and pass their physicals with flying colors I wouldn't worry. I also present my kids with lots and lots (and lots) of food options to get them to eat maybe 1 thing. I know that we're probably not supposed to do this but it may be the only way I get Anna to eat anything in a day. I can sometimes bribe John by saying he'll get a chocolate poptart AFTER he eats (eggs or oatmeal or noodles, etc.)

I will agree with the ditching the bottles. If they fill up with formula they won't want to eat regular food. Start by replacing the formula with whole milk and then gradually switch to 2% (low-fat?). I would get them off bottles if you can too (I know...easy for me to say that...). Everything that I have read is you give them a choice of healthy foods (noodles, cut-up fruit & veggies, whatever)...just give them a choice (toddlers are testing their power and need choices) of what to eat. They will eat when they are hungry. Don't give them sweets & chips just to get them to eat something. That isn't doing them any good.

Very normal...both Kate & Adam's actions and yours. I think all mothers stress more than dads about this.

Oooh! No kids myself, but I used to nanny for a family with picky-eating toddlers. The mom used to steam veg aside from the bolognaise sauce and then use one of those hand held blenders to mash them both together until it was just a thick sauce. The kids never knew the difference. Brilliant I tell you!

Oh, also, my son went through a phase where everything was dipped in ketchup. He also loved dipping veggies in ranch dressing...actually he loved dipping anything in anything ('dip sauce' he called it). I think it gave him control.

i was an extremely fussy eater as a kid. i ate white bread with strawberry jam for lunch (with chocolate milk!) all the way thru high school. white bread was my main food group. and yet, as an adult, i am healthy and gave birth to a healthy daughter. they will be fine.

i would just keep offering the healthy stuff but i see nothing wrong in also giving them something you know they will eat.

My daughter is 14 and eats only the following food:

Rice, ramen, meatball sub sandwiches, beef & corn taquitos, roasted chicken, doritos and chocolate. I make her take a vitamin every day and I limit her to one cup of rice and one package of ramen a day or else that is all she would eat. She has rarely eaten vegetables and little fruit except for strawberries dipped in brown sugar and sourcream. Nevertheless, she is a healthy girl, who could stand to gain ten pounds. I have spent many, many hours agonizing, worrying, pushing, and yelling over this issue. All for naught! They'll eat what they want. All you can do is provide a meal. My daughter can now cook for herself but when she was little, I presented the food and that was all that was available along with healthy snacks in a box in the fridge. She survived. Kate and Adam will too! Save yourself the angst!

Our pediatrician told us this, "Your job is to offer the food. Your daughter will decide what to eat. Don't worry - she won't starve herself."

I have to say, and please do not take this the wrong way, but everyone I know with a picky eater brings or makes "special foods" (ie, foods that the parents and/or rest of the famly are not eating) at mealtimes or other times during the day. They can't stand the idea of the children not eating and so they give the kid whatever the kid WILL eat willingly.

I think you are being played like a fiddle by your children. Hell, I wouldn't eat fruits and vegetables if I knew that in an hour mom would give me cheese crackers!

Seriously, Tertia, your children will not starve themselves. They are too young for the kind of willpower behind an eating disorder.

You should spend about three days where the entire family eats healthy foods at set times. Do not make a big deal about whether your kids eat what you offer. If you try to force them or beg them or bribe them, then food becomes about power. Food should be about sustenance and enjoyment, not about power. Eventually, when your kids get hungry they will eat some of the things you put out. When they do, do NOT make a big deal out of it! Because that makes food about power.

Right now, they realize that they have all the power because they can get you to feed them whatever they want.

If you stop caring whether or not they eat what you put out, then they will not make eating a power struggle.

We have used this strategy since my daughter started eating solid foods (she is now 3 1/2), and people are always amazed at how well she eats - she eats fish, beans, broccoli, mushrooms, nectarines, blueberries, etc. We have NEVER, EVER brought food for her to a restaurant, party, someone's house, etc. She may eat what is being served or she may go hungry. And if she chooses not to eat, then she has to wait until the next meal or snacktime to eat. And by then she is REALLY willing to eat what we put in front of her.

Please don't think I'm passing judgment because really I don't care what your kids eat. They're obviously healthy and loved, and their eating habits do not impact my life one bit. But since you asked...this is what I think about kids and eating.

You know, here in Spain we really are terrible mothers, we keep the bottles for as long as our toddlers, children, drink them and we even supplement the formula, milk, with multivitamins, cereal and other things, as long as they take two big bottles of this mixture per day we are happy and don´t care too much what they eat or don´t eat. Taking away the bottles? are you crazy????

Well, maybe I´m exaggerating a little, but this approach works for my family and friends, and I´m still waiting to know an older child who doesn´t enjoy food or has any health problem because of years of bottles ;-)

My kids definitely don't manage to get their proper nutrition, if you are going with the recommended amounts of fruits, veggies, etc. Apparently, you can grow and thrive and do wonderfully w/o a balanced diet! I offer my kids the same foods as we are eating (often separated, like no sauce on their pork chops, or plain noodles). They almost never eat the veggies.

I was a picky eater as a kid but now I like everything. I am hoping for the same for my kids. Although right now I can only see them eating macaroni and cheese, yogurt, and cereal as grownups. Surely something will change. Anyway, it is not worth the worry.

Sorry but I'm with Marko on this issue. Toddlers go through eating (or no-eating) stages which is perfectly normal. Just offer them a variety of choices along with their favorite foods. By making eating more of an issue, it can create more resistance from the toddlers. Just RELAX, offer choices (they won't starve because they WILL eat when they are hungry), and don't make it an issue if they don't finish their plate. It might help if you replace the formula with regular milk or soymilk, whichever is your preference. Offer multi-vitamins if you are worried about the lack of nutrients.

Another blogger blogged about this issue and some commenters referred to this woman's website for tips:
http://www.ellynsatter.com/

Good luck! =)

Must agtree with the above to ditch the bottles. They are way too old for them, no matter how much they love them. They are filling up on the milk/formula. Unless something is really wrong with them, and I don't think there is, healthy children will eat, when they are hungry. So cut way back on any snacks, just a small piece of a vegetable or fruit until the next mealtime. No carb snacks. No milk. No juice. They will get hungry. And, they can wait for the meal to be served. Hungry and whiny for a short time is OK. You will also have more success if you all eat together as a family, which you are probably already doing. My daughter became a much much better eater once snacks vanished, and I also try to look at the daily total of her fruits/veggies, not per meal. Good luck!

J.Q., who used to eat fish and tofu and black beans and all sorts of revoltingly diverse foodstuffs, morphed into a picky toddler like every other. Nothin' but yogurt, Goldfish, frozen waffles and demands for the ridiculously inappropriate ("Soooda!", "Ffffff!" [his word for canned whipped cream - appropriate, no?]). I am tired of battling over solitary green beans; I am ready to relinquish control and trust that too many Goldfish won't transform him into a serial killer or something.

Repeat to yourself the offical two-part mantra. Repeat it to yourself a million times a day. It goes like this:

No child will starve if offered good food every meal (snack).
AND
It is normal for toddlers to choose to skip a meal.

And then stop pandering. Seriously. Every toddler in the world, given the opportunity to choose his or her own diet, will pick three bland foods, and infinite sweets. That's why you don't let them go grocery shopping themselves yet! Make a good meal, put it on the table, leave it there for 30 minutes (read them a book, make little vroom-vroom noises with a spoon, suggest they take a bite before you turn the pages, whatever), but don't make a big deal of it. Yup, they'll be a bit hungry and cranky for a few days, but then they will eat. Don't cheat with snacks, otherwise they'll get all their calories there. "Here's your snack, it's grapes and cheese cubes. Don't want it now? Okay, let's go play with blocks. Supper's at six!" Repeat the mantra again:

No child will starve if offered good food. It is normal for toddlers to choose to skip a meal.

It is true. Honestly.

my 18 mos old is doing the same thing right now. her lunch yesterday was 1/4 of a string cheese stick and teddy grahams. i've been told it's totally normal, and like others have said, i think your reaction is totally normal, too. :) your kiddos look super healthy, and so does mine... why do we still obsess over their eating (or lack thereof)?? i know you despise assvice, and i can't believe i'm actually dispensing it to *the* G&D Tertia, but this worked for us last night and i about cried with happiness. i'd read that a momma had had success by serving her children's meals cut up in pieces w/ toothpicks stuck in them, cocktail weinie style. she got the idea when she noticed her picky eater ate anything that was offered via toothpick on the food sample days at the grocery store. so, we tried it last night at dinner by giving her a toothpick to use in place of her fork (with super ultra parental supervision, of course), and IT WORKED! my vegetarian 18 mos old ate 3 whole meatballs! i about threw a party. something to try? i dunno. good luck, tho, both on getting the kiddos (esp kate) to eat and to worry less. it's hard, i know!

my 18 mos old is doing the same thing right now. her lunch yesterday was 1/4 of a string cheese stick and teddy grahams. i've been told it's totally normal, and like others have said, i think your reaction is totally normal, too. :) your kiddos look super healthy, and so does mine... why do we still obsess over their eating (or lack thereof)?? i know you despise assvice, and i can't believe i'm actually dispensing it to *the* G&D Tertia, but this worked for us last night and i about cried with happiness. i'd read that a momma had had success by serving her children's meals cut up in pieces w/ toothpicks stuck in them, cocktail weinie style. she got the idea when she noticed her picky eater ate anything that was offered via toothpick on the food sample days at the grocery store. so, we tried it last night at dinner by giving her a toothpick to use in place of her fork (with super ultra parental supervision, of course), and IT WORKED! my vegetarian 18 mos old ate 3 whole meatballs! i about threw a party. something to try? i dunno. good luck, tho, both on getting the kiddos (esp kate) to eat and to worry less. it's hard, i know!

whoa, sorry for the double post, not sure how it happened. :\

ALL children go thru this stage, they will not starve or be deprived. My only advice (assvice) having survived this stage 3 times (5 year old twins & 3.5 yr old) is DO NOT stop offering the healthy food. Keep putting it out there along with the 3 things they like to eat. Also STOP the formula, they won't eat if they are getting that. You must also try to limit the junk food ALL kids will prefer to fill up on that then eat “real” food. Hell, I prefer to eat that way too!

It is okay for childern to survive on the same foods or to skip a meal. They will start eating everything again as long as they are still exposed to it. It has nothing to do with the fact that you are not cooking. Good luck, remember this too shall pass and then it be will something else!

First, let me say that I have tremendous respect for you and your parenting instincts. You're doing a great job giving your kids the most important things - your love and a sense of security. The best advice I ever received on parenting came from my daughters' preschool teacher, a lovely, wise woman, who, in observing the myriad families that comprised our school (working and non-working, multiple nanny/housekeepers to do it all ourselves types, one parent-, two parent-, even three and four parent- families,) told me that her decades of experience told her that there is no right way to do things. It all works. All these different kind of families turn out just fine. Just choose your path and stick to it, without being overly anal in your stick-to-it-ness.

That being said, stop the bottles. Seriously, how long were you planning to keep the bottles up - till they're three? Longer than that? When they were babies, it was your job to feed them. Things are different now. You (and I mean you and Marko equally) have a responsibility to teach Kate and Adam how to nourish themselves - they're not babies anymore. And the sweets and chips should be a rare treat. Not to get all Al-Anon on you, but don't enable their bad eating habits. Give them a multi-vitamin and offer healthy food (fruit, yoghurt, cheese, crackers, nuts). Toddlers are picky eaters, and most of them don't eat vegetables. My two kids also "regressed" between one and three, giving up foods they had previously enjoyed. Now that they're seven and nine, they're starting to add foods back in, albeit slowly.

Tips for feeding toddlers -
- buy a good blender and made fruit/yoghurt smoothies
- offer a yoghurt dipping sauce for fruit
- what about peanut butter and other nut butters (cashew, etc)? Perhaps not as common in South Africa as in the States but an excellent source of protein.
- No bottles, no juice. Don't let them fill up on liquids.
- Consider a period of time (two weeks, say?) where you (and Marko) don't talk/stress about their eating/nutrition. Just offer the healthy food and don't make a big deal about it. And if they don't eat it, take it away.
- Consider their nutrition over days, or even a week. Toddlers are notoriously cyclical eaters, they skip meals, they eat the same foods over and over again or they inexplicably reject foods they're always liked. Check the medical literature - you're not going to find a case of a toddler who starved themselves to death because they weren't given chips and sweets.

As parents, it's hard to give up the control we once had over their nutrition. But look on the positive side - you have the opportunity to give your children a tremendous gift - the gift of being in control of their own healthy, strong bodies.

I forgot to add this note for Marko -

Do you have an electronic calendar? A blackberry thingy perhaps? Then add a recurrent note for the appropriate week of the month, something along the lines of "be extra nice to Tertia." I'm just saying.

Tertia- they are clearly getting all the nutrition they need at the moment- they are healthy and growing well. If most of it comes from formula, and you want them to eat more proper food, I'm afraid the only way ahead is dumping the formula (or phasing out...). They *will* get hungry, and should start to eat more food food (as opposed to liquid food). I don't think that very many neuro-typical children of that would let themselves starve. They're programmed to survive. All you can do is present the food you want them to eat. You can't make them eat it, but hunger will propel them, eventually. It could take a while, but make sure they're getting plenty of water (not squash! it has calories, which will take the place of calories from carrots etc...). They may lose a little weight while they go through a transition phase to eating normal food, but try not to let the fear show.

Marco, incidentally, is right- It is not your fault: most toddlers go through this picky phase.

Totally normal. Still annoying and anxiety-raising, three kids later.

I have a 5 year old who is a great eater. One thing I remember doing with her is making her take a "no thank you bite". One bite. If she didn't like it, she didn't have to eat any more of it (at that meal). I read somewhere that it sometimes takes 10 exposures to a certain food for a person to get used to it. She will still offer just a no thank you bite sometimes.

Don't worry, I also have a 3 year old who literally threw up when I made him take a no thank you bite of vegtables once. For him, and I'm not sure if I'm proud or ashamed of this but I will trick or shame him into eating certain things. I'll eat something and tell him I do not plan to share - he'll be begging for some in minutes. We talk alot about the things he needs to grow (sleep, exercise, healthy food, water, etc.). I'll tell him he won't grow - he may even shrink! - if he doesn't eat a couple of bites of healthy food.

I kind of see where he is coming from. I am a very picky eater myself but I want better for him. I also try to keep healthy food around for snacks. As far as the kids know, we don't even have any sweets or chips in the house (I do keep a little stash for myself because I'm a selfish pig).

As far as the bottle, I can see both sides very clearly and I don't know what to say. Perhaps if you save a bottle for the end of the day so you can be comfortable that they got the nutrition without it interfering with their appetites during the day?

My view all along is that eventually, my kids will be choosing what they want to eat so I really wanted to kind of train their appetites toward the healthier foods and eating habits. But, like toilet training, they really are in total control here so all you can do is offer them the good food and wait for them to eat it. They will eat it eventually.

My kids eat more foods, but not any better for them foods!

Don't worry! And don't make it an issue for the kids (or they may have issues with food later in life). Mealtimes should not be battles. Let them eat what they want (within reason..not too much junk). If they refuse to eat a meal, so what?

It's all about control when you're 2. Let them control what goes in and how much goes in. My 5 1/2 year old ate barely anything at age 2 yet was still the picture of health. She hasn't had a veggie in about 3 years (no joke!) but takes a daily vitamin. Since I always refused to make food an issue she is slowly starting to come around and try new things ON HER OWN. If she asks for seconds and then takes a bite and decides she's full then she's done. I've always taught her to "listen to her tummy" and not overeat.

My 2 year old (he just turned 2 last week) is now just as picky, but is 37 lbs! lol He won't eat veggies either, and I got so sick of throwing food away I've stopped offering them (unless I'm having some then I'll offer a bite and he usually makes a face and a gagging sound).

One thing they both love is little cups of unsweetened applesauce and the Yoplait Dora Yogurt. Those are my "go to" foods when it seems they are only wanting bread products.

Let them be in control and your life will be easier! Dont' stress about it, they are obviously thriving and growing just fine.

Two year olds DO NOT EAT!! I don't know HOW they survive!!! They will NOT starve themselves, but do not freak out over what they are or are not eating; you don't want it to become a power struggle! Keep the options out there and keep repeating "This too shall pass. This too shall pass..."

Your kids look perfecttly healthy to me! I would stop the formula though, give them full cream milk and perhaps also a multivitamin every day. Offer them what you make for yourself and Marko (within reason)and if they don't eat it, they get nothing else. It sounds harsh but they will eat if hungry, honestly my three year old some nights refuses to eat more than 1 pea and a bite of chicken, so he gets nothing else before bed. Perhaps a banana but thats it. I swear the next morning he will eat a bowl of weetabix! Don't give into candy or trying 10 different things, the kids are too smart and know they can get there way :-) Stand your ground! You will win. And don't worry about the kids, honestly a toddler can get by on a tablespoon of food, I promise you, there eating definately subsides between 2-4yrs old.

Tertia, calm yourself. NO toddler on earth eats nutritious food. Marko (in this one instance, oh the horrors) is right.

They will not starve, they will not get sick, they will be fine. Repeat that to yourself every time you are are stressing about the eating.

There is a really good book that I've heard about regarding kids and eating. I'll get you the name. Basically, what matters is that you offer them a variety of healthy foods (you are doing this, fancy cooking is not required) and don't let them fill up on junk (you are doing this too).

Kids, all kids, will not eat as much if they are drinking their calories, so you really are gonna have to give up the formula if you want them to eat food. At least yours are getting the calories from formula, not apple juice:)

Boog will be 3 in April. When we eat out at a restaurant, there are two choices...fried chicken tenders or pizza. Nothing else will do (except breakfast...pancakes or waffles). He is very, very picky. At home, he will eat ground beef and rice-a-roni or hamburger helper (but only certain varities), stir fried chicken or pork with rice and meatloaf. Sometimes I can get him to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As far as veggies...whole kernel corn and maybe (if I'm lucky) peas or green beans sauteed in butter. He won't eat orange veggies at all. He won't eat any fruit except applesauce or raisins. It's been driving the whole family nuts, because we're tired of eating the same old things. But I'm terrible in that I try to plan my meals around what he'll eat. He is getting better, though. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your kiddos will come around...but it'll take time. In the meantime, just keep offering the good stuff, and don't sweat it.

My oldest who just turned 3, was not really a picky eater just an extremely small eater. She ate so little that I wondered where the huge BM's were even coming from once or twice a day! Our pediatrician (father of 4) told me that my kid will eat when she's hungry, and to take a chill pill. He said as long as I continue to put healthy foods in front of her, she will eventually eat when she's hungry.
I was however advised to immediately stop the bottle when he found out we were still giving it to her. He pointed out that it filled her up and she needed to start relying in actual food instead of whole milk or formula. Something we of course already knew, but like you were reluctant to give up because 'at least she's still getting something nutritous that way'.
One thing I will not do though, is make my kids other food than what we're eating. My mom always said, "Je eet wat de pot schaft". You eat what's served. If we didn't like it, we were made to at least eat one bite. That's what we do with our oldest daughter too and if she doesn't want to eat, fine go watch tv while mom and dad eat their dinner.
My youngest (10 months) LOVES food, ANY food. So she sits at the table with us and usually goes through what her big sister didn't eat. Wonder how long that will last...ha ha...
Anyway, I think you are a super mom who taker wonderful care of her beautiful kids. Your kids are fine and will grow up to be healthy individuals whether they eat their veggies or not. No worries!

Hey, Tersh, I hate to have to say it but Marko's right about this one. (Just don't ever tell him.)

This is, indeed, what toddlers do. Take it from a mom of three, two of whom are completely grown now, and the third a teen...

A) They won't starve
B) They'll eat new foods eventually
C) So what if they only eat the same thing every day?
D) They'll get bored with doing that sooner or later

It won't make a difference in their health. They'll be just fine. (The rickets is hardly noticable in my teenager now. Just the other day my husband was commenting on the fact that he may hit the 50 pound mark this year...)

Seriously, it's okay to chill on the nutrition. From someone who has seen the ins and outs of children's eating habits all the way through to adulthood now I can honestly assure you that it all works out in the end.

PLUS, if you chill out on this issue it will free up more time to obsess over something else. Win/win!

I haven't read through all the other comment, but I'm willing to bet mine isn't the popular response. Food issues are so difficult, but I think it's at least in part because so many parents fall into the same traps.

Firstly, kids tend to eat better if the whole family sits down to meals together and eats the same thing. In my case as a stay-at-home mom, I eat breakfast and lunch with my girls and then my husband joins us for dinner. For you, it would probably be Rose for breakfast and lunch then you, Marko and the kids for dinner.

I understand that the kids don't like anything but the things you've listed. So include a small serving of something they will eat on their plate at every meal, but also put on a bit of everything else you are eating. Don't force them to actually eat it, just ignore it. If they say "I don't want X" just say "Okay, don't eat X, just leave it on your plate." My daughter swears she hates tomatoes, but if I put one on her plate, chances are she will be nibbling on it by the end of the meal. This doesn't always work, and when it doesn't, I just throw away the tomato without making a big deal of it.

The thing is, the more you make an issue of eating, the more they know it is something they can control and get their way on. If you take all the emotion out of the actual eating of the food, and just make meal time a pleasant overall experience, eventually they will relax and try new things on their own.

My kid is not a perfect eater, but she does eat a wide variety of healthy foods. I get pushback from her all the time, testing to see what will happen if she refuses to eat something. At this point now that she is 3.5, if she refuses her dinner (and it's something she's eaten willingly before) I just give her a time limit - "You have five more minutes" - and tell her that if she doesn't eat what she's got, she's going to be hungry and crabby in the morning. And then she makes up for it by eating a huge breakfast.

Also, You are the one handing out the sweets and chips. Stop it. Cut them off. Those empty calories are filling them up and keeping them from wanting to eat the healthy stuff. You and Marko need to set a good example by eating the fruits and veggies in front of them - just casually - don't say anything like "Yum! this carrot is so delicious!" Just eat it with simple genuine pleasure, and they will eventually catch on.

There is no immediate solution that you can flip a switch and make everything perfect. But if you make some changes starting now, you'll see gradual results over time. Do try to change what *you* are doing and relax about what *they* are doing.

I hope I didn't come off all preachy. I know it's not easy - it's not easy at our house either. Just hang in there and keep trying!

Hi -- haven't read the comments, so probably am repeating.

1. I am with Marko on this one. Don't stress. Give them their dinner - offer them whatever you and Marko are having, but also give them something they do like. Either they will eat or they won't; it really doesn't matter. They will not starve, I promise. Just be sure to give them their multi-vitamins every day.

2. Take away the forumla immediately! They are way too old to be on formula. Part of what we call hunger is actually a craving for nutrients. Since they are getting much of their nutrition from the formula, they don't have the craving (or hunger) for real food.

3. The last bit of assvice I would give is -- after dinner (and perhaps a dessert or sweet) they do not get anything more to eat. So, if they do not eat their dinner and declare that they are finished, allow them to be done, but no more food until morning. This will help with the next stage where children do not eat their dinner, but want their favorite foods later at night.

Just my opinion, of course. What worked for me and my child may not work for you and yours.

The magical thing at our house seems to be dip.

As in "Here, honey, there's dip for that!"

Peanut butter and yogurt mixed together with very thin apple slices. (Serve bits of bagel alongside for dipping too)

Try baby carrots, cut in matchstick size slices.

Most kids like ranch dressing. Or cheesy stuff.

I went with a multi-vitamin in the morning and just trying to get some protein into them. Good thing they both liked cheese.

Don't worry, T - this will pass!

My 4.5 year old doesn't eat, unless there is ice cream at the end of dinner.
My 2.5 year old often hears "Ok, No more broccoli until you eat some pasta" Dang girl won't stop eating green things....

They are normal

Marko is right. Chill. When they are a year older, and you can reason with them, it will be easier. Cut out the chips and sweets. Today. No more - unless they eat a spoonful of every other nutritional food. Make it a treat - not an expected occurence.

At meal time, put a little of each of the things you are having on their plate, along with at least one thing they like. If they *only* eat the thing they like, okay. It's their choice.

Switch to milk, and put it in a cup. They are old enough for cups. My 16 month old has a cup except for 1st thing in the morning and bed time. (Reminder to self - started getting 16 month old off her morning and night milk bottle).

Also - do they eat better for Rose than for you? My kids would eat anything and everything at the daycare and save their *pickiness* just for me. Why? Because I catered to them. I stopped doing it, and now they eat.

One more thing, the PP that said look at their nutrition over the week is right. Every single meal, nor every single day has to be balanced nutrition wise. But over the week, they should be getting some of everything.

Good luck!

Hi Tertia!

I remember a while back I went to a talk that a nutritionist was doing about kids and toddlers and...food! It was a great relief to me as I was very worried about strange food habits as well.
The one thing I remember is her saying that it is the parents job to offer healthy choices, it is the kids choice to choose ha ha. Try not to let the kids sense your worry or it will become a power struggle--when they sense your frustration the game is up. One thing I tried was being all non-chalent about it...pretending not to care if they ate it or not--all of a sudden after a few days my son seemed to thing there must be something good he was missing if mom wasn't caring if he ate it or not.
Also don't worry about the formula thing, I personally think formula or milk has the same effect--a meal replacer. You will know when it's not working anymore and who knows maybe that day is today!
You're doing a great job, kids are funny little creatures.

I haven't read all the comments yet, so forgive me if I repeat what's already been said.

I read in a toddler care book that you can expect your toddler to eat one good meal out of three (so one meal a day) or a good day out of three (so eat a lot one day and then eat practically nothing for a couple more). That's completely normal and nothing to worry about. They'll get what they need, nutritionally. My daughter has always been skinny for her height (about 50-60% height, anywhere from 5-15% weight) and my doctor always tells me not to worry about it. She says that she is obviously healthy and growing (i.e. meeting all her milestones, growing taller, happy and engaged), and studies have shown that kids who start out "underweight" turn out perfectly fine when they're older.

As for pickiness, that's completely normal too. Don't make a big deal out of it or it will become a power struggle.

I scanned the comments, so forgive me if I repeat the sentiments of others. One thing that has really worked for me on "those" days (I have a 3 yr old) is to pack her meals in a lunch box. She really likes the whole process of unziping the case (ours is a Spongebob Sqarepants insulated box) and finding all sorts of little packets and containers. Here is a laundry list of the things I tempt her with:
peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sometimes cut into cool shapes with a cookie cutter
dried fruits like raisins and cranberries
string cheese sticks
juice box (100% fruit juice and no added sugar kind)
a multiviatamin!
small packs of pretzels with a cheese dip (these are not that healthful, but the dip part is fun and once in a while I don't mind)
fresh fruit cut up. (Mine loves to fish out little pieces from her tuperware)
frozen berries on top of plain yogurt

I know that seems like a lot of food, but I only give her toddler sized portions and she eats what is appealing.
As hard as it is, cut off the formula at meal times and only allow them to have it at designated "bottle times".
You might also try "cooking" with them. Kids of their age are able to spread a bit of sauce on a piece of bread and top with cheese. You pop it into the oven or micro, and voila! mini pizzas that they made! Make it fun with little aprons and the lot, and they might surprise you. Future chefs in the making!
Good luck and I love love your blog.
Love from San Francisco California USA!

I second all the people who have probably already suggested: 1) try having them plant some simple veggies (tomatoes and green beans perhaps) and they might be more likely to eat what they've grown. 2) Have them help you cook. 3) Give them choices over non-consequential things in life (in the hopes that they will then stop trying to control their food so much). Ask "blue shirt or red shirt" or "this video or that one." Of course the question is never "Do you want carrots" it's "peas or carrots?" And if they say no to both, I wouldn't force the issue. Also, allow them to make messes if you don't already. That's what food is about. Experimentation.
Finally, you are so not alone on this issue. So try not to beat yourself up about it!

I haven't read all the other comments yet but you must must must get this fabulous book: How to get your kid to eat (but not too much) by Ellyn Satter. It's fantastic and will set your mind at ease.

P.S. it covers the whole idea of whether you offer something else or not and snacks and everything too. :-)

I second the others who say to do fruit/yogurt smoothies (we usually add a protein powder or instant breakfast mix too). We call them milkshakes in our house! You can get numerous vitamins and minerals in them with fruit smoothies. Also, try a juicer - my kids love to help cut up and watch the fruit or vegetable getting smooshed into juice, and as long as the juice ends up on the sweeter side they will drink it and think they are getting a fantastic treat.

Don't stress they are beautiful and healthy and will NOT be irreparably damaged by limited diets at this point. :)

Tertia:

It is my understanding that becoming monochromatic in your eating habits is a psychologically normal stage that all children go through. At least that is what my psychologist told me and I really, really trust her. Although it has taken my kids quite a few years to "come out of it" my seventeen year old now eats a wide variety of vegetables and fruits rather than just macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets that she ate exclusively from two to four or so. My 12 year old is still hanging on to old habits (expand out to include hamburgers and hot dogs but lots of things are still a struggle), but we're shaming him into trying some new things. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing. So please don't feel badly -- it seems it is something that all kids go through and is not worth the worry on your part.

Well Tertia, they hardly look starved do they?? I never gave a stuff over what my kids ate (as long as it wasn't just sweets and choc of course) and if they didn't want to eat I just didn't let it worry me. Well, they have always ate anything and everything and I am certain it is because I have just had such a relaxed attitude to it. Worrying about them will drive you bonkers and you have two gorgeous, healthy kids!!

Debbie

Boy do I remember having this discussion with my best friend when her boys were little. I second most of the comments above-don't cater to them, they will eat when they are hungry-especially if they don't get treats ;-) Even now, which of us would rather have "good" food when we can have a treat?
My mom's rule- worked well- was you eat what your given, or you don't eat. No special foods, no "Mommy will make something else." And we had to try everything. I convinced my friend of this, and it worked with her boys too. It's 10 years later, and they are both happy and healthy eaters (within reason, would still rather have treats;-).
Ironically, I was able to get them to try a lot b/c i wasn't the parent-I was the cool aunt, so if I did something they wanted it-even if it was something they weren't fond of, like onions.

annoyingly normal. I still battle the variety problem with my 3.5 yr old.

My son's pediatrician said it best and I try my best to remember his words when I worry about him not eating well.

"Your job is to make a healthy variety of foods for him. His job is to eat it. He can't do your job, you can't do his."

Anna finally began drinking milk at 2 years, instead of the formula (she hated it until then) which she started after I quit breastfeeding at 17 months, because I was so anxious that she have all her nutrients and all that. After she finally went to regular milk, veryone kept saying, "Oh, NOW she will eat. Blah blah blah." Nope. Still doesn't eat much. So if you take your kids off of formula, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to start eating more. They might just not have large appetites. I'm lucky if I can get one decent meal in her a day. Kate and Adam look and sound to be healthy. So does my daughter. I have had to make the active choice not to worry about it too much, otherwise I would be obsessive.

However, in response to some of the above "Shame on you for leaving your kids on formula so long"-esque comments (not said in exactly that way, but perhaps implied)... well, phoo on that. I left my daughter on formula until she was two because a) it certainly did not harm her and b) it gave me peace of mind. There are aspects of parenting that each one of us has hang-ups about, or doesn't do the "correct" way, and before we go waving our fingers, we should probably stop to think about that.

I am sure other readers have mentioned this, but it is really very normal for kids that age not to eat much. My girl is going through that phase. She used to love to eat, anything and everything. But now she becomes very picky. You shouldn't worry too much about it. I was a picky eater when I was growing up, I turned out just fine. :)

My son is also 2 yrs old and has been through eating phases since 15 months. Absolutely do not cater to them - put what is for supper in front of them & if they don't eat, that's fine but don't offer a substitute. I do try to make something I think he is likely to eat & then add something which he normally won't. Recently he has eaten potato & peas which were big no meals beforehand. They will soon get the message! (and won't starve before they do.) Also drop the formula bottles. With Josh, while he does get some sweets & chips, it is rationed as is the juice. Sometimes I just present him with some cheese, raisins or viennas if he asks for sweets. If he has a huge temper tantrum, I just explain calmly that what is in front of him is all he is getting & walk away.Good luck! I did spend many an evening crying over supper trying to get him to eat so know exactly where you are coming from!

So Tertia, the million dollar/rand question......What are you going to do now? We want a follow up post. (Said very smuggly as she feeds her 'I'll eat anything' 12 month old breakfast- I figure when he gets to the toddler picky stage, he will still have the tried and tested fallback....dogfood....anything in the dog's bowl is fair game in Wal's eyes!)

So I am not going to add yet another, that's-totally-normal-my-kids-are-picky-too comments. Considering I live with, whom I consider to be THE pickiest of the picky, I invite you to visit my blog and click on The Muffin Mission label in my sidebar. I've managed to get quite bit of good foods into my son's stomach (he's 5) all in the form of my homemade muffins. Considering they like toast, maybe they'll like muffins too?

Have just had an utterly, unbelievably wonderful idea! (Seriously...my genius amazes me sometimes...particularly before breakfast.)
Tell Adam that if he doesn't eat, he doesn't poop.

PS - If my kids refuse to eat what I make, they get one option - cold cereal (and not the sugary kind). I don't have the heart to send them to bed with empty tummies - I know I would be miserable. But if they refuse the dinner I make, they absolutely DO NOT get any dessert the rest of us may get. Cereal, and nothing else! As long as your babes are growing UP and are active, try not to worry too much. :-) We're all here in the same boat, my friend.

Yes, always has. And, I know you'll hate this (as will your sycophants), but the fruit and veggies and meat and cheese and yogurt in this house is all organic. Too much yuck in the non-natural stuff. Costs a bloody fortune but healthy kids are worth it. Will your children try penne pasta? Tastes just like other pastas but since it is hollow, you can hide other foods in there. Mine went through a "no meat" phase and I just stuffed pieces of chicken in the penne until the phase passed. Good luck!

The Satter book is the one I was trying to remember. Thanks Shandra. I recommend it highly. Will save your sanity.

Are you describing my own daughter here? [bg]

Marko's right. That's all I can say. When Saskia refuses a meal, I offer her a buttered piece of bread (grainy German wholemeal stuff [g]) and some cheese (which she usually likes). If she refuses that as well - tought luck for her.

The do eat when they are really hungry, and according to my experience they seem to have an instinct for what they acutally need. Don't worry.

In a rush, so haven't read all of the replies. So this has probably been said 67 different ways.

It's completely normal. Frustrating and shattering to watch your child who ate EVERYthing (mine had a thing for olives and feta and green tea at 12 months, then went to NOTHING at 2. Yoghurt. Noodles. And chips (crisps)).
It will make you question your parenting, and you'll be convinced yours are the only children in the world with that diet.

They're not! Just about every child does this. My son has just turned 4 and he is starting to come out of it. I mean just. In the past month!

Buy a blender. Make smoothies. Pack in bananas, berries and rockmelon (think Americans call it cantelope). Some frozen yoghurt (or ice cream, I guess) and lots of milk. Blend it and you've just gotten 3 serves of fruit and one or two of dairy. Most kids love smoothies.

Also, if it were me, I'd ditch the bottles. I think toddler formula's a bit of a beat up, and possible filling the kids up. Or at least cut it down to just one at bed time.

In the mean time, ride it out. Or drink wine. :)

One more thing. I talked to my Dr about this. He said that at this age, children have the lowest energy/calorie requirements that they will have in their whole life time. (Seems odd as they're growing like weeds). It's nothing for a child this age to skip meals.

That is why my ped cause the 2 yr check up the "starve 'em and beat 'em visit." He told me not to worry - they'll eat when they are hungry. Also, I do not make my kids eat what they don't like. I don't eat what I don't like - why should they.

I freak out daily too, but apparently mine is also as healthy as yours. I'm sure I will have aged 10 years by the time he starts eating again, but apparently they all survive this.

I'm not big on dictating what he gets if he refuses the meal I make. I don't have the time or energy to insist "Eat what I choose for you!" Plus it's just mean.

Our little guy is nearly 2 and we went on a long haul trip at 21 mths. Well, he refused a bottle on the plane and wouldn't have his goodnight cereal either. We were gone for 5 weeks and he wouldn't have the stuff whilst we were away either. He practically lived off weetbix. So, here are some ideas foodwise - scrambled eggs with cheese or maybe a small omelette. Potato wedges. small pieces chicken coated in breadcrumbs. Weetabix with warm milk and maybe a bit of sugar. He liked thai noodles that had a little garlic and chilli in them. Maybe you'll just have to say something like - that's all your getting. After a few days of being hungry they'll eat up. You'll have to at least try because maybe they do know that they don't have to eat what they don't feel like because mum will give something nicer later. Try disguising things with sauces etc, like broccoli with a cheese sauce. The other thing is if you know they have a meal at 6pm or so then limit the amount of snacks between lunch and dinner. That way they should be feeling hungry when dinner is served. Our guy definitely eats more that way.

Tertia, another wonderful blogger just posted on this exact topic and got lots of good advice too:

http://www.amalah.com/amalah/2007/03/dcfoodie_jr.html

my friend shared a theory she read about recently that in the hunter-gatherer phase of our human development (which we're still in from an evolutionary point of view), toddlerhood was the time when children began weaning from the breast, and that their natural pickiness was a survival mechanism -- they favor a very narrow range of foods because anything outside that range might be dangerous/poisonous. given how typically toddlers are picky eaters, i think this makes a lot of sense. i think the best you can do is keep offering healthy food, making sure that even if what they eat is very narrow, it's at least healthy (for the most part). and keep offering them stuff they don't like now, because they might like it later.

mamamrta

I wanted to say one other thing, after having time to mull it over...

I've noticed that some moms tend to blame themselves, or highly congratulate themselves, on how great or how terrible a "healthy eater" their child is (or sleeper or toilet-trainer or whatever.) They cut the food up a certain way or never allowed them to snack or only let their child eat asparagus that they grew themselves in their all-organic garden. But a lot of the time, quite frankly, I think your "success" or "failure" depends on what kind of kid you have. I've seen mom friends think that they were a natural at mothering because they happened to have an especially easy or obedient first-born. Suddenly, though, they have a rascal of a second-born and, whoa, they are thrown for a loop.

So I've learned to take all the advice with a large grain of salt.

The older they are - and the longer they hold onto the bottles - the more difficult time you're going to have. I think your kids are cute and healthy, but you will not shake their habit of resistance until they are used to the fact that solid foods make up their meals.

Toddlers eat a highly various amount of calories from one day to the next. That is totally normal, and not a problem. It is your job to provide healthy, balanced meals and their job to decide what to do with what you put in front of them. Try to avoid the “but he doesn’t like that” trap. Just keep offering it, along with a bit of the current favorites. Many kids will surprise you after a while and suddenly eat all of that broccoli or whatever, but it may take many tries of offering it before that happens. If you have done those things, let it go. You have done your job. Leave the spoon on the tray and let them decide what to do with it or not do with it. If they are basically healthy and don’t have serious food issues (like texture issues or failure to thrive or something), then all is well. It really, really is. They will not starve. You can't make them eat (or poop, or sleep), but instead you can focus on setting things up for success as best you can. That's all anyone can ask of you.

Oh dear, I'm one of the mothers you hate. My daughter (same age as the twins) eats pretty much everything (except salad) and pretty much always gets at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.

These are some of the strategies which are working for me so far (though reading some of the comments above I'm realising I mustn't get complacent).

- Cut down on the milk during the day. Lulu gets a 2-3 ozs first thing in the morning (about an hour before breakfast) and 2-3 ozs just before her nap (and AFTER her lunch). For the rest of the day she has nothing but water or occasionally juice to drink until a full bottle at bedtime.

- Offer sweets and crisps only as a very rare treat. Lulu snacks on cubes of cheese, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, crackers, granola bars, dried apricots, bananas, clementines, toast and peanut butter, or fruit bread. That way I know that even if she fills up on snacks she's getting quite a lot of nutrients. in the afternoon I leave a little snack plate out on her table so she can graze - sometimes she eats and sometimes she doesn't. She is a lesson in only eating when she's hungry.

- We have cakes and icecream as a treat at the weekend and I try and make them or buy them from a good quality bakery, so I know what's in them. And then we have small portions. You should have seen my husband's face when I made him divide two cupcakes between three last weekend. And I'm probably a terrible mother, but Lulu has hardly had a bar of chocolate or sweets in her life (certainly not given by me). There's enough time for her to get addicted to chocolate in adulthood, and I notice that she gets incredibly hyper when she eats too much sugar.

- One of those hand held whizzer things is your friend. Puree fruits to mix into yoghurt, make or buy high quality smoothies, puree carrots etc. to add to pasta sauces etc. I'm always hiding vegetables in things - chopped spinach or microwaved red peppers in pasta sauce, cauliflower or broccoli cooked until soft and crushed into mashed potato. Or just make cauliflower cheese. My daughter hasn't worked out that isn't just cheese sauce yet, in fact she hasn't yet worked out any of my devious ploys (except I don't seem to be able to disguise lettuce). She loves peas and sweetcorn, so many meals have a sprinkling of one or the other on top (just sprinkle them on frozen and microwave the meal for 30 secs.)

- Will they eat potatoes? Most kids will and they're full of vit C and other nutrients. Bake wedges sprinkled with olive oil in the oven, or bake them in their jackets. Make mashed potato from a mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes for added nutrition. Roast parsnips, cubes of sweet potato and whole carrots together with oil. I can buy broccoli or sweet potato or sweetcorn pancakes, so she'll get one of those with fish fingers and fruit if I'm really can't be bothered to cook.

- Let them eat with you and eat what you're eating. My daughter gets very excited if we're all eating the same thing and she likes our food better anyway. We're all very happy to eat things like roast chicken with roast potatoes and root vegetables (as above), pasta with vegetable sauce, shepherd's pie etc. I'm always happy to give her stuff off my plate if she wants to try things. She always amazes me with what she likes. The other day she munched happily on spicy coconut tofu and she is sucker for smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.

- If they don't like something one day then don't make a big deal about it but offer it to them again another day. My daughter is fickle in the extreme and has very few consistent dislikes.

I know this is far too much assvice and I know that I sound like one of those sanctimonious 'knit-your-own yoghurt' type of mothers, but I just wanted to let you know some of the things you could do.

(Geez, just previewed this and realise I've completely written a book. Speaking of which, get one of Annabel Karmel's Toddler Cookbooks which are full of devious ideas.)

What Merseydotes said. Exactly. Key point is the more the kids know it's an issue with you and Marko, the more they know what gets your goat/s.

Toddlers don't starve themselves.

If they feel up on milk, they won't be hungry for solids.

Give choices of HEALTHY food, leave the chips and cookies and candy out of it. Those are for desert only after and IF they eat something healthy first.

Dear Tertia,
Your toddlers look so healthy and well fed, so don't worry. My 20-month old girl won't eat any type of raw fruit, not even bananas. In fact, she won't even touch fruit, it disgusts her. If she is in a very good mood she may eat a jar of gerber pureed fruit, like applesauce. Not beechnut applesauce, only gerber, and half of it usually ends up on the floor. It's not as good as fresh fruit, but it has vitamin C added as a preservative, so I figured she gets vitamin C at least.
What about eggs? Julia will eat eggs, although my little gourmet will not eat plain boiled or scrambled eggs. However, if I make them into an omelette she'll eat them, no problem. It's a bit of a pain, but on the other hand you can put a lot of vegetables in an omelette, like spinach, and they will go down too together with the eggs.
My last suggestion would be (yes, I am an italian mom) olive oil. Add a little bit of uncooked extra virgin olive oil to the noodles/pasta before serving it. Raw olive oil is "good" fat and contains a few vitamins that are important. Don't do it if your toddlers have diarrhea, add extra if they are constipated!
Your blog is fun, i love reading it.
Ciao
Anna

Oy, been out of town, just saw this post, and dog but my response is way down here. I know you've been dying for it tho' (hehe). I didn't read through the googleplex of responses so don't know what the main theme is, so I promise I'm not being catty about what anyone else said. My 1st child was the world's easiest baby/toddler so I have no advice from my experience with him. My second child, not so easy. I have been, at times, an absolute biotch about her eating. I will stand my ground FIRM when she demands more of X when I want her to eat Y. I oft quote my mother's infamous statement, "starvation is permitted." She is a healthy weight for her age/size and growing appropriately so I can do this. If I had an undersized child with FTT or other issues of course this assvice would be useless. But I do NOT want a picky eater, because I don't like the general personality type that goes with it. Inflexible. Unadventurous. Annoying and requiring everyone to accomodate them. And I believe this can all begin with picky eating, so I am just plain mean sometimes in my insistence that she eat a lot of different things. Mean doesn't work for everyone; I have no problem being that way on her eating and sleeping. She will thank me for it later.

NORMAL NORMAL NORMAL NORMAL NORMAL.

Organic homecooked meals? Not in this house. My 15 month old had 6 sweet biscuits for dinner the other night. Wouldn't eat banana, avocado, spag bog or all the other faves. It's NORMAL.

I must agree with the masses that this is normal. When I found out I was preggers, I vowed not to be the french fries and candy mom. I swore that my son would have a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal, a good protein source, and a good long-chain carbohydrate. I swore! It worked. Until he hit about 20 months. And then there was a mutiny! "NO! DON'T WANT IT! IS YUCK!"
What I do now is disguise things. I mince veggies like squash, carrots, and zucchini into the spaghetti sauce. I slice apples, bananas, and kiwi into shapes and tell him they're fruit snacks. He eats yogurt like it's going out of style, so sometimes, I mix pureed fruit in there as well. He drinks regular milk, not formula, and we had to cut back on that, as well. Now we give him a pediasure (kids nutritional drink) for a "treat" in place of milk every other day or so and he LOVES it. Kids really will eat when they are hungry. If they are eating pasta, that's not bad. Pasta is a great source of long-chain carbohydrates! Mega has never really had candy and cookies and care are a rarity because both my husband and myself have blood sugar issues. Mega has been tested a few times and seems to be okay, but we'd rather not risk sending him into a diabetic coma - we're the mean parents that do 25% juice and 75% water, even at 2.5 years old. As long as the children aren't lethargic, pot-bellied (any more than most toddlers), don't have a wasted back-side, jaundiced, etc., you have nothing to worry about. There would be GIGANTIC signs if something were wrong - if they were not getting enough to eat. It's hard to think they are getting enough, but their tummies are only the size of their fists, so really, that 2 fork-fulls of pasta may be quite filling. Eating with you and Marko may help more than you know. Not making them an alternate meal will help, as well. Bottom line: they won't starve. Give yourself 2-3 days of enforcing the new techniques, be it no more sweets until they've eaten something more nutritionally sound, eating with you, cutting back on the milk, or all of the above. After those 2-3 days, they will begin to catch on. They probably still will not willingly eat whatever you put in front of them, but it will get the ball rolling in your favor! Hang in there! Toddlers are rough!

For a while neither one was eating. Now Nicky eats pretty well, but the diet is very limited. Zacky is even more limited: Yogurt, goldfish, milk, and sometimes sandwiches that have been toasted (and have ham and cheese inside).But he only nibbles on those.

What has been helping is letting them eat messy foods themselves. They will eat some soup if you give them a plastic bowl and spoon. THey get it all over, but how else are they going to learn?

Our boys have only recently found out what cookies are. They've never had camdy. We give them one cookie after they eat dinner. No matter what they eat. I figure if we get some food in them, then they are fine. They are healthy strapping boys, especially Nicky, so I know that they are fine. But it does make you worry and a little crazy.

Gunna agree with Marko here - my 3 year old eats ceral (smothered with honey) and steak - that's about it!

I'm going to go back and read the comments. I'm sure they have excellent advice. I just wanted to say my 2 1/2 year old basically lives on chicken, french fries and frozen GoGurt (yogurt in a tube). It's insanity, but he's growing well and so are your two, so I just try to live through this stage.

no two year old eats, it is against all they stand for!! they will start eating again, not to worry. one thing that worked around here, frozen grapes! seriously, freeze red seedless grapes and tell them they are candy, popcicles, whatever to get them to eat them the first time. i've never met a kid that didn't love them, they taste wonderful. to this day i always keep grapes in the freezer for me. freeze the grapes and then you can feed them fruit all day!!

My daughter is the same age... she's an eater, but what your kids are doing is normal. My advice? Stop offering the junk food to make room for the healthy stuff. Have you tried fruit smoothies?

Don't shoot the messenger but for those of you giving multi-vitamins here is the latest findings.

http://www.theheart.org/article/773375.do

It's so hard to know what advice to follow these days.

i suggest you take all the 'bad' food out of the house. i make really crappy food choices and i didnt wat to pass that on to my kid so when he was born three years ago i stopped having junk food all over the place (i still have chocolate stashed all over the house but if they cant see it then it doesnt exist). now when he wants a snack he only has stuff with some kind of nutritional value in it. and it actually works, i have a kid that will go for a fruit platter over a platter of cupcakes any day. i mean, he likes sweets, but he also knows that theres none in the house (or, that he knows of). kids will always like the sweetest thing on offer, you just have to change what that is.

also i read something a while back about tomatoes and all the great things about them and tomato sauce is supposedly better than fresh tomatoes? something about one of the good bits (so technical!) of it increasing when cooked. so theres that.

Heather G, they're not talking about kids' multivitamins. They're talking about people who take larger doses of those specific ones. Vitamins are things you have to have to support life.

Tertia, to jump on the Marko bandwagon - if you want him to be more comfortable taking care of the kids, it might not be a bad idea to defer to his judgement on stuff like this (when you kind of know he's right).

your kids are normal. chill.

THIS IS A PHASE. Just like every other phase, this will pass. It lasts a long time, and it's really really really hard to take, but please take it from me: if you let the little darlings know it upsets you when they won't eat, the phase will last longer. Truly. When my daughter was in this extremely annoying phase, the more she noticed how upset I was she wasn't eating, the less she ate. It is a control thing and it will eventually go away. I swear. My daughter (3) now eats everything very cheerfully, and I can't tell you what a relief it is that mealtime is no longer a battle. Also, now that she's old enough to understand if-then propositions (i.e., if you eat your dinner, then you get a cookie), I can now reward appropriate behavior with a fig newton or something.

2 years old... Yeah they can be picky at 2 but if they look healthy and are growing properly you are doing fine. Just don't fall into the trap of not offering things to them because they won't eat it and they will out grow it.

Ugh - going through this exact thing - and dying to blog about it m'self. Its endlessly frustrating, and guilt inducing. I have succumbed to fast food, ice cream, and bribery.

I only read about half the comments, so apologies if this is a repeat--but I didn't see it in the first half anyway. One thing to keep in mind is that your kids grew fast fast fast from infancy until now, and the growth slows WAY down once kids turn 2. Whereas they put on 25-30 pounds (give or take) in the first two years, the next 30 pounds will take another 5-7 years. (My 7-year-old daughter weighs 55, only 20 pounds more than my 2-year-old daughter, and they are both healthy, in the middle of the range for their ages.) So this change in growth pattern is PART of what causes toddlers to be so dang picky--they simply don't need to eat as much as they used to.

I agree with other commenters who suggested just giving them whatever you eat, and not giving them anything special. Truly, they'll eat when they're hungry. They'll learn to like whatever you give them---if you only give them "toddler food," that's what they'll demand. If you give them a wide variety of foods, they'll eventually like that too. (And even then, the trouble doesn't end then; our older daughter who wasn't ever a problem eater NOW has decided not to like things because it's "uncool" to like them....which makes the toddler more picky because she attempts to follow suit.....but we ignore them both, and no one is starving...)

(The "no thank you" bite that someone suggested is a great idea. I can't tell you how many times my daughter has refused to eat something, only to ask for seconds by the time dinner is over.)

Good luck, and don't worry. Also, I find that all parenting issues seem worse when PMSing. (I have noticed that my kids seem extra obnoxious and stubborn on a monthly basis: hmmmm.......could it be that I am extra-touchy and impatient?)(naaaah, it couldn't be me.....)

1. This is a phase. They will get over it. It is perfectly normal 2 year old behavior.

2. You MUST ditch the bottles. If they are full of formula they won't eat.

3. Your job, as a parent, is to provide healthy food. Not to make them eat it. End of story.

4. Though impossible, try not to worry when they refuse to eat or only eat spag bol (can I tell you how hilarious it is that you call it that? I have never seen that before your blog) or cheese chips or whatever.

5. Hang in there.

No, toddlers do not eat. Did you not get the memo? :) Seriously, these are the breatharian years. Somehow they manage to live on air. Dr. Sears (I think it was, maybe it was Dr. Brazelton) said a toddler could thrive on a daily diet of pint of milk, a tablespoon of meat, and a multi-vitamin pill, and that they didn't really need the vitamin pill either--that was just to keep the parents happy.

O. THANK GOD IM NOT THE ONLY ONE!

Hi,I really need help I have a 2 1/2 year-old son who spends sometimes three days without eating, He may have a yougurt and a cookie a day. I have taken him to three specialists already and they do not believe me since he has normal weight. He totally refuses to eat, sometimes he will eat 2 or 3 very small pieces of meat. It's crazy and it has been going on since he turned 1. I feel desperate

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