« Leftovers | Main | Seven things about Durbanville, Western Cape, South Africa »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

First off, stop the formula and give them a vitamin.

Second, no more junk when they refuse the healthy stuff. No more backup meals. They WILL eat eventually when they are hungry. They will not get sick and die. They will eat. It may be a couple of miserable days but that's it. Then they will eat. The end result is no more miserable feeding times. Keep that in mind.

Third, my daughter (who is almost three) loves to eat whatever her Nana is eating. Is there someone they love to emulate and please who will sit with them and eat their food with them?

Fourth, I think it's also important that you are sitting and eating with them as an example. Even if Marko can't be there.

Girl, I feel for you. I do. Toddler eating was so hard here too. I get it.

Hi Tertia and Merry Christmas!

I read a great book called 'How to get your child to eat, but not too much' by Ellen Satyr (the book is definitely called that but her surname may be wrong). I thought it was excellent. The basic premise is that a child will not starve and it is not our responsibility to make them eat. It is our job to provide good food and it is their job to eat it. She says no short order cooking (i.e. if they don't eat what you put in front of them don't cook anything else), put bread on the table with every meal (I don't do this as it is ALL my 2 year old would eat), pudding is part of the meal and not a treat (we are talking good puddings like fruit and yogurt etc not cake a chocolate). Also do not make a fuss when they don't eat, just leave them to it for a while at the table and then take it away and offer pudding. Apparently all children are neophobes (scared of new stuff) and they have to be exposed to a new thing 9 or so times before they will accept it.
My 2 year old eats fairly well, we do have blank refusal about 5 times a week, but I stay calm (very hard as I do cook for her, but freezers are your friend) and just take it away. 9 times out of 10 (honestly) as soon as it is back in the kitchen she asks for it and eats most of it. I don't offer snacks between meals unless it is snack time and i think very carefully about everything I offer her. Basically if she chooses not eat at mealtimes then she has to wait until the next mealtime for any food other than water. Harsh I know, but it is what i have to do to make sure she has a balanced diet of something other than bread!
It is hard and I do remind myself all the time that eventually she will eat when she is hungry, I just count to ten in my head a lot and take a lot of deep breaths!
Good luck, I am sure you will get a lot of advice here, just do what works for your family.

Yep, what she said. :)

They WILL NOT starve, no matter how much they might try to convince you otherwise.

I know it's hard....I understand! My 10 month old is allergic to (cow's) milk and REFUSED formula. As in out and out refused to drink it. And I was no where near keeping up with her demands with what I was pumping. I just kept trying different formulas until we found 1 (soy, expensive, premade)she would actually somewhat take. Meanwhile, I was in tears a few days, knowing she was at daycare without her mommy's milk. And you know what? Now she takes it just fine. All the drama is over with. My point is, your kids will adjust eventually-but it will take some time. My mom used to make us a plate with our choices on it-'a' meat, fruit, veggie, etc. We were offered it, and if we didn't eat it, it was covered and put in the fridge. And that's what was offered at the next meal, and the next one, and the next one, until we ate it. Eventually we ate the first time it was offered. It's hard, it will wound your tender mother's heart, but it must be done. You recognize you have created the monster and now it's time to slay it. It's the right thing to do, even if it feels wrong at the time. Time to stop the formula, for sure. I know you don't know me from Adam (or Kate!), but I have been following along for awhile now. We support you Tertia, but you must grow a very strong backbone now-don't give in!

What Lindsey said, I mean (though Vicki had good advice, too!). :D

What everyone else said. Great advice. But you really have to stop the formula. They really aren't ever going to eat if they are getting everything they need from a liquid. It fills them up and is much easier than actually taking the time to sit and eat something. After all you know how busy a preschooler's life is!
Good luck..I so feel your pain!

Tertia, you're children will not starve themselves. It's your job to purchase the right foods, prepare them nutritiously and serve it creatively. If they eat it, lovely. If not, they'll live. Three years old pick and poke at their food. When you think about how tiny their little bellies are, approximately the size of their hands, they are definitely getting enough food. You need to relax sweetheart. Don't beg or barter with them. Make a meal, serve it and back off. Even if it means you have to leave the room. The more stressed you are over feeding them, they less they will want to eat. Trust me, they will NOT starve.

You must (MUST!) read this article. It changed my life. It's all about feeding toddlers. http://askdrsears.com/html/3/T030800.asp

One more article, another must read.



I think that they are just normal toddlers! Mine never eat anything (well, John does now but it took until he was 4!) And all of my friends said the same thing about their young ones. Anna did start eating more when I cut back on her milk so cutting formula may make them hungry.

But don't beat yourself up! This is very common!


Tertia, unless you are prepared to change your attitude to the kids & food combo, your kids won't change their attitude. It's proven effective to them so far, why change?

I recall at least one previous post on this issue, and probably the advice given was similar to the one you'll receive now. The question is: are you ready to implement it?

Whatever approach you choose will be good, as far as you are consistent and firm. Good luck, we are all in the trenches !

You really have to committ to wanting them to eat. You can't give in with a substitute meal at any time. The other commenters are correct--they will eat when they are hungry. This works at my house: I fix a meal for all of us. They are allowed to not eat if they don't like it, but they are not allowed to comment on how bad it is or how much they hate it. If they eat it, they get lots of praise. Something to remember--don't overfill their plates. Little ones find great joy in actually finishing what they've been served, it's a wonderful accomplishment. They only need the amount of food equal to the size of their fist. Also, they should sit at the table until everyone is finished. As far as the vegetables, try dips. Kids like Ranch dip. With everything! Don't ever punish for not finishing---food is a control issue with kids and you will never win. Keep the upper hand. It also helps when you ask them what they want and let them help prepare it--you might learn something from them :)
With all of this in mind, serve them what they love sometimes. Give into their whims and let them have junk food for dinner once in a while. I had a friend come down hard on her three girls and she has found great success and has discovered all sorts of wonderful things her kids will eat. Good luck!

I haven't read through the comments, but here's what we did.

First, they had to have ONE BITE of each thing we were having. So, they had to have one bite of potato, one bite of beans, one bite of meat, etc. Once they finished their one bites, they could have more of whatever they wanted. If that meant 3 more helpings of mashed potatoes and nothing else, then that's what they had. It was just an exercise in trying new things, and eating things they didn't necessarily like.

Eventually as they got older they got smart and started sneaking snacks when we weren't looking. So we had to modify the rules to include them having to go to bed if they didn't eat the one bites. A couple times they went to bed at 6:30, but not too often.

Today I have 5 wonderfully diverse eaters that will eat anything I put in front of them. But wow, that was hard and it took a LONG time. ;)

You've had some great advice above. Just wanted to add a couple of tips for when they do start eating (and they will, if you are strong and keep at it!) - my son loved to dip everything. He always asked for "dip-dip" with whatever he was eating. We gave him ketchup, mayonnaise, yoghurt, salad dressing, whatever somewhat went with what he was eating, and he would eat more.

We'd also say, "One bite for Nana," and then, "One bite for Grandad," etc, naming his favourite family members one by one. That got a few extra bites into him when he was "done" - which usually meant he was bored, not that he was full.

Oh, he also ate more when he ate in front of the TV but that's replacing one bad habit with another, I'm afraid!


I don't really have any good ideas because I am soooo guilty too. I make separate meals for my 3 year old because it is easier. If he asks for lollies and I have them in the house I say yes to avoid the tantrum. He doesn't eat enough vegies, or fruit but I do try.

What has worked for me is to NOT have the bad stuff in the house. Believe me, you'll feel panicked when the 2 minute noodles aren't there but you have to do something else and they'll have to eat it.

The other thing that has worked for me is to only take healthy snacks when we're out and about. My son won't eat carrots sticks at home but when he's starving in the car and I'll hand him a couple he'll eat them. Same with apple, sultanas etc. Weird. Home has become a bit of a battle ground, but away from home he's willing to give it a go.

Don't beat yourself up. You have spent 3o-whatever years with your attitude to food (which is similar to mine) and it's hard to make an about-face. Also, with two toddlers it's much more peaceful to give in than to face a battle. I know I have to change too, but I'm trying not to feel too bad about it.

Oh, and our paediatrician said that fish oil is really, really important for brain development and behaviour. I thought he was a hippy freak but did a bit of reading and it's all true...and it has helped a lot.

There was an article in the NY Times in October about a study done on picky eaters. The report said children's eating habits are genetic. If you were a picky eater, your kids are likely to be too, no matter what you do. I don't know how to link here, so you can go to the Times site and search the archives for "picky eater". There is an environmental factor, which you will maximize by removing the formula and offering healthy foods, but you can't make them want to eat calamari just by putting it in front of them every day, so don't beat yourself up too much. They really don't need much to do well--remember, a serving of fruit or protein is a fraction of what it is for us. I wish you luck, my daughter survives on yogurt, bread-and-butter, and mango juice. She won't eat any meat or even pasta or cheese. But I was the same way at her age, and I certainly have no trouble eating enough now. And your kids look ridiculously healthy and active, so you've managed to do all right by them so far.

Since you don't cook, can you hire someone to make you 'meals'. I had an old co-worker who ate out almost ALL the time b/c she didn't like to cook. She offered to pay me for food supplies and time, to cook them meals. They'd have to be meals you can freeze and you'd be able to just toss in the oven. Just a suggestion.
Good luck

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
This book has beed quite the hit on American TV. I have friends with young children who have purchased this book and found it to be very helpful. Basically you puree vegetables and add them to different "kid" friendly foods such as brownies and pancakes. What the children don't know is that there is also a healthy vegetable inside. As everyone else has said, the formula has to stop. I work with children who are tube fed and stop eating because they are no longer hunger.

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
This book has beed quite the hit on American TV. I have friends with young children who have purchased this book and found it to be very helpful. Basically you puree vegetables and add them to different "kid" friendly foods such as brownies and pancakes. What the children don't know is that there is also a healthy vegetable inside. As everyone else has said, the formula has to stop. I work with children who are tube fed and stop eating because they are no longer hunger.

I did find this site that explains serving sizes for the little ones and what a healthy diet requires--you might find they are eating better than you thought:

First, please forgive yourself. No one is perfect. Your kids are healthy. You can see it in their bright eyes and shiny hair.

Here are some suggestions:
No punishment for not eating. You will just turn it into more of a battle than it already is.

When you start something new, start with successes. It sounds like they eat all day whenever they want. Start announcing it is meal time whenever you want mealtime to be. "It is almost noon, almost time for lunch!" Get them used to the idea that food will be served at around a certain time so they will eat when the food is out and not all over the place. Nothing wrong with a little snack now and then either but you do want major meals with a plan.

Use successful foods to start. Have lunch, serve a food they already eat, praise them for eating, give them a sticker.

What do they value? How about special time with you? or Marko or a shopping trip with your mom? (no toy, just trip) Have them earn stickers for eating or trying a new food to earn a special trip.

This is behavior modification. They will do something less desireable to get something more desireable.

Talk up your food and let them try whatever your eating if interested. "Marko, isn't this delicious spinach today?, Oh it is so good!" Praise them for coming over to look or even touch a piece of spinach.

Above will be a change and a pain in the beginning and at our house quite a process. Our daughter eats almost anything. Our son is the issue and he is making progress.

I do not advocate starving or going to bed hungry. I also allow for trying and not liking. I don't force food that a child says they don't like. I continue to offer that food but they are allowed to say no.

We have a lot of fruit. Look up some photos online of portions for kids. Three baby carrots is enough for a 3 yr old at lunch. We see who can make the loudest crunch. Blueberries, cut up canteloupe, pineapple.

We do a lot of counting with the food. Helps with math too. Daughter gets to choose how many chicken pieces, carrots etc that she wants. Gives some of the control back.

I would start with ditching the formula. Arranging a meal time. Sitting at the table and then talking during the meal for bit of a distraction and then talk up the food. Count the pieces and let them decide how many to eat.

Best wishes.

Well, they sound like normal toddlers to me.

I've got my own problem eater here, so I feel your pain. My 4 yr. old has SID/SPD and has been through many, many hours of feeding therapy. I just feel the need to add, without knowing all the specifics of Adam, that feeding problems can be sensory based. They are with my son, and his therapists completely disagree with the "they won't starve themselves" line of thinking. Being change resistant on top of not being able to handle tastes/textures because of SID can cause these kids to be unable to try new things, no matter how long they go without food. My son has lived on Pediasure, spagetti, and rice for 4 years now.
As for the mommy fault, I do agree this is part of it! My son was <2 lbs. at birth, and I wanted calories in him! He started preschool about 6 months ago, and is slooowwwwly starting to try bites of some new things for his teachers. Peer pressure and all that. But, he still gets most of his nutrition from pediasure (good for kids 1-10!!! many years to go before he's too old!!)
Well, I'm not much help here, I just wanted to send some support for Adam, because it might be one of those things he's handling the best he can. Wish I had the answer for you.
Take care

Buy "The Sneaky Chef" over "Decetively Delicious" any day. OR you can read it at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=OLTPuzhIzFYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+sneaky+chef&ei=uf90R7iPGoeQjgGMwcx3&sig=Xwue6I72Y2m75gUqpr-uW7Ueeos

If you want I can email you any of the missing pages, including the recipes. I KNOW that you don't cook, but Rose could/should. I have been having the same problems with my boys, but when the boys are cooking/helping (I know, big mess) they seem to want to taste much more. "The Sneaky Chef" is brilliant. Oh, you don't want breakfast, how about breakfast ice cream OR breakfast cookies? It takes several attempts, but I can say that my kids are eating much better. And I'm loving the homemade blueberry sorbet that takes 30 seconds to make, and they are too!

Switching off formula should be pretty easy. Just start making milk/formula cocktails. Start with 1 part milk to 3 parts formula, once they get used to that increase the milk part and within a month you will be off formula.

I only read a few comments so if this is repeat advice I apologize.

First of all, stop the formula. They are filling up on liquid so they have no need to eat. Our pediatrician suggested 1% milk after age 2 because they don't need the high fat content. Once we did that, meal times were eaiser. Also, stop the Gummyvites. Gummyvites are just vitamins and don't provide any minerals. Pick up a multi vitamin with minerals and give them that instead.

I have a 3 yr old and a 5 yr old. I have began using the same technique my parents used when my brother and I were younger. I cook a balanced meal that my husband and I will enjoy as well (I refuse to cook more than one meal) and put it at the table. I set a timer and the kids have 30 minutes to finish it. If they refuse to eat or play around and don't finish it I cover the plate and put it in the fridge. At the next snack or meal time I give them the plate. That is they only thing I offer them until they finish it. At first it took days to get one meal down but it eventually got easier. Yesterday, I got them to eat lemon dill chicken, baby corn, strawberries, and rice!

What ever you choose to do you have to be commited to it. If not, it will not work.

In my opinion, please don't MAKE them eat anything (not even just one bite). That is very hard to enforce- how do you MAKE them take a bite?- so why go there??

My advice is, when they turn 3, in two weeks, just stop the formula. You can tell them, sympathetically, that 3 years olds just don't have formula. And I'll bet you'll see a big improvement throught that one simple change.

Also, are 2 minute noodles and PBJ really that bad? PBJ is very healthy in my opinion, especially on whole wheat bread. I would give them noodles or PBJ, plus a bit of something else, at each meal. My kids are more likely to eat other stuff if they have one "safe" food at each meal.

Healthy snacks in the car is another great solution. My kids eat lots of fruits in the car because, oh dear, that's all we have!

Good luck and don't stress. These things have a way of working themselves out over time.

My kids love to help me cook and generally are pretty pleased to eat whatever they made themselves. But that probably won't help you now. We do cheer for everyone who finishes his or her plate. Opperdepop hoera!

My daughter, at 15, is still a horribly picky eater. She hates to try new things, in restaurants she will order one of 3 things: chicken caesar salad, grilled cheese sandwich or macaroni and cheese. At 15. But although I did lose my mind with her earlier on, and she eats an enormous amount of junk food and candy now, she eats veggies and she eats fruit. LOTS of fruit.

When she was 3, she was a lot like your kids, though. I did several things to improve the situation. I went to a nutritionist and seeking professional advice helped a lot. She told me several things. Your kids WILL NOT starve. So get rid of the formula today. They're filling up on formula to the detriment of their teeth and their bones. They need food.

We instituted the 3 bite rule. You don't have to like what there is on your plate but mom is NOT a short order cook. What's offered is all that you're gonna get. If you don't like it, that's fine. But you Absolutely Positively HAVE TO eat 3 bites. Not one, not two, three. And they have to be normal bites. Not teeny morsels, regular bites. If they refuse, there is NO other food or drink other than water offered. Nothing.

If they do eat the three bites and refuse more, then they can have yogurt, fruit, or cut up veggies. Nothing else. No cheese, no sandwiches. Only things they can help themselves to.

Keep a bin in the fridge and a drawer in the cabinets filled with food they can snack on. Granola bars, crackers without salt, carrots and other cut up veggies, and cut up fruit. They are allowed to help themselves to those things but NOTHING else. That is what snacks are.

You're going to have a week of hell, where they're hungry but won't bend. But eventually they're going to be so hungry that they will try it. Adam will be harder than Kate because he's got texture issues. But he'll have to figure out what he can tolerate, and then you plan accordingly.

I know it seems drastic, but you need to make changes now or it's going to be hell later. I have a friend who didn't make the effort and her child at 14 eats virtually nothing but rice cakes and cheese. NOTHING else. It's a wonder she doesn't have beri beri or something.

Talk to a nutritionist. Get some good advice and start from there. You have to get both Rose and Marko on board, too.

Absolutely, positively do not force them to eat or punish them for not eating, unless you want them to grow up with lifelong food issues (a problem particularly for females) - it should not be an area for a power struggle. Make them simple meals (can you throw canned black beans and some cheddar in a tortilla and heat it in a pan or microwave?) Healthy meals don't need to be complicated, despite hating cooking. I do think you need to stop the formula though - if their bellies are full from that, they won't be hungry for food.

Formula is filling them (it is food, not a drink), so stop giving them formula and they will get hungry. Give them milk, in limited amounts. If they are still "thirsty" then they get water. Eventually they WILL eat the food you leave out for them to snack on, cause they will truly be hungry instead of filling up on the bottles (and switch to cups when you switch to milk).

I haven't read the previous 350 comments, so forgive me if I am repeating.
Toss the formula.
Give them a vitamin.
Offer one or two choices.
Let them be hungry.
I shit you not.
It's like CIO.
Put out the snacks you are willing to give them and leave it alone.
Don't say a word to them - it will only make a fresh hell.
Do not, under any circumstances, discuss FOOD.
But first, toss the formula -it's filling their tummies.

You should definately stop the formula. And then check out this site and perhaps get the book. I know you aren't much of a cook, but there are some great ideas and great "fixes" in which you add stuff to store bought foods.

Another bit of advice, Don't fight, ignore it. You give them the food and walk away, thats all there is, eat it or don't, no conversations, no beggin no fighting, they will not starve to death, eventually they will eat, after all, when hunger strikes, True hunger, food is food.

Confession for me too! My 2 year old twins still eat baby food veggies. It's the only veggies they'll eat! I'm interested in your comments because I need help too! THanks for posting this!

A couple of things stand out to me ...

First, make sure they see you eating. Sit with them while they eat ... make it fun.

Second, stop the formula. They will get all the vitamins and minerals they need from a vitamin supplement. They need to get hungry before they are going to be willing to eat or even try something new. :)

Third, work with what you know they will eat. If they love mac & cheese or pasta then dice steamed veggies and put it in the pasta. If even small diced veggies are a turn off then steam and puree the veggies and mix them in. You can do the same with tofu for a little extra protein.

Lastly, get yourself a copy of the kids cookbook Deceptively Delicious. It is quite handy to have the recipes sitting in front of you or at the very least it is good for getting clever ideas from.

A couple of things stand out to me ...

First, make sure they see you eating. Sit with them while they eat ... make it fun.

Second, stop the formula. They will get all the vitamins and minerals they need from a vitamin supplement. They need to get hungry before they are going to be willing to eat or even try something new. :)

Third, work with what you know they will eat. If they love mac & cheese or pasta then dice steamed veggies and put it in the pasta. If even small diced veggies are a turn off then steam and puree the veggies and mix them in. You can do the same with tofu for a little extra protein.

Lastly, get yourself a copy of the kids cookbook Deceptively Delicious. It is quite handy to have the recipes sitting in front of you or at the very least it is good for getting clever ideas from.

Hi Tertia,
What has worked for us is the "no short-order cooking" thing that others have mentioned. All three have tested the limits from time to time, but they've figured out that what I serve is all they are going to have to choose from. They are always welcome to choose nothing (and sometimes they do just that!), but that is it until the next mealtime. I try to make sure there is at least one thing on the table that each of them likes, and in order to have more than one helping of that they need to eat some other things, as well. I do not force them to eat, not even one bite, but I've found that they do try things if I don't make a big deal out of it--the more nonchalant I am about it, the better. Such a head game with these girls! But seriously, healthy children will not allow themselves to starve. Add me to the ranks of "drop the formula" (I liked the commenter's idea that 3 year olds don't have formula as an easy explanation for the change) so they have a chance to be hungry, and then be prepared to stick with it. If I've learned nothing from my 3 little "teachers", it's that they know how to push things to the limit!! Good luck, Tertia. I love how willing you are to ask for advice when you feel you need it--that's the sign of a truly great mom, in my opinion!

Honey, you are being WAY too hard on yourself. First and foremost, stop stressing about it so much. They will eat when they are hungry. Don't force them. I do think the formula needs to go, but only to be replaced by whole milk. Hang in there, you're doing fine!

My first question would be, what does your children's doctor say when you tell them all this? I'd take his/her advice first and foremost. The great thing about pediatricians (even when it's spelled funny) is that they have usually seen everything you tell them. They have other patients that do this, and may have safe and healthy suggestions.

Second, cut the formula, period. Make it a 3rd birthday present. Tell them about it, prepare them for it. But cut it out. You know it, it is ridiculous that you are giving it to them. Healthy 3-year-old children will not die if you stop giving them formula. I guarantee you, it is making them full, and lessening their appetite for solid foods.

Third, remember that no matter which method you try, of the many, many suggestions offered here, is that on day #1, it is not going to work. And probably not on day #2. And it may be a week or more and you are getting scared (and this is why you should talk to your ped. first, to know how long to go before giving in).

Fourth, no matter which method you try, don't refuse their favorites, at least not at first. That would freak them out. Give them the healthy/variety stuff, along with small portions of their favorites. If they don't eat much anyway, then small means 2 or 3 bites of mac-n-cheese/peanut butter/etc.

And fifth, I'd recommend buying that book that Jessica Seinfeld stole her idea from instead of from Ms. Seinfeld, who doesn't need the money. I don't know the title. Google it.

But before you do anything, talk to your ped., because you are going to have more confidence when you have his/her blessing, and if you have confidence, you will have a higher liklihood of following through.

Good luck.

And a question for you, re: the food is fuel and not enjoyable thing, does food really, really, not have a good taste to you? You really do not enjoy food? That's like not enjoying a good poop, or a good sleep. Like how it earth can it not feel good? I am flummoxed. Explain please if you care to.

Here is what I did. Until my kids were 3, I did not fight the food battle. I think they are really too young to force until 3. Then, as soon as they hit three and could understand better, they had to eat 3 bites of whatever we are eating. My mom used to always make us eat as many bites of food as we were old (if we were 3 we ate 3 bites, 4 we had to eat 4 bites, etc.). It works like a charm. After they eat a more variety, I am less strict. For example, my son likes a wide variety of food, so if he says he doesn't like something, I believe him. I don't like all foods so why should I expect him to. My daughter was harder, but she always will eat the four bites (she's four) I tell her to. My youngest will be 3 next Sept. I think she wil be my biggest struggle.

I have a 1-year-old who's a pretty crap eater, so please take my advice for what it is -- as in, it may not help at all in your particular situation.

But when I was a nanny to a very stubborn 3-year-old who would only eat pimento cheese, I found good old reverse psychology to be pretty helpful. I would put cut-up veggies and fruit on my plate while she sat at the table with her container of pimento cheese and a spoon. When she asked what I was eating, I said casually, "Oh, you wouldn't like it. Kids don't like this." I was careful not to say it was for adults only or that she COULDN'T have it -- because I didn't want to confuse her about things she really couldn't have. I just said I didn't think she'd like it. I pretended not to care at all, and she insisted she would like it, and she ate it, and she did. Then I acted quite impressed with her.

I had the advantage here of being the nanny, though, so I really DIDN'T care quite as much as her parents, and she behaved differently for me anyway. So maybe Rose is the answer here ...?

Good luck! You really are doing a great job.

I think that at least part of your problem is more to do with their age than anything else. That said, remember that kids only have a stomach the size of their fist - you'd be amazed at what they don't actually need to eat.

Okay, all that said, somewhere along the way, I read the best "diet" advice I've ever imagined.

Balance the day, not the meal.

Which means that if they eat one or two healthy things in the day, you haven't failed if they eat mac and cheese for dinner.

My daughter refuses to eat vegetables. She doesn't even like potatoes, unless they come in chip form.

However, I've been pretty good about fruit with her. Which is to say, I don't care how costly it is at any given time of the year, if there are berries, I'll buy them. As a result, she's hooked on strawberries and blueberries like they're crack cocaine.

And you know? They're very, very good. They work out to be extremely good for her and they also happen to taste great.

The other thing I do is introduce as many "hidden" veggies as I can. For instance, I make beans and rice and heap cheese on it, which isn't exactly awful. But the other thing I do is put spinach in the blend, which ends up looking like herbs, which is what I tell her they are. I also chop broccoli to within an inch of it's life when I make chicken, cheddar cheese and broccoli casserole, so that she can't help but inadvertently ingest some.

I also praise her ferociously when she does eat something veg-related. And I try to show her how much I enjoy them. In fact, sometimes, I won't even bother making up a plate for her, because I know that things seem to taste better when they come from my plate.

So - to sum up - hiding good food in bad food is not a bad trick. Praising them when they try things. Making food something of an adventure (broccoli as "trees"), accepting what they will eat that's healthy and making sure it's readily available, often.

Oh, and one final thought. My nephew is pretty close in age to my daughter (four to her two and a half) and he does like veggies. Whenever they are at the table together, I praise him for being such a good teacher to her for eating his veggies. She, in turn, wants praise and also wants to model the behaviour of an older kid. That actually has gotten her to eat more veggies than many of my previous efforts.

I'm no expert, and I haven't read the other comments, but try weaning off the formula, by diluting it slowly. I would say that you are right about them not being hungry because of that. By the time its straight water, they'll be grabbing celery sticks out of your hand! Also, the vitamins are good insurance. I bought a book called "First Foods," and it kind of makes a game out of food. Pretty little dioramas of food...egg faces, broccoli trees, etc. And kids almost always like dipping things. Try crudite with dressings, etc. Or fruit with yogurt dip. Oh and I also bought Jessica Seinfeld's "Deliciously Deceptive," or is it "Deceptively Delicious?" Its all about hiding healthy purees in food, so that your kids don't know they're even eating all that healthy stuff. ie: blueberry puree in brownies, spinach puree on homemade chicken nuggets. It may be too much "cooking" for you, though. I LIKE to cook, and can't seem to find time with twins. I don't know how you would do it, working out of the home on top of it. I guess like everything, you do the best you can, and keep up the vitamins. GL! (BTW, I'm ITCHING to come back to SA, if you know what I mean..."

I'm going against the grain and saying dont stop the formula.....I am saying switch the formula though. You can buy (at least in America, I'm assuming you can there too) Pediasure. Pediasure can actually be used as a meal replacement until I think age 13. It is chock full of good stuff (although a bit much sugar for my like really) but my son does not eat much at all. Seriously he eats maybe 3 tablespoons of food a day. I've tried everything to get him to eat and he simply wont. I bet without Pediasure he would only consume 200 calories a day. Liam will be 3 in February and only weighs a measly 24 pounds. He is nothing but bones.
I hate that he doesnt eat, and I hate relying on the Pediasure for his calories, but I know he cant live on 200 calories a day. No, he wont starve himself I'm sure, but I also recognize that he needs certain things for development.
Hope this helps some!

You can make this fix as easy or hard as you want.

First recognize that they will NOT starve.

Second stop the formula b/c that is why they don't want food (you know it).

Third offer them healthy food (not gourmet stuff, just normal healthy food-noodles, cut up fruit, fortified cereals, lean meat, cheese, veggies).

Fourth let them manage how much they eat (You cannot make someone eat, no matter the advice some gave above, that is a recipe for a disaster.).

Fifth. RELAX. If you are stressed they will KNOW!


Tersh, this is a tough one and I'm not going to tell you what to do because I am not an expert. I will say that children with sensory issues often have a hard time transitioning to solids/"normal food" so with Adam at least that may be part of the puzzle (and Kate of course even if she doesn't have any of those issues is his twin and will imitate him to some extent), and you ought to ask his OT about it. I am looking into an intensive therapy program for my youngest, who eats mostly through a tube, and will e-mail you the info. on it (I think I even saw a SA contact person listed under "parents of graduates" to call--people come from all over the world) so that you can at least see what it entails. I'm not saying I think your kids NEED that or anything, because I'm not qualified to make that statement, but just that there IS help out there for kids with exactly this sort of thing, where they work with you as a family to address the situation from a nutritional, sensory-motor, and behavioral standpoint. Stop with the guilt. It isn't productive. You love them and as my therapist once told me, "you don't always HAVE to be a GOOD mother; if you set that as your goal you will fail and be miserable. Sometimes it is okay if you are just a good ENOUGH mother." Which I think you absolutely are, and would even mark you "good" in some areas ;-)

The rule, when I was growing up, was always that you had to take one "no-thank-you" bite of every food offered. If you didn't like it after trying it, you were free to make yourself a peanut butter sandwich.

Eventually one gets very sick of peanut butter.

You really simply must learn to cook. You don't have to be a cordon bleu chef to heat up a vegetable and cook a piece of meat. Could your nanny do the cooking? Better yet, could she teach you how to cook?

Take a class, if nothing else... Or come here, and I'll teach you.

If I get a chance today I'll e-mail you some (healthy) recipes that are easy and rather fool proof. You kind of just have to keep trying until you get them right.

Hi Tertia

How about serving something new with the stuff they already love - two minute noodles with halfed baby tomatoes / some rasberries / strawberries / piece of cheese. I agree with the others that said you should not fight the food battle (hard one that!) It only stresses you out, and probably makes them wonder what the big hoo-ha is with food. The rule in our house is that if you eat what's on your plate - fine, if you don't - also fine. I don't think there should be rewards for eating, that to me would be like giving out rewards for breathing all day!

What else do they drink - at T's school they are only allowed to drink water, so we stick with water and watered-down juice at home. He also drank the toddler formula until he was about 3 (before going to sleep at night... out of a bottle) I told my husband one afternoon (knowing that he was listening) that this milk and the bottle is actually for babies - and T refused to take the bottle that night hehehe It was at a time that he was constantly telling us how big he is, so the baby stuff was totally out. Thank heavens, I was beginning to think that he was going to be drinking out of a bottle till he was 18.

Good luck (they looked absolutely gorgeous and healthy on the Christmas pics - they won't starve!!)

First of all, I think it was smart of you to continue the formula this long. At least you know they got nutrition (if not variety).

What I try to do is just have nothing in the house that I don't want them to have (that they know of ;-). So they can go in and out of the fridge all day and snack on fruits and veggies, etc. Of course, I know you are saying that you need to get them to the point of eating at all. I agree that it should be a non issue. Here is what is for dinner. You can eat it or not. Its up to you. There will be another meal in about 4 hours.

I think eating and potty training are alike in that they have total control. You can't force anything. You can, however, control what is available to them. Making it fun may help to take the sting away.

Something else I thought of but I am not sure how *I* feel about it, is using the children against each other. Tell Kate you have a special treat for Adam that she can't have (when Adam isn't around of course), when she inevitably wants it for herself, let her have those veggies and tell her how angry Adam will be. When he comes in and she is taunting him about how she ate his veggies, he'll freak out until you give him some of his own. Or something.

I did the ELEMENTS OF HEALTH course offered by Soaring Free Superfoods and it's super fun. They show you how to make really easy to eat, healthy food, and they're really into making sure that you eat what your body needs. If you have the option, spoil yourself and Marko and, do one of their courses!

I guess the most important part is that eating needs to be fun, and that Adam and Kate have a say in what they eat (even if they don't want a say). Kids know more than we do about what they need to be eating, because they're more likely to listen to what their body wants, rather than "it's time to eat, therefore I must".

My seven year old was a horrible eater. For a good two years, his dinner consisted of a Nutrigrain bar, cheese cubes, pretzels, yogurt, and fruit. Every night. For at least two years. I'm not kidding. The only other items he would eat for dinner were chicken nuggets and Spaghetti-O's. I fought him for a while when he was young, and it nearly destroyed me. I was stressed. He was stressed. It was a horrible situation. So I quit fighting and gave into the Nutrigrain.

Soon after he turned five, he came home and told me, "This summer, I want to try new foods." We sat down and made a list (he likes lists and checking things off), and we worked our way through the list. He still has his obvious favorite foods, but he is no longer scared to try something unfamiliar. And he did it all on his own and not until long after I quit making meals a battle.

So here is what I'd do, I think, if I were you. Ditch the formula (and the bottles at the same time). Offer whole milk and water in a sippy cup. I do milk with meals and water in between. What WILL they eat that is appropriate (Seth has always liked fruit, cheese, and yogurt)? Give them that. Continue to encourage them to try new things. Make sure they get a vitamin each day.

It will be okay. Hang in there... :)

Hi, I haven't read through the other comments (it is the festive season after all!!)- so i may be repeating stuff but my assvice is:
1.) Relax - kids are demons at picking up on emotions, so if you start feeling all panicky and anxious prior to presenting them with food - they will react to it.
2.) I think you said in a previous post that they are starting nursery soon?? If they eat at nursery - this will help an enormous amount. They will see other kids eating and enjoying it - and they will want to do the same. It will start to feel normal for them to sit down and eat a meal with other people.
3.) You can follow up on this at home, by sitting down and eating ( and enjoying) with them!
4.) Ignore their attempts to grab attention by refusing food, throwing food etc... they will soon get bored of doing that if there is no reaction .
GOOD LUCK- and happy new year!!

I don't think you necessarily have to stop the formula. It may actually work for you to keep it around while you are "training" them to eat, or at least try new foods. If your try to cut out the formula *and* enforce and eating schedule at the same time, it may backfire on you.

H O W E V E R, you should not the kids formula until AFTER they have eaten. When Adam said he was hungry, he described his needs accurately - formula *is* filling and curbs hunger. I made the same mistake with my daughter and found that nothing worked until she drank only after she ate.

The kids will resist eating before drinking at first, but will eventually give in to trying new foods, not simply out of hunger, but also to get their beloved formula. But they will only do it if they know you will not break down and give in.

It is very important not to show any stress or anxiety while you are sticking to your guns.

Don't give in! Tough love, woman!

to be honest, we do the following.
My daughter (5) is a strict vegetarian. She refuses any meat. And most other foods that HUMANS eat. So we require that she try foods. But she doesn't have to eat them. Her alternative is PB&J. Some nights, that is all she eats. (and the veggie we are serving that night).
She has recently begun trying more foods and not liking them, but she used to not even try new foods. She is growing just fine.

I will dump the formula. Then they will be hungry. They will eat. Something. It may be dull, but they will eat something!

I used to worry about this, but now I don't. I have discovered that my daughter is a picker. She can nibble all day. And then somedays, she eats very little for 3-5 days and then has one day where she eats alot. This is just her rhythm.
I wouldn't stress too much... Find what they like (ie, pasta...? cheese?) and make sure they get that food they will eat.

FWIW: my 3 year old eats everything in sight, it is not always you. The kids are who they are...

What, do all toddlers call it "dip-dip"? LOL Tertia, as you can see, you are definitely not alone! Toddlers are little monsters in general and sepcifically when it comes to feeding them. My Sephie is 28 months and used to be the best eater possible until she got the memo that she'd become a toddler! Don't feel silly for keeping them on formula, after all we have ads here for Pediasure for fussy eaters! But I would agree that you have to ditch it just to get them to be hungry enough to learn to enjoy other foods. The Dr. Sears article is awesome- that sort of stuff has worked for me, but I'd also like to toss in a tidbit I originally read in the "What To Expect While You're Expecting" book. I think the book gets a little militant at times (I will never carry a ziploc bag of wheat germ in my purse, so help me!), but something I remember in their tips about morning sickness is how to think "outside the box" and not worry about what time of day it is to serve certain foods. Breakfast for dinner and vice-versa, for example. My DD doesn't always want meat and veggies, but a whole-grain waffle spread with ricotta cheese and some cinnamon, she'll eat. And eat right along with them when you prepare healthy snacks. You'd be surprised what happens...I've lost 60 pounds since my daughter was born. Good luck!

(hey...do they like guavas? heh heh)

Try "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld. She is all about sneaking veggies into the foods your kids already eat. Attached is an article about her and it mentions adding butternut squash to mac and cheese. But there are plenty of other things to try if that fails to fool. If you start a little at a time, the kiddies barely notice!


Opps. Link got cut off...

Opps. Link got cut off...

I TOTALLY second the Ellyn Satter recommendation - either "Child of Mine" or "How to get your kid to eat (but not too much)". You don't need to panic or sweat it, just go read this lovely, lovely book.

And not to start a war but I don't think "Deceptively delicious" really works - not only 'cause it doesn't help teach good eating, but also because the amount of pureed veg your kids get per serving isn't that great. Plus, it involves cooking and that may not work for you. :)

My mom used to have this saying about potty training, "you gotta let 'em pee down their leg a couple of times before they stop."

To shamelessley borrow from my ma, "you gotta let 'em go hungry a couple of times before they'll eat what you put in front of them."

That's all I have to say about that.

stop the formula, make healthy fod available to them (mac and cheese and peanut butter has loads of protein), give the a variety of choices, and don't make a big deal out of eating. when they get hungry, they will eat! but the formula has to go or thwy will never eat, as it is a food. oh, and keep up the vitamins! quit beating yourself up, we do the best we can and they get grown just fine!

My advice would be somewhat similar to Eve's. My mom constantly bragged about me to other people about how I was so adventurous and would try anything, and about how she was SO LUCKY that she didn't have a picky eater. I have no idea whether I was really an adventurous eater or not (I certainly have no recollection of feeling particularly adventurous as an eater), but I know that my mom, early on, forced on me the very public identity as a "try anything" eater, and that lead me to often prove her right by being willing to try things that other kids turned their noses up at (some psychological thing about wanting to be cool, or grown up, or more special than other kids... hmm...). I also remember being really fascinated by novel ways to eat things. Alfalfa sprouts were one of my favorite foods as a child because some friend of my mother's had sprouts growing inside! On a kitchen counter! And you could eat them right out of the tray (with a quick rinse, but...)! All I know is that my 4 yr old head almost exploded with the excitement of it all. And don't get me started on artichokes- you mean, it's a flower? That you eat? And you pull off all these things and dip them in lemon and scrape them with your teeth? So COOL, esp. to a 4 yr old me.

I don't know. I guess I'm just saying that if you keep telling your darlings (or even constantly sending out the vibes) that you're stressed about their bad eating habits, then they will gladly pick up that "bad eater" identity. It might be worth attempting to trick them into thinking that they are more flexible than they are. Just my small bit of assvice.

I was a terribly picky eater as a child, and my mom never fought me. I am 29 now and willing to try ANYTHING. This is what she did: if we didn't want to eat what she made, we had to take one "thank you bite." Meaning, I don't want this, but thank you for making it anyway. If we wanted something else, we had to make it ourself. And we had to be capable of making it ourself without help. Meaning, no mac and cheese at age 3, since I couldn't use the stove. But I could make myself a bowl of cereal or a sandwich or open a container of yogurt. My sandwiches usually consisted of ONLY ketchup. Gross, I know.

My parents never forced us to eat all of something, because they knew then that it only becomes a power struggle, and not actually about the food. We were only allowed snacks at a certain time, and my mom picked the snack. If we didn't want it, we just didn't eat it. Meal and snack times were always at the same time, so we knew if we didn't eat how long it would be until we were offered food again. By age 5, I ate pretty much anything put in front of me.

And the "thank you bite" was so ingrained in my head that I STILL do it to this day. At my MIL's house, I will always put a small bite of something on my plate, even if I know I won't like it.

You've got a ton of comments and I haven't read them all, but I agree with quite a number of your readers (the comments I did read). I have one very picky eater and one child who will eat nearly everything. This is how we handle it at our house:

1) Limit snacks and do NOT give snacks close to meal time

2) Make snacks healthy ones (fruit, cheese and crackers, yogurt, raisins, etc.) If they whine and refuse those snacks don't give in and simply state that these are their choices or they can simply wait until mealtime. This works even on my picky daughter though I do deal with whining then (a whole 'nother issue).

3) Regular meal times

4) Serve your children small portions and if possible make them look appetizing or fun - I find using plates with divided sections and putting a protein, fruit, vegetable and one favorite food in each section seems to work best with my children.

5) Our children have to at least TRY a bite of everything. If they don't like it they don't have to eat it, but they do have to try. Even my picky daughter accepts this and will try things. Reluctantly she will admit that it doesn't taste SO bad,and that it's a "little bit good" but she still doesn't like it. :-)

6) We often ask our children, how many bites can you eat, 5 or 6? Or say that my daughter has to eat at least 5 bites of something because she is 5 years old. Often she'll end up taking extra bites for "the cat" for "Oma" for "Opa" etc.

7) Keep healthy food in the house and limit junk food. My kids do not get chips, cookies, and chocolate as a regular thing. We talk about good foods making them strong and healthy and junk food being a treat but not good for their bodies. My son has taken this much to heart and will often comment on something being junk food. My daughter finds it fun when I tell her that carrots make her eyes shiny and her ears pink! (Things MY mom told me when I was little.) Whenever she eats a carrot (we only serve those little baby carrots around her - raw) she asks if her eyes are shiny. :-) When they eat meat they ask me to feel their muscles. :-)

Someone else mentioned balancing out the DAY and not the meal and I agree with that too. Some days we may not eat the most nutritious lunch or dinner, but if they ate reasonably well the rest of the day it really doesn't matter much.

I also agree that you don't want to make food a big issue. Don't make mealtimes unpleasant. Sit together to eat if you can. (Sometimes when we all eat together and there is something like broccoli which neither of my children likes, we'll all spear a piece of broccoli on our forks and take a bite together, all four of us.)

I'm certainly not an expert, and I admit that *I'm* not a big veggie eater other than salads. I also am not a fan of cooking. I'd much rather clean than cook any day. And while I'm sure some of those recipes for hiding veggies in food might be good, they just seem kind of yucky to me personally so I don't try them with my kids (maybe I need to rethink that and try them).

I hope you find something that works for you. You certainly have a lot of different advice and opinions. Good luck and please let us know how it's going.

Much to lazy to read other comments right now, so forgive any repeating!

STOP the formula. STOP any "extra" beverages! In fact, do WATER ONLY for a week. That is all they get to drink; water.

Make them a meal. If they don't eat it, that's fine. Put plastic wrap on top, back in the fridge, and that is what they get offered for the next meal. Don't eat it? Fine. Plastic wrap on, etc. Children are smart and they are the most manipulative little creatures on the planet. Yours are old enough now that they KNOW they will get offered a favorite food soon anyway. So don't. Stop it. It might take all day.. hell, it might take two days. They will be whiney and impossible. But eventually? Eventually they WILL eat it. And I would be surprised if it ever happened again.

Haven't read anyone else's comments yet, but I am SURE someone (hopefully many someones) have already suggested this...

Make one healthy meal for the family. Put a plate in front of them. If they don't eat it, put it in the fridge and when they ask for something to eat, give them the meal. Keep doing this until the next meal. Repeat the same process. Eventually they will get the idea that "if I am hungry I will eat what mommy makes. I will not get snacks or a new meal or a bottle of forumla - I will get whatever mommy made for me."

Once they get this idea, try introducing a new food every once in a while. Have them take a bite of the new food 1st, before eating anything else, to see if they like it. Once they have tried it, they can eat whatever else has been prepared.

My other suggestion is to wipe out the formula. The vitamin should be enough to compensate for the lost nutrients. Only give them water to drink between meals for a while until they get the hang of eating. Limit the amount of milk per day and limit the amount of juice per day to 4-6oz, TOTAL.

Good luck. Don't back down. You are the adult and believe me, they won't starve themselves to death.

I haven't read the other comments, so I most likely am repeating what you've already read!

I seem to remember you posting something similar a while back -- and my 'assvice' is going to be pretty much the same as it was then:

• Stop the formula!!!!!!!!
• Do not force them to eat.
• Do not punish them for their eating habits
• Only allow them to eat at mealtimes (when they are sitting at the table.)
• Sit and eat with them (even if Marko cannot be there.)
• Once they decide they are finished, they do not get more food until the next meal is served (no between-meal snacks.)
• They will not get sick or starve to death.
• Right now it is a control issue – they know they are in control; they will learn soon enough to eat their meals.

A few suggestions, many same as already said!

Give a dip with the food to make it fun - ketchup, mayonaise, yogurt, humous.
Offer 3 or 4 things at each meal, but not much more as its too much for a child. So plate up mash (we use instant, lazy but it gets eaten!), sweetcorn, sausage and something they like for instance.
Dont force them to eat. When they are done, take the plate away. Dont offer anything else. George has been known to last a whole day on half a yogurt and 3 raisins. The next day he had a little more. Kids can survive on an amazingly small amount!
Dont hide fruit or veg - encourgae them to eat it by eating it as well. Dip mini corns, give them whole apples to eat
Eat at the same time, and share whats on your plate
No snacks whilst trying to get them eating more. We cut out every single snack whilst George was refusing meals - after 3 days of hard work of whining and crying he got the gist. Now he can have a snack mid meal time - but if he stops eating his meals they go again
Stop the formula. I know its tough, but honestly - do it! Get rid of the bottles, get a sippy cup. Put in cows milk or water only (we have milk at breakfast and dinner, water/squash in the day)
Someone told me once it takes 15 tastes for a child to make up their mind on a food. So for 2 weeks they can solidly refuse custard - and then declare they love it. Bloody hard work for mum, but it can ring true.

Eating for some reason stresses us all out (me included) all the things above are things we've tried - and found worked. George is now 17 months and eats really well (though has phases, such as refusing the toast he loved yesterday, eating nothing but rice for 2 days etc etc) but we've had some real sticky patches

Good luck Tertia - you will do it, dont worry!!

N x

The good news about your kids starving is that is a very slow process. You can actually keep track of it! Ha. Very funny, I know. Personally, what I would do? Go to the doctor, get a baseline weight on their scale and have the doctor's office record it. (You might need this for later, and if the doctor hasn't written it down, it doesn't exist, take it from me). Tell the doctor what you are doing, ask her/him when you should worry. Get an exact, how many pounds do they have to lose before it becomes a problem?? Go home, weigh them on your scale too. Give all the good advice you have been given a good solid try. No eating in between meals, eat at the table, no snacks, or whatever. DO NOT weigh the kids for the first week or even two. They will probably lose a pound or two at first, but really, it won't kill them, that is why you get the advice from the doctor, so you know you don't have to worry yet.
The only reason I am being cautious is because of Adam. Everyone is right. "Normal" kids won't starve. I raised five myself. I have no picky eaters, they ate what was set in front of them or they didn't eat. My kids eat and love most foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, NO sugar on their cereal, whole grains. I was so darn freaking proud of my mothering skills. Then God sent me Little Man. I am humbled in the face of a child who nearly starved himself. With his SENSORY issues, (see where I am going with this?) he will NOT eat many things. And darn it, a kid can really get themselves into trouble with the whole not eating thing if goes on too long. Start with the doctor, and go from there. Feel free to email me with any questions. 10 years of trying to feed a kid who will not eat has been quite the education.
P.S. They make formula for bigger kids too.

1. Ditch the formula (and bottles too, if still using those). They can drink milk or water (or one small cup of juice once a day) when thirsty.
2. Serve fresh fruits/veggies as an appetizer "while you're getting the rest of their meal ready". (My son must think I'm the slowest cook in history, but he'll eat tons of carrots, grapes, apples, etc. while waiting for his grilled cheese or PBJ at lunch.) Dips are good too.
3. Serve them what you want them to eat and leave it at that. Do not watch them to see if they eat it. Do not discuss whether or not they've eaten it. If they ask for something else, simply tell them that that's what you've fixed for dinner and they can eat it or not, but you're not fixing anything else. Act like you couldn't care less whether they eat it or not, which does away with the power struggle.
4. Eat together as often as possible (even if it's just you and the kids).

Sometimes my son eats a full plate and goes back for more, sometimes he takes a few bites and then is off to play again, but he is a perfectly healthy almost-three-year old. My dad (a family practice doctor) always says, "A child will not starve with food in front of him." Wise man, my dad.

"...we see food as a fuel...rather than something to be enjoyd". Really? Then why would you need to start a diet 1.1.08?

Dude, you are so not alone with toddlers and crazy eating habits.

You've got some great advice so far.

All I'll add, is that I had my almost three-year-old at the beach today. We totally overstayed - but it was a perfect day and it's winter here for chris'sakes. I didn't have any snackie/lunchy things, because ordinarily we'd have gone home in time - but I did have an apple. He ate the entire thing. Skin and all and half the core too. Because he was hungry - not because apples are where it's at for him. Hunger really does prevail.

Hang in there and... Onward!

You may have to close comments again, if everyone keeps agreeing ... :)

If I were in your shoes right now -- with the kids you have right now -- this is what I would do. If there is a single "guaranteed eat" item that you can cope with them eating every meal for a while (days? weeks?) I would serve that. I would put, alongside in VERY small quantities, novel yet yummy additional food. Make it cheap, easy to make, etc. so that you do not feel put out when they completely ignore it. DO NOT talk about food, eating, etc. anymore. No more cajoling, begging, threatening, whatever. Just put the plates down, name the food items, and give them a reasonable amount of time to eat. It may be a long long time before they are willing to give the new foods a try, so don't despair.
I would also ditch the formula, just because having it removes the incentive for them to eat regular food. You don't have to ditch it cold turkey though -- consider cutting back by a little bit each day over the course of a week or so.

The only caveat to all this is Adam's sensory issues -- a "normal" kid won't starve himself, but I have known sensory-defensive kids who will starve rather than eat an offending meal. That's why I suggest picking a known eat-able food and serving that at every meal until he develops a bigger rep. of foods.

All of the above plus...Stop formula. Prepare to be a meany. Put one child sized bite of three choices on their plate. Meat, fruit and/or vegitable. They dont have to eat any of it but if they want more of something they have to eat the one bite of everything. This forces them to experience and get used to new tastes.

Take a deep breath. Relax and roll with it. Peanut butter, 2min noodles and mac n cheese cand do the job for a good long while. the more you stress the less they will eat. RELAX. Been there and done this 3 times. They WILL NOT starve!!

I think you have some amazing advice here. That said, not all if it is stuff that I would do in the same situation.

My advice? Go through and pick and choose from the comments what you think will work for YOU. Maybe sit down and have a good think and make a plan that you will be calm and relaxed about carrying out. Also? Once you have a plan, don't feel bad about whatever it is that you are doing, because someone, somewhere will always disagree with it.

Good luck and please let us know how it all goes.

They will NOT starve. No child with access to a variety of healthy food has ever starved to death because they refused and refused and refused to eat even one bite of any of the variety of nutritious foods available to them until they simply died.

Tertia, my darling, don't you see, it's *you* (yes, gorgeous & divine as you are) that is the problem?

Your tolerance for their not eating is lower than their tolerance for their not eating. That is why you always give in and they never do.

Give them access to a variety of nutrious foods, never force them to eat, do not attempt to entice them (do not promise "you will like this, it's just like that other food you liked"), and never, ever give in to whining or tantrums, and they WILL start eating some of the other, nutritious foods available to them.

Tertia, you wonderful woman, you just have to stay out of their way long enough to let them figure it out.

Really, who is the parent here? They'll still love you, they won't get sick or starve, won't be emotionally damaged, and they will be more pleasant to be around when they get this food thing figured out. There WILL be whining and crying, and probably from Kate and Adam, too. :) It's the price to be paid for not setting boundaries from the beginning.

Two minute noodles are *fried* in fat during manufacturing and have more sodium than two adults need in one day. Macaroni cheese is even better than that. Can you grate some extra cheese on the top? Shred carrots into it? Do they like to dip toast strips into soft cooked eggs? Will they drink blended fruit smoothies with carrots, banana, berries, oranges and yogurt in them?

I agree with the other posters. Stop the formula at their third birthday. No filling up on juice or cow's milk, at least until they're eating. Cow's milk should be low or non fat after age two.

Have they seen the Veggie Tales videos or read the books? Have they shopped for veggies with you and picked out something special they'd like to try? Make a big deal out of it and don't buy anything else during that trip. My boys (now 24 and 27) loved red bell peppers (I think you call them capsicums) cut into strips.

Do NOT reward or bribe them with sweets after eating "good" foods. Don't even have "junky" food around the house for awhile. Try cutting sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters or a knife. Definitely sit with them when they eat and have fruit or veggies if you're not ready to eat your meal yet.

Hope this helps. I know it's tough, but my boys turned out to be big, strapping healthy adults, and I thought I would kill them first.

Oops, I did it again: left a snotty, judgmental comment. I'm sorry. I should not have written, "you are the problem." Obviously every single parent in the whole world struggles with this issue. Also, how would I know whether Adam won't starve if you simply leave him alone with access to a variety of healthy foods? Maybe his SID is indeed oral, and so severe, that his health would indeed suffer. Or maybe his SID doesn't affect this ability to eat. Obviously you need help from people who actually know something about your kids, not me. Sorry, Tertia.

My son was a picky eater as well, and so we supplemented with Pediasure (not sure if you have this in SA ... a calorie/vitamin packed drink for kids). I realized what you have after a while, that he wasn't eating "real" food because his hunger was being satiated by what he was drinking. We cut back on the Pediasure/formula slowly but surely, and what do you know? He started to be hungry for something other than his bottle.

Stick to it, Tertia. This is important and you'll be SO happy you did. Lots of good advice here that you can use.

Really, who is the parent here? They'll still love you, they won't get sick or starve, won't be emotionally damaged, and they will be more pleasant to be around when they get this food thing figured out. There WILL be whining and crying, and probably from Kate and Adam, too. :) It's the price to be paid for not setting boundaries from the beginning.

Two minute noodles are *fried* in fat during manufacturing and have more sodium than two adults need in one day. Macaroni cheese is even better than that. Can you grate some extra cheese on the top? Shred carrots into it? Do they like to dip toast strips into soft cooked eggs? Will they drink blended fruit smoothies with carrots, banana, berries, oranges and yogurt in them?

I agree with the other posters. Stop the formula at their third birthday. No filling up on juice or cow's milk, at least until they're eating. Cow's milk should be low or non fat after age two.

Have they seen the Veggie Tales videos or read the books? Have they shopped for veggies with you and picked out something special they'd like to try? Make a big deal out of it and don't buy anything else during that trip. My boys (now 24 and 27) loved red bell peppers (I think you call them capsicums) cut into strips.

Do NOT reward or bribe them with sweets after eating "good" foods. Don't even have "junky" food around the house for awhile. Try cutting sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters or a knife. Definitely sit with them when they eat and have fruit or veggies if you're not ready to eat your meal yet.

Hope this helps. I know it's tough, but my boys turned out to be big, strapping healthy adults, and I thought I would kill them first.

Sounds like my daughter. *g* I even jotted down everything she ate for about two weeks in a row - and I was more than surprised to see that in the end it all added up to a more or less healthy diet. She doesn't eat much, and she's always been on the slim & tall side, but once I got an overview I was astonished to see that she actually picks her food more carefully than many adults I know.(Even though what she eats on _one particular day_ often looks like a pretty one-sided nutritional desaster.)

PS: It also helps to sit down and eat with them and even let them prepare their own food. Saskia loves to butter her own bread and decorate it with poultry, cheese etc. She also loves cherry tomatoes and baby bananas because they are so small & cute, so I often resort to buying the mini version of fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, bread etc. whenever there is one available. This may sound comparatively expensive. But since I don't end up throwing away half of it, it actually isn't all that expensive after all. And come to think of it: A plate that's full to the brim of food tends to take away my own appetite as well. It's overwhelming rather than appetizing, and I guess kids feel the same way.

Masses of truly excellent advice here sweetie. Nothing to add except that I sympathise hugely with you: when it's been such a battle to have children, and having been through what you have, it's so hard not be a loving pushover. Which you are. But whatever you do will be fine - Adam and Kate are blissfully secure in your love. They may be surprised by your new attitude to food, or not, but they'll still turn out just dandy, whether they're eating mainly muesli or mainly doritos.

yanno, i was freaking out about this, too.....until it dawned on me, it's all about DIP! sarah will say things like "i hate vegetables", but she will chow down on baby carrots and sugar snap peas, as long as there's some sort of dip to dunk them in. now, the kid specifically asks for things like pitas and hummus, pasta with red sauce (i do penne, and she can dunk them in the sauce), and so on. and the doctor said her nutrition is great!

the lesson for me was to just be more creative and accepting about it....i love salad, but she doesn't. it was all in the presentation. also, she hates food that's been fussed over, because she enjoys the independence of getting carrots herself, for example. maybe it's about making them feel like "big kids".......

Hey Tertia! I have to 2nd the first 4 posts! I would take that advice, as well as asking your kids' doctor. What does the doctor say about the toddler formula? I know my kids' doctor gave me sheets to read that basically said that kids won't starve themselves and don't be a short order cook. However, when the kids were toddlers and very picky, I'd give them a "shake" made with Pediasure (a high calorie formula-like product) for a snack, along with a multi vitamin. As with everything in parenting, though, you MUST stick to your guns or it will not work. Good luck to you, dear!!

Tertia, you are a WONDERFUL mother. Your children are beautiful healthy toddlers. I hope you don't feel attacked by all of our "helpful" (and confusing/contradicting) advice.


Please, please do NOT follow the advice of offering the same plate of food meal after meal. That is torture. No adult would like to be treated that way. Treat your children with the same respect you would treat your friends and that you would expect in return from your friends.

You can make food fun; give them grapes, raisins, berries, peach or apple slices to decorate their pb&j sandwiches, or olives, tomatoes or a variety of nuts for toasted cheese. You can take a sandwich cut into a triangle, put straight pretzels on two points for antlers/horns and raisins for eyes and nose. Set out dishes of nibblies they can use to decorate with and eat as they work. See who can make the happiest face, or one that looks like a lion, etc. then have them eat an ear, an eye, a tail, etc. Will they eat peanut butter in celery? Put raisins on it - it's called ants on a log. Pb is a great dip, too, for veggies, graham and other crackers, and pretzels. You can use cookie cutters to make their sandwiches, or cut them into "logs" and let them build a fence, cabin, forest, etc. If possible do sit at the table with them and play along with their imaginative ideas, e.g. noodles can be "worms" that you put in your "baby bird's" mouth.

Give the kids a choice, "Would you rather have mac and cheese or yoghurt and toast?" Only give two choices, but if they come up with another that you are willing to serve, fine. If they can't agree, they may have to accept what the other wants: "It's Adam's turn to pick what's for lunch; Kate you'll decide at dinner."

Sometimes children eat better when you ignore them. Let them sit at the table while you wash dishes. Definitely don't make their not eating a big deal. Don't blame yourself. You probably have not brought this on. Kate and Adam are toddlers; not eating is part of their nature - their need to have some control in their life.

The formula needs to go NOW. That's not good for their teeth! As for food, just use the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. I live by this rule. Anyhow, seriously, just be simple. You set their plate before them and say, "here's your dinner, eat." If they don't eat it, well, going without a meal won't kill them. A couple times of not eating will very quickly widen their horizons; you'll be surprised at how they suddenly become willing to try foods.

Basic rules:

1. NO dessert if they didn't eat the meal

2. NO giving different foods - what you prepare is what they get

3. Only introduce one or two new things at a time; more than that and you'll be bombarding them!

Lots of kids at this age (all the way to age 5 or 6) don't eat much or much variety. And with Adam's sensitivity issues I am not surprised.

Kate will not starve herself. Adam may have to be watched more carefully. (My kid has some food sensitivity stuff and yes he WILL go for days without food if I do not intervene, ask me how I know :( )

Eating with them in some way does EVENTUALLY help a lot. It can be a big hurdle at first, and honestly we started sitting together at meals while we ate our dinner and he ate one of his favorites. So sit down with your heat-and-eat while they have macaroni cheese, and maybe put out one thing that you both eat together (even if it is tiny peanut-butter finger sandwiches).

Raw veg w/dip has never worked yet w/my kid (he's a month older than your kids) - in fact he hates dips of all kinds - so don't despair if they are not yet ready for this.

Do your kids respond well to spoken explanations? A month or so ago, in an effort to increase our son's tolerance, we started talking about how some foods are our favorites, while others we might only like "some" but we still eat them. "You are eating a pancake for breakfast. That's one of your favorites - you like it best. You're eating banana too. Daddy likes bananas. They're his favorite fruit." "Mommy, do you like bananas?" "My favorite fruit is grapefruit. But I like bananas some too, and I'm having one with breakfast." Or this for dinnertime: "We're having stir-fry with rice. Daddy loves stirfry with broccoli in it -- broccoli is Daddy's favorite vegetable." "I don't like it - it's icky." "You like the rice." "Mommy, do you like the broccoli? It's icky!" "Broccoli isn't my favorite. But I like it some, and it's important to eat it so I can be strong. Have a bite with your rice."

Of course this did not work at ALL at first. But since he responds well to talking, eventually he has come around to the idea that SOMETIMES he will be required to eat a little of something that is not one of his favorites. Just identifying to him that we understand that he likes these things the best ("Adam's favorites are 2-minute noodles, macaroni cheese, and peanut butter sandwich. Isn't it fun to eat your favorites sometimes!") has helped him see that we are not out to cut him off.

I really doubt that you have done this yourself. Kids ages 2-5 often subsist on air and few foods. And the formula is fine - maybe just dilute it until it doesn't taste good any more?

Ditch the formula. Then offer healthy food at the appropriate time. If they eat, great. If not, they aren't hungry enough ;)

Yes, you poor dear, you have created a vicious cycle. I cannot tell you how to break it, only that you MUST because i have a dear friend whose kids STILL only eat pizza, mac and cheese and nachos (they are 13 and 11).
1) Seek a nutritionist's help
2) Try NO THANK YOU PORTIONS. It was an ingenious method of my kids' preschool. Always serve something they like, but also serve something not so certain, put it on their plate in a "no thank you portion" and eventually they will taste it. It could take years, it could take months, but they will eventually try it. Don't make them try it. Just put it there.
3) Put the food on their plate. Give them the time to finish it. When they get down or say they are done, they are done. Throw the food away. THERE ARE NO SECOND CHANCES. They will not starve. I promise.
4) Don't bargain with them about food. Mealtime is mealtime. When they say it is over (by getting down or pushing the food onto the floor, or whatever), it is over. This will be harder for you than it is for them.

Good luck. My kids are 13, 12 and 8 and I can't EVER serve enough brussel sprouts or asparagus at my table!

Oh, Victoria, you are not being judgmental.

Tertia: YOU. ARE. THE. ADULT. Your children do not rule your home. They are reacting to your inability to enforce the parenting techniques that you perceive to be 'mean.' Be firm and wait it out. They will come around if you stand firm on the position--whatever it may be.

What works for us: we praise our daughter (31 months old) for trying food, not for eating food. When she takes a bite from a new food, we usually tell her, that she eats just like a bear, because bears eat everything.

I am a little surprised at how many people are recommending serving the same plate of food until the kids eat it. Didn't anyone see Mommie Dearest? I would not want to get into that kind of head to head battle with two toddlers.

I love the idea of going to the ped first. Knowing you have a doctor's support might make the whole transition easier.

to help you on your quest (I am not going to add advice cos you got PLENTY already) I recommend a beautifully crafted pop-up interactive book called "I will not never ever eat a tomato" - one of a series of Charlie and Lola books.

totally gorgeous.

it is about a little girl called lola who hates all sorts of foods, so her brother 'renames' some and she eventually starts to eat them, and LOVES them. you could adopt some of the names for your own food, or get the kids to name some for themselves, whether they eat them or not , or talk about who likes what and why - just to be adventurous and fun, not to try and trick them into eating . . . more fun less worry! like the shark said in Nemo (with a teensy twist) foods are friends, not (just) food!!!

good luck :)

the amazon link . . . might be useful :}

I'm sure you've heard this already at this point, but the formula HAS to go. Stop buying the junk food for a few weeks, because that will be far to easy to cave in, especially if the kids know it is around the house somewhere. Stick with real food for awhile.

Second, while ditching that, serve the 2.5 meals that you know they'll eat. If it's macaroni and cheese and peanut butter sandwhiches, so be it. At least one of those has a respectable amount of protien.

One of the challenges you are facing is a hatred of cooking, which I share. I would submit to you a rule I learned from a woman who ran a daycare:
Any meal must contain 3 food groups.
Any snack must contain 2.
Junk food is not food, it's a treat.

So, if you can get them to eat peanut butter on celery with rasins sprinkled on top (ants on a log!), that is a perfect snack. Add a glass of milk or some crackers and it is a meal. An apple, a piece of cheese and crackers is a meal. Kids don't really NEED variety, that's something we adults like. If you've got a couple of standard, healthy meals that they will eat, deploy them regularly until they'll eat a bigger variety.

She also was a big fan of letting kids 3 and up assemble a lot of their own food... give them the ingredients for a sandwhich and let them assemble or eat it however they want. Give them the peanut butter, a butter knife and the crackers, let them do the rest (also a very good thing for sensory kids, all that fine motor and touching stuff).

Good luck! The next few weeks will be very hard but very worth it.

Looks like you have so many comments already! But I just wanted to say that this problem is very common.

I think of my daughter (2 years, 7 months) as a good eater - for her age. But, I still give her Nutri Pal every other day or so (it's like toddler formula) and worry about her nutrition. She won't take vitamins anymore.

Your kids seem quite healthy. I'm sure a million people have told you to read Ellyn Satter's book. It's a good philosophy. But I sometimes still will make my daughter a second meal if she refuses the first...really hard to get out of that mindset, especially since she's pretty thin.

It'll all be OK.

Bah. My son went through a phase where he was drinking nearly a gallon of milk a day, and wouldn't eat anything. If I was lucky he might eat a hotdog, or maybe 2 or 3 bites of mac& cheese. I let it be. Now? He eats constantly. He turned 3 in october. I wouldn't take the formula because taking away doesn't mean they will want to eat(I tried that with the milk, and he still wouldn't eat) they will NOT let themselves starve. They will start eating eventually, but the more you push the worse it is because toddlers are stubborn. This is just my opinion. The boy eats a ton now. Didn't eat food for almost a year. He's not dead or underweight or sickly. Don't let it stress you.

Ah fuck it. Just feed 'em sweets.

Haha. Bad joke, I'm sorry.

We've all been challenged by our kids eating habits. It's a drag. I have learned that my kid won't starve to death. I used to cater more to her extreme pickiness and she learned how to work it. Now, I try to make different simple foods that don't take a long time to cook. If she eats it, great. If not, I remind her that I will not be giving her any dessert, nor will I be getting up in the middle of the night to make her food. Kids go through lots of phases where they eat more and less. It really does balance out. Definitely cut the formula out completely. Give milk instead, even chocolate milk. Eventually, if you are consistent, they'll learn to eat in the way that you prefer, and that is healthier for them. Good luck.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Medsitters Au pairs

More Ads

| More


Bloggy Stuff

  • Living and Loving

  • SA Blog Awards Badge

  • Featured in Alltop

  • Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

  • RSS Feed
Blog powered by Typepad
This is the Reviews Design