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I have a 2yr old boy who is so hard to feed proper food to

Hi Leanne
I have a 2yr old boy who is so hard to feed proper food. His weight is 12kg his height is 92cm and he is active with no health problem. I have been asked my our local maternaty nurse to come back every 3months to check his weight. At the moment I chase him around and feed him while his playing or distracted. He won`t eat wet or sticky food, but eats home-made chicken nuggets, spaghetti pasta-noodles, some fruits and cookies/chips. Can you give me some advice on how to encourage him to self-feed and try other food. Some people say to let him play all day and offer proper meal when his hungry.

Answer: Hi There, Fussy eating can really have you pulling your hair out! I have a six year old who is showing signs of coming out of it, but only glimpses. I still sneak stuff into all sorts of meals, makes it easier to go with it when I know he has been getting healthy food albeit disguised. Most healthcare professionals will say that as long as your preschooler is gaining weight at his usual rate and is happy and healthy, he won`t starve himself. But as a parent this can be of little comfort. Just with regard to your toddlers weight, if he has been on this percentile consistently then likely that is genetics and quite normal. Even toddlers on very low percentiles can be just as healthy as the next, the important thing is consistency; sudden drops, or slow continual drops in percentiles are more a signal to have things checked, than the absolute figure. If your toddlers weight has been dropping there are a few options to help stabilise his weight. I have a tip sheet on my site about underweight children, the link is: But I won`t labour on this point in case its not an issue. So back onto fussy eating, I really recommend using what your toddler does eat in as many forms as you can to keep his interest. Also getting them involved in food in as many ways as you can is really important to breakdown barriers to new things. I would keep offering and trying to set up a good eating routine that involves being seated to eat and reasonably regular times. Below is my checklist of tips. Checklist:
  1. Persisting with offering the healthy stuff even if it is rejected
  2. Sneaking in the good stuff where you can which makes avoiding the battles (no-one wins those ones) easier
  3. Getting them involved
  4. Offering a healthy supper down the line if dinner is rejected and your toddler complains of being hungry
  5. Trying to use the foods they do eat as a basis for making other food/meals that are more likely to be enjoyed. For example cream cheese on a bagel, pasta with bacon and a cream cheese base, bread and butter pudding made with calcium enriched milk such as soy or rice, try sweet potato chips etc.
  6. Swap lunch and dinner if that helps and make meal portions achievable (small but healthy).
  7. Check milk or other fluids aren’t interfering with their appetite.
  8. Remember that food rejection is a normal behaviour for most toddlers and preschoolers.
  9. Repeat the mantra "this like all things in infancy and childhood, will pass" and it will!
I have a tip sheet on fussy eating on Huggies that might have some pointers, but again I really think it would be best to get some help with this, the link is: Picky Eating Also I think the Jessica Seinfeld book using purees is a good idea, but I reduce the sugar, use olive oil and don’t add salt, I also have a recipe book based on my fussy foodie. If you feel you really would like some help and also to check that he is getting all he needs, there are a few options you might like to consider. If you wanted to start out with the obvious you might like to see a naturopath, nutritionist or dietitian who specialises in children. They will be able to firstly review what your little one does eat and tell if there may be some nutritional issues to be addressed and if so, how they are best dealt with. Then advise you on fussy eating and what tips and tricks might help. Another option is a feeding expert, the gals at No Fuss Feeding (website of the same name) are excellent with feeding issues, and it`s their specialty. Or in a similar vein an early childhood consultant who can help with behavioural tips re fussy eating but also on feeding routines and how to get your toddler to take a break and eat. They will also be able to help with self-feeding though you are likely to find this resolves itself with the feeding routine in place. See two feeding clinic links at the bottom of this answer. Aussie: www.nofussfeeding.com.au NZ: www.paediatricfeedingdisordersclinic.co.nz/index.htm So I hope that gives you some ideas, keep offering the good stuff. Think also laterally, don`t forget things like baby rice cereal added into meals it is a good source of iron, things like pulses are a good alternative to vegies and also foods like goji berries are packed full of nutrition. All the best, Leanne
Answered: 22 Jun 2009