[Parentsgroup-list] Toddler Eating Problem

Joy Geren joygeren at gmail.com
Mon Feb 8 20:14:58 EST 2010

This sounds normal to me. Fortunately unless your son is underweight
you probably don't need to be too concerned. Offer a healthy diet
including frequent healthy snacks and he will eat when he is hungry.
Two is not a particularly rapid growth period so he probably needs
fewer calories than you would think, just make sure he isn't getting
them all from one source, for instance only drinking cow's milk (if
you are nursing there is no need to limit quantity). Remember that
both caloric intake and variety of diet should be averaged over the
week, not each meal. So if he eats well for three days and barely
nibbles for two he is fine. If he eats only meat one day and only
fruit the next, he is fine.

One trick that helps sometimes is making food freely accessible. If
you can stand to have your child run around with food leave some food-
crackers, fruit slices, chicken cubes, cheese, or other not terribly
messy snacks- at his level and he can eat on his terms. This is good
both for distracted eaters and when eating is becoming a battle of

If this is about him feeling like he doesn't have control give him
some manageable, not open ended, choices during the day (i.e. square
or triangle sandwich pieces, blue or brown pants, one story or two).
The choices also help a lot with the 'no' response. "We're leaving
now, okay?" leaves you wide open for a "NO" but "Should we leave now
or in one minute?" puts him in control and doesn't leave open the
option of saying 'no'.

Everyone is presented with challenges when we make big changes like
moving from place to place, but learning to be adaptable is important.
He has his parent(s) as a constant and he will be just fine. Being two
is just tough sometimes, you want to be independent but aren't quite
there yet and have a lot to say but may not have all the words yet.
This phase will pass...and then there will be the next one :)

Joy (Mom of Toby 4.5 and Della 1.5, and G8! in Developmental Psychology)

Joy Geren, M.A.
Doctoral Candidate
Laboratory for Developmental Studies
Department of Psychology
Harvard University

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