Picky eater: how to get her to eat without a power-struggle

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If you have a toddler, you have probably experienced problems getting your toddler to eat. They are cute, pint-sized, stubborn as all hell and determined. When I was a child, my mother made me sit at the table until I finished all my food. I remember clearly how I attempted to hide food or get the dog to take it. She was adamant, I will not get up until that plate is empty. Fast forward about 20 years, I was telling everyone how I will never make my kids eat all their food. I was reading all these blogs and articles about creating a negative vibe towards food, I was so sure of myself. I started my baby on baby led weaning and let her choose what and how much she wanted to eat. It was going fantastically. I was feeling almost smug…

Then it happened – toddler determination

My beautiful baby turned 18 months and started eating more of one type of food and started to refuse certain foods. She actually stopped eating certain foods altogether. I was perplexed. Instead of making her eat her food I would give her more options. I would give her anything she wanted. Why won’t she just eat!? I read and read and could not find the answer. The older she got the more stubborn she got. She lived off air and noodles at one stage. What was I doing wrong? I never made meal times a battle, as I just gave her what I knew she would eat. The list was ridiculously short:

  • sausages
  • cereal
  • ramen noodles (I know!!)
  • cucumber
  • broccoli
  • bread
  • peas
  • chicken nuggets
  • anything with no nutritional value

I think that was about it. She refused to eat any foods that were mixed, like mac and cheese or spaghetti bolognese. Nothing was allowed to touch either. It was ridiculous. I used all of those strategies on Pinterest on How to get your picky eater to eat. None of it worked. She was about 4 years old when her baby sister started eating. I was determined not to make the same mistakes with her and I fed her whatever we were eating from the start. Getting this toddler to eat what we are eating was not going to be such a big problem.

Putting the baby to work

Yep, you read that right. I used the baby to get the 4-year-old to eat. It worked almost immediately. Monkey see monkey do, I guess. Or maybe curiosity. But there were still things that she refused to eat for no real reason. One night she said she didn’t want the Mac and Cheese. I looked at her and said, “eat your dinner, you get what you get and you don’t get upset”. I walked away.


She ate it all. Without a complaint. I think I understand what I did wrong. I gave her too many options, and she always picked the things that she knew. My mother never asked us individually what we would like for dinner. She made dinner and we ate what we got. I made the mistake of always giving options, however, I think when I told her “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” she was like Whoah! Momma is serious this time. I don’t think our struggles are over, but at least there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

My top two tips for getting your toddler to eat what you give them

  1. Don’t give too many options and don’t give in, but don’t open the door for a power struggle.
  2. Have another baby (just kidding, you might end up with 14 babies who turn into toddlers who don’t eat.)

This is just my personal experience, I am by no means a parenting expert, but us mommas all need to share ideas to help get us through this crazy thing called parenting, especially during the age of the pint-sized dictators.


How to get your toddler to eat
StockSnap / Pixabay

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