Dealing With a Picky Eater

Be watchful of your baby’s diet. Certain nutrients are very important to monitor at this age. They needs iron, calcium, B vitamins and protein, but her picky appetite sometimes makes it difficult to make sure she gets all she needs every day. Foods that are high in important nutrients are listed below. Your baby doesn’t need to eat these foods every day, but try to work them into her diet each week.

  • Source of iron: Baby cereal, egg yolks, meat
  • Sources of calcium: Milk, yogurt, cheese, spinach, broccoli, some fish
  • Source of B vitamins: Baby cereal, grain products
  • Sources of protein: Meat and dairy products, legumes

Some other general guidelines to follow include:

  • Your baby can eat what the whole family eats. Just take out some for her before you add a lot of spices or salt. It’s OK for your baby to continue to eat baby cereal, but if she won’t eat any solid foods other than baby food, notify your health care provider.
  • Offer your baby a variety of foods, a little at a time, until she gets restless, throws her food or struggles to get out of her chair. She’ll learn a lot from the different textures, smells, colors and flavors of food even if she doesn’t eat it all. 
  • Offer small amounts at first. If she’s still hungry, your baby will ask you for more. 
  • If she refuses everything you offer, you’ve gotten yourself into a feeding war that you can’t win with confrontation. 
  • Remove your child from the table and try again in a couple of hours. Start with a nutritious snack, such as cheese and crackers. Put it on a tray and join her for the snack, reading or conversing with her while you eat. 
  • Don’t stare at her or the food. If she still refuses, set her down again. Don’t worry, she will eat sometime–no healthy child has ever starved herself! Let her feed herself and get off the battleground. 
  • Use whole milk, but don’t overdo dairy foods. Babies need the fat in whole milk for their growing brains. But these days your baby needs more than milk. Offer lots of other foods so that she gets enough iron and vitamins. In general, your baby shouldn’t need more than 24 ounces of milk or other dairy products each day. 
  • Children at this age know how much they need to eat. If they don’t get enough at one meal, they’ll make up for it later. You don’t need to coax your child to eat or require a clean plate. In fact, this can lead to bad eating habits later in life. 
  • Don’t be surprised if vegetables get the heave-ho. Although you may be surprised at what foods your baby will try, vegetables are famous for being low on children’s lists of favorites. 
  • Don’t worry. A baby vitamin will make up for the needed nutrients until she learns to like a wider variety of foods. 
  • Make sure snacks are high in protein and carbohydrates. A half a bagel with cream cheese is an excellent example. 
  • If in daycare – ask your day care provider when and what your baby is eating during the day. If her diet isn’t ideal, discuss the matter with you day care provider. If she can’t supply what you want your child to eat, offer to send in a lunch pail for your child. But don’t be too fussy, children learn from different care environments and there is a lot of leeway in children’s diets. If possible, stop in for lunch with your toddler from time to time. 

Dinnertime can be quite a tedious ordeal when you’ve got children in your household. If you battle with your fussy eaters about dinner and snack times, try offering these tasty alternatives:

  • Fruit–no cooking, ready to eat, a quick snack. Soft fruit can be smashed or pureed, even for babies.
  • Yogurt–a tasty source of calcium for kids and for those unable to digest lactose.
  • Bread–convenient and satisfying, great for toast and those infamous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
  • Breakfast cereal–nutritious, low in fat, enormous variety. Good way to get kids to drink milk.
  • Pasta–loaded with energy, easy to fix and to eat.
  • Eggs–always on hand, easy to chew, inexpensive.


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