It’s a very good thing Annabel has Mike as her daddy. He has what seems like endless amounts of patience for the things that drive me insane. This is why he is now in charge of meal time. I am officially tapping out.
Annie used to be the best eater. Anything we put in front of her she ate with gusto. Maddie ate like a bird so Annie was such a relief. Then she turned two and UGH. Two year olds. Driving moms crazy since two years after the dawn of time.
The thing that makes me the most crazy is that one day she will LOVE a certain meal. LOVE. IT. Can’t get enough of it.
Eating salad, ON PURPOSE. THEN SHE ASKED FOR MORE.
And then the next time I give it to her, “Annie no like it! NOOOO!”
Even if I was going to give in and offer her different foods, it wouldn’t matter because this is how that conversation would go (uh…hypothetically):
Me: OK, if you don’t want eggs, what do you want? Do you want cereal?
Me: Ice cream?
Me: FINE THEN YOU STARVE.
Annie, five minutes later: Mama? Annie hungry.
Me: SON OF A %^*$^%!!
That conversation could hypothetically happen 187 times a day. Which is why I don’t offer her choices. Also because I am the boss and I am not a short-order cook. I’m not even a short-microwave cook. I am short, though.
This is where Mike comes in handy. He will sit there while she freaks out about her meal. He will listen when she tells him five minutes later that she’s hungry, and then he’ll give her the same meal she previously turned down. Repeat, repeat, until she finally eats it. Meanwhile, I am in the fetal position on the couch, biting a pillow to keep from screaming. Meal times are my kryptonite.
However, I can listen to the same song on mega-repeat and play dress up all day, so I have that on Mike.
She has Katniss Everdeen-like stubbornness, except Katniss was actually hungry (Hunger Games reference, holler!). I’m hoping this whole meal-refusal thing is another one of those “stages,” because unlike massive same-song dance parties, meal times come up thrice daily (dance parties are twice a day wut wut) and my patience for these games is gone.
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
Ooooh two-year-old power games! Fun. Tag-team parenting is an excellent solution Great work you two!
That? Was fantastic. Also, I don’t want to be that mom who has it worse than everyone else, but I do. Twins. Twin boys who like to torture me at meal times. I’ve said, “I’m done with this sh*t!” at every meal for the last 4 years.
Chin up Mama – This Too Shall Pass… although I must say, I have 3 of the MOST picky eaters I could SCREAM (actually, you might have even heard me from here)!?!?
The main thing is Mike IS getting her to eat….and the SAME meal!! Woot, Woot – Way To Go Dada!!!
You & Mike are a GREAT team Heather….Keep it up!!! xoxo
Yep, props to Mike for sticking to his guns.
I have a picky eater and I waved the white flag years ago. Honest to God, I don’t care what she eats as long as it’s not total junk. Generally, I’m a no-nonsense mama, but this was a huge battle. And she won. Also, pre-children, I was so judgmental of parents whose kids wouldn’t eat, and crow doesn’t taste so good.
Im like you, short but not a short order cook. You get what you get, no choice, no option, no discussion.
However, my son went through a ‘phase’ of not really eating. The health visitor suggested giving him whatever he wanted to get food in him – suggestions included crisps (chips) and cake! I ignored her advise.
I cooked our meals, laid mine out, sat at the table and ate. Unfortunately for my son, sitting at the table and eating time meant sitting at the table whether you are eating or not! A couple of days sitting watching me eat a meal, with nothing in front of him, soon had him screaming for food. And low and behold, because I am a genius, I could walk in the kitchen and produce a plate of the same food as mine for him. Cracked that one!
He is still a picky eater but he knows, 14 years on, that he gets what hes given and eats it or starves. *cackles* I’m an EVIL mum!
Not evil! Smart!!! You go girl!
oh lady, I FEEL YOUR PAIN. We are currently battling our almost 5 year old (!!!) over food. For the past 2-3 years we were content to just let her eat what she wanted. Not worth the fight! Cheese quesadillas for every meal! But lately, it has started having some… um… effects on her system, let’s just say that (oof. also, eeeeewww.) So we realized that it was time to be tough and make some changes. And after years of her eating what she wanted, it’s been difficult. Sigh. An hour the other night to eat 2 slices of zucchini. BUT SHE DID IT. AND WE WON!
Good luck with your picky eater. My husband is also the patient one. I am not so patient. I just get irritated and want to throw the plate at the wall. heh
I have just recently given up the short order cook gig too! If you don’t like it…go hungry. Oh wait….you can’t do that can you..Annie isn’t old enough to nuke herself a bowl of Ramen noodles yet is she…lol.
Just like every aspect in life, this is a stage that will pass (hopefully). LOL My 6 year old has gone through this same thing… I won’t scare you with a number! ;o) My 10 year old will eat or try pretty much everything & I only remember just a short phase of her not wanting to eat much. But my 6 year old makes me pull out my hair almost daily! I guess I would say I’m a mixture of you both. I have days where I want to curl up on the couch & then there are times when I can stick to my guns. If she doesn’t eat what I fix, she doesn’t eat. She won’t go hungry, I promise. She will eventually eat or drink enough water to keep her full, lol. Being a parent is never easy!
Ugh, I feel your pain! My almost 3 year old is the same way….drives me bonkers! I’ve resorted to rotating PB sandwiches, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, and mac n cheese for lunch, and then fighting the long battle at dinner haha. At least then she’s not driving me crazy when my husband is at work and I’m still making her try some food each day. I just couldn’t pick the battle for every meal or I’d lose my freakin’ mind Good luck!
I was lucky, when Maya was 2 she was eating really well. At 1, for about 6 months, she refused to eat anything but peaches, nothing. So by 2 it was such a relief that she was finally eating. She is 4 now and back to being picky. It drives me batty, completely batty.
My daughter is the same way and if it makes you feel any better we are doing exactly the same thing. She gets what I make or she doesn’t eat. I generally throw in a side I know she like, raisins or grapes, but the main course is what we eat for dinner. Because if she ate it last time she must like if I give in now to her whims I will have a child who only eats Chik-fil-A chicken nuggets.
The line about “driving Moms crazy since two years past the dawn of time”? Made me spit out my Diet Coke. Good one!
Also, good on ya for not giving in to the whims of a little one. “If you aren’t interested in this for dinner, you can always wait for a new option at breakfast.” is a constant refrain at our house. Sometimes, they wait it out and don’t starve overnight. Much less stressful that way.
We are constantly dealing with various stages of picky eating. Currently my daughter (who normally likes carbs) doesn’t want anything with pasta other than mac & cheese (but not the box kind).
Our household food rules are:
(1) You may not say anything bad about the meal being served to you so that you do not negatively influence the other picky eater at the table. No gross sounds, no bad faces, nothing verbally or visually negative. You can think it, but you can’t do anything to influence others negatively about the food.
(2) You have to take at least two “no thank you bites” before you can say “No thank you” to that food. After a few times of a food being offered, the required amount of bites increases.
(3) Each person can put two foods on their “I don’t want to eat this” list which hangs on the refrigerator. The foods can be changed at any time after a meal, but cannot be changed upon seeing what is being fixed for dinner tonight. If I am serving to the family a food that is on your list, then I won’t make you even taste it at all. I will give you something else. It gives some control to the kids, but not too much. And, they have to decide what foods are REALLY their least favorites…not everything.
Of course, none of this will work well for a 2-yr old. But as Annie grows older and moves into the Next picky eating phase, these ideas might help then.
Ugh – we are going through this with my 19-month-old. But – it’s mostly just at home. When she is at daycare she will eat almost anything (peer pressure!!!). At home? Nope. So, (like a couple of others above) I serve what we are having and then make sure to add a fruit or veggie that I know she likes and will eat. Thank heavens for blueberries and cantaloupe. More often than not, those are the only two things she eats. Ah well – at least she’s getting something! (Hopefully) This too shall pass.
I think it probably is a stage, but I’ve found it to be a VERY long lasting stage. My daughter just turned 4 and she’s still in it. When she was 2 she loved all foods, I remember telling my co-workers mealtime was no trouble at all, she loved everything. Then it stopped. Most days she likes spaghetti… other than that its a toss up if the meal will be.. “DisCUSTing” or edible. *sigh* I’m glad you have a Mike, my husband was born with NO patience at all!
My first will eat just about anything. She needs to be cloned.
My second will only eat fresh fruits and fresh veggies. There is no way he’s my kid. I’m a carboholic.
I know how you feel, Heather. One of my boys is notoriously picky. Or I should say “was” picky. Since healthy children will under normal circumstances not let themselves go hungry when there is food available, we just told him that this is what we were making for this meal and if he didn’t want any, he would have to wait to the next meal to eat something different. That pretty much fixed that problem right then and there. We just make sure to be consistent and mean what we say and we no longer have a picky eater.
erin s says:
I sometimes still battle my nine year old… while it does get better, I’m not sure it ever ENDS.
We are starting to enter the hunger games period with our 14 month old, too. She was such a good little eater right away, and now she is developing preferences and could live on bananas and cheese. OH WELL. This too shall pass!
When I read, “THEN YOU CAN STARVE” I imagined that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Beast roars that to Belle and laughed so hard I just had coffee fly threw my nose.
Good for you for not being a short-order cook! I think the advice of “it’s up to the parent to make and offer nutritious food; it’s up to the child whether or not they will eat it and how much,” and then not crossing those boundaries much by e.g. pestering the child about eating; just respecting their decision.
I recently cooked dinner for my family–ham, salad, broccoli, potatoes. My niece sat at the table and ate nothing. She only eats mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread. SHE IS NINE YEARS OLD. Yes, it kind of annoys me.
I totally feel this way about food too. It’s my job to provide healthy food and my son’s job to eat it. I can’t and won’t force him to eat what I make…plus, I don’t want to give my son any food issues.
Yes! OMG My kids are going to drive me to drink. At least my husband is a SAHD so he handles most of this. He’s patient but also permissive. My kids are now 9, 7 and almost 5.
I hear, “Mommy can I have some cheese?” 10 times a day. And I STILL have to say, “THIS is supper. In a half hour it won’t be suppertime. There will be no more supper. Eat now or forever hold your peace.” So in addition to pickiness and annoyingness, we have growth spurts that demand feeding every hour on the hour.
I hate it. I will be SO happy when they can serve themselves. You’d think the 9 and 7 year old can. Well, no. Gas stove, breakable dishes, high stools… Doesn’t really work that way as much as we’d like.
So. Some things. 1) Meal times will suck forever. Because I’m certain of it. My meal times are now going much more smoothly, but there hasn’t been a single one since my daughter was born (I’m not exagerating. Not one single one) that I haven’t had to stop my meal and get up to either change a diaper, or wipe her butt. At this point, I’d rather have a picky eater, no joke.
2) All toddlers go through the “beige” phase, wherein all foods are beige. Sandwiches, pasta, chicken nuggets, etc. I read the most brilliant thing the other day that said something to the effect of this: If you engage your kids in the meal-making process, even if it’s as simple as pouring a bowl of cereal or making pb&j, if they help with it, they have invested ownership, and they’ll be more likely to eat it. Of course, it takes patience on your part to try and maneuver your way through making dinner with a “helpful” toddler at your side. I thought it was an interesting theory.
Eventually it gets better. Based on my own personal experience, you’ve still got a couple more years to go, but then it’ll be good. And then the back-talk and the sassy-pants set in full force.
I have no advice, obvs, but this reminded me of what my mom used to do, and it made me laugh. I have memories of her doing this when I was at least 4, maybe younger. Two examples.
Me: Mom, I’m hungry.
Mom: Hi Hungry, my name is Janet.
Me: Mom, I’m hungry.
Mom: What do you want to eat?
Me: I dunno.
Mom: Then you’re not really hungry yet. You’ll figure it out.
It’s a phase, yes, but a multi-year one in our experience. In our house, it’s a 4-5 year phase.
I think this is a phase unless you reinforce it too much and then it becomes a behavior that is set in stone. My belief is that you offer a meal and if the eater doesn’t like it that’s too bad, but you’ll offer another meal in 4ish hours.
Ugh…I feel ya, Heather. My almost 3 year old is the same. One day he loves something (I think, “Great! Buy/make more of that!!) and then he’ll never eat said thing again. He won’t even try it. Nope. I’m not one for making alternate meals either so he’s got to eat what I give him (although, I’ll sometimes give him toast or something if he really hasn’t eaten anything. I don’t want to be up in the middle of the night with a starving toddler)
Megan @ Fiterature says:
I just heard a child nutritionist speak about this subject on the radio! Mike is doing exactly as he should. Serve one meal for the family (as you are NOT a short-order cook, like you said), making sure you include at least one thing everyone likes. If the child refuses to eat, let them. But when they say they are hungry, ONLY offer the meal you prepared. Don’t let them tell you what they want. Yay, Mike!
DISCLAIMER: I have zero children, so feel free to tell me to shut it and exclaim “Easier said than done, you childless finger wagger!”
Megan! Too Funny! I agree with you. It’s what I learned from my mama. It’s what I learned in college classes regarding children. It’s what I learned from nutritionists. It’s what I believe.
But I, too, am childless…so what do we know? LOL!!!
I’m with Abby, if she is THAT hungry she will eat. Otherwise it is the evil: lets make mommy squirm/scream while I play a game of tiny toddler control. And yes, most daddies are exempt from this evil behavior. It is pretty 100% focused on mommy, b/c it is just NOT enough that they inhabit our gigantic, hormone filled bodies for 10 months. Then ruin our lives forever (I mean make the sun shine even brighter, ahem). Annie will eat eventually. When she is 18!! For me-
I cant stand bath time, I know most moms LOVE it b/c it is so calming and blah, blah and BLAH. For me, it is a power struggle from the “Go potty NOW! To the, get out of the (damn) tub NOW”. I hate it, so daddy gets the pure pleasure of bath time when he is home to do it. Good luck!
Love the Hunger Games reference – just finished the first book last night and cannot wait till bedtime to start book 2!
My girl, same age as Annie does the same. Omelettes and scrambled eggs are my no fail fallbacks when she is tired and inclined to play up. What drives me NUTS is she will sit at the table at daycare until she has finished – at home I spend most of mealtime asking her to please for gods sake how hard is it SIT DOWN!!!
This too shall pass!
Ugh, we have the same issues. My son just turned 2, and used to be such a wonderful eater! Now, we constantly here “No like it!” But we’re stubborn too, and I only fix one meal at a time – so he either eats it or doesn’t, and he knows not to come up to me later and claim hunger!
What worked for my kids when they were that age was not giving them a question that they couldn’t answer no. Like instead of saying “Do you want eggs?” where they can say “NO!”, it went more like “What do you want for breakfast? Eggs or cereal?”. Since it wasn’t a yes or no question it seemed to work better for my kiddos : ) If they still wanted to be hesitant then I just told them to let me know when they decided and then went about my business.
I don’t force my son to eat food he obviously doesn’t like (I watch for the shudder) but food he ate three days ago happily gets put in front of him no matter the complaint. I have a 30 minute time limit at the table (Time Timer for the win!) meant to keep my sanity and avoid 2 hours at the dining table. He now knows if he doesn’t start eating within those 30 minutes, no dinner. It only took one time for me to take away his untouched plate (of pizza, because I torture him obviously) for him to understand I was serious. I still get complaints, whining, the usual, but he eats. HE EATS!
Just be warned – Yes, this will pass… for about 4 years. When she hits 5 1/2 – 6 yrs? It will flare up again. I have a 10 yr old and a 6 1/2 yr old, and fostered 6 kids. All my fosters were long term. ALL but 1 of them went through this picky stage again around age 6. The one who didn’t? Was fed with a feeding tube (g-tube) since birth. So once this fades now, ENJOY every bite she happily takes. Block this out for now, then remember this comment when it starts up. You aren’t alone! Lol!!
Same issue @ our house too. Jax just turned two…. he hates one thing one day and loves it the next… or something like that… I’ve decided my motto is “always never the same”
I had similar issues with both of my children. My mom, a dietician, handed me this book: How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much by Ellyn Satter
Life saver! It really helped with my mental thinking about trying to get my gets to eat. We set boundaries and followed a good portion of the tips she points out in the book and they worked really well. Now, my son (12 yo) is an awesome eater (loves to try new things all the time) and though my daughter (8) still is a bit of a “bird” when it comes to eating, she loves salads and veggies and will grab an apple to snack on, on her own.
Good luck and realize that it definitely is a phase; it is all about control for them (I’m 2! I can say No!) Good to set boundaries and rules now and they’ll fall in line soon enough.
Don’t I know this problem well. Not only are we living it with our 17 month old, but I was that kid, as a kid. Our daughter is still in that grunting phase, with the occasional “no” thrown in there. She also picks at food, in that if you serve her something like pasta primavera, she’ll sit there and pick out the pasta from the rest, proceed to eat it and then scream when only “evil” veggies remain. The only way we’ve found to trick her to eat veggies is to buy spinach, eggplant or some other veggie filled ravioli. Girlfriend will eat any kind of filled pasta, so long as you put enough alfredo sauce on it.
That said, in our house it’s my husband who gets exasperated at meal times, whereas I’m generally the more patient one. Not only does she refuse to eat certain things (any protein based life form is met with disdain except for chicken fingers, and veggies have to be hidden in pasta or pureed in sauce) or pick apart her food, she is super slow, and could literally play with her food forever. I’m more understanding because I was much the same at her age and beyond (I’m a former picky eater, didn’t really grow out of some bad habits until I was an adult). What I suggest to the husband is that when he gets tense watching her “not eat, she’s not eating!” at dinner time is to get through his meal at his regular speed (I make a meal for all three of us, her portion gets cut up to an appropriate finger scooping size, with no substitutions) and if she’s still reluctant when we’re done we go “mommy/daddy is done, now I go play”. Then we go sit in our living room, seemingly doing our own thing (our apartment has an open floor plan, so we can spy on the dining area from the living room), and damned if she won’t pick at the food once she realizes we’ve moved on and she’s been left alone with her bowl of food.
Experts say that mealtime is a power struggle only if you make it out to be. So removing ourselves from the scene without removing our supervision takes away the conflict aspect of it. When my daughter decides to be stubborn enough to sit there and sip milk or water and not touch her food even if left alone at the table, we give her 5-10 minutes and then ask her if she’s done. She’ll say “down” if she’s done with sitting at the table staring at food, at which point we just resign ourselves to a hungry tot overnight (she always seems to have more trouble with dinner, probably because she’s a terrible napper and thus overtired before bed time). If I have to rescue her with a bottle overnight because she wakes up and feels hungry, I tell her “See, this is what happens when we don’t eat dinner, our tummy hurts at night”. Of course, she’s a toddler, so it’ll be a few years before she gets it. But at least I get to vent about it, so to speak.
excellent post – pmsl’d at “UGH. Two year olds. Driving moms crazy since two years after the dawn of time.”
i say “snap” – my daughter is pretty much exactly annie’s age and UGH doesn’t even begin to express it!
i’m reading “french children don’t throw food” and am FASCINATED by how tiny little tweeks made to what i do now can turn french kids into angels check it out, then please please write a book in reply – i’d buy it
The one thing that used to drive my mother nuts (she was of the you’re lucky to eat school of thought) about my brother and sister in law when their kids were younger was the fact that they did the whole short order cook thing. It got to the point where their kids would maybe eat one or two things. They are teenagers now and have gotten much better. Good luck!
Meg L says:
ugh, you couldn’t have said/written it better,I’m right there with you with my 16 month old!!
heather krauel says:
Feeding a 2 year old is torture!!!! Torture!!! Picky Picky Picky.
Its gets better…promise.
I feel your pain. My son at 18 months ate everything (curry, beans, olices, green peppers, you name it). I thought that I was the BEST MOTHER for introducing him to exotic foods so young…. Then when I got pregnant with my daughter (he was about 2 1/2), I had bad morning sickness and could only stomach bland things for a few months. When I finally felt better and could eat those foods again, my son couldn’t stand exotic foods.
At 9, he is still the pickiest eater (and very skinny). I am sure he would be happy if I let him eat apples, cheese and cheerios every day. …….Needless to say, I have been turned off cooking!
Ok~first, I don’t have kids, so what do I know?
That being said, I was once a kid who was raised by a wise woman who made one meal for the entire family that we were all expected to eat (at the same time and table) or go hungry. If we didn’t eat the meal then and got hungry later, we got that same meal-cold, until microwaves came into our lives. One thing I do have to say for my mom though, if she knew we really hated something (I did NOT like eggplant for instance), we were not forced to have a plate of it. We were asked to try it to see if our palates had changed. Eventually they did (or my mom found a new way of cooking something we had once disliked–we all love her brussel sprouts now whereas none of us liked them as kids). When my mom was serving something she knew we didn’t like, an alternate veg or whatever was served alongside.
Flash forward a great many years, and I now have a 3 year old niece who, like Annie, ate and loved everything~including salads and veggies of all sorts. Until a couple months ago (right around her 3rd bday actually) when suddenly with every meal she was presented, she announced, “I don’t like that.” To which everyone in her life responded, “Oh? Really? Then you don’t have to eat it. I’ll just leave your plate here and you can choose to eat it or not.” Within 5 minutes of others sitting at the table to eat, she is suddenly hungry for what they are eating and asks for her plate. Weird…but whatever. The only thing she hasn’t done the “I don’t like it” to is her long-time favorite of avocado: “Yum! Avacady! I LOVE avacady! We should pray…(massive intakes of avocado)…but yum! Avacady!” I think her enthusiasm for ‘avacady’ is thanks enough for God, don’t you?
At the peds office I work at I’ve heard the docs say if she has at least one good meal/day, don’t sweat the others. Unless she is failure to thrive kid or low on the growth charts you have no worries. Annie looks perfect to me =)
Hold on. It will pass. My three year old started her picky phase around 14-16 months. And “picky” just doesn’t seem like an adequate word. It’s like saying the Pacific Ocean is “wet.” It got REALLY bad for about a year. We did everything right, with the not short-order cooking, not forcing her to eat anything, not getting emotional (most of the time). And she just.hung.on. And then, one day, around the time she turned three, I said, “Grace, why don’t you just try it? You might actually like it.” And she said, “Okay!” and ate a bite. She didn’t have any more, but she TRIED IT. And she’s been getting better ever since. She will now ASK FOR SALAD WITH EVERY MEAL, so long as I give her a little soy sauce to dip it in. She’s still not adventurous, but meals are no longer an exercise in controlling my rage.
Jessica Makuh says:
I can totally relate to this! It was funny! I find meal times frustrating, too, but I cry in the bathroom. Our 3 year old has a heart defect and is very small. Only 25 lbs and 3 1/2. She HAS to eat. I just gave her chocolate as part of her lunch. She didn’t finish it. CHOCOLATE! She is having her third heart surgery this summer. They hoped she would weigh 26-33 lbs. She still weighs only 25. I am trying SOOOOO HARD to get her to gain weight. I even put sunflower oil in her juice. She still weighs 25 lbs. I’m really frustrated. We have to give her food with more fat and calories in it, but then I eat it, too, which isn’t good. I’m going to go finish her chocolate now.
Maybe try chocolate mixed with other stuff? My 17 month old hates chocolate alone. She’ll refuse to eat anything all chocolate: brownies, cookies, ice cream, etc.
You know those Annie’s Friends bunny shaped cookies? They’re assorted vanilla, chocolate chip, and chocolate cookies. My daughter loves to eat them, except for the chocolate ones. She’ll just leave those on her plate and yell “moar!” as in “you say I still have cookies, but these do not pass my quality control. give me some other ones.” My husband of course has to go “Oh my god! She’s a cookie racist!” which annoys me to no end.
I finally hit upon a good snack using chocolate the other day, by total chance: peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Not that the daughter needs to gain weight, in our case, but I haven’t given up on her loving chocolate one day (though who knows, I couldn’t eat chocolate without getting nauseous my whole pregnancy, maybe she’s just made up her mind, and there’s nothing I can do).
I tried to post the other night while waiting for my delayed plane to take off but it didn’t post.
My 6 year old told me he is bored of lime yogurt and bagels for lunch. I’d love to mix it up but that is all he likes for lunch. Luckily, he eats like a champ at breakfast and does pretty well at dinner. Both of my sons love fruit, though it’s not the freshest living in NJ. Veggies, however, are a very tough sell.
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