Posted in Food & Cooking, Starting Solids, Toddlers

My 2 and a half year old son is at the stage where he won't eat anything except "bars."

They are "healthy and organic," but he rarely will eat a meal and I'm not sure what to do. Any advice?

  • Amanda
    Nov 24

    My son started something simular and he is 2. If it's not one of three foods he wouldn't eat it. So what we did was at each meal he was offered three things in a portion controlled amount. One of the items we knew he would eat and 2 other things. If he only ate 1 of the three things offered that meal that was his choice. He got mad the first couple of days but he is slowly adding foods back into his diet. We also found that if he wasn't willing to at least taste one of the other options he wasnt actually hungry he just likes to snack. So we were able to adjust meal times and that helped too but we never made him eat anything or even try anything. His ped says toddlers do this and he should out grow it on his own with a little guidance

  • Yopolos
    Nov 24

    How do you serve meals? I would put 3-4 things on the plate that he can eat (maybe even in different bowls) and tell him he can pick from those on what he wants to eat. And that’s it. He doesn’t get other options. But he doesn’t have to eat now either. Your job is to provide healthy options. His job to determine when he’s hungry and to feed himself. Don’t make it a battle. Don’t stress that he’s hungry. He will eat. The only time I deviate from this is if they are so hungry they are angry and hitting or throwing things. Then they sit at the table until they eat a little bit. When they are that hangry we often sit with them and hold them to help them calm down and take the first few bites. Because even healthy and organic bars can pack the sugar (unless you made them at home, and often don’t have veggies) I would definitely encourage a shift. I usually do those bars as a prebedtime treat. If they ate dinner. And it’s not a clean your plate thing either! But it can’t be one bite and hand them a granola bar. Lol. Fine balance. You’ll figure it out.

  • Austin
    Nov 24

    Typically, breakfast is easy; eggs and toast. He does well with that, however he wants to snack all day and won't touch lunch or dinner. I have tried withholding snacks but it just makes him fussy and cranky. I feel if I just keep him from snacking he will be more receptive to eat what is on his plates, because as a baby, he ate his fruits and veggies and a few meats, now if it isnt a starch or bread, he wont touch it.

  • Marisa
    Nov 24

    My daughter will be 3 in February. Her favorite things are milk, mini muffins, mashed potatoes, and pasta w red sauce. We offer her everything we eat, but more likely than not she will refuse. We give her what she will eat and are happy that there’s at least something in her belly.

  • Yopolos
    Nov 24

    Eggs and toast is good! Trying slipping something like spinach in the eggs to up the veggies. I stick to fruits or veggies for snacks (some nuts too) so they’re still hungry by lunch time. I know toddlers are stubborn. I just wanted to encourage you to keep variety. Science says it takes 10-15 opportunities of trying a food before a child actually knows if they like it. So we also a lot of just take 1-3 bites and then tell us if you like it and we offer something else acceptable to us.

  • Jennifer
    Nov 24

    My son was the same way with snacks so we tried not referring to lunch or dinner as that but saying it's snack time, for whatever reason they love snacks and don't like eating meals so just call every meal a snack who knows might work? Also might I suggest getting one of these plates and see if it encourages him to eat, we also tried before we got this plate, was putting a lot of little different things on his plate...he likes eating buffet style so to speak. 💚✌

  • Yarlin
    Nov 24

    Hey jennifer, where did you get those plates ?

  • molly
    Nov 24

    Make the bars vanish- from ur and his world. then offer him whatever he likes most like pasta or meatball or whatever. He’ll likely go hungry a day or two but will start eating once he knows bars are not an option.

  • Austin
    Nov 24

    Molly, I love that idea, which is what I was thinking about doing, but I dont think his mom (we are seperated) will do the same and so the bars will never really be gone. And also, Im a softy and he REALLY likes them so I find it hard to tell him no.... Any advice for that, please?

  • molly
    Nov 24

    Austin, I hear you. My kid went through a similar phase and my hubby is also a softie— so we agreed that instead of a bar, we would offer him the ‘naughtiest’ home made snacks we were willing to use as a transitional foods (to healthier eating). He likes pasta grapes, berries, peanut butter, butter, sweet homemade jams from farmers markets (low preservatives etc), trail mix dried fruits etc. we were willing to live with ‘natural sources’ sugar like from grapes and fruits and he was allowed a choice between say decadently made PBJ or a bag of grapes. Somedays snack was sinful brioche bread with thick spread butter. the general idea was nothing out of a packet but if it was too rich we would limit the portion to say half a sandwich. I got him a crinkly reusable sandwich wrap thing from etsy and I let him unwrap the velcro etc to get to it. I think he felt it was similar to the bar experience. I did make one tiny batch of homemade cookies but they were the savory english tea biscuit variety. when he was especially difficult we would tell him those were the only ‘bars’ around and it was that or the bowl of fruit with PB. they were so unsatisfying that he quickly gave them up. I do think he was also teething so he liked the texture of the bars. so we would offer him things he didn’t always eat but liked to chew on- like celery sticks, apples, carrots, rusk, greek yogurt topped with honey and granola. of course we did indulge him occasionally by giving him some baby cheerios type munchies when he was tired hungry and super difficult. good luck. O and my dr said there is no rule for 3 fixed meals a day but No grazing all day. if my kid wants 6 healthy ‘snacks’ through the day, that’s ok too.