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Many of you have followed along on Leyton’s eating journey, but in case you are behind on the picky eater toddler scenario that has lead to not enough weight gain you can read more about it here:
I have been bombarded with amazing advice since sharing about Leyton’s struggle to gain weight. And then, I have had lots of you message me and ask me to share all the advice I’ve received from other moms on their picky eater — toddler tales.
So below, I bring you all the comments/messages and ideas of why Leyton may have been and be eating less or being an extra picky eater. Thank you SO much to my amazing Instagram community of women who have hopped in to offer solutions, suggestions and intel to this picky toddler phase of life.
Currently, we are trying to abide by the three meals a day, two snacks a day rule and if he won’t eat it at the table, he can’t snack on said meal throughout the day while playing. I’ve asked my dietitian friend Amy to weigh in on all this in more detail next time she shares here about why she told us to do this.
We are also giving Leyton 2 oz heavy whipping cream to 6 oz a milk that one of you recommended. Finally, we are allowing him to pretty much eat whatever makes it “fun” and doable at this point. Some of the dietitians I’ve talked to have told me that should be the first priority at this point until he puts on weight. Please ask your doctor before changing anything about your toddler’s diet, and do NOT take this as medical advice. This is what other women have shared with me and I am grateful!
Picky Eater: Toddlers – Advice from the Lovies Momma Community
He may be teething! My little guy went through something similar when he was getting his molars in. It was a few weeks and then he went back to “normal” and then ate us out of house and home!
If he is teething again, you might try making a roller ball bottle (probably 10 mL) with carrier oil, 1 drop Lavender, and 1 drop copaiba. I use Young Living Oils, but any trusted, legitimate oil brand would be okay. This was recently suggested to me for our friends with a teething child (16 months).
The molars could totally be causing the loose stools as well. Try to incorporate lots of good fat and whole milk if he will have it!
Both of my boys wouldn’t really eat while teething- I was lucky they would eat those Happy Tot pouches and they lived on those until they went back to their old habits! Try freezing the yogurt so it’s like ice cream (or make a really thick smoothie and stick that in the freezer too). Also, teething can cause loose stools and upset tummies because they are swallowing extra saliva!
Food Alternatives and Feeding Tips:
My son was also a picky eater. We put carnation instant breakfast in his milk, used butter on everything and only gave him whole milk. He didn’t start eating well until he was around 6. To this day (he’s 11), he will only eat if he is hungry. Which may only be once a day! I don’t force him to eat and I don’t worry about it anymore.
My oldest when through this same kind of same thing when he was 3 and 4. He wouldn’t drink Pediasure so I bought a protein powder and mixed one scoop in his chocolate milk and gave it to him twice a day. I mixed it up really good and then let it get really cold in the fridge and he drank it up every time.
My little brother had the same issue and was a picky eater. My mom ended up making him a “nutritional bottle” with all kinds of nutrients and protein powders and would give it to him while he was asleep. It worked for years
One of my twins did practically the same thing after he turned 2. I started buying him Orgain Kids Organic Protein Shakes on Amazon. We like to call them “Monkey Milk” because of all the monkeys on it. He seems to like that too and they seem to keep packing the pounds on him. He went from 10th percentile in weight at 2 years to 20th at his recent 3 year appointment. We take these protein shakes everywhere we go just in case he has one of those frequent picky eater moments.
My grandson eats a lot of things he used to not eat once my daughter started giving him “dip”. He will eat about anything now as long as he has dip. This can be ketchup or dressing. He used to not like meat but a pinch of ketchup has changed that. Also don’t worry too much, he is happy and learning and loved.
My almost 2 year old son is a super picky eater as well and doesn’t eat fruit or veggies much but loves the baby pouches made by Plum Organics. That’s the only way I can get veggies in him, period. Maybe try that!
I’m in the same boat, one of mine is a terrible picky eater and thin so I try to limit snacks that are empty calories and always make sure that there are at least one or two things he loves on his plate. Rice and pasta with no sauce seem to work right now.
Just an idea on Leyton not gaining enough weight… my daughter Desi has cystic fibrosis and gaining weight is a major struggle. We have to add calories all over the place. Per our nutritionist/ dietician, we combine whole milk and heavy whipping cream to increase her caloric intake. The small recipe portion is 6 oz. whole milk to 2 oz. heavy whipping cream. It brings the calorie count up!
My oldest went through this and he wouldn’t drink the Pediasure, but would drink chocolate milk. So, I bought a protein powder and just put a scoop in his chocolate milk and gave it to him twice a day.
The muffin tin/ ice cube tray works. My two year old son only eats Greek yogurt, toast, and a bite of every banana that comes through the house (not the whole thing, but one bite, whether it’s for him or not). We tried the muffin tin today and he actually tried blueberries, cheese, and noodles. The plus side is we got to work on colors and counting while doing it.
I have a 20 month old as well. He does love him some peanut butter (and bananas and cantaloupe). For protein, he devours Applegate organic chicken and apple sausage and organic grass-fed hot dogs. They are so dang easy. He also loves salmon. He is a little more resistant to other protein. He also eats scrambled eggs every morning (and I throw about a tablespoon of frozen chopped spinach in too). Some tips for us: grass-fed butter, hummus, or even almond butter can go a long way in introducing new veggies. I think cheese would be the same way, but we limit dairy. It also taken him 4-5 intros to a new veggie before he’s okay with it. Times 1-4 he snubbed his nose at asparagus, time 5, he gobbled it up. So, I never give up after a few times with a new food. We also have a firm “no other options in our house”. Tonight, my son didn’t want any of his protein or any of his roasted parsnips. So, he only ate his berries (that I slathered with peanut butter).
My best friend’s daughter is in the exact same boat and is a picky eater (but she’s three). Her Dr. told her to feed her ice cream daily and whole milk yogurt if she’ll eat it. So, she went to Earth Fare to find the healthiest, calorie packed ice cream she could!
My son was and still is a picky eater but at 3 ½ it’s getting better. We did add JuicePlus to his diet, chewable gummies that give you all the fruits and veggies needed and more. He thinks it’s candy but it’s how I sleep better at night because I know if nothing else he’s getting what he needs from them.
My son was so low on all the growth charts the doctor wanted me to think about growth hormones! We bought the vanilla Ensure and made him milkshakes every night and it worked like a charm. Even if he didn’t eat much else all day, I at least knew he was getting packed full of nutrition at night. Good luck!
Have you seen that they have milk now that is made out of bananas? It might not work, my daughter didn’t like it and she loves milk, but they make both white and chocolate. If he won’t do smoothies right now though, it might not be a great solution. We had weight issues for quite a while when my daughter was a newborn and the doctors were all over us. Looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have freaked about it so much.
The weight charts are completely wacko in my opinion. If he is growing developmentally and not crying like he’s hungry then I do not worry about it. I have 4 healthy children who have all gone through those phases.
Do you have any food allergies in your family? If he’s eating something he’s allergic or intolerant to his belly might be hurting and he won’t want to eat.
My youngest son was always super picky like that, turns out it was food allergies. Have you guys looked at that?
Moving out of High Chairs:
For us, the move out of the high chair got her excited to eat again. She sits in a booster seat at the dinner table and I let her eat up in the stools at our bar for lunch. Feeling more grown up gave her something else to focus on. I also like to do muffins with lots of hidden veggies.
My son is the same. I basically let him run around with whatever food he wants. It makes a mess but sometimes it’s the only way he will eat. He’s always just been really busy and super distracted! Maybe that could help? Letting him do it on his own, and also sitting in a big boy chair is helpful too!
Feeding Therapy / Instagram and Facebook Pages:
Both of my kiddos go to a private speech therapy office and there they also do feeding therapy for kids who are doing the same as your son. I would look into feeding therapy either with a speech therapist or an occupational therapist.
I’m actually a pediatric feeding therapist and occupational therapist! A lot of the comments above have some great advice and strategies but if you would like I’d be happy to email you some specific strategies I use with children similar to Leyton. Also this is a totally typical phase developmentally that all toddlers go through but it is still very stressful when your child doesn’t eat because this is one of the ways you nurture them. I myself as a feeding therapist went through this with my oldest daughter so I know the frustration and anxiety first hand.
Melanie Potock is a speech-language pathologist who specifically works with picky eaters in therapy. She was written several books about it and she has a picky eating course as well. Search her on Amazon. Also check out her Facebook page, My Munch Bag.
One thing that may work is an evaluation with a speech language pathologist/ occupational therapist that’s specializes in feedings. There could be so many things contributing (sensory) to extreme picky eating. I always tell my clients that if eating and food is something that rules your life with your LO and causes stress in your home, it may be more than a typical picky eating, especially if weight is involved. Also, Melanie Potock is a great resource for eating and feeding!
Check out Feeding Littles Instagram and Facebook group! They have an online course specifically for picky eating toddlers. Well worth a peek!
Does he have a sensory issue? Is it possible he has food texture issues? Does he have reflux symptoms?
Have you ever taken him to the dentist for his first checkup? That would shed light on the teething theory (which I think is possible based on my 4 kids).
This seems silly but how does he do when he eats somewhere other than his high chair? Like at the table or a restaurant?
If your little guy has loose stool is could be a Candida issue. Especially when you consider that he craves carbs and sugar. If he has been on antibiotics recently, that will contribute to yeast overgrowth as well. I’m a firm believer that this is a commonly undiagnosed issue among picky toddlers.
My son has weight gain issues the same age as your son. We tried many gaining options and did lists of testing. But long story short, after switching Dr’s he advised us in more protein rich foods and exercise. So, we put our son in an ISR swim class. With good muscle building exercise and proteins, he slowly started to gain weight. ISR is infant survival resources. It’s an infant/ child survival swim class. If you go to infantswim.com you can get a better idea of these classes. By what you post you are always giving your son plenty of healthy options and then some. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Kids love to have hunger strikes. I always tried to make food fun even if my son had to “play” with his food. Just as long as he would try to take bites. But he also factors in that we came from a family of petite people. Good luck!
What are your toddlers tips for your picky eater? I’d love to hear in the comments below so that everyone else can benefit from it as well!
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