My newly turned 2 year old has always been a picky eater, but not in the normal sense. Sometimes he will devour the food I make, while other times he turns his nose up at the same recipe. This often occurs at lunch and is especially bad at dinner when we all sit to eat together. He will sit and suck his thumb and stare at us while my husband, my 4 1/2 year old and I enjoy our food. We try to encourage him to eat, even his older brother will say how much he loves the food and how great it is, but this doesn't help.
I am not one to cave in and make something else, that is not a habit I will start, even though I feel bad he is not eating.
Lately he has decided that he will throw either his utensils or food for a cheap thrill, and to this I give him one warning, then take it all away and he is done. My husband will sometimes feel bad and give the food back after a period of time. We want him to eat and enjoy his food like we all do, and it is really tough for me when I have seen this same behavior at lunch and know he hasn't eaten in a long while. HELP!
—Going Crazy in Nevada City
Dear Going Crazy,
Congratulations! There are many things you are doing right! Making only one meal for everyone, giving him one warning and then taking his food away, and enjoying your food in spite of his efforts. All that's left is putting a little polish on the scenario:
1. Put food on table family style and show him how to serve himself. Tell him to only take what he will eat.
2. Eat your food and chat happily. Do not encourage him or anyone else to eat. Do not have your older son help. Just act like whatever he is doing does not affect you enjoying your meal.
3. Continue with your plan of one warning and then removing food (without saying anything). Keep your mouth shut!!
4. Cut out afternoon snacks. Don't let him eat for several hours before mealtime.
5. Put him at the table in a booster. Get rid of the high chair. That will make him more a part of the family.
6. Agree with your husband that if food is taken away, you will give him a snack in 1 hour. Make sure it is a different food.
There! That's all the info you need to make meals more enjoyable! Bon Apetit!