Picky Eating: Getting Your Toddler to Try New Foods
My two-year-old son will not even touch, much less try, new foods. The only things he will eat are toasted cheese sandwiches, cereal and bananas, plus milk and juice. When my husband and I try to serve him what we are eating, he refuses it. And when that happens, he simply doesn't eat. I'm worried that his nutrition is severely lacking. What can we do?Question:
Despite the limited variety of food your son eats, he's at least eating a good balance of nutrients. A diet of cheese sandwiches, cereal, milk, bananas and orange juice includes fairly adequate protein (from the cheese), a generous supply of carbohydrates (from the bread and cereal), a source of vitamin A (from the orange juice and milk), a great source of vitamin C (from the orange juice) and lots of B vitamins and potassium (from the banana and grains).
The one nutrient that I would be a little concerned about is iron. At two years, your son still needs iron from his diet. If the cereal he is eating is iron fortified, then he should be okay. If he is not eating an iron-fortified cereal, then consider a child supplement of iron. He should be getting 10 milligrams a day.
To get your son to eat a larger variety of foods will require a generous amount of patience. Toddlerhood is characterized by a dislike or fear of new foods, so familiarity is the key to acceptance. Try serving your child foods that you think he will like at family meals over and over again. Include a small portion on his plate and let him take it from there. If he won't even touch it, that's okay. Just be sure that you also have one or two of his favorite foods on hand so he won't go hungry. When he gets close to being willing to taste something new, assure him that he can take it out of his mouth if he doesn't like it.
It may take months or even years before your child expands his food repertoire. Until then, continue to include him in family meals and let him know you are enjoying his company. Keep the emphasis off what is or is not being eaten, and keep it on the family. Make it a time to share the enjoyment of good and healthy food, and little by little your son will add new foods to his diet.Answer: