Tips on feeding a picky 2-year-old?

My two-year-old does not want to eat anything that’s food. Junk food, yes gladly, juice, water, milk…but not food. I have to repeatedly tell my two-year-old to take bites, and when she finally does, she’ll chew the food but won’t swallow it. She’ll just keep it in her mouth until it makes her gag, and she has to spit it out. I have told her if she’s not gonna eat her food, she’s not gonna get anything else besides water. The only problem with that is she’s not faced because she’ll get filled up on liquids (water)and I can’t tell her no she can’t have any water. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and her kids were staying with us. She had trouble getting her kids to eat, and they would chew the food but hold it in their mouths, my daughter loves them and would mimic everything her kids did. My 2year old is an only child, so she’s never seen how other kids are. A day here and there with her cousins but not daily like she was with my friend and her kids. It makes sense it’s other kids she’s excited she wants to do what they do, but it’s really become a problem, and I have tried just about everything. Time out, taking away her drink, politely asking her, taking her toys away, no cartoons, spanking her butt, taking tablets away. She will not give in, and I also can’t force her to eat. Any advice on how to get her to eat? Or tactics I could use.


Dont smack her for not eating!! :rage::rage:


Don’t give her the junk and she will eventually be too hungry to refuse to eat?

Following, cause I also have a little 2 year old boy who ONLY wants to eat bread, potatoes, and sweets

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Go the “Division of Responsibility” route. Punishment is just going to make her rebel more.

Okay so, my 3 year old wouldn’t eat.
I put extra on my plate because she would eat what I have but she wouldnt eat what she had. So I scraped it off my plate and gave it to her.
This is how I got her eating at first.
Eventually I didnt have to “share.” Because I showed her that we had the same thing.

You ever think maybe she might have a feeding issue? Swallowing issues? Look into that…

She’s two…so you keep offering her foods, never restrict access to water, and remember her stomach is about the size of her fist, which is why it seems like she doesn’t eat anything. Give her milk, and regular snacks. Sometimes kids will hold food in their mouth that they can’t yet manage. I can tell you one thing though, punishing her for not eating isn’t going to help your cause. You’re just going to be punishing her and she won’t fully understand why. She’s only 2…


It’s honestly a phase they go through. But punishing them not to eat is just going to make them not want to eat anymore. Doctors will always say if you can get them to eat just give them what they will eat something’s better than nothing. Offer better snack choices and don’t forget their stomach is 10 times smaller than ours

Try smoothies, frozen fruit, yogurt, milk or frozen fruit and fruit juice, I have also done frozen fruit and coconut water, other additives like ground flax and cocoa powder and stevia in the raw, monk fruit in the raw, splenda!

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At 2 she doesnt understand them rules. Toddlers go thru that its the only thing they can control. Also tastes and texture changes. My 20 month old used to love pb and j and barely likes bread anymore. Pick your battles some times my toddler eats chicken nuggets for 3 days bc that’s all she will eat other days she eats tons of stuff. Try fruits when she dont want to eat.

Have you ever thought she may have an issue with certain textures. Im sorry but some of the punishments your doling out sound like child abuse. She’s two for crying out loud

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It is a stage thing. Our doc recommended this to help supplements the calorie and nutrition

She’ll eat when she gets hungry enough. Just offer her plate at meal times and don’t give her anything in between. I know you don’t like seeing your child not eating but she will not starve herself. Punishing her is only stressing you and her. Give chewable vitamins to supplement.

My 3 year does the same thing. I only give healthy options and limit drinks to 1 cup of milk or juice at each meal then water through the day. I don’t give in to her and tell her that what I made is what’s to eat. She can either choose to eat or wait until the next meal. Sometimes she doesn’t eat them asks for a snack so I just calmly explain that she won’t get a treat or snack until she eats real food. Kids are stubborn and like to test the limits. Stand your ground. She will eventually decide that it’s best to eat the meals she’s offered. As for chewing the food then keeping it in her mouth until she gags… At that point it’s just a losing battle. I normally have mine spit out the food, take away her plate, and explain that we need to eat the correct way or we will have to wait until the next meal. Also, give her some choices to get her involved and more interested in the food. Maybe let her pick out a side to go with the meal (give her 2 choices). Good luck. It’s just a stage and it will get better.

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Fruits, veggies, lean meats, healthy foods. If you don’t introduce kids to junk they wont want it. Water, milk. Limit juice.

I feel these “not eating” post over greatly over exaggerated…
There’s no way your child is going DAYS without eating solid food


You can certainly limit her water intake an hour or two before meals. You can also eliminate most of the junk food. If its not there, she can’t fill up on it. She will eat when she’s hungry. I have the same problem and the same guilty feelings with my 4yo. If you give in and let them eat what they want, instead of what they need, it will never get any better.

Edit to add: no judgement whatsoever, I swear. I just re-read this, and I promise I didn’t mean it as harsh as it sounds, just trying to offer a few ideas.

Don’t cave in and give her the junk food and stop giving her junk between meals too until she starts eating her regular meals again. When she asks for a snack offer her real food and when she is hungry enough she will eat what you offer her. Right now she’s testing her boundaries. My daughter went through this phase around this age and got over it. My sister in law’s son is 6 and still wont eat other than junk food and chicken nuggets because his mom just caves in.

We stopped giving our toddler a drink with her dinner. We also pushed feeding times apart further by an hour, don’t give her snack times as much, and if she refuses to eat we do force her to take a bite to show her the food tastes good and she’ll usually eat afterwards sometimes. We also started to give her ultimatums: bed or eat. It’s working better than anything else we tried. We stick to the ultimatum too, we don’t let her crying cave us and we aren’t making her different things.

Continue to give get fluids but withhold then 30 before meal and tell her she can have a drink after she eats. If she dosen’t eat wait 30 after meals are over before giving her more fluids. She’ll eventually eat something from being hungry. Also she still needs some milk at that age. If she eats her meal give her milk afterwards. If nothing else give her something like ensure (I think they have a kid type drink like it) so she’s still getting nutrients

Pediasure weight gain drink is what I use. Twice a day. I have the same problem.

Honestly there is days mine dont eat drinks more fluids snacks whatever bit there is days he will eat so well its a phase let them run around be busy even if they run back an forth for a bite here an there i dont understand my 3 year old but somtimes they are just not hungry even though we wanna make sure they are eating doctors say they will eat when they are ready

Sit there till you eat at least some. Nothing between meals unless it’s real food , fruit, vegetables,

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In was a picky eater and my son was too. I can tell you from personal experience that they still Winchester didn’t no matter what someone said. My son & I have sensory issues I like flavor but textures I hate. The feel of it it’s awful, my son
Liked protein shakes now he’s older he says somewhat. Pick your battles it’s not worth it they’ll day when they’re ready.

My son will often times refuse to eat too. He loves yogurt and apple sauce though. So often times i start the ball rolling with that. Then since he’s already in eating mode, I will give him whatever I have made for dinner and he usually just keeps on eating

Make her a plate and Serve food. That’s what is for dinner and if she’s hungry enough she’ll eat.

Put her in daycare 2 days a week, if not more. She’ll follow those other kids eating in no time. If that isnt possible maybe try watching videos of kids eating on YouTube. God knows they have videos of anything and everything these days

She WILL eat when she gets hungry enough, I promise!!! Try not to give into any junk food or cravings, which is easier said than done Mama (I am definitely a prime example of loving junk food more than meals). You want your baby to eat, if course, but it really is just a phase. F**k these negative ass moms that are posting bs, and go with your “mom instinct”. People have lived on bread and water for millions of years and haven’t died. She will adjust and figure out what she likes and dislikes soon. It’s going to be ok!

…My advice is allow her to eat whatever for now,giving her vitamins to make up for the nutrition she is not getting…causing a power struggle at this young age will only lead her to stronger aggressive behavior,low self esteem & eating disorders & other food issues…speaking from experience here…I was a very picky eater at a young age…have struggled with every single eating disorder…later found out that I had severe food allergies that was why I instantly didn’t eat certain foods…no one should be forced to eat anything they don’t like…period…


Assuming she was able to eat normally before, this is a normal battle. The only 2 things kids can control is what goes into their body and what comes out, so those are your 2 most common battles with little ones. It drives us crazy with worry, but they will eat something if they are hungry. Serve well balanced meals with a variety of choices (a grain, a dairy, a fruit/ veg and a protein). At the beginning of the meal, let her know that when you’re done eating, the food is going away, so if she’s hungry she’ll need to eat. Don’t speak about it again until you give her a 5 minute warning that you’re almost done and the food is going away when you are.

When it’s time, say “okay, lunch is over. I’m taking our plates. No more food until snack/ supper, etc”. Say nothing more. Get her down from the table and let her go play. Limit her to 8 oz of fluids at the table (preferably water so that she’s hydrated, but not filling up on other stuff). Don’t slip her snacks and treats between meals. If she says she’s hungry, offer her what you had at the last meal or a healthy option (like a fruit or vegetable). Something she’ll eat if she’s hungry enough, but not something she’ll hold out eating meals for because she knows it’s coming later. (If she says she’s hungry between meals and you give her a candy bar or treat/ junk food that she likes, she’s going to think that if she holds out at meals, she’ll just get a candy bar or whatever and then you’ll have a super hard time getting her to eat anything good at mealtime.)


Why are you hitting your child?:rage::rage:


Don’t give junk food.

Have her help you cook a simple meal.


My son’s Dr. told me “its our job to offer a variety of foods, and the kids’ job to choose what they eat of that. They won’t starve themselves.”

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When my husband was little he did the same thing and his parents took him to the doctor and the doctor told them that he will eat when he is good and ready.

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fruits nuggets baked potatoes shake and bake chicken

My dr put my kid on 2 oz of milk at each meal-he just wanted a big bottle and would not eat anything-he would fill up on milk and not eat-he was hungry when he didn’t drink so much

kobassa platters with dips carrots celery peanut butter and raisins

spaghetti pasta plain small children like plain too start . lemon as garnish

Mine went through this phase

Talk to your doctor and if they are unhelpful talk to another. This may be extreme sensory issues. My child has autism and will absolutely not eat 99% of what he’s given. Don’t starve your child, let them eat what they will and ask a medical professional. They may refer you to feeding therapy and/or a psychologist.


Ensure drinks would help if she starts loosing weight.

My three year old went through this when she was two and is just now doing better but consistency is the key. In order to get her to try new things you cant give in and you cant discipline her in 10 different ways. Ask her to try it and make it look really good to her! If she doesnt do it then whether its time out or nothing but water etc. Stick to your guns. She will give in eventually i promise!

  1. It’s a phase, keep trying the healthy stuff and not sweets 2. A 2 year old doesn’t understand being spanked over not eating. 3. Start with finger foods on her plate before you offer her drink.

My son went through this same thing when he was younger and now he’s 13 and eats like a grown man.

Well spanking because she does not want to eat is kinda wrong and maybe try limiting what and how much u give her yes she is going to cry for it and if not then just let her sit there till she is hungry


Had this problem with my first child she would literally not eat nothing and just drank milk she was in 2-3 clothes when she was 1 :sweat_smile: and that was all cow of milk anything I sat in front of her she would gag and be sick :nauseated_face: it’s awful I know exactly what your going through and the thought of them being hungry is my worst fear I act ring my hubby if I’m out at least 3 times a day and ask him what the kids have eaten… I was at numerous doctor appointments with her and they just panned me off with saying she’s a sensitive gag reflex! I started putting water in her milk so she wouldn’t feel as full…eventually over time when I took the bottle off her she started eating but she will only eat pizza/chips/sausage etc she loves fruit and water and now she’s in P2 I’ve started sending her to school dinners and she coming home telling me she’s eating chicken/salmon/rice etc which is great :+1: good luck with your little one x

Just leave out some healthy but yummy snacks within her reach. If she gets hungry enough she’ll eat. I babysat a kid that did the same thing trying to force it will just make it worse.

The doctor will tell you the child will eat when she is ready. I wouldn’t let her drink at dinner. She can always have a drink later. Shes not going to starve missing a meal. Offer fruits and vegetables for snacks. Maybe even keep a bowl out so if shes hungry she can grab one.

Dont supply junk food and keep offering her stuff, and let her be apart of it. But never given in with the crap food. No nuggets, chips and pizza and that sort of stuff… my kids got what they got or went with out and i even have a child with autism and there was no special treatment because of a diagnosis…


My kid is two and she doesnt eat much either. Never has. I give her pediasure. I wouldn’t get into a power struggle over it. Good luck! :blush:

Dont buy juice . And lock the snack door … only snacks after meals ! I’m doing the same ! And there juice is tne mio water flavoured lolmm

My mother use to sprinkle a bit of sugar in vegetables but I never had that problem with my kids just cook what she likes until she gets tired of it and stop buying junk food or keep it locked up somewhere that she doesn’t know about. I keep a refrigerator and small cabinet in my bedroom to keep sweets away from my grandbabies.

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You can’t hit a kid cause they won’t eat! I wouldn’t eat for you either.


My son was and still is picky. But one day we had some fresh baked bread from a Trinidadiann bakery and gave him a piece and it was eureka. He started real food with it and mastered vegetables etc. Do just try different textures and foods that will turn on his tummy’s desire.

Add ovaltine or instant breakfast to milk. Give her water at scheduled time. Make her sit at the table for dinner even if she’s not eating. Don’t make her a plate until she askes. She will eventually get hungry.

SIL put her daughter’s favorites on the counter in plain sight and said, “you eat, you get a treat.” Baby got a saucer of her favorite foods. Set the timer to 10 minutes. When it rings, the food plate goes away, baby gate closes, move on to another activity. NO snacks, no redo, no arguing. “Maybe you’ll feel more like eating at breakfast.” Trust me, she will not starve! Just offer to check her blood sugar {!} and she’ll get over that in a hurry. But use a small plate, keep serving sizes reasonable for her age and size, and distract. And keep those other kids away!

Made out of veggies she won’t even know
.healthy snack

Professionally speaking, when a child responds like that to food we always encourage seeking out a speech and language pathologist and doing a food study. Some children have sensory issues that cause the food issues. I would ALWAYS rule out physical before assuming a child is being naughty or disobedient. Once that’s ruled out, my suggestion is compartmentalized plates. 1 tsp of food per food type to start with. Bright and colorful foods and NO junk in the house. No water until AFTER the meal or give a cup with only an ounce or 2 of fluid to sip from. No refills till the food is gone. Cut out snacking between meals and limit water between meals, milk can be given after a meal as well if they still have milk.

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My 3yr old is the same. But he loves the baby food pouches. Have you tried those?

My son is 17 months old and he’s still picky on everything :weary: so I feel your pain, let me know how things work out for you :sob::joy:

2 of my 5 lived off PB and pizza
My one son 13 only recently started having ground meat and still won’t eat mashed potatoes

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First of all, STOP PUNISHING HER FOR NOT EATING!!! That’s how eating disorders or food issues are created.

Second, make food fun. Get her involved in the food prep process, make silly faces or shapes out of the stuff on the plate.

Third, cut out the juice altogether, and junk at least during snack time. Offer cut up veggies, fruit, and green smoothies instead.

When my son doesn’t want his food he’ll gladly eat the food (which is the same) off my plate. For some reason mom’s food always tastes better.


I have the same problem when my 6 yr old boy is visiting with his 6 yr old cousin… mimics everything he does including barely eating…but when we separates all of sudden his appetite is back…funny how that works…

Let her go hungry :woman_shrugging:t4: make her meals and snacks; have it available. But don’t give in and let her have junk.
I’d also limit her water intake. Yes, you can deny her water to a point. Don’t let her have so much that it’s keeping her belly feeling full.


My son used to like the taste of steak but wouldnt swallow it…just chew it up and spit it out. He still managed to get the nutrients he needed from that. Growing up and as an adult now he prefers soft meat like hamburgers, sausages and chicken. Some kids dont like the texture of chewy foods. It could just be that she is continuing to copy her cousins. Buy vitamin water and let her keep drinking milk (no juices) and see how long she can last.She will not die of starvation and you wont have to argue with her about eating. The more you push her to eat the more stubborn she will get.

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Juice is a big tummy/ empty calorie filler. I lay out options for mine. Let her know that being good thru out the day and eating our meals can earn us a special treat at the end of the night. Sometimes let them go at their pace. Mine sometimes we will set it on the table, she gets in those eat on the go and go back and forth. She is now 3 1/2 and is still picky as hell. We lay out the options of healthy food and yeah sometimes it’s a matter if there truly hungry to eat or try something new. Its about compromising and caving in. Baby steps, good luck.

2 is a very big texture issue with kids as well . And if she is eating other food I’d just let her at least you know she is eating then. My 2 yr old fights but will eat other food. I’m just happy that she is eating foods. And if your worried about nutrients etc. Get the vitamin gummies to compensate untill she eats for variety of foods

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Make it in smoothies, they do get out of that faze just takes awhile

Why does a two year old even know about all of that junk food since u r the person probably most responsible for his feeding :crazy_face::crazy_face::crazy_face::crazy_face::crazy_face:

My now 10 year old has texture issues with food and they started about age 2. He lived off of peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, v8 juice, and water for ever. We tried fighting him to try new food but the doctor told us that ass long as he is eating something her is fine and one day he will grow bored of his bland food and try new food. This happened last year. Still loves his peanut butter but not jelly. Will eat cauliflower and broccoli tots but not fries or mash potatoes. Now he eats about any kind of meat. So if there is no medical reason I wouldn’t fight her, just offer healthier options. Trust me you will need to save your battles for when she’s 15.

We had this problem we stopped giving snack after 3 and they started eating most of their dinner my 2 year old son still will eat everything but his meat hoping that he will out grow that like his sisters did

Dont force her to eat she will eat when she gets hungry leave out little snacks she can get to not just junk do veggies


When my son was 2 he had the exact same problem . I talked to his doctor and she said he will eat when he eats . As long as your child is healthy their food taste will change . Also his dr told me of he wants ice cream then give that to him it has milk in it . I had to also trick him . He loved rice but didn’t want to eat meat so I would make the meat as small as I can and mix it with the rice and feed it to him and he never noticed it was in there