How do you get your toddler to eat well?

Violet is 2 years and 4 months old today. Ugh, that means she’s almost 2 1/2. Where did my baby go? But, being that she is in the midst of being 2, she has also become a picky eater. My little girl who once would eat almost anything set in front of her now would be happy to eat macaroni & cheese and chocolate milk three meals a day.

I do have luck on occasion getting her to eat bananas, strawberries, yogurt, and sushi (well, she would eat sushi any time I put it in front of her, but we haven’t had it since December). Today I succeeded in getting her to eat 2 chicken tenders and a banana for lunch, and vanilla Horizon milk while we were at Target.

But, 99% of the time she asks for macaroni & cheese. Not the good homemade kind that I make a few times a month – oh no, she would never eat that. It has to be Kraft or Target brand. I did have luck getting her to eat Annie’s instant mac & cheese the other night since it looks like Kraft. Even when we go eat at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, she will barely eat her mac & cheese. Why? Because it’s homemade, not Kraft. The other night I made Shepherds Pie for Scott and gave her a dish of it and she flat out refused. I had to make her mac & cheese.

And then there’s the chocolate milk. I can usually get her to drink a little white milk in the morning, and I just bought some Earth’s Best white milk drink boxes on clearance at Target today – she will drink those no matter what flavor they are because they are drink boxes. But it’s not exactly the best financial choice to buy all of her milk in boxes. I know that she’s still getting calcium in chocolate milk, but the calories are usually a lot higher than the 1% white milk that we drink. I did buy some fat free chocolate milk recently, but again, that starts getting expensive too.

When she wants to, she’s a good fruit and veggie eater. When she wants to. She loves bananas, and yesterday she stole about 4 strawberries from my lunch. She will eat raspberries like crazy, too. I don’t know that she has a favorite vegetable, but she used to eat pretty much any one of them put in front of her.

So, I’m reaching out to the moms who read my blog. What are your tricks to help expand your toddler’s meal selection?


  1. galina says:

    For milk, can you try mixing it with yogurt and pitting it in a sippy cup? That’s how Katja ate her breakfast for a number of years. Or you can try smoothies. There’s so much you can add to them to pack a punch.

    Also, we don’t really give choices. You eat what we eat or you don’t eat. Mama’s not a short order cook. No kid that’s being offered healthy, yummy food is going to starve themselves. We do have a rule that you have to at least try one hearty bite. Katja also always loved eating frozen veggies so maybe give that a try as well. Good luck, food battles are never fun.

    • Katie says:

      We generally do frozen veggies for her – and tonight she ate some mixed veggies, so that went well… but it was still with mac & cheese. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Galina says:

    Oh, I meant frozen as in don’t thaw them out. For some reason, both my kids prefer non fresh veggies that way. Katja won’t touch cauliflower, unless it’s frozen and then she’d eat a bag of it if I let her.

    • Katie says:

      ok, that’s too funny! No, but I’ve had times when I’ve made those green giant singles (corn or corn/peas) and she’ll put away the whole thing.

  3. Heather says:

    Oh Katie, I was in your shoes, with Dani. She wouldn’t eat anything put in front of her. She got on a kick where she would just eat mac-n-cheese, couldn’t throw in some spirals or anything, nope, wouldn’t touch it. Bologna. Hot Dogs. She is the pickiest eater I have ever come across. But we now know that hers has to do with texture of it. Hopefully for you it is just a phase that she is going through. I know how it is to have to fix the two meals, but now, if she doesn’t like what I am cooking, then she can fix herself something. Usually Ramen noodles, pizza rolls…all of which I keep on hand for that specific reason. Baileigh was alot easier to get to try foods, she is not near as picky. Usually she will eat what I cook, or at least try it.

  4. Maxwell says:

    Hi Katie, thanks for your great post! I could really relate. Raising a kid is without a doubt the greatest thing ever happened to me. However, being picky, like eating their food or even sleeping at their comfortable Toddler Beds For Boys for a short nap in the afternoon is what makes parenting a little crazy and pain in the neck! I found some interesting stuff in your blog as well as to the comments, it would definitely not hurt if I try a few of them to solve my little problem with my kid’s eating habit. Thanks!

  5. James Anderson says:

    I’m not the only one with a child at 2.5 years old who will only eat her favourite dish!! (stuffed pasta and tomato sauce). If I cook her a roast dinner she looks at me like I have put rotten food in front of her and then refuses to eat it or at the very best eats 3-4 mouthfuls. Keep the good ideas coming as I will try anything though she does eat salad and fruit which is good.
    James Anderson´s last blog post ..double buggies

  6. Little BGCG says:

    This is hard, I’m having the same issue with my one year old. Have you tried adding vegetables to the mac and cheese or does she just eat around that? I think the best thing to remember is she WILL grow out of it.

  7. Rachel says:

    Have you tried having her eat what you eat? I always have the hardest time feeding my son something else because he always wants what I am eating. Now, when I am home we do the same lunch and always eat dinner together. Our dinners aren’t geared toward a toddler, yet he manages to eat everything. I’m not saying he’s the best eater, b/c he’s super slow and sometimes doesn’t want to try the food, but once I *bribe* him and he tries it he actually likes it. I have found that he’s becoming less and less picky and is now asking less about what he’s eating and just diving it to take bites:)

  8. Rosie says:

    I don’t know any tricks, I guess you could try copy cat recipe books, but the recipes are often loaded with unhealthy ingredients. It is cute she’ll snitch your strawberries!

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