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  1. #1

    How do you get a strong-willed toddler to eat a variety of healthy foods?

    I have a strong-willed toddler who will cover her mouth with her hands and simply refuse to eat any foods she does not recognize or has tried in the past and disliked. Her diet consists of mainly carbs such as waffles, cereal and pasta. I would appreciate any advice on how to persuade my toddler to try new foods. Thank you so much for your insight.

  2. #2
    Hi Jen,

    In your introduction you mentioned that your youngest child is 2 years old, so I'm going to assume that you're question refers to your 2 year old.

    If it's a food she has tried in the past and disliked, then I'd suggest that you change the way it looks (and tastes, to some degree). Let's say it was a piece of broccoli that you gave her, and she didn't like it. Sometimes children won't like the texture of something or they may not like the taste (or both).

    I would then try putting the broccoli into something you know she likes. If you know she likes a scrambled egg with ketchup on top, you could steam the broccoli well (to nearly a "mush" texture) and then chop it up really fine, and introduce just a small amount into her eggs. Or find something that's green, that she likes, and mix it into that.

    I'm really not a proponent of "disguising" food so a child will eat it because I think it's important for children to learn to eat and recognize healthy foods. But in this situation, you really do want to help your daughter to eat the healthy foods, first and foremost, and later you can work on helping her recognize the food in it's true form, after she has developed a taste for it.

    I know of a mom who had a child who would not eat the mushrooms and onions in the spaghetti sauce she made. So that mom sauteed up the mushrooms, onions and parsley, with butter and olive oil. When they were tender, she blended them with the canned tomatoes. She cooked up the ground beef and just mixed the blended tomato sauce (with vegetables) into the ground beef and served over pasta. He LOVED it and never knew he was eating mushrooms, onions and parsley.

    If you'll give us some examples of foods your daughter is rejecting, and a list of foods that your daughter really likes (try to focus on fruits, vegetables and proteins, as it looks like she doesn't have a problem with simple carbohydrates like cereal, pasta and crackers).

    Oftentimes children will be much more willing to eat foods that they've had a part in preparing. This works really well for 2-5 year olds.

    You'll find some ideas on foods that your child can help you prepare in the baby led weaning thread.

    Warm regards,


  3. #3
    Thank you so much for the response Kate. Yes, it is my 2 year old that is refusing new foods. My daughter refuses to eat meat, any vegetable besides corn and most fruit besides bananas. She will eat most carbs that are presented to her. I really appreciate the feedback - thanks!

  4. #4
    Hi Jen,

    Okay - so bananas and corn go right along with the carbs that she seems to be craving (craving to the point where she is refusing much of anything else).

    Would you say your daughter is underweight, overweight, or just right?

    Are you breast feeding her, is she on formula, cow milk, goat milk, or any kind of milk?

    Does she like juice?

    How much milk and juice is she eating each day?

    How does she sleep at night? What time does she go to sleep and what time does she wake up?

    How much does she sleep during the day?

    What would you say a typical day looks like for her (i.e. sitting, active play inside, active play outside)?

    Sorry for all the questions but my initial thought is that there's a nutritional imbalance that, if corrected, could allow her body to stop craving sugars and carbs so that she then is willing to eat more healthy foods.


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