Food and Nutrition

6 Reasons Why Toddlers Refuse to Eat Food Well – How to Tackle This

Puja Sharma Vasisht
1 to 3 years

Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht
Updated on Mar 28, 2017

6 Reasons Why Toddlers Refuse to Eat Food Well How to Tackle This

Everyone knows that toddlers can be fussy, picky eaters. Is your toddler not eating food? Or maybe they only want to eat one particular thing? Perhaps they reject all the yummy food you make in favour of junk food! All this is much more common than you think. In fact, there are many, many problems regarding toddlers' food—lack of interest, not chewing, not swallowing, picky eating etc. 

Reasons Why Toddlers Refuse to Eat Well 

This blog, by our Parentune nutritionist, rounds up 6 common food problems and offers reasonable, doable solutions to tackle toddler's problem of not eating well.

#1 Being Choosy

We all have our food preferences, likes and dislikes. But if the child just prefers to have only few foods over all other foods, then it is a problem. It is important that the child should be exposed to maximum foods and flavours, so that they develop a taste for them and have better nutrition from them.
What Need to Do? 

Start gradually by putting a very small portion of the new food to child’s plate along with the preferred foods. Make the child at least taste this new food. It is always better to make child have meals with the family. This encourages them to try a wider variety, foods which the family is eating.

#2. Not Chewing

This is another common problem in toddlers. Since the liquids, semi-solids don’t require much effort while consuming them, children sometimes don’t want to take solids as they require the effort of chewing.
What to do?
If the child prefers soft, mushy food, give only that for the time being. You can gradually introduce solid foods in diet, by giving one or two bites of it. Give soft foods like porridge of dalia, suji, sago, rice flakes etc. You may also give vegetable upma of suji, ragi etc. Try and make your child have meals with family. This would encourage them to start with solids. Starting with solid foods is a natural development in child’s eating habits. A child would start showing inclination for solids, i.e. she would ask for solid foods like biscuits, crackers, fruits etc on her own.  Children also follow each other. Seeing other children eat solid food would also encourage them to eat.

#3. Eating More of Junk Food 
Sometimes children prefer eating junk food over routine home food.
What to do?

Restrict the intake of junk food to minimum, to once a week/ fortnight. Don't keep any junk food in the house, so that the child is not tempted. Be firm in saying no, when child asks for junk food.  Be a role model yourself, by not eating junk food yourself. Fix meal times for the child, which is with family meal timings. Don't let him eat in between. Give him healthy options when hungry. You can make snacks healthier by using whole grain flour, vegetables and fruits. Try and make regular food interesting like chapatti veggies as Kathi roll or vegetables, cheese/shredded chicken spread over roti with ketchup. Give variety to your child in foods. You may give pizzas, burgers, pasta with lots of vegetables made at home only and on fixed days only. Try steaming, roasting and grilling methods instead of frying snacks. It would take some time and patience, to make the child understand.

#4. Eating with Gadgets

Children often eat with gadgets like mobile, laptops or even while watching T.V. If we try to break this habit, children refuse to have any meal at all.
What to Do?

If the child eats with these gadgets the chances are the child would miss the hunger and satiation cues. That is eventually the child would stop following the body’s natural demand for food and when the stomach is full. This can lead to obesity and child not enjoying the actual pleasure of eating. Studies have shown that these gadgets emit harmful radiations and can cause rapid brain development which can cause attention deficit and other harmful effects.
 

What to do? Set meal times as non-negotiable. Ensure everyone has food together at the table which will include you and your spouse. If you eat food with TV, it is going to be very difficult to stop the child. Also, when having meals, remove all gadgets from the table—no phones, tablets, etc. Even if the phone rings, ignore it till the meal ends. Also, have conversations and use meal times as bonding time to let the child understand the pleasures of eating with family rather than the gadget. Encourage your child to play with toys and spend more time in outdoor activities. It would be even better if parents get involved in games and activities with their children to make it more interesting.

#5 Not Finishing the Meal

Parents often wonder how to make their child finish the food served on his plate. 
What to do?

If the child is not finishing the plate, the reasons could be not liking the taste of the food, or he had something prior to the meal time, or the child has already eaten the amounts sufficient for him/her or is bored with the same food and wants more variety. It could be as simple as child not wanting to eat anything at that moment or the plate being overfilled with the food. Don’t force/bribe the child to finish the plate. Instead focus on what is reason and work on it.

#6. Too long to eat the food

Sometimes, the child may seem to keep the food in the mouth, forever. They neither chew nor gulp it down, but just keep it there.
What to do?

If the child continues to do that despite your attempts to make her finish, then stop feeding the child. Don’t offer the child any food till next meal time. This would help in two ways. First, the child could be genuinely not hungry at that point of time and was just keeping the food in the mouth. Second, the child was hungry and was being fussy about not eating the food. So if you stop feeding the child, the child will be hungry and would appreciate food when it is offered to him. This would slowly reinforce to the child to finish the food when it is offered.

 

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| Oct 26, 2018

thanks I am try these step to my child

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| Oct 26, 2018

thanks I am try these step to my child

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| Oct 26, 2018

thanks I am try these step to my child

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| Jun 08, 2018

So excellent information. From so many days I was searching this type of suggestions. Now I got it. I will also try to do with my child as possible. Thanks a lot for the information.

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| Jun 08, 2018

So excellent information. From so many days I was searching this type of suggestions. Now I got it. I will also try to do with my child as possible. Thanks a lot for the information.

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| Jan 20, 2018

madam I din t get the ans for he puts every thing in his mouth so that gets infection how to avoid this

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| Jan 20, 2018

madam I din t get the ans for he puts every thing in his mouth so that gets infection how to avoid this

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| Jan 20, 2018

madam I din t get the ans for he puts every thing in his mouth so that gets infection how to avoid this

  • Report

| Jan 20, 2018

madam I din t get the ans for he puts every thing in his mouth so that gets infection how to avoid this

  • Report

| Jan 20, 2018

madam I din t get the ans for he puts every thing in his mouth so that gets infection how to avoid this

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| Jan 19, 2018

Thank u mam

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| Jan 19, 2018

Thank u mam

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| Jan 19, 2018

Thank u mam

  • Report

| Oct 26, 2017

Thank u mam

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| Oct 26, 2017

Thank u mam

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| Oct 13, 2017

thank u for ur suggestion

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| Oct 13, 2017

thanks. I shall go for the last option, since all above ones I have already tried with him. thanks once again for the help.

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| Oct 13, 2017

thanks. I shall go for the last option, since all above ones I have already tried with him. thanks once again for the help.

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| Oct 10, 2017

Thank you so much maam

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| Oct 10, 2017

Thank you so much maam

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| Oct 01, 2017

Thanx... I will also implement it

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| Sep 05, 2017

Thanks I will follow it. Insha Allah

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| Aug 28, 2017

my daughter 2 and half years,,, not able to feed her correctly,,, eating with gadgets only... I ll try this .....

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| Aug 18, 2017

Thanks a lot for the guidance

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| Aug 16, 2017

Thank you ma'am 4 the guidance.... will do the same:)

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| Aug 16, 2017

Thank you ma'am 4 the guidance.... will do the same:)

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| Jul 26, 2017

Thanks a lot madam for ur suggestions I am very helpful once again thank u

  • Report

| Jul 26, 2017

Thanks a lot madam for ur suggestions I am very helpful once again thank u

  • Report

| Jul 26, 2017

Thanks a lot madam for ur suggestions I am very helpful once again thank u

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| Jul 26, 2017

Thanks a lot madam for ur suggestions I am very helpful once again thank u

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| Jun 28, 2017

Very useful tips. thanks

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| May 25, 2017

My baby girl is 2 and half years old. Sheis too long to eat near about 2 hours of each meal. l had try to do this(no. 6 what to do). But it was not effected to her. I told to her doctor,he prescribed the medicine but the result was again zero. Now what to do,please give me a suggestion.

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| Apr 27, 2017

my baby is 2 yr n 4 mnth old bt he has a good food habit... he dnt like noodles,junkfoods,etc.. is that good enough

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| Mar 29, 2017

hi.. my daughter is one year old.. and the problem is that she doesn't want to eat anything. .she just wanted my milk.. being a new mom it's really difficult for me and I am really worried about her

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| Mar 27, 2017

Has your child been engulfed by a fear that food can harm her and, therefore, refuse to eat? Well, your child may be suffering from food phobia. https://www.parentcircle.com/article/food-phobia-parents-worst-nightmare/

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| Mar 24, 2017

hello my daughter is 3yrs. She doesn't eat anything. she always keep food in her mouth n doesn't chew too for long period, she nearly takes an hour to complete her each meal. before she use to play Sid mobile n eat bt now tht also she doesn't. No fruits willingly or dry fruit she has .Milk also forcefully i have to gv her. it's very difficult to handle it .plz suggest something. thx

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| Feb 23, 2017

my son is four & half year. he doesn't eat without his favorite cartoon on . also sometimes hold food for times & don't chew, tried options you have given & will try again, is there other way? also very choosy about drinking milk

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| Dec 03, 2016

My child is 2 yr 3 months old. She is a fussy eater. She neither likes to have milk nor chapatti. What she loves to have is toffee. I have tried new new methods with her but of no use. Please help me out.

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| Dec 02, 2016

my daughter is 2yrs 3months old n she is a fussy eater. she will keep the food in her mouth for long ,neither she will gulp and nor chew. she even don't take milk. only fruits she likes. whatever information u gave is good and have tried all this but no change I notice. once again I will try this all. Thanks for ur valuable article

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| Dec 02, 2016

thnak u

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| Nov 11, 2016

thanks

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| Oct 15, 2016

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| Sep 23, 2016

thanks.

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| Sep 23, 2016

its really very informative article. thanks

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| Sep 17, 2016

thanks

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| Sep 13, 2016

very nice article. really..

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| Sep 04, 2016

Very informative

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| Sep 01, 2016

Thnks

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| Sep 01, 2016

very good article. my child also eats only watching gadgets, she doesn't chew the food . whenever I try to keep her away from gadgets while eating, she doesn't eat. but yes! I will try to follow the points of the article. Thanks :)

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| Aug 01, 2016

how early can we start to enforce these rules? my little one is 15 months old and he still doesn't understand his hunger cues. he can stay hungry for entire day.

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| Jul 28, 2016

Clapping, Clapping .... !

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| Jun 20, 2016

a good article with good info. I try most of the ideas shared but my two and a half year daughter just doesn't give in to any tricks or ideas. she just refuses to eat any solid food. she just prefers milk all the time. its very occasional that she eats a bread slice or a chappati. but 9 out of 10 days is only milk. she even doesn't like any fruits or juices or soups. so a tough time to handle her nutritional intake. can someone guide what should be done in such a case.

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| Jun 08, 2016

it's truth

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| May 26, 2016

Very informative....... n very true . instead of playing with toys kids do prefer to play with the gadgets, mobile phones these days...

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| May 16, 2016

Good info

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| Apr 11, 2016

Good Information

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| Apr 09, 2016

My son simply lay spits it out.. wants to eat only curd.. pls suggest

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| Mar 29, 2016

Informative.....

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| Mar 18, 2016

Really good information.

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| Mar 07, 2016

Very informative blog. Regards: e-pharmatimes. blogspot. com

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| Jan 27, 2016

@Pinky, Hi, children generally get fussy around this age with their eating habits. You may continue giving the amount the child eats without much fuss and try increasing the amounts gradually. You may read the following blog for more ideas. https://www.parentune.com/parent-blog/how-to-make-your-toddler-eat-right/545

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| Jan 26, 2016

My babies r of 1year they don't eat anything and Also I don't know how much should be their diet at one meal

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