Conquering Feeding Hurdles

Are you dealing with a child who will only eat certain foods and more than likely its not healthy? Are you tired of stressing over whether or not they are getting all of the nutrients they need? Well, we have come to the rescue! We recently teamed up with Pediatric Nutritionist, Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CLC for a one hour long Q & A session dedicated to feeding our little ones. Get the full recap here.

Here are some common questions that were asked and answered relating to feeding hurdles.

My almost 4 year old refuses to eat vegetables. There will be days and days that he goes without eating one single veggie, it’s so frustrating! I don’t force him but we do talk about healthy eating habits and how important it is. I really believe in balance and allowing my kids small treats now and then especially when they’ve been eating healthy otherwise. He sees his 6 year old sister eat vegetables every night. My one rule with him though is that if he doesn’t eat any veggies at dinner he doesn’t get a snack before bed. I just worry he isn’t get all of his nutrients.

It seems like you are doing everything right in that you are offering veggies at every meal and exposing him to eat without “forcing” him. Sometimes there are kids who are particularly stubborn when it comes to eating their veggies. I find that it’s helpful to blend some veggies into foods like muffins, pancakes, meatballs, burgers, sauces, etc. to at least get some fiber and nutrients into him while also always exposing him to the whole veggie so that he can see it. Sometimes having him prepare the veggies will make him more willing to try them. But this needs to be done consistently. So, it can be a weekly or 2x per week occasion that you are preparing a veggie based dish. For a child like your son who refuses to try any veggies, just having him touch and smell the veggies is considered a success before he will be willing to taste it!

Hi my nearly 3 year old will only eat crunchy food. I don’t have much trouble with veggies, but have trouble with getting him to eat meats and dairy, and he won’t touch anything with sauce of any kind. What are some good ways to get him to eat more proteins?

It can be challenging when kids develop certain strong food “jags” or preferences. On a positive note, it is great that he eats veggies.  It is important to understand how much protein a 3 year old needs – it really isn’t too much! He likely needs only about 15- 20 grams per day and to give you some context, 1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein, 1 egg has 6 grams, 1 chicken cutlet has 25+ grams of protein, so it does add up. Fish sticks may work for him as can burgers made with some homemade crispy potatoes. If he likes crunchy you can try homemade breaded chicken fingers – I love these almond flour crusted chicken fingers:…/paleo-almond-chicken…

My child is a snacker. When I tell her it’s time for lunch or dinner she tells me “no” and she wants a snack. How would you approach that?

I recommend moving towards 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. If she is filling up on snacks, which is called “grazing” it could really take away her appetite for meals. If she asks for a snack, you have to keep reinforcing that it is meal time, but if she doesn’t want to eat what you offer she doesn’t get another meal/snack until the next scheduled time.

Some children really put up a battle. From my experience working with so many families, consistency is key. If you keep to your “rule” whatever the rule may be, it is important to keep to it for a few weeks and have all the caregivers in the house keep to it as well. If your daughter sees that she can negotiate by acting out, it is negative reinforcement of her behavior. So, keep strong and remember you are doing the right thing even though it can be hard, and that it is OK if she skips some meals in this process… 

My 16 month old has issues eating when his teeth are coming in. It usually lasts 2-3 days then he can eat again, but during these days he only wants a surplus of milk and that’s it. Besides smoothies is there anything you recommend giving him?

I know it can be hard to see your little one refuse to eat, but that is completely age appropriate and normal while they are teething. If you weren’t feeling so well, you probably wouldn’t want to have a spoon forced in you. So, I would treat your son the same way, and he is in no way at a nutritional disadvantage by replacing food with milk for 2-3 days. Have you tried those mesh infant feeders? You can put a chilled banana or avocado in there and it can be soothing for the babies during teething…/dp/B000GK5XY2

My 3 year old is very picky. The only vegetable she eats is potatoes. She will willingly eat cereal, bread, yogurt, and fruits. It is a fight every night to get her to eat her supper, which is normally baked chicken or pork chops with potatoes. She is almost always constipated and gassy. I have her on nature’s plus animal parade vitamins. She weighs 26 lbs. How can I get her to eat more nutrient filled foods and more food? Should I be concerned about her weight? Should I try nutrition drink?

Sometimes being constipated can actually lead to pickier eating and slow weight gain because she is uncomfortable. So, I would work to tackle her constipation first – add more fluids and fruits like prunes and pear nectar or chia and ground flax seeds. Then, when it comes to expanding her palette, this cannot be done overnight but I recommend a few things: 1). cooking or grocery shopping with her consistently 2). re-do the structure at meal times that does not include force feeding or convince feeding – please see some of the threads below on picky eating that I address this 3). Blend some veggies into foods like meatballs, pancakes, burgers but also placing the whole veggie on the table so she is exposed to it. I would stay away from nutrition drink to start because sometimes that takes away their appetite from eating actual foods



About Nicole Silber

Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CLC is a registered dietitian, board certified specialist in pediatric nutrition and certified lactation counselor. Nicole has worked with hundreds of children and families with chronic medical conditions, food allergies, picky eating, oral-motor and processing disorders, infant nutrition, breastfeeding, gastrointestinal conditions, prematurity, underweight and obesity. She works in private practice in New York City and also serves as Pediatric Nutrition Expert for Beech-Nut baby foods. Prior to her current roles she was a clinical nutritionist at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia and New York University Fink Children’s Ambulatory Care Center.

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