Food Strikes

We were excited to once again have partnered with Pediatric Nutritionist, Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CLC for a hour long Q & A session dedicated to feeding our little ones. Get a full recap here.

Below are some common questions that were asked and answered relating to a more complete meal.

How much food should my 13 month old be eating? If we follow the rule of three, approximately how much should we serve and/or expect our little ones to eat?

It is hard to say a very specific amount because it depends on the food that is being eaten. For example, portions of veggies are typically larger than something very nutritionally dense like peanut butter or meat, etc. But, as a rule of thumb you can aim towards 1 cup portions at 13 months, so if each meal has 3 components than it’s about 1/3 cup of each component of the meal.

Rebekah (almost 3) is currently on a ” food strike” and there are seriously few things that I can get her to eat and none of them are very ” healthy”. She will eat pasta, cheese, chicken (mostly only nuggets), rice, ect. and HATES water. Her drink of choice is milk which is 1% Lactate free milk. Any tips on how I can broader her palate?!

Calorie needs for a toddler can fluctuate by up to 500 calories a day depending on their growth spurt needs! So, rather than forcing her to eat, she may not need that particular meal. I know it can seem disheartening to have your child skip a meal, but if your toddler doesn’t want to eat occasionally, it is likely because he/she doesn’t need the food at the moment. And, forcing the calories in can disrupt their natural ability to regulate their appetites. But, I will recommend not making her the typical “kid” foods just to get her to eat and to continue offering her nutritious foods. If you prepare her foods that you know she will eat but are unhealthy you are sending her a message that she can “hunger strike” and then she gets to eat what she wants. This can create a vicious cycle. And, cook and grocery shop with her without forcing or convincing her to try the foods she helps prepare!

I have a very picky 3 year old eater. I give her what we are eating because I got sick of making a separate meal. I do give her some fruits and vegetables that I know she will eat, however, the rule is she has to try what we are eating and sometimes we will be sitting at the table for a super long time before she will even try the food. Tips to get her to be more open to try new things and make dinner time or any meal really less of a battle?

Before you can expect your little one to try new foods, you first need to re-work mealtimes. I find that the more a child is “convinced” to try a new food, the more suspicious they may become. The first step is to re-establish feeding relationship. It is the parents’ responsibility to provide the nutritious food and it is up the child to decide if and how much they want to eat. It can be easier said than done, but it is actually OK if your toddler skips a meal or two during this process. To start, I would let your daughter know that she cannot have anything after dinner until the morning so if she doesn’t want to eat what there is she may be hungry. But, I would try this new approach that does not include forcing her to try what you make, which can lead to more stress, and create an opportunity for tension. What also helps is some meal planning in the beginning of the week with your child so that they can manage their expectations of what will be for dinner that upcoming week. I highly recommend a book called How to Get Your Kids to Eat But Not Too Much by Ellyn Satter.

My daughter (3 years old) has recently had to go dairy and gluten free. She is resistant to lots of new foods that I think she will like but she doesn’t *want* to like them because she is used to her old choices (For example, grilled nuggets vs breaded nuggets). Any suggestions?

Dairy and gluten free can be a challenge! I suggest temporarily making your household dairy and gluten free so that she is not singled out. I find kids tend to like the corn based gluten free pastas more. A good dairy free yogurt is coconut milk based yogurt and kite hill almond milk based yogurt. Smoothies are a good way to try some of these yogurts blended with her favorite fruits. I suggest cooking with her and meal planning with her on Sunday nights so she can feel empowered and choose what she can have for that upcoming week (of course with your guidance) – for example, she can choose between meatballs or chicken for Monday night. I wouldn’t suggest asking her open ended questions, such as “what do you want for dinner” because than she will say something she cannot have and that will be a “no.”


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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