Author Topic: 20 month old continually refusing dinner  (Read 798 times)

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Offline jfrancis

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20 month old continually refusing dinner
« on: July 01, 2017, 09:57:49 am »
Hi.
My 20 month was a good eater until we hit around 18 months old, which is when she started refusing to eat meat and veg, unless it's all minced together, i.e., meatballs.
We did baby led weaning since the beginning and I've always made sure meal times are low stress, she can eat if she wants, or not if she doesn't want to. This usually worked well, she would eat most things and if she stopped, it was usually due to teething or something.
The last few months, she been refusing veg (in any form) as well as meat unless it's in patty form. Now she's refusing to eat dinner at all, unless it's pasta (her favourite).
She still gets a bottle 240ml when she wakes up in the morning, and a smaller one 150ml before bed time of a night.
I was thinking of getting rid of the night time bottle so that she learns that if she doesn't eat dinner that she goes to bed  hungry...
Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm starting to get very frustrated and feel like making her sit there until she eats something (which is not a good idea I know).
Thanks in advance  :)

Addit: I should also mention that she eats breakfast (8am) lunch (11:30) and an afternoon snack (3:00) as well. She eats her snack roughly 3 hrs before dinner at 6pm.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 10:01:40 am by jfrancis »

Offline creations

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Re: 20 month old continually refusing dinner
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2017, 08:52:19 am »
It's common for toddlers to eat more in the morning and early afternoon hours than they do in the evening, they can still get all the calories they need despite adults feeling that meals should be more evenly spread across the day.  This can often lead to what looks like fussy eating at dinner time, just going for the things they really like rather than eating because they need the calories.
I had a great tip here when mine ate very little protein which was to switch breakfast. Rather than offering his usual carbs heavy breakfast (muesli) I was advised to offer protein.  Honestly I was worried about trying it as we had such a strong routine, but I did it and it worked out brilliantly. I gave him an egg (omelet) instead of his muesli and he just ate it as though that's what he always had for breakfast.
Mine had previously liked eggs but had been refusing them at lunch and dinner time for ages which had me baffled.  I felt much more relaxed about protein for the rest of the day once I knew he'd had a good portion at breakfast so the whole anxiety thing was gone.
How about saving a portion of your usual evening meal including the meat and veg (not always made into meatballs unless that is how you are having it anyway) and offering it at breakfast time instead?  It may sound odd but she might just go for it in the morning when she has a good appetite.

Similarly many people find their LOs don't eat dinner so well if it is after 5pm.  Mine used to eat dinner really well at 4pm/4.15pm but leave it any later and he just wasn't interested.  You might consider shifting the E times so that she has a "proper meal" at 3pm (if that fits around nap times) or 4pm with the food groups you want to offer rather than this being a snack, and then including her in the 6pm meal time more for the social aspect so she can join the family at the table for good habits and a nice bit of chat with a couple of bits of finger food as a supper/snack rather than you being worried and anxious that she needs to eat.

Another thing at this age is that they dont' always need as much as we think they do. We can get very used to providing large portions and our LOs eating them because they go through growth spurts etc, then after the growth spurt we panic that they are living on fresh air.  Don't panic though, your LO isn't going to starve herself - and in terms of balancing the food groups you can do this by switching around what you offer and when.  You don't need to make pasta and meatballs every night to accommodate her apparent fussiness, but rather accept that she is probably not as hungry as you might expect.

If you decide to drop the BT milk I would suggest you do it as a wean over a few nights, offering maybe that 6pm snack with a cup of milk then reduce the BT milk by 30ml or so.  Over a number of nights the BT milk can be dropped tear-free.  I did similar to this when mine was 12 months old and had no trouble (again I was nervous about it, but it was very smooth).

hope something here helps - I can still remember quite clearly how worried I was that my DS didn't eat protein and the relief when he tucked into his protein rich breakfast every morning without fuss.  What a joy!!


Offline jfrancis

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Re: 20 month old continually refusing dinner
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2017, 02:51:58 am »
Thank you for the suggestions.

I've tried offering the dinner time meal and breakfast and lunch time and it still gets refused, I think she just is a picky eater. We have eggs for breakfast once or twice a week anyway, sometimes she eats it, others she refuses.

Haha... I understand that toddlers don't need to eat as much as we think... sometimes she has existed on what seems to be thin air for days at a time, lol. She is growing well, so I'm not too concerned about amounts in general. Just wish I could get her more interested in meats and veges.

Unfortunately I cannot get dinner on the table before 6 of a weeknight due to work, so I'm afraid the 6pm dinner has to stay. Maybe I will try offering the dinner time meal at her afternoon snack time at day care and see.

The general rule I've been following so far is to have her sit at the table with us at dinnertime, whether she eats or not is up to her. Do you think it's a good idea to keep her at the table until at least one of us adults has finished their meal? Often when she doesn't want to eat her meal, she want's down straight away and a tantrum ensues if I keep her in her high chair.

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Re: 20 month old continually refusing dinner
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2017, 11:26:09 am »
I'm a big believer in family meal times, I really think it is great for everyone to get together once per day at least to eat and socialise. However, 20 months is pretty young to expect a child to stay the whole meal time or even until one person has finished if she is not eating anything herself. Would she have a drink of milk perhaps?  I'd just have her stay a few mins.  I think Tracy said not to expect LOs to stay the entire meal but rather to let them learn gradually through practise.  My 6yo always asks to leave the table when he's done and even with him I usually say he can go, sometimes I ask him to stay a few minutes and tell us more about his day or we purposely ask him something we know he'd like to tell us about so there are a couple more minutes there.

The most helpful approach to picky eaters seems to be to keep offering them the foods you eat to keep them familiar with those foods. To put a little portion of something you know they like and will eat on their plate (but not only this) but not increase the portion just because you worry they are hungry.  And not to cook totally separate meals (who has time anyway?).
I also found with mine I could give him a little appetizer to get him going, a very few sultanas on his plate he couldn't refuse and that seemed to really get him going on the meal.  I don't think your LO is interested in fruit or dried fruit is she, but perhaps there is something else you could offer a tiny portion of along with the regular meal.