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What's the best way to make a 2 year old eat his vegetables?

onetirednurse 2012/07/14 13:21:32
My husband and I are at our wits end here. As my husband says, "I can take down a gang banger single handed... What?? Go chase that stolen car down? No problem.. But my 2 year old son puts me to shame because I can't make him eat his veggies". He is beginning to think all hope is lost. Anyone have any ideas how we can get him to eat some veggies??
He does eat potatoes, and corn on the cob but that it. Every thing else gets thrown on the floor..
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  • c.stuartHardwick 2012/07/14 13:39:28
    c.stuartHardwick
    +4
    1. Never betray or discuss your own preferences in front of them.
    2. Never, EVER, offer a reward of something sweet.
    3. Never serve more than they can realistically eat.
    4. Offer second helpings of anything desired ONLY after the plate has been cleared (which only works if the first course is a total of 3 to 5 bites)
    5. Have a rule that they eat at least one bite of everything on the plate.
    6. Be prepared to use force to enforce this rule. Expect to do so once or twice per child.
    7.If they eat one bite and want no more, so be it. Be prepared to offer a single bite of unwanted foods twenty days in a row.
    8, Totally use the little choo-choo, the little construction workers in the tummy, calling broccoli little trees, and whatever else you can think of.

    We did this, and at one point, had to tell them "You can't have any more greenbeans unless you finish your pie." But if you have already let them see that you think beans are yucky, accustomed them to filling up on a favorite food before trying anything else, and taught then that pie and cake is a reward, then, well, you're screwed.

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  • Mrs. Kathy Arch 2012/09/13 18:03:21
    Mrs. Kathy Arch
    +1
    Cheese sauce?
  • onetire... Mrs. Ka... 2012/09/13 18:11:25
    onetirednurse
    +1
    That's a good idea, everything tastes better with cheese sauce LOL
  • Mrs. Ka... onetire... 2012/09/13 18:16:38
    Mrs. Kathy Arch
    +1
    Yes ma'am! Thank you. ;)
  • Pat 2012/07/17 06:11:34
    Pat
    +1
    I was not a good eater when I was a child. My mother, at her mother-in-law's insistence, took me to the pediatrician and he gave her a tonic that was supposed to increase my appetite. Well it did and I've been fighting a weight problem all my life.

    Kids will eat when they're hungry. I never made my kids eat vegetables or anything else that they didn't want. I figured when they were hungry enough they'd eat. Between vitamins and the other things that they will eat they always got enough nutrients and were always healthy. Now that they're adults they eat a wide range of foods some of which I won't even eat. I will say that when they were very little, they seemed to eat better when they could pick something up to eat it. So I never fussed over that either.

    Some tastes are acquired as you get older. No need to force them when they're only toddlers, they'll be eating all of these things soon enough.
  • onetire... Pat 2012/07/17 15:28:37
    onetirednurse
    +1
    He is a good eater, when we have spagetti which is his favorite he clears his plate. One noodle at a time which is cute :) I've never forced either of my boys to clear their plate, I detested it as a child. I just wish he would take a bite or two of carrots or green beans and not throw them on the floor and throw a hissy. As a picky eater myself I would never make them eat something I'm not willing to eat, like peas. I can't stand peas.
  • Pat onetire... 2012/07/20 08:34:50
    Pat
    +1
    I don't like peas either. But I love other veggies like carrots, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and lots of others too. Your children will acquire those tastes too as they grow.
  • onetire... Pat 2012/07/20 11:19:33
    onetirednurse
    +1
    You're right as the little one gets older he will acquire those tastes. My older son eats all veggies and always has. I couldn't keep veggies around for cooking because he would eat them all. He even ate red bell peppers raw before he was 10. The little one the complete opposite when it comes to veggies. At least he loves fruit :)
  • Zolfie™ 2012/07/14 18:51:30
    Zolfie™
    +1
    I don't have kids, so I'm just guessing here... but I'd try the reward system.

    The hard part might be figuring out what it is he REALLY REALLY wants... weather it's a food, drink, toy, blanket or what ever...

    But have dad sit next to him... give them the same things (say veggies and some food he'll eat and likes but not loves (don't want it to be better than the reward in the kids mind)...

    Then it's role playing time, Dad is the little kid and doesn't want to get the veggies, make sure the kid is watching... mom points to them... and gets dad takes a bite of the veggies and gets a small reward.... kids wants the reward with no biting of veggies... and will cry... got to let him cry a bit.... Mom points to the veggies, dad takes another bite and gets another reward.... and keep this up...

    After a while it's Monkey see, Monkey do... the baby figured out the reward system, when mom points to it, he'll get a reward to eat it.

    Might want to start slow, say one bite gets a decent sized reward... once the kid figures the system out, then maybe one bite gets a one bites gets an equal amount of reward... then hopefully if this works... you can then go to 2 or 3 bites gets a reward... and etc...
  • onetire... Zolfie™ 2012/07/15 05:35:55
    onetirednurse
    +1
    That would have worked for my older son for sure, but then he ate his veggies no problem. The little one tells me no for everything, even if I ask him what flavor of Popsicle he wants I get a NO. So I just have to let him take what color he wants. He is as stubborn as his father. Ive tried rewards for other things, he just doesnt fall for it. He would just as soon not sit at the table, that is a battle in itself..
  • Zolfie™ onetire... 2012/07/15 15:22:08
    Zolfie™
    +1
    well then you'll have to be just as stubborn. (and remember I'm not a parent... just trying to help with ideas)

    If he doesn't want to sit at the table, then don't make him. Just he gets no food until he does. (and yeah that sounds bad, but we both know you're a great mom and you won't let him starve or anything too bad to happen). but who ever is more stubborn in this case is the Alpha :P ... so are you the alpha or is he? :P :) And it's alright if he's the alpha (for now) but you'll need to change that before he turns 5 or so :P :)

    Put some food at his place (or near the table, that he likes and can see) and when he gets hungry he should want your help to get it... and should be willing to work with you to get it. Keep doing it and he should be able to figure it out ;)

    Also let him eat veggies anywhere he wants... like if he seem hungry on the couch or something get him some easy to eat soft veggies that are also easy to clean up if he throws them on the ground.
  • onetire... Zolfie™ 2012/07/16 07:08:38
    onetirednurse
    +1
    Actually I've made a decision.. He IS going to sit at the table, my brothers boys are horrible at the dinner table. They are allowed to roam free and I can't stand that. He is going to sit down, if he wants to leave the table it will be to go sit on his "time out stool" in the corner where there are no toys. If he doesn't want to eat fine, but he isn't the boss, we are. He will learn manners or spend a lot of time in "time out" THAT will be his choice from now on.. :)
  • Zolfie™ onetire... 2012/07/16 16:41:42
    Zolfie™
    +1
    wooo .... sounds like you just got a LOT more stubborn (which might be good in this case) :P :)

    Was it my stubborn/alpha comments or something else? :P Sorry if you didn't like those comments. Just trying to help... hope you're not upset with me. Good luck. And remember when he does it right give him rewards like attention and toys :P :)
  • onetire... Zolfie™ 2012/07/16 23:01:59
    onetirednurse
    +1
    No way am I upset with your comments. Pele below you said that our limits are being tested and if we don't handle it now it will only be worse later. She is so right, we need to be tough now so he will know he doesn't control the table or the household. She used her grand daughter as an example..
  • Zolfie™ onetire... 2012/07/17 00:00:14
    Zolfie™
    +1
    All depends on who's the alpha(s) :P :)
  • Zolfie™ Zolfie™ 2012/09/14 04:28:45
    Zolfie™
    Any update? :P :) Is he getting better at eating veggies :P :)
  • Pele Emerging 2012/07/14 16:24:33
    Pele Emerging
    +1
    There is some good advice already here. I'll just add that sometimes, having your child help choose and prep the veggies gives them a better outlook. Also, as one person already said, the one bite rule is a good one. Two year olds usually have a favorite word: NO. However, you are the adults. I'd put the one bites of the things he refuses on the plate and tell him, if it goes on the floor, you're down. You must eat ONE bite. If you still don't like it? Fine, but it stays on the plate. If he throws food on the floor, get him down, clean him up, and have him through with the meal. Offer him food again in a couple of hours, but offer him the ones he doesn't want to taste first, followed by the maincourse.

    Natural consequences are best, rather than rewards. You throw food or throw a fit? Your meal is finished. The good news is what you already know as a nurse. He won't starve if you delay his meal, and 6 or 8 small meals are better for his tummy than 3 big ones anyway, so stopping the meal won't hurt him. Be prepared for some tantrums at first, but stick to your guns. Consistency is the key.
  • onetire... Pele Em... 2012/07/15 05:27:11
    onetirednurse
    +1
    Yeah, his answer to everything is NO. Even if I ask him what kind Popsicle he wants I get a NO. I know he isn't starving, but he needs a balanced diet. You're right though, 6 small meals is better than 3 big ones.

    It's new territory for me, my older son ate all veggies cooked or raw. I always seemed to be out of veggies when I need them for cooking. He even eats red bell peppers raw as if it's an apple.

    We are guilty of not being consistent, sometimes we are just too wiped out to push it. We don't want dinner to be stressful, it should be a happy time for the family to relax and enjoy..
  • Pele Em... onetire... 2012/07/15 05:51:09
    Pele Emerging
    +1
    I hear you. I know how hard it is to be consistent. I had trouble with that, myself. My daughter was the picky one, but that was because she had so many food allergies that we never knew what was going to make her react. I still thought I'd split a gut when she told her kindergarten teacher that her favorite food was broccoli. She still likes that, though.

    I know that it may make dinner a struggle for awhile, but if you set the limits and enforce them--something reasonable, then eventually, he'll get it. He'll know that if he doesn't take one bite or throws the food on the floor, he's done with dinner and gets sent to his room until you're through (or a time-out corner or whatever is reasonable in your house. Best to you and your hubby. You just have a little guy who is testing his limits. If you don't make sure he knows them now, he'll really make you sorry that you didn't do it later. I see my oldest granddaughter doing that to her Mom. She's 14 now, and can still get to her mom and still acts like 2 around her, too.
  • onetire... Pele Em... 2012/07/15 07:52:59 (edited)
    onetirednurse
    +1
    Thank you Pele, I can always count on you for wise advice. When I was typing this question, you came to mind. :) Looks like Mathew will be spending a lot of time in his "time out seat". It's a little folding stool in the corner away from all his toys, he only gets sat there when he is in trouble. When he sees me unfold it he starts crying. I watch my husband's face turn so red during dinner. He is a pretty easy going guy, but sometimes I think he is going to internally combust at the dinner table trying to hold himself together. My personal feeling is that Mathew is equally as stubborn as his father.
  • Pele Em... onetire... 2012/07/15 14:07:37
    Pele Emerging
    +1
    It probably bugs your hubby so much because he is like his son. My second son and I have a lot of personality traits in common. In fact, our tempers are just alike, no matter how much he LOOKS like his father. When he was a teen, it made for some spectacular battles, as we knew exactly which buttons to push on the other and did it regularly. Funny now because Justin said to me, "You know, Mom? We really ARE alike, but if you'd said that to me when I was a teen, I would have gone ballistic!"

    I feel for you, but I have a feeling Mathew is a smart boy. When he gets that he doesn't have to eat all the green beans--just one bite (or whatever), but he can't throw it on the floor either, things will begin to calm down. Right now, he knows that he's in charge. Two year olds are born dictators. Time for the revolution to begin. Hopefully, it will be a bloodless coup.
  • onetire... Pele Em... 2012/07/16 07:19:45
    onetirednurse
    +1
    What you said about our limits being tested is true, we need to retake control now. He will have the choice of sitting at the table or sitting in time out. If he throws food on the floor, time out. Mathew will be spending a lot of time on his little stool. I don't want him to end up like my brother's boys, 6 & 3. They are horrible, they run around the table like little animals, they are in charge and my brother and sister in law just ignore them and eat. Mathew will learn that we are the boss, he doesn't have to eat everything on his plate but he will TRY everything on the plate. He is not going to control the table or feed the dogs anymore. It's going going to be ugly for a while but I'm looking at the long term goal of having a well mannered little boy when we go out to eat. Justin (my older is named Justin too) proved it is possible WE just have to make it happen..
  • Pele Em... onetire... 2012/07/16 07:24:15 (edited)
    Pele Emerging
    +1
    You will. It's exhausting to out stubborn a two year old, but you can do it. :-)
  • Rebel Yell 2012/07/14 15:27:17
    Rebel Yell
    +2
    When our oldest was a toddler, all he wanted was corn. We asked the pediatrician for advice. He said " Feed him corn and don't make the dinner hour a battle ground." So corn it was until he finally went for potatoes and rice . He's still a kid and picky about vegetables. Pretty sure he will never give eggplant or sushi a try. Green beans are daring for him.

    As for his brothers, they will try anything. I warn my wife to always move fast when they are hungry and looking for prey.
  • onetire... Rebel Yell 2012/07/15 05:21:45
    onetirednurse
    +2
    Maybe we give in too easy, we don't want dinner to be stressful. Just a couple of bites of green beans or carrots is all we ask. But it's the dogs that end up cleaning it off the floor, they seem to love it lol
  • Tink123 2012/07/14 13:58:05
    Tink123
    +3
    My son will sit and eat vegetables like they're candy. I started him with raw veggies - try to avoid really leafy or oddly textured stuff. And the more fruit (like grapes, whole apples, strawberries etc.) you can get him to eat the better. He'll become more accustomed to stuff like peelings, texture - the trick is to maintain a variety.

    He will eat anything he sees you eating and enjoying, you just have to stick with it. Present him with a choice, let him decide on his own - and then do not let him get up until he has at least tasted it. It's a slow and frustrating process, but he'll eventually relent.
  • onetire... Tink123 2012/07/15 05:16:44
    onetirednurse
    +2
    That is how my older son is. When he was young I couldn't keep veggies in the kitchen for cooking. He would even eat my red bell peppers raw. Mathew is the complete opposite, he loves fruits but veggies are a struggle I'm not used to. We don't want dinner to be stressful, we don't even expect him to eat all the veggies but a couple of bites of green beans or carrot would be nice. The dogs seem to love it though, they get everything he throws down lol
  • Tink123 onetire... 2012/07/15 14:50:35
    Tink123
    +2
    It's frustrating, immensely frustrating. My son is the same way, he'll devour bell-peppers, baby spinach and he loves cucumbers. It took a while to get him to try them the first time - many a dinner turned into a war of sorts. lol But I just kept reminding him that it's faster to eat and get it over with than it is to sit and pitch a fit.

    I found that when I offered him a choice, he was more receptive to trying it. They want to get their little say in somewhere. lol
  • sky blue pink - American 2012/07/14 13:57:01
    sky blue pink - American
    +2
    I used to use cartoon characters, daughter didn't like carrots until I told her about Bugs Bunny. Pop-eye for the spinach. Use your imagination and be creative. Good luck.
    Have a nice day !
  • onetire... sky blu... 2012/07/15 05:10:47
    onetirednurse
    +2
    I tried the Bugs Bunny thing with carrots, it didn't work, we are being out smarted by a 2 year old. Sigh.....
  • sky blu... onetire... 2012/07/15 09:37:35
    sky blue pink - American
    +2
    I am so sorry. The only other thing I can suggest is talk with his doctor.
  • rand 2012/07/14 13:51:14
    rand
    +2
    When I was growing up, if I didn't eat the main meal I didn't get dessert. I also was not given alternatives. Going to bed hungry isn't the same as starvation. The critical issue is your being consistent and firm in your approach...and to not stop showing your love.
  • onetire... rand 2012/07/15 05:09:13
    onetirednurse
    +1
    Very true, consistency is important. Something we are both guilty of not doing..
  • rand onetire... 2012/07/15 05:12:13 (edited)
    rand
    +1
    Research substantiates that affection and consistency are the two critical factors in raising a mentally healthy child. Inconsistency is a prescription for creating neurosis. With your child, I suspect you need to learn, understand, and use the power of ignoring. One last point, when you begin to extinguish any of his negative behaviors, it will initially get even worse, requiring even more perseverance on your part. Good luck.
  • onetire... rand 2012/07/15 05:43:13
    onetirednurse
    +1
    You're 110% correct. My older son was nothing like this. He was sitting at the table waiting for dinner to be served. He ate all his veggies without being told. He even ate raw veggies out of the fridge, I was lucky to have veggies to cook. Just getting the little one to sit down through dinner is a struggle. We try to make dinner a happy relaxing environment but it's obvious WE need to toughen up. My dream is that one night Mathew will eat his veggies and the dogs won't be cleaning the floor..
  • Bingo's Faddah 2012/07/14 13:50:55
    Bingo's Faddah
    +2
    Ask the kid if he wants peas or corn. Giving him a choice may work as he will be making a decision. If that doesn't work, cover the veggies liberally with bacon grease. Works every time!

    choice work decision work cover veggies liberally bacon grease works
  • onetire... Bingo's... 2012/07/15 05:06:59
    onetirednurse
    +2
    LOL. True, who doesn't like everything covered in bacon grease :P.
  • c.stuartHardwick 2012/07/14 13:39:28
    c.stuartHardwick
    +4
    1. Never betray or discuss your own preferences in front of them.
    2. Never, EVER, offer a reward of something sweet.
    3. Never serve more than they can realistically eat.
    4. Offer second helpings of anything desired ONLY after the plate has been cleared (which only works if the first course is a total of 3 to 5 bites)
    5. Have a rule that they eat at least one bite of everything on the plate.
    6. Be prepared to use force to enforce this rule. Expect to do so once or twice per child.
    7.If they eat one bite and want no more, so be it. Be prepared to offer a single bite of unwanted foods twenty days in a row.
    8, Totally use the little choo-choo, the little construction workers in the tummy, calling broccoli little trees, and whatever else you can think of.

    We did this, and at one point, had to tell them "You can't have any more greenbeans unless you finish your pie." But if you have already let them see that you think beans are yucky, accustomed them to filling up on a favorite food before trying anything else, and taught then that pie and cake is a reward, then, well, you're screwed.
  • onetire... c.stuar... 2012/07/15 05:02:21
    onetirednurse
    +1
    That's great advice, thank you :) I have to say, I very rarely have a dessert for after dinner. Neither hubby or I have much of a sweet tooth. I do have Popsicles and pudding cups for him but thats not something that is offered at the dinner table. My older son ate any veggie that was put in front of him. I've never been one to force clearing a plate, I hated it when I was young. It would just be nice to have him take a bite or two of green beans or carrots.
  • c.stuar... onetire... 2012/07/15 05:20:13
    c.stuartHardwick
    +1
    The trick is, only give him one or two bites of each thing to begin with. Then, clearing the plate is no biggie. When ours were toddlers, they couldn't each more than five or ten bites at one go any way. And naturally, if you give anything like adult portions, the eat what looks best and then their done. My mom used to give us a full 16oz glass of whole milk and then wonder why we wouldn't eat!
  • onetire... c.stuar... 2012/07/15 08:05:41
    onetirednurse
    +1
    My husband says I don't even eat adult portions LOL. He just gets a tiny amount on his plate. If he wants more he'll ask for it, or pick off my plate, that's his usual MO. Thank you again, I will take your advice to heart. It is greatly appreciated..

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