View Full Version : Cooking separate/different foods at mealtime for your toddler?

06-27-2005, 10:32 PM
How many of you moms with picky eaters cook some different for your toddler to eat at mealtime? I have been doing this for awhile, because Joshua refuses to eat any type of meat other than chicken nuggets, will not eat any kind of veggie at all, will only eat fruit pureed...it would probably be easier to just tell you the 5 basic foods he does eat rather than what he won't eat ;)

Everyone told me not to cook something separate for him at meal times, just to give him what we eat, and that if he was hungry, he would eat it. Ummm, not so much :) The chid went for 3-4 days of only eating breakfast. He was cranky and lethargic as ever, and I just refused to let it go on any longer after that.

So, I usually make him chicken nuggets, mac n'cheese, pasta, etc. something quick and easy for me to give him, along with a small portion of our meal--which he never eats.

I was at a playdate the other day, and everyone really gave me a lecture about doing this. I think I've been doing it for so long I hadn't really thought about it. But now I wonder--am I alone in this? Does anyone else fix a few extra foods for their picky eaters as well? I always try to include one thing in my menu that he will eat, but alas, since he only like a few foods, that's pretty difficult to do now days.

Do I just stop making a separate food for him, and let him starve for a week until he finally gives in? But what if he won't? (the child is as stubborn as his mother! ;)). I'm just afraid that I'm starting to hinder his development, rather than helping him by cooking something I know he will eat each lunch/dinner. What do you all think?

06-28-2005, 01:01 PM
I just recently stopped doing what you're doing. I did because I just got tired of the double cooking! I would have started to worry after three days of only eating breakfast too, and honestly DS has never done that. No wonder it's upsetting you! Right now if DS refuses to eat what I have in front of him I will offer him bread in addition (which he will eat) but I don't make him something I know he'll like better. The only thing I do on a regular basis is fix him a vegetable if we're eating salad, since he can't seem to chew lettuce well.

Perhaps you could taper it off, rather than just stopping abruptly. Say, don't custom make lunch for a while, but do dinner. That may help him adjust better. Have you done the thing that the book suggests by keep trying the same new foods 20-30 times? It really does take that long for some things for our DS.

If you've tried everything, it may be that he's sensitive to textures or temperatures. Have you thought of seeing what would happen if you offered him things cold (DS will eat sandwich meat hot but not cold, carrots cold but not hot, etc)? Some kids have what is known as sensory integration (which is manifested by eating issues, but also other sensory aversions). I'd be happy to talk to you about that if you think that's a concern.

Mommy to Matthew, who is TWO!

PS: The BBB has a TTC Yahoo group if you'd like to join up! Just email me!

06-28-2005, 02:12 PM
I'm going to email you about the texture issue--because that is a HUGE part of our battle. Please look for my private message. I will be on vacation for the next 1.5 weeks, so if I don't respond right away, that's why :) Thanks so much for your help!

06-29-2005, 01:45 PM
I have found that I have to do this for my ds as well otherwise he won't eat. A little history - he was 12 wks premature, IUGR 1lb 5oz, 13" and at 26 months is now about 25lbs, 36" (so tall, and skinny). He had reflux and oral aversion issues. We have seen a SLP about the oral aversion but not in a while. When he stopped gagging and throwing up I stopped going to her. It doesn't help that both dh and I work full time either, so it makes scheduling therapy appointments a little more difficult because it means taking time off of work (which we did a lot of his first year so it's been nice to get away from having to do that again). I guess once he started eating little bites of food w/o gagging I thought it would just get progressively better however lately it seems as if we're backsliding a little bit.

Anyway, I would love to hear more about what others do. I get so frustrated with mealtimes. Ds often will take two bites of something and then just pushes it away. I try to cojole him into eating another bit but then when I finally give up he says "ok" like, "I got my way!" He just doesn't eat enough. :-( I am getting ready to call the SLP again and also ask to speak with a dietician as well. Hopefully I can get some more good advice on what to do next.


06-30-2005, 01:23 PM
The SLP may help you, or perhaps an OT specializing in sensory issues.

In the meantime, though, have you read the book "Child of Mine: Feeding your Child with Love and Good Sense?" If not, it may help you; I have found it invaluable. The author does discuss children with prematurity eating issues and other problems, so you may find a resource in that. She mostly talks about how to alter your behavior (being less stressed and less "cajoley," which was a problem for my DH) which will in turn help your toddler's behavior. Since you've already noticed a correlation between your giving up and his pride in having "won," you may find the book to be sort of a relief. I certainly did.

BTW, if you get the book, start from the beginning and skip over the nursing/bottle feeding section, but don't skip much even if it seems your child is older than the audience she's describing. She sometimes makes her points buried in the middle. That's my only complaint with the book--poorly edited.

Hope that helps you...

Mommy to Matthew, who is TWO!

08-11-2005, 09:12 PM
I used to give my toddler separate foods and then decided to stop. This is what we do. If my toddler doesn't eat what we do, then I put it in the refrigerator and heat it up for the next meal. He gets the same food until he eats it. He ends up eating it. I don't give him something different at breakfast or lunch. He gets the food from the previous meal. We don't make him eat it all, but he at least has to try some of everything. If he truly doesn't like it, then I understand, but we were to the point where he wouldn't try anything I made.

Hope this helps.

Mom to Nicholas (3 in October) & Number Two arriving in 5 weeks

08-12-2005, 08:23 AM
Nick gets to pick out his breakfast and lunch food (the main items, I usually provide some fruit that goes uneaten). For dinner, unless we are eating something really bizarre, he is served what we eat. I do try to make sure there is at least one item I know he will eat, even if it's just bread w/butter. For the past three nights he hasn't eaten anything for dinner, just told me he didn't want to eat. We do provide a before bed snack.

Oh, and we have major texture issues here, so I am eager to learn any tips/reading material that might help us.

I do have to cook separate for Alex, but that's because he goes to bed at 6 and eats dinner early. I can't wait to stop cooking that food!

I find the feeding part of parenting to be the most frustrating, if it weren't for this, I would have a dozen kids! My kids are so picky, they won't even eat mac 'n cheese!

Mom to Nick 10/01
& Alex 04/04

08-12-2005, 02:35 PM
And I thought I had the only child in the world that won't eat mac'n'cheese.

We usually serve DS 1 what we eat at dinner, sometimes I'll give him a different veggie that what we eat. I like to eat different things than DS 1 for breakfast and lunch so he usually eats something separate from me and DS 2(11 months) eats something else! Then of course they are on somewhat different schedules for meals depending on what time they wake up that day. Somedays I feel like all I do is cook different foods for different people!

Of course, we have to look forward to the future and having 2 teenage boys that will eat us out of house and home!

Christopher 3/18/02
Andrew 9/28/04

08-15-2005, 01:31 AM
We eat later so I cook DD her meal separately. She used to be pretty good but lately has turned into a really picky eater and won't eat much at all. She has different lunch and breakfast (cereal or oatmeal) as well, but that's no big deal, I just ask her what she'd like and it's usually a sandwich, so ham for her and cheese for me is fine. I think if she won't eat, I'd rather give her something I know she'll at least pick at as she's pretty thin.
If you are just prepping easy stuff and you don't mind doing separate meals, you shouldn't worry about what other people tell you. It's easy for someone with a good eater to tell you to just give the same, but I couldn't let DD just not eat anything, she's too stubborn and would just go hungry and not give in (I've tried!). I don't want to turn mealtimes into a battle and it's getting that way even giving stuff I think she likes!
I think the eating part of toddlerhood is the hardest for me so far, trying not to get frustrated. Good luck, hope it gets easier.

08-17-2005, 08:36 PM
I just wanted to thank Allison for the book tip. I will check that out. I feel kind of bad I have neglected to check back in on this thread since I posted over a month ago! We are still struggling a bit with the eating but it does seem to be getting a little better. I like what the pp said - why worry about what other people are doing? Our children are individuals and thus not everything that is working for someone else will necessarily work for you. Actually I am just excited that ds will eat anything I put in front of him, whether it's what I'm eating or not! It's kind of difficult some times to have to prepare something different but I know over time we will be doing less and less of that. I'm not expecting an overnight change.

08-23-2005, 02:41 PM
No advice but just wanted to say that that although DS is a pretty good eater (so far!) but I do cook seperate meals for two reasons. One, he eats a lot earlier than us (6PM) and two, our food is pretty spicy (although I am trying to wash out some stuff and give him from our plate). It does get really tedious to have to always think of what to cook for dinner twice- for us and for him!