My Daughter is Refusing Foods at Mealtime

Question

Hello, my 13-month-old is refusing to eat what we are serving her at lunch or dinner. She has no problems with the eggs in the morning even when I add vegetables or meats. She will either just look at the food on her highchair or she will throw it on the ground. She will eat fruits and carbs but no meat or vegetables unless it’s in eggs in the morning.

Answer

Hello, and thank you for writing. I'm guessing that you're looking for a solution to your daughter's seemingly meager food intake.

You don't say whether she is refusing foods she once enjoyed, or just not accepting new foods. And I'm wondering whether you are sitting with her while she's eating. You also don't say whether she's suffering in any way from a lack of protein. It's important to look at her overall diet, over a period of a week and not just one day. Yes, she needs fiber and protein and vitamins and minerals from whole food, but she doesn't need all of it every day.

My suggestion is to feed her separately from the family while you're nearby but not actually watching. Just put out the food you've made with no comment, in bites she can manage. A teaspoon of each of the items is enough to get her going. Since you know she likes eggs, make sure to include a little bit of that with her meal. Over time, you can increase the vegetables and protein you put in the eggs and decrease the eggs. Once her tray is empty, she can have more of whatever you've made. If you see her toss food on the floor, pick it up and put it back on her tray without comment, and if her tray is empty because the food is on the floor and she's asking for more food, give her what she's dropped. (I'm thinking you have a drop mat under the highchair, but if you don't just put an old towel or sheet. During her mealtime don't hover, cajole, encourage, or comment at all. Just put the food out and go about your business nearby.

John Rosemond has this advice about mealtime: "I say pay minimal attention to young children during the family meal. Parents should engage in conversation, only occasionally asking children questions that are not food related. As a child grows, he can be included more and more in mealtime conversation, but “table talk” should never be about food, and the understanding should most definitely be that if one cannot say something nice about the meal, one should say nothing at all. Under no circumstances should parents ever prepare a child a separate meal. As my wife and I told our kids, “None of us is more special than anyone else; therefore, no one gets a special meal.”

I hope this helps. It's always something with little (and big) kids. I hope you can keep your sense of humor!

Warmly,
Wendy Faucett
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
wendyfaucett@gmail.com

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