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Toddler Meals (Send Help and Wine ... For Me)

I'm struggling with toddler meals, and it's not just what's ON her plate, it's just the whole thing. Let me start from the beginning...

Camille has always been a great eater. She'll try just about anything and she eats a wide variety of fruits and veggies. Proteins are a little more hit-or-miss (excluding peanut butter). I love feeding her all types of food in major hopes that she won't end up being a "chicken fingers only" kid. But sometimes I'll slow-cook some delicious organic chicken breasts all day long only to have her refuse them.

only parents will be able to truly understand this, but it is so true ;):

But now, at nearly 3 years old, she's getting a lot more particular about what she eats, and mealtimes are taking foreverrrrrr. Many nights she will just dawdle and dawdle and next thing you know, I'm setting the timer on my phone for two minutes and telling her that when it rings, dinnertime is over. We also end up missing the window some nights for bathtime which she truly loves. So that can be a struggle. But she goes to bed right around 7 and I'd rather have her miss a bath than go to bed late.

And some nights I yell, scream, lose my temper. It's horrible. I've always been so patient, but the Groundhog Day dinnertime battle is apparently a hot button for me.

Currently it's really only dinner that is so tough on us. Lunches are easier -- PBJs, sliced fruit, heck she will even chow down on some frozen peas. But for dinnertime, I always feel like we're racing against the clock, like we are forcing her to eat, like my meals are sub-par. As much as I love to tell myself that adding peas and ham to Easy Mac is acceptable, I'm leaning on things like that far too often. As a stay-at-home mom, I should be taking more time to prepare healthier meals. I don't know, black bean and tumeric roasted pork empanadas or something. (imagine the eye roll and shoulder shrug emojis now)

Oh, and eating together as a family. It's something we will do for sure when the girls start going to bed later. But for now, we aim to have the girls in bed by 7 which then gives me time to come downstairs and finish preparing the dinner for us adults. And, to be frank, it's one of the more relaxing parts of the day we experience as a couple right now, and to try to have dinner for everyone done by 5:45 and then eat together with toddler tantrums and a baby flinging bananas is just too stressful for us to take on at this point. Just even typing that out is giving me a sweat-stache.

Here's where I'd love your input: what does your toddler eat for dinner? How do you get creative in the kitchen? When you go grocery shopping, what are the healthy staples you pick up? How do you encourage your toddler to focus on their eating to keep dinnertimes from lasting 60 minutes?

53 comments:

  1. My girl is the same age as Camille, and we are in the same boat!!! Help! Occasionally pretend feeding a little people character a bite and then grace a bite will work okay, but it's exhausting. I also bargain with candy. "Five bites gets you an m&m for dessert." She'd live on pasta and fruit and if it's anything elaborate, I can almost guarantee she won't touch it!

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  3. We have been really fortunate that our 17 mo old, Campbell, has ALWAYS loved to eat. There is rarely anything she will push away. Once she hit one, and we determined she outgrew her milk protein intolerance, we really tried to start feeding her what we were having for dinner, or leftovers from the night before. She eats at 5:30, and I am the same as you, I'm no where near ready to eat at that time and usually don't have a whole meal prepped. Since we started feeding her table foods, I've just been persistent about giving her healthy choices, even if she shied away from them the night before. I find that the more I give them to her, the more she will start accepting them. It's so hard to mix it up for them, but here are a few of our favorites:

    - Sweet potato and black bean quesadilla (whole wheat tortilla, puree/smash the sweet potato & black beans, top with cheese, and melt on a griddle) & you can even throw some chicken in there if you want!
    - Ground Italian sausage and three cheese tortellini with tomatoes and spinach
    - Zoodles! A great way to eat "pasta" as a veggie!

    I always try to have an avocado on hand at the house as an extra side if I don't have another healthy option. It's a favorite at our house!

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  4. I have been thinking about this since I read it. My kids are 10 and 13 and family dinners are a big deal for us.
    Toddlers are about control. Wonder if you beef up her lunches and back down a little on dinner. Don't sweat it so much and try to make it more fun. Fingers foods?!? Something easy. Little ones have so little they can control and food and bathroom are the big ones.
    Remember this is a chapter in her life and it will pass and it will get easier. Give yourself lots of grace with meal planning. Stay at home Moms are busy and it doesn't mean 5 course meals every night. This too shall pass!!

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  5. I have a 13 year old, an 8 year old and a 2 year old. Just take all that pressure and throw it in the trash. She will totally grow out of this. In a few years you will be shocked at all she will eat. I'm a believer in looking at the bigger picture with food. Did she have a balanced day?? A balanced week??? Each meal won't always be balanced but overall it sounds like she's really balanced. Don't be so hard on yourself. She will be fine!

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  6. My son is 4 and we deal with LONG meals for him. The worst part is, if he doesn't eat a good dinner, he wakes up with low blood sugar and becomes very nauseous and lethargic until he gets food. Sometimes it affects him for the whole day. I spoke to a friend who is a child psychologist about this and she said food is the first thing they can really use to exert control so it's important to not escalate the situation / let them feel like they are controlling you and the situation through food. My son could eat meals for 2 hours (not kidding), so what we do is set the timer at the beginning of dinner for 30-40 minutes (depends on the night) and don't say another word. He knows I'm not preparing another dinner and what's on his plate is what he's getting. If he does a good job, he gets a dessert. I try not to fuss, yell, etc. (sometimes I still do). There are nights he's gone to bed hungry because he didn't eat, but they are becoming fewer and he's understanding more. I hope this helps!

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  7. You might consider reading the Ellyn Satter book "How to Get Your Kids to Eat, But Not Too Much." My big takeaway from the book was this: it's your job to provide nutritious and edible food. It's your kids job to eat it. You can't make your kids do their job, you can only do yours. I will say, as a mom this advice is HARD. We want to take care of our kids and making sure they eat is often a part of our love language. But unless your child has some kind of underlying health/malnutrition issue, not eating a meal or two will not hurt them!

    Also, dinner time has often been the meal my kids eat the worst, no matter what is being served. Kids are typically good at self-regulating, so if they've had eaten well all day, they may just not be as hungry for dinner, and that's okay! Make it easy on yourself and give them a version of what you're already making for you and Ian. If they eat it, great! If not, more for you!

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  8. I took a parenting class that basically said don't stress about what they eat or don't eat. They will eat enough. And it sounds like overall she is. My 2 year old eats a early lunch then isn't even hungry for dinner until 6:30ish. I used to try at 5:30/6 and he ate nothing. Maybe when she sleeps later she might eat more. But I'd try to give yourself some grace. You are doing an amazing job. And if she doesn't eat she will be fine too. Some nights mine only has 1-2 bites. Drives me nuts but he's totally fine.

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  9. I have a 20 month old that barely eats dinner some nights! What she likes one night, she doesn't another. I feel ya!

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  10. I have a toddler girl a little younger than yours and it's a daily struggle. After much trial and error here are a few healthy things I've gotten her to eat (sometimes, when she feels like it...): Organic chicken sausages (I think the brand is Applewood), hummus, cannellini beans simmered in water with a beef bouillion cube for taste, SMOOTHIES (with a few fruits to mask the flavor of all the spinach I throw in there, sweet potatoes baked whole or in fry form, and cheese on all the vegetable if I'm desperate.

    I will be following along to get more ideas!

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  11. Totally with you on tantrums and not wanting to eat dinner. What helps us get our 21 month old to eat a little better (for the most part) was letting him sit at his kid size table and eat. He was a nightmare to get into his high chair. We tried converting it to the booster seat mode that it has and that didn't work. I don't know it makes him feel like he's a big kid sitting at his own table but it has helped immensely with actually getting him to eat in a timely manner. We have the same issue with proteins here, they are definitely hit and miss. I ended up making a batch or turkey meatballs with some pureed zucchini mixed in and froze them after baking them in the oven. I take out two at a time and defrost them to help break up the diced chicken option. Also I resorted to making some calorie dense and nutritious sweet potato muffins, zucchini muffins, banana pumpkin muffins to try and ensure that my son was getting the vegetables in his diet. I make a whole bunch and freeze them and then defrost as needed. Basically its muffins galore here, ha! But the above commenter is right, don't be hard on yourself. You're doing a great job and Camille's behavior is completely normal as toddlers are expressing their independence (as frustrating as it nigh be) over their food choices and intake.

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  12. As a mom to a 4- and 2-year-old, we know this struggle well. I'd like to echo the sentiments to not put so much pressure on yourself. They won't survive off mac and cheese (or in our case, hot dogs, salami and chicken nuggets) forever. That being said, both of our kids are shockingly big fans of soup. This is a good way to get both protein and veggies in them. The 4-year-old also loves meatballs, so I will make those for him from time to time. They will both eat grilled cheese (but not PB&J!?). We also eat buttered noodles although that is a recently acceptable item. Sometimes they will eat bagels with cream cheese, pizza, or turkey lunch meat by itself. We noticed they were not eating enough at dinner (would say they were full) and ask for a snack an hour later. We now have a pretty strict fruit, veggies or Greek yogurt only after-dinner snack rule. We figure if they are truly hungry they will eat one of those items. It's anyone's guess what will be acceptable to them on any given day.

    We try to enforce the "just try one bite" rule when introducing new foods, but our children have ironclad stubbornness so we are only about 50% successful with this.

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    1. Haha, my kiddo loves pb&j but won't eat grilled cheese! Little weirdos.

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  13. Truthfully, we stopped doing the "kid dinners." Our kids eat early as well, we eat after they are in bed. I started with making our weekly meal plan. Every nights dinner for us is what the kids will have the next night. We are adventurous eaters but I try to save those meals for Thursday night because the kids get "junk" Friday night. Be it pizza, easy mac, sandwich, whatever. So a normal week may look like: Sunday - spaghetti, Monday, Chicken/brussels/rice, Tuesday - tacos!, Wednesday - TJ's Mandarin Chicken & rice, etc. That way kid food for the next night is DONE! I heat up the leftovers and serve. And another thing, they HAVE to try everything, don't have to like it, but do have to try it! and if we are making something I can't serve them, like hot wings, we just do a few with no sauce or a different seasoning!

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    1. We do the same thing. I make dinner, and that's what is offered. If they don't eat it, that's their choice. And if they don't eat, they don't get fruit or any other snacks once they leave the table. My kids are 3.5 and 1.5 and are pretty good eaters, but sometimes they don't really eat dinner, but I know they've eaten enough in the day to sustain them and if they are truly hungry, they will eat!

      It can be really hard as a parent to think your kid is going to bed hungry, but I just remind myself that they are nourished, healthy kids and one light meal won't hurt them.

      Another tip- Put at least one thing on their plate that you know is a win, so even if they eat little, they will at least eat something that's in front of them, and won't go to bed on a completely empty stomach.

      Dinners are slower for us, and we generally don't wrap up until right before bedtime, but that has worked OK for us, as we generally do a bath before dinner.

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    2. Same here! I have a 5 year old and a 2.5 year old. I make one meal and they either eat it or they don't...our house is not a restaurant with multiple menu options. Both kids have learned to try new food and I hope that I am "training" them to not be picky eaters. So far it has worked well. They also love fruit so dinner always has fruit with it...even if they only eat 2 bites of a veggie and 2 bites of a protein, at least I know they will eat their fruit.

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    3. My little ones are still too little (only 7 months...) but that was how I was raised from even the get go and my sister has done the same for her kids (9,6,and twins who are almost 4). Her kids are very adventurous eaters (and even like food spicier than I do) and i really do think it is because they have always eaten whatever was being fixed for mom and dad. I had not considered the reheating left overs for them, but that is a great idea! I will keep that in mind in the coming months as our little ones go from purees to eating more real food.

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    4. Yeah the hardest thing for me to get over was giving the little one (2) something else if she didn't like what I served, and lets be real, just because she loved tacos last week doesn't mean she will later. Once I finally said nope, that's it. Get down and food goes in the trash, they ate more. I can't stand seeing my sisters kids getting up, going to play until they finally decide they will eat on their time. And yes to Malisa ^^^, I always do one thing I know they like!

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  14. Amen. I have a one year old and find having healthy dinners that she will eat on hand to be such a struggle. Thanks for keeping it real! I'll be reading everyone's meal suggestions.

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  15. As toddlers , my girls loved "muffin tin meals"- divide up what was going on their plates and put it into muffin tins. They loved to pick away at it, I think it felt more like a snack that way. I've been really concerned about passing down any food issues to my kids so have done a ton of research. What I've taken away has to just chill the f out and remain as neutral around food as possible. Everyone above is so correct around toddlers and control. Also, family meals are so important, just everyone sitting around chatting about their days helps to take the pressure off the actual food. And yes, two year olds do tend to get picky...it'll likely pass but leave it to Camille to figure out. Good luck!

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  16. Right there with ya girl! My daughter is about a month younger than Camille and is the slooooowest and pickiest eater. She refuses basically all meat (any form is chicken is not gonna happen) and won't even eat spaghetti! What!!! She does like hotdogs and does ok with thin hamburgers on the bun. PB is definitely her protein! Ha. She looooves all fruit and hit or miss with most veggies. She will eat fish sticks though (TJ are good!) and she looooves grilled cheese. There is a spicy sausage pasta I make that I know she'll always inhale so that's a go to a lot. I also cut up lunch meat and sprinkle with shredded cheese and heat up a few minutes. Dinners are basically a mix of whatever random stuff we have I think she'll eat! Rice is also a good go to for us and if I put soy sauce on certain things she normally wouldn't eat, she will. (My husband is part Filipino and I always say that's the Asian in her haha!) just know you're not alone and 2/3yr olds are just here to drive us insane! :) oh and the "best part"? She will eat basically anything random at my mom's house she gives her. Insert massive eye roll!

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  17. Kids are crazy. My three year old is in feeding therapy b/c he started refusing all foods he had to chew. He'd only eat yogurt and smoothies. He's getting a little better. My 2 year old wants fish and everything spicy. My husband doesn't get home until late and but he and I try to eat together when he does. I have a very hard time trying to balance all of our diets without losing my mind daily.

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  18. Don't beat yourself up! Toddlers are strong-willed and are testing their independence and ability to make their own choices. You're doing your best to feed her what her body needs, but we can't force them to eat it! My oldest is 3.5 and she still has her moments of declaring she doesn't like something before even trying it, but often will come around and at least try the meal. Ignoring her whining about the food usually makes her realize that it's all that will be offered and she'll take a few bites, although it does extend mealtimes!

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  19. I could have written this post! My little guy is a couple months younger than Camille and it is a struggle many days. I've kind of just succumbed to what works. We have some quick and easy "kid" things (chicken breast bites, pita pizzas, fish sticks, etc) that he eats 3-4 nights a week, then I try to cook something for the entire family that I know (or I think I know) he will eat to give him some variety. I always include something in his dinner that I know he will eat and something that I know might be a stretch (usually veggies) and ask him to try. I'm a big believer in Janet Lansbury's stuff and she stresses that our job is to make the food, theirs is to eat it and not to stress if they don't. They'll eat when they're hungry. I have also found now that he's getting older that when we eat as a family, he focuses (for a few minutes anyway) and eats a bit better. It's not always realistic with my husband's schedule but we're aiming for more of that.

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  20. Feeding kiddo's can be so dang hard sometimes! I've realized over the past few months, that my guy just isn't that hungry at dinner time. He will eat a ton for breakfast and lunch (and just about anything we give him) but he picks at dinner. Doesn't matter where we are or even what it is. I've started cutting the portions I give him WAY back and if he's hungry he will ask for more. We sit down as a family by 530 and we take him to a bath by 6.
    I make sure he gets plenty of fruits and vegetables for breakfast and lunch, so I've stopped stressing over dinner. As a child, I wasn't a big dinner eater either so I can't find it in me to fight with him to eat more.

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  21. I feel your pain. Totally. I have a 6 and a 3 year old, and maybe its me or maybe its them. But for us, it has not become easier with age.

    I truly TRY my best to consider what they've eaten over the course of a day. If they have had at least one decent meal that day, I just let them eat what they want off their dinner plate and don't worry too much.

    I will also say, that while I do try to throw in a mix of fresh fruits & veggies, I have succumbed to making 2 different dinners. One for adults, one for kids. I do try about once/week to have a family meal and honestly the healthier and more home-made it is, the more frustrated we all end up. For me, its better to present fresh and healthy options alongside the chicken fingers and hope that their palettes expand over time. We all outgrew the pizza, mac n' cheese diet so they will too in time!

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  22. I am so happy to posed this question, because I have the same troubles. I want our almost 2 year to eat what we eat, but let's face it, that's not always reasonable. I can't wait to see what people write back with. Thanks for starting the conversation!

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  23. Just a thought...have you cut-out an afternoon snack? We've been in a very similar place with my daughter (will be 3 in June) and I've found that eliminating her post-naptime snack leaves her hungry enough that she eats fairly efficiently. You could also try moving her dinnertime up a little (closer to 5pm) and may find that you need to do this to avoid "hanger" issues since she won't have that PM snack. Generally speaking, I've learned 5-5:30pm is really the best time--but you do what works for you!

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  24. My kids are 5 and 7 and they still eat earlier than my husband and I. My husband doesn't get home from work until 6.30 most evenings. My kids are starving by 5.30. Or...lets be honest, as soon as they get home from school! My 7 year old eats like a champ and will have a snack after school and do his homework. My 5 year old wants to snack, snack, snack. And then when it comes time for dinner, he's not so hungry. I made up my mind a long time ago that as long as he was snacking on (mostly) healthy things, I wouldn't push dinner on him. Between 3.30-5pm - he might have yogurt, grapes, cereal, turkey and who knows what else. When I'm ready to feed them dinner, I literally ask my 5 year old what he wants (that I'm already serving) and if he tells me that he only wants the meatballs, then that's all he gets. If he says he wants only green beans...that's it. I just don't make a big deal of it. They will eat when they're hungry is kind of my philosophy and I'll just keep offering healthy snacks and food. I figure that sitting down as a family for dinner will eventually happen one day. hahaha!

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  25. Meal time can be a struggle at our house, too. My almost 4 year old loves lots of foods, but definitely has opinions about what sounds good. She's not a big breakfast or dinner eater. I offer her healthy options and oatmeal is usually our go to breakfast. She just doesn't clear her plate and that's okay with me. She eats her very best meal at lunch. I load up her lunch plate with lots of healthy options - carrots, cucumbers, olives, hummus, crackers, cheese, turkey sausage, etc. She'll usually wolf it all down and then not be super hungry for dinner. I also have great luck if I present her lunch in a fun way - like these ice cube tray meals. Not much extra work on my part and she thinks it's so fun... which is half the battle :) http://polka-dottyplace.blogspot.com/2016/11/play-with-your-food.html

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  26. You can't win every battle so strive to win the war. My 3 year old eats fairly well most of the time. At dinner, which he would drag on forever given the option, we present him with the foods we are eating 90% of the time. He has to "try" everything but not finish it. Always provide at least one nutritional thing you know she can't resist-for us its an applesauce pouch. I also found that letting him help cut up apples or cucumbers almost always means he will eat those things. Last-if he doesn't finish his dinner-we keep it until bedtime and if he is truly hungry he can come back to it. We set a time-say 30m, after that dinner is over and the rest of the night moves on but if he is starving he can have another bite of dinner.

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  27. Both of our kids (2 and 5) have turned into picky eaters. I cook Mon-Thur and tell them that they either eat what I cook or they go hungry. I try to make the things that I know they like, but it's really hard since they don't like much. On nights where they just won't eat anything, I will let them have a veggie pouch or a Greek yogurt to get SOMETHING into their tummies. Both of our kids were always really good eaters, but once they hit about 2.5 or 3 years old, that all went out the window! I'm sure they'll grow out of it eventually, though!

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  28. We haven't hit this stage yet in full force, but it is coming. Love reading comments and advice from other moms!

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  29. We have a 2 1/2 year old and her mealtimes changed for the better when I moved her into a booster seat at the table (as opposed to her high chair) and started giving her regular plates and utensils. I was terrified that she would push a plate off the table or something but she was so obsessed with "using mommys things" that it was a non-issue. We also started saying "eat like a lady" which turned into eat like a nice princess and that has helped too!
    That being said, I am literally days away from having baby number 2 so all this will probably go down the toilet hahaha - also, as I write this I can't help but laugh over how much toddlers are a real pain in the butt :)

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  30. I think my advice/suggestion is very similar to what others have said. It's very important to remember that you control the quality of the food & she will control the quantity. She will not live off kid's meals if there is a variety of choices offered. If she eats it that's great, if not move on. Food power struggles are not worth it..ha.

    I have worked with a lot of children, they are often not given enough credit for how incredibly smart they are! Make it like it's her choice to eat or not (which in reality it is), but do not offer alternatives, treats etc after until it's time for the next snack or meal. I can assure you this phase will be a lot shorter lived if you take this approach. Once she comes to realize that you are not offering anything more "appealing to her..ha" she will eat if she is truly hungry.

    Another important thing to remember is the size of children's stomachs are very small, so often if they have eaten really well balanced meals/snacks throughout the day they may not be all that hungry as their day is winding down.

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  31. It's been my experience, now with 2 toddlers that kids just end up really picky for this stage in their lives and they eventually get over it. My son stopped eating fruit or vegetables when he was 20 months all the way until he turned 3.5. We would try and sneak them in and now that he's 4.5 he'll at least try most things and he loves veggies again.

    My kids LOVE Chipotle, so I sometimes make their favorite rice, beans, and guacamole combo at home. I think that their dinner doesn't always have to resemble an adult meal... It can look more snack-y while still getting in the nutrients they need. Also, I read somewhere that using dips is a great way for kids to get excited about eating. We'll make yogurt dips, hummus, or guacamole and my kids will devour them.

    We also quit family dinners for now. My husband usually isn't home till close to bedtime so I feed the kids early so they're still down by 7. It's a phase and I know when they are a little older, we can enjoy the family dinners of my fantasies! For now we just get through! :)

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  32. My boys are 3 and 5 and I must say for us it has been a phase . My 5 year old eats everything we offer for the most part , but my 3 year old can be pretty picky . The 5 yr old as the same way at that age and eventually he grew out of that stage . I feed them at 5 so we can bathe and be in bed by 7 also , so I let them have 1 snack when the 5 yr old gets home from school at 230. I noticed they were always trying to snack and get in the pantry , so by cutting odd snacks at 230 they are hungry for dinner . My 3 yr old loves baked salmon with just a bit of garlic powder and salt and pepper, Korean beef bowls ( I know it has brown sugar in it, but hey , he is eating meat 😉), I also will slow cook boneless pork chops or organic chicken breasts in no salt added pasta or tomato sauce . I can sneak in squash, broccoli or spinach and they love this meal.

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    1. I also like to throw in the crockpot organic chicken breasts, can of black beans, can of corn sometimes and a jar of salsa ( I like the green wise organic one from publix)

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  33. One of my friends told made her pediatrician said one good meal every few days is fine for them. Another doctor said to look at the week as a whole and see what they're getting, not to worry about single days ;) It's hard not to obsess, but I try to remind myself of these things :)

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  34. Girl, you KNOW I am in the exact same boat, so I have absolutely zero helpful tips. But these comments are amazing! Definitely taking notes and trying some of these tips ASAP. And I'm so glad we're not the only family who doesn't do family dinners (at least for this season of life)...wayyyy too stressful for me!!

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  35. I have a 2 and 3 year old. I feel your pain.

    Often we serve "dinner" foods for breakfast. In the morning they are hungrier and will eat just about anything. We tend to do more protein and veggies at breakfast, because they'll eat it then. So hey, tumeric roasted pork empanadas for breakfast!

    Dinner is the hardest meal for us. We bought this timer: https://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Precision-Products-Mechanical-Rotating/dp/B00UKIOKRG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487879785&sr=8-1&keywords=timer+analog which has a red section as it is counting down. Then the kids can see how much time they have left, since "two minutes" is pretty nebulous. We set it at the start of the meal, usually for 20 or 25 minutes. When the timer goes off...the meal is done. The 3 yr old will whine and complain, but I'm hungry! Too bad love, maybe do better about eating tomorrow. One hungry night (and I don't even believe she's hungry, just stalling) isn't killing anyone.

    Anyway, this has made the eating adventures somewhat less painful, if not entirely rosy.

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  36. Supposedly, this is very French! Haha! Big meal to begin the day, light lunch and a nibble for dinner! That's what I tell myself when our 2.5 yr old doesn't eat dinner well!
    I often offer her favs at dinner, and often include smoothies! I just feel better sending her to bed when I think her belly is full...our pediatrician told us it takes 10 tries before littles can decide if they don't like something. So I try to remember to always put something "she doesn't like" on her plate...and not just at dinner! That's the hard part, bc lunches seem more habitual in our house ;)
    This might seem silly, but I do try different brands of foods she enjoys...sometimes the texture of the chicken nugget is a little different, sometimes the Mac & Cheese has veggies puréed and has a teeny bit of a diff flavor, smoothies that are green instead of her beloved Blue...I like to think it helps her "try something new" in a really comfortable way!!
    Great topic!! Nice to know we aren't alone and love reading other suggestions!!

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  37. I HATE mealtimes as well. Our problems started at about the same age and haven't improved much at almost 4. I try to just make sure she eats a little bit and only offer nutritious food so if she only eats a few bites atleast it's healthy. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the idea that she won't starve herself. Hang in there!

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  38. Dinner is the worst meal ever at our house! Right before/around Miller turning 3 I had to start feeding him again. I'm not joking, dinner was such a battle but if I started doing here comes the choo choo train or the race car with his broccoli or tacos he would eat it. Then suddenly around 3yrs 4mo he was all I do it myself mom I don't need your help at all and he's willing to try things for dessert. I swore I would never bribe my kids but here we are and I'm doing it and I think it's working because he will eat his whole dinner if it means he gets a brownie or cookie. Matthew on the other hand is completely stubborn and strong willed and I cannot get him to try anything. He just turned 2 in november so I'm hoping it's just a phase and by 3 I'll be able to bribe him into trying food. Good luck, you're not alone in this struggle!!

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    1. Same here!!!! My daughter will be 3 in June and a lot of foods she refuses on her own, she'll eat if I sit and spoon/fork feed her. I'm always thinking, why am I doing this???? Haha! Especially since I'm due with baby #2 any day! Ah!

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  39. I could write a novel down here but let's just meet for wine and discuss instead! ;)

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  40. I've personally given up for now. I might make a picnic on the floor, let her eat dinner in the stroller, or have movie night and eat on the couch. Those fun dinners a few times a week make the "battle" dinners at the table less painful. We will get more strict with dinner as the kids are older. Just not worth it!

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  41. I have had the same issue with my 2 older children as well. My youngest is only 3 months but I'm already contemplating baby lead weaning because apparently it makes life easier that the baby will eat really mushy versions of what you are eating (ie...not making a baby specific meal per se). We eat as a family every night, which I know doesn't help you (and I assure you our mealtimes aren't always heaven!) but have you considered maybe doing 1 or 2 nights of family meals? That way Camille sees that you and daddy are eating the same. Maybe do crockpot meals or meals in a pressure cooker on those days to make life easier. I also always make sure to include 1 item that I know the children definitely like. Another thing that has helped is having my children help me prepare dinner or at least sit on the counter top as I prepare (as I'm typing this I feel you already do this!). No matter what always remember you have a community of moms and dads going through the same thing! It'll get better, it's just so darn frustrating in the meantime.

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  42. We moved to a family dinner at 6pm for our little guy who is exactly Camille's age. It's a pain, can still sometimes take FOREVER but he gets some variation of whatever we were eating and then a supplement with some of our "go-tos". I was SO sick of cooking (and cleaning) two meals but I'm just dealing with one child at the moment. I also make sure to have some staples on hand that have worked for us. I make a batch of beef meatballs with carrots and zucchini and freeze them- they are good for quick and easy. Roasted sweet potatoes are also a must in our house- if we've had a few days of not so good eating it makes me feel good to feed him a sweet potato. He always gets to choose a fruit IF/after he eats his dinner (most of the time it's berries of some sort.) I don't have a ton of patience for eating the whole meal- if they are hungry they'll eat, if not then that is it for the night (and no fruit as the treat after.) Some other staples that worked in the past- spinach and cheese quesadillas/grilled cheese, make a batch of "broccoli bites" (broccoli, breadcrumbs, garlic, cheese) and freeze them. Some places that gave me ideas (some good, some complete busts!) http://weelicious.com/2017/01/12/freezable-toddler-meals/
    http://www.superhealthykids.com

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  43. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself!!! I discovered my three year old likes a limited number of items and as long as she is getting her nutrients and calories for the day, that's what she eats. She sometimes like to eat what I am having, so I'll always share. But, if I put some of my meal on her plate, she won't touch it. Sadly, its all natural chicken nuggets, Alexia french fries, and Italian style green beans most nights for her!

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  44. Easy. My 3 year old rarely eats dinner. My older was the same way. I don't know what it is about the age of 3, but they just aren't all that hungry after say 5:30. My older one turned a corner at 4. She started trying tons of stuff and it gets better as she gets older (almost 6). So I just don't stress about it. Kids have an amazing ability to not eat when they aren't hungry (I wish I still had that ability haha). Don't make mealtime stressful. Not worth it. If she's eating a good breakfast, lunch, and snacks here and there I say you're good. She'll come around. I mean, make her a plate of whatever you're eating, and if she even sits at the table for a few minutes we consider that a win.

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  45. We have adopted a "don't want to eat, don't have to eat" approach in our house. And it works a charm... We also hated having these long winded dinners and constant fighting. We eat as a family at 5.30 and our girls (5 in April and 3 in May) eat the same food as us... Our dinners include:
    Roast chicken, potato and vegetables
    Fish and salad
    Lamb chops, mash and vegetables
    Chicken stir fry
    Homemade burgers and oven chips
    Chicken fajitas
    Fillet steak, potato and vegetables
    Spaghetti bolognaise
    Macaroni and cheese with bacon
    Homemade pizza
    Sausage, mash and vegetables

    Our vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, corn on the cob, carrots, green beans and salad items.
    x

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  46. We have gone through this same issue with our daughter. She was a great eater til 2.5-3 or so. I don't make a separate meal for the kiddos; they are served the same thing my husband and I are eating. I put a little bit of each item on her plate. I also always give her a serving of fruit, bc I know she'll eat that. she doesn't get anything else unless she eats what's on her plate. If we are having leftovers she gets the option of pb&j - her fave. She's a dawdler, too, so eventually we just say "ok you're done now" if she's taking forever. She doesn't usually care. She eats plenty at daycare (go figure) and gains weight fine, so I don't worry too much. Good luck!

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