Feeding FAQ: 18-24 months – Food Fussiness

My 19 months toddler is beginning to refuse food I know she likes

Grace is 19 months and we are having problems with food. On a Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday she attends nursery. She wakes at 7am, has a good breakfast and then a snack at 10am. Lunch is at 11.45am and can be meat, chicken or fish, potatoes, pasta and vegetables etc. There’s pudding of yoghurt, or banana custard plus a drink of water. She sleeps from 12.30 -1pm for about an hour in a bed with no dummy. Afternoon tea is at 3pm and a selection of sandwiches, quiche, fruit, cheese & biscuits, drink of milk. At 5pm she drinks some water and has a story. At home later on she has a proper tea at the table with us at 6.15 Р6.30pm. Bath and bedtime are no later than 7.30pm and she is always asleep within 5 minutes.
On Mondays and Fridays she is at home and gets up at the same time. Breakfast is Weetabix or porridge, plus a small plain pancake and fruit (either grapes or orange) drink of milk from cup. We attend tumble tots together on a Monday and Friday from 10am – 11am where she is learning to do forward roles and dancing etc. After this session she has a drink of water and a biscuit. Lunch is at 12pm and usually chicken, fish with pasta and vegetables in a tomato sauce or spaghetti bolognese and a piece of bread, or lamb casserole. She has a drink of water and, if she eats all her lunch is given a yoghurt or piece of fruit. She goes to bed at 12.45 -1pm for 1.5 -2hrs max – I wake her now after 2 hours (should I be waking her after 1.5 hours?). She has a snack at 3pm of cheese, biscuits and a drink of milk. Tea is at 6.15-30pm and she has whatever we are having or jacket potato with filling, sausage, mash and vegetables, meatballs, home-made ravioli (her favourite) etc. The weekends are very much the same.
The problem is that she is starting to refuse food at nursery and food I know she loves at home, so I have been throwing it away and giving her nothing else till next mealtime but this means she often stands and the fridge crying for half an hour or wakes early from lunch-time nap.

In order for your daughter to stop refusing food you know she likes at mealtimes I think you should begin to cut down on her snacks on home days. Instead of a biscuit with her drink, offer a small piece of fresh fruit or raw chopped vegetables. As Grace eats her breakfast quite late and her lunch at 12 midday, she is not really hungry for it having filled up on a biscuit mid-morning. I am sure if she ate breakfast by 8am and had a small snack mid-morning she would be ready for her lunch. If she still continues to refuse her food at lunch, cut back on her breakfast a little. Give her Weetabix or porridge and fruit, with milk to drink. You could replace the pancake with a small fruit yoghurt if you think she is still hungry.

Again in the afternoon, give her water or well-diluted juice, and offer a piece of fruit, ricecake or very plain biscuit.

I am aware from your day that Grace eats her tea quite late which is why you give her cheese and milk mid-afternoon. If you could bring her tea forward to 5/5.30pm I am sure she will manage with a smaller snack and then eat a good tea.

Obviously on nursery days you cannot limit her daytime snacks so offer her a smaller portion at teatime if she is refusing her food. Continue to offer the foods you know she likes but keep the portions small so as not to overwhelm her.

I agree that it is best not to offer alternatives at mealtimes, as toddlers can become fussy and faddy quite easily. By being offered a small but healthy snack twice a day, and perhaps smaller portions at mealtimes Grace will continue to eat a varied and healthy diet.