10+ Answers to the Question, “How to Get My Toddler to Eat?”

Find yourself wondering how to get my toddler to eat? If you have a picky eater or a toddler that is slow to gain weight, making sure they’re eating enough can be a huge concern.

Because, let’s face it, it can be tough to get your toddler to eat. 

They seem to have endless energy and are constantly on the go, so it’s hard to convince them to slow down and sit down for a meal. And when they finally do eat, they often refuse foods that are healthy for them (or ones they seemed to previously enjoy!). 

And as a parent, you want to make sure that your child is getting the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.

So how can you get your toddler to eat without resorting to bribes or threats? We’ve had experience raising and feeding over five toddlers and we’ve compiled some of our best tips and tricks below. 

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Why Does My 2 Year Old Not Want to Eat?

There are a few reasons why your toddler may not want to eat.

They may be going through a growth spurt and their appetite hasn’t caught up yet. Or, they could be teething which can cause them pain when eating certain foods.

It could also be that your toddler is simply distracted and would rather play than eat. This is especially common if you have a toddler who is always on the go.

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The Best Tips and Tricks for How to Get My Toddler to Eat 

So what do you do when your toddler won’t eat? Whatever the reason, there are a few things you can do to try and get your toddler to eat.

1 |  Make It Fun

A fun plate and utensils can help get your toddler more interested in eating. We like these plates that look like game boards. They keep the food separated, because of course different foods touching would be the end of the world, and make meal time feel like a fun game. You can also make silly smiley faces with the food or draw faces on the packaging.

Toddler helping in the kitchen with mom

2 |  Let Them Help

Get your toddler interested in meal time by letting them help prepare the food. Not only do most toddlers love to help, but they may also feel some control over what foods are served. One thing my toddlers always preferred to help with was making their own plates (with some assistance). This small amount of power over how much went onto their plate, less of the things they didn’t want and more of the things they liked best lets them feel more in control.

3 |  Make It Visually Appealing

If your toddler is anything like ours, they’re more likely to eat if the food looks fun and exciting. So take some extra time to make their meals look appealing by cutting it into geometric shapes or using cute veggie cutters.

 

4 |  Don’t Overcrowd the Plate

Another way to make meals more visually appealing is to avoid overcrowding the plate. This can be especially helpful if your toddler is a picky eater and is turned off by the idea of trying new foods.

5 |  Limit Distractions

As mentioned earlier, toddlers are very easily distracted. So when it’s time to eat, try to limit distractions as much as possible. Turn off the TV, put away toys, and focus their attention on the meal in front of them.

 

6 |  Use Distractions

On the flip side, for some toddlers a distraction from eating can help alleviate power struggles and tantrums that turn meal time into a nightmare. Yes, this is exactly the opposite of the last tip, but toddlers are tricky and solutions aren’t one size fits all. A toddler that will turn up their nose at veggies, might just sit and eat without a second thought while happily distracted by a tv, tablet, or book. Is this ideal? No, and it definitely won’t work for everyone, but some parents swear by it.

Toddler eating dinner with his family

7 |  Make Mealtime a Family Affair

One of the best ways to get your toddler to eat is to make mealtime a family affair. When they see you sitting down and eating, they’re more likely to want to do the same. If you have older kids, be sure to involve them in mealtime as well.

 

8 |  Serve Meals at Regular Times

Toddlers (like all kids) do best when they have regular mealtimes. This means serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner at around the same time each day.

And although it’s tempting to let them graze all day long, try to avoid snacks between meals. This will help ensure that they’re hungry when it’s time to eat and are more likely to eat a larger meal.

DIPS! The solution to how to get my toddler to eat

9 |  Dips Dips Dips!

Lots of toddlers love dips and they can be a great way to entice your child to eat. Offer a variety of dips to find something your toddler loves and then leverage that dip as much as possible. Will they just eat the dip and not the food? Sometimes, but at least they’re eating something.

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10 |  Serve at Least One Food They Do Eat

As much as possible, make sure there is at least one food that your toddler will eat on their plate. This way you know that they’ll eat something, so even if they refuse the rest of the meal they won’t go hungry. 

Parent forcing a young toddler to eat

11 |  No Pressure

Avoid making meals a power struggle. Pushing too hard can get an obstinate toddler to really become even more determined in their refusal and truly drive you crazy. When they see how much you want them to eat and realize they have control, they may be more likely to turn up their nose at anything and everything you offer. Play it cool and don’t let them see you sweat. Instead, sit and eat too, keep it fun and no pressure. 


Remember, every child is different so what works for one may not work for another. Just keep trying different things until you find what works best for your little one.

We hope these tips and tricks help you will help you solve the how to get my toddler to eat dilemma! Happy eating!

About Author

Jo & Rachel

Jo and Rachel first had the idea for 'The Moms At Odds' in 2016 when our babies were turning 2 and we realized that we were very different parents.

As a mom, Rachel immediately felt this strong connection to her son and instantly decided she wanted to become a stay-at-home mom. Though Jo obviously loved her son as well, she counted the days until she could go back to work and interact with other adults.

They both struggled over getting their babies to sleep and while Jo believed in sleep training, Rachel looked for alternatives like dream feeding and no cry methods. As time passed and their children grew older the differences started to really add up – pacifier use, drinking during breastfeeding, organic foods, screen time, diaper brands, and on and on.

During this day and age, it’s so easy to look at our parenting differences as a bad thing. After all, we’ve all seen jokes and articles about “Mommy Wars” over one subject or another. Instead, we choose to embrace our differences and show you that in many areas there is no wrong answer. What works for one family may not work for another, and that’s perfectly fine. We can still all get along and raise perfectly healthy, beautiful children.

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