Q&A: What to feed a 1-year-old?

Bree writes:

"I’m wondering – what exactly does one feed a one-year old? (food, right?). My baby is 11 months old right now and she’s pretty much off of purees and feeds herself small chunk foods (avocado, rice, tofu, banana, canned fruit/vegetable chunks, beans). She gets some breastmilk and some formula (she goes through a 32oz. can of powdered formula a week). I think she’s actually eating less than when she was getting jarred food, but she doesn’t put up with jarred food much anymore but I don’t think it’s a big deal because she tops off with formula.  Anyway, I’d like to work on switching her from formula to milk (either cow or goat – I haven’t decided yet), but it seems that formula is a very different kind of nutrition than regular milk. (also – in regards to weaning off a bottle – I don’t think it would be hard, she likes her born free sippy cups – but is there any real reason to do so?). So – should she be off of formula? Can she be off of formula (it is expensive!)? Should we do anything to replace the nutritional benefits of formula?

Oh and she’s a pretty little kid in general – regularly hits the bottom 5% of the growth chart for weight – but does grow consistently."

To start off, it doesn't matter if she's in the bottom 5%, as long as she grows consistently. Speaking as the mother of a child who was always in the top 5%, someone's got to be on either end for the concept of "average" to work. If a kid stops growing, that can indicate a problem, but as long as a kid follows the curve, it doesn't matter where the curve is on the chart.

And I think you're dead on with your instinct that there's no real reason to wean off the bottle at a year. If you accept the idea that a child can nurse past one year (and I'm guessing you do), then why shouldn't a kid be able to use a bottle past a year? The whole point, as I see it, is to start getting a kid to be able to drink out of a cup right around that time. But that doesn't mean you have to take the bottle away. Instead, just introduce a cup with water to get the kid started on the long road to Drinking Like An Adult.

(Speaking of which, you know there's no medical reason for sippy cups? I eschewed them, because drinking from a sippy is not a lifelong skill, so I thought it was a waste of a learning curve. I went with a straw cup instead, as drinking from a straw is something my kids will do later in life. You could also go with a sport-top cup, as most adult occasionally drink out of sport-tops, too. If you like the sippy cup, though, carry on with it. Everyone's got the baby equipment they feel most comfortable with.)

I'm going to suggest that you read the Ellen Satyr book that everyone loves: Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense. She's got a great philosophy about feeding, and the book contains tons of historical and nutritional information about how babies have been and are fed, and what they really need when.

The other strength of the book is that it encourages you to follow your instincts, and that's what I'm going to tell you to do, too. If you feel like changing over to milk from formula at a year is not adequate, then don't. Plenty of people still give some formula past a year, or transition their children by cutting the formula progressively with milk over the course of a few weeks or months. Nothing bad is going to happen if you stick with formula, and if you're worried that she's not going to get enough nutrition from the foods she's eating, then do what feels right to you.

But also know that many parents are convinced that their kids are hardly eating anything, and yet still they grow and thrive. As long as you are putting nutritious foods in front of her, she'll eat what she needs (barring any metabolic or other feeding disorders, of course). And most of the kids in the US, at least, these days are drinking milk (instead of formula or breastmilk) after a year. So it's fine to have her off formula if she's OK with it and you're OK with it.

What did you guys do about getting off formula or breastmilk, and when did you do it? How did it go? Is there anything you'd change about the process you went through?

61 thoughts on “Q&A: What to feed a 1-year-old?”

  1. We switched our son from formula to whole cow’s milk shortly after he turned one. I think we just mixed them together over a period of a few days, gradually decreasing the formula. I don’t remember it being a big deal.I do recall, though, that the idea of switching off the bottle at that time seemed VERY stressful. I wanted him off the bottle because he had lots of teeth very early and I didn’t want to damage them (we did brush teeth after the last bottle, but I was still paranoid).
    However, he was not good at the sippy cup and I didn’t think he’d be able to consume enough liquid to be healthy without the bottle (backstory–as a newborn he was hospitalized for dehydration because of my almost nonexistent milk supply, so I was a bit uptight about him drinking enough liquid). We used a cup with no lid for a while so he could understand that there was something in the cup and that he had to tip it up to get it out, then after he got that, switched back to the sippy cup to cut down on messes. By around 15 months he was taking enough milk from the cup that I felt like he was ready to give up the last bedtime bottle. And by then that wasn’t a big deal either.
    What I learned then, and have tried to remember, is if some thing that you’re “supposed” to do at some age seems overwhelmingly hard, and you think your kid isn’t ready, he or she is probably not ready! And if you wait a little while it may end up not being a big deal at all. I’m trying to remember this as we approach the time for potty training..sigh.
    So, Bree, if you and your kid are ready to make these changes, great. If you feel like it might go better if you wait a little while, you’re probably right.

  2. My kids went from breastmilk to cow’s milk. My first started drinking cow’s milk when I weaned him at 17 months. He took to it without any problem and still loves it. My daughter (26.5 months)started with the occasional sip of cow’s milk around 20 months, but now drinks a small glass or two a day (she is still nursed a couple of times a day too). I have severe food and pollen allergies and so put off giving them milk until as late as possible.For the record, my daughter is in the 3rd percentile for weight ( although 50th for height) and that’s Italian percentiles so she probably weighs less than an American female 2 year old in the 3rd percentile. She ate hardly anything till 18 months. Nothing chunky, only pureed stuff (even rice and pasta had to be pureed). The ped was adamant that there was o need to worry here, that when she felt like it, she would eat different things, with different textures and consistencies. The worm turned at 17.5 months. She went from only eating banana and crackers to Italian salami, gorgonzola cheese, lasagne, and in adult quantities. She has not looked back since.

  3. I also went cold turkey with both my kids, though my son had a little bit of cramps for a day or two, but has had no problems since…Actually, he no longer a bad bum rashes as he did with formula (bonus, because it was a serious issue with him)…I also waited for the one year OK from the Doctor as I had done for my daughter back in Canada, turns out though that babies are encouraged (if you no longer wish to brestfeed) to drink cow’s milk at 6 months of age here in Sweden. So, I could’ve started him earlier and probably would’ve.

  4. I weaned our son at 12 1/2 months old, and at that point we switched over to whole milk. I was a bit worried about the transition, but he didn’t flinch. He didn’t seem to notice, to tell you the truth! We stuck with bottles, though. He didn’t get the hang of drinking out of a sippy until about 14 months, and we let him lead the bottle-to-sippy transition process. When he’d stop wanting to hold still and cuddle with his bottle, and wanted to run around instead, we’d switch that bottle to a cup. The last one to go was the bedtime bottle, the night before he hit 15 months. I’m so glad we followed his cues instead of trying to force him off the bottle on an artificial timetable. Those ‘extra’ three months didn’t hurt him, on the contrary, he needed that cuddling time!As for food…at 11 months he was still almost entirely on purees. We made a large variety of fruits and veggies and mixed them with yogurt. He loved them. He was quite slow to transition to finger-foods and adult foods in small bites. But again, we let him lead, and when he was finally ready we started the transition.
    My thoughts on feeding are that as long as the child is getting a good variety of foods and gaining weight well, there’s no rule about when he/she must be eating a certain type of food. We’d have had horrible struggles in our house if we’d tried to follow a typical schedule, because our son was just slow on learning to eat & drink like a kid rather than a baby. Follow your child’s cues and your instincts!

  5. My son nursed until he was 18 months, but I started easing cow’s milk into his diet shortly after his 1st birthday. So it took about 6 months to gradually go from all-nursing to all-cow’s-milk. I really liked this slow approach and hope to take it again with my next child, and I imagine it could work just as well with formula.We also went straight to straw cups, and that turned out to be a GREAT decision. First Years makes a line of Take n’ Toss cups that are not entirely leakproof, but usually do not pop open when they’re hurled from a high chair. The straws are also nice and wide. We still use them (Bub is over 2 now). At first, all I would put in the straw cups was water, but over time it became a milk cup, too.
    I also see absolutely nothing wrong with waiting longer if that’s what you feel is best for your kid. There is no magic to giving milk at 1 year, you know? It’s just What People Do. But there’s flexibility in all this stuff.
    I give my son a liquid multivitamin every night to try and make up for any nutritional gaps. He’s always been very healthy, thank God, but lately he will not eat a darn thing I put in front of him unless it’s a cracker. Really frustrating. And he is a STUBBORN kid, he’ll much rather go to bed hungry than eat what I make for him. The vitamins give me hope that all is not lost. (I know this is probably a false hope and that vitamins are not nearly as good as getting nutrition from actual food, but help a mom out here…)
    Many people seem to recommend keeping a food journal if you’re worried about nutrition. You’ll probably find that your child eats a better and more varied diet than you think.

  6. Cow’s milk at 6 months?? I always thought cow’s milk = poison for children under a year. In fact, I beleive my Fatal Nut Allergy is more than likely due to the fact that I was fed cow’s milk when I was weaned at 9 months old. Anyone have any statistics?? Hedra?

  7. Bree, you say some breastmilk and some formula, but seem to be asking only about weaning from formula (I’m sorry if I misread that). We went to cow’s milk during the day when my girl was right about 12 months because my struggle with pumping was so hard and painful, but I continued to nurse her in the mornings, evenings and nights. She really had no problem with the transition at all.When I weaned her from nursing, we still kept the bottles for naps and bedtime and are only now working to wean her from bottles at 24 months. She was just not ready to stop bottles earlier, and it really hasn’t been a problem.
    I second Moxie’s recommendation for the Child of Mine book. It is really reassuring to read and full of good information.
    As for food, we did the baby-led feeding method and my girl has almost always eaten a lot, so things were/are different for us. But whatever method you use or whatever percentile you child is in, I truly believe that if you just keep offering them healthy foods, they will begin to eat them. We have A LOT of fruit in the house, as well as rice, cheese, pasta and some meats, because that’s what our girl gobbles down. And she’s loves oatmeal, cream of wheat and cereal for breakfast.
    Trust your instincts! You and your child will be fine.

  8. My son is currently 11 months, and he is about to transition to cow’s milk. I’m curious to see how it will go.As for solid foods, although he only has 2 teeth, we’ve given him a variety of food that requires gumming, and he does fine. I just put things in front of him and see how it goes. My husband and I felt strongly that we would not force any food, so if he rejects it I eat it.
    He’s eaten lots of veggies (spinach, squash, carrots, broccoli) squashed but not pureed, often with herbs and cheese mixed in. He’s eaten lots of fruit, including some fruits in chunks (mango, strawberry, pear, banana, avocado). He loves, loves, loves hummus and will eat it in unlimited quantities. The one thing he really has not taken to is meat, but I’m not worried about that.
    The one thing I did for him that I really liked, and that is reflected in Christine Splichal’s baby food book, is to use lots of fresh herbs as flavoring. We tested them for allergies, just as we would any food. At this point, he’s eaten mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, and sage. All of those helped to make his food more flavorful and interesting, I think. And they help us transition him to eating baby-sized table food, since our dinners a full of herbs.
    As is so often the case – this question is so useful to me. Thanks for asking it.

  9. My only thought on sippy cups: if you intend to let them drink in a car, they are priceless. We almost always use just regular cups at home (or cups with straws) but just like we have our coffee cups with lids, our kids use their sippys. Also, my younger is especially spill prone and even now at 3 1/2, at least three meals a week end up with something on the floor (more if you include utensils). Sippys have saved me countless spill cleanups and all of us some yelling.

  10. He’s 18 months now and we switched to milk after his one year birthday with a blend of formula and milk until it was all milk. He was drinking 32 oz of formula a day until we switched to milk and I dropped a couple of bottle feedings and now he gets 16-20 oz of milk a day. Daycare made him switch to a sippy cup at 12 months. He still uses a bottle at home. If he’s upset a bottle is a surefire way to calm him. Sippy cups just aren’t that soothing for him. He can drink out of a regular cup and with a straw and likes to do both. I feel zero guilt about not having him off the bottle at a year. We brush his teeth after his milk bottle and he gets a little water in a bottle still before bed. He seems to be self weaning the before bed water bottle since he rarely drinks it all now but likes the routine of it still.Food has been a bigger problem. He has a mouthful of teeth so that’s not the issue but he won’t eat meat, doesn’t like cheese or eggs and seems to live on bread and fruit and peanut butter. I worry a lot that I’m not providing him with enough different choices or that I’m doing something terrible by letting him pick what he wants to eat when it ends up being goldfish crackers and banana for dinner again.
    And for reference he’s short and stocky and has a giant head – 90th percentile for head circumference.

  11. just wanted to let you know that you’re right on with the sippy cup thing, moxie- in fact, when the pnut was evaluated for early intervention, they send the whole team (occupational and physical, etc.) and the OT told us not to get her on a sippy cup at all- just use a sport top bottle (remember the old tops on poland spring bottles that you could control the flow? didn’t have the caps?) or preferably, a straw bottle. she told us that sippy cups actually stress out a set of muscles in the mouth/face that never get used in that way at any other time, and that it really is difficult to suck liquid through the valves. look, do i think it’s a big deal if kids use sippy cups? probably only if they have speech delay or some other OT issue, but i did think it was interesting, and helped me kinda skip that ‘transition’ part of liquid consumption delivery system.we did what stacy did with weaning by 18 months/introducing milk at 12 months. it was gradual for us as well, and i definitely kept a cup of liquid with her/near her at all times, encouraging her to have some sippy frequently through the day to build the habit.
    and fwiw, with two kids on the smaller side, my ped said to relax- that kids don’t starve themselves (unless there is something wrong of course) and just keep putting nutritionally good stuff in front of them and they’ll get what they need. it is hard, though. we’ll see with the bean since i’m pretty sure he has a dairy intolerance right now. which goes well with his intolerance for sleeping! sigh.

  12. We took the cold-turkey approach to quit formula. The day of my son’s 12-month well-baby appointment, after getting the green light from his doctor, we gave him a cup of whole milk. The dr. had suggested mixing it 1/2 milk 1/2 formula if he resisted, or even putting in a few teaspoons of yogurt. He didn’t resist. He’s been a milk-a-holic ever since!My biggest challenge with him is that he only has 4 teeth. Everything he eats has to be cut into realy small pieces for him to chew. After he quit formula, I was extremely freaked out about him getting enough nutrition. (He’s in the 50th percentile for weight, for the record.) I finally chilled out and just started giving him toddler-friendly versions of whatever we eat and he is a happy guy. There are some great resources out there on the web to help give you ideas about feeding. Parents.com sends out a good newsletter with recipes for kids and Foodiemama.com has some great tips about feeding kids of all ages.
    One thing I have done recently was to go back to baby cereal. My son hasn’t wanted to eat breakfast too well. I can only get about 1/2 of an egg in him, so I started stirring cereal into a container of YoBaby. He eats every bite. Good luck and have fun feeding your baby!

  13. Sorry – no time to read others’ comments.Just wanted to post that my son is almost 4 and the one thing I regret about his transition to solids from bf and purees was that I didn’t do a great job of introducing fruits and veggies enough times. I now know to introduce new foods to him when he is pretty hungry (that before dinner time snack time) and I put out veggies and blueberries etc but it has taken a really long time to get him into actually liking the taste and texture of fruits especially.
    Another thing I wish I’d done differently would have been to skip all the “snack” type foods such as the Gerber brand wheel thingees or whatevers. Plain old Toasted O cereal and real fruits and veggies are the best snacks and that is what I try to encourage today, too.
    All that said, he is quite healthy and happy and eats well. I do remember stressing about all this when he was the age of your child so I sympathize. But, unless a major medical issue, I can tell you that it will work itself out…

  14. Sorry – no time to read others’ comments.Just wanted to post that my son is almost 4 and the one thing I regret about his transition to solids from bf and purees was that I didn’t do a great job of introducing fruits and veggies enough times. I now know to introduce new foods to him when he is pretty hungry (that before dinner time snack time) and I put out veggies and blueberries etc but it has taken a really long time to get him into actually liking the taste and texture of fruits especially.
    Another thing I wish I’d done differently would have been to skip all the “snack” type foods such as the Gerber brand wheel thingees or whatevers. Plain old Toasted O cereal and real fruits and veggies are the best snacks and that is what I try to encourage today, too.
    All that said, he is quite healthy and happy and eats well. I do remember stressing about all this when he was the age of your child so I sympathize. But, unless a major medical issue, I can tell you that it will work itself out…

  15. Sorry – no time to read others’ comments.Just wanted to post that my son is almost 4 and the one thing I regret about his transition to solids from bf and purees was that I didn’t do a great job of introducing fruits and veggies enough times. I now know to introduce new foods to him when he is pretty hungry (that before dinner time snack time) and I put out veggies and blueberries etc but it has taken a really long time to get him into actually liking the taste and texture of fruits especially.
    Another thing I wish I’d done differently would have been to skip all the “snack” type foods such as the Gerber brand wheel thingees or whatevers. Plain old Toasted O cereal and real fruits and veggies are the best snacks and that is what I try to encourage today, too.
    All that said, he is quite healthy and happy and eats well. I do remember stressing about all this when he was the age of your child so I sympathize. But, unless a major medical issue, I can tell you that it will work itself out…

  16. We used a wide variety of different cups, but our favourites over the long term have been the baby/toddler “sports” cups that have a kind of a flip top with a flexible straw part that connects to a straw inside. You can actually get everything really clean, and they don’t leak. But every family’s solutions are different.We went pretty much with finger-friendly food at that stage – it made my son happy and we could usually adapt whatever we were eating to some kind of finger friendly thing. Except soup. Remember that their growth is starting to slow dramatically so it makes sense that they will eat less.
    We introduced cow’s milk somewhere around 14 months, first just a splash here and there and gradually as a drink. Although really we focused more on water.
    We were BFing but what I did was just BF AFTER the solids rather than before, so he gradually learned to sate his hunger on the ‘real’ food.

  17. I was going to comment on what to feed a one year old – my daughter is 15 months and has been in the 18-25 percentile for weight since she started crawling at 6 months. She typically eats two to three breakfasts (my little hobbit). Once when she gets up (cereal with milk), once when her 6 year old sister gets up (whatever the big sister is having) and when she gets to daycare. Then She’ll have two snacks and lunch at daycare and dinner at home. By the time dinner hits she doesn’t eat too much (but given the 3 breakfasts, I’m not that worried about it.) She really likes steamed peas. She likes grilled cheese sandwiches (sliced into sandwich fingers), deli ham (small pieces). She’ll eat hunks of bagel. She likes frozen waffles. Sometimes she’ll have a jelly sandwich. Cheerioes with milk. She totally digs hotdogs (She has a thing for choking hazards. She doesn’t know she’s little.) She did a great job with beef fried rice when we went to the Vietnamese restaurant for dinner on Sunday. She didn’t eat much of the beef, but her older sister did. She’s only got 6 teeth, but that’s not stopping her.

  18. Man, I remember being flipped out that my daughter was so small — she was a petite but normal 6 lbs 4 oz when born, and still is somewhat short and *very* light at age 5. When I was worrying about this for the umpteenth time, the ped said to me, “Look at you, look at your husband. It’d be weird if she were any other way.” And it’s true — I am on the short side of average with a small bone structure, and my husband is of average height with a thin frame. Whew.One thing that doesn’t directly touch on Bree’s question, but might be of help in the future when your kid reaches the toddler picky stage: never, EVER let your kid know that when she doesn’t eat, it bothers you (assuming there are no metabolic disorders or other extenuating circumstances, of course). Kids will use this to push your buttons, boy will they ever. IME the more nonchalant you can be about what they eat, the more they’ll eat, and the faster you get through that annoying phase.
    We never really did sippy cups either, FWIW.

  19. i just re-read what i wrote, and when i said sippy/cup/bottle i realize that i was completely unclear- what shandra described is what we use now, the thermos-type sport bottles (bpa free!) with the flip up straw and closeable cap for the pnut now. i remember when she was transitioning from my boob/a bottle to “cup” phase we used the sippies with handles to hold easily/straws that flipped up as well as those little water bottles if i wanted her to get a good swig.and, i had completely forgotten what a damn mess babies this age make with the self-feeding! on them, the seat, the floor, ugh.
    also- i remember once there was an awesome post where folks here listed what they fed their toddlers- lists and lists of things i had never even thought of, maybe a year ago? anyone else remember this? i will go search for it.

  20. My kidlet only took a bottle (breastmilk) until about 8 months, then I stayed home and she could get her milk straight from the tap. We went straight to straw cups- those cheapy first years ones that you can get for about 5 for 3 bucks… She is two now and now has a couple of screw top sippies that are used in the car- all it took was one incident of milk in the carseat and I needed something a little more kidproof. But she still uses the straw cups in stationary places and for meals and whatnot.As far as food for one year old’s goes, I am the LAZY parent. When our daughter was about 8.5 months we went out to lunch and I fed her 2 jars of baby food, she fussed for more and I gave her some of my mac and cheese- from there on out, she despised the jarred food. When she started taking the spoon from me, I kept trying for about 10 minutes and then gave up and let her feed herself (within reason, and everything is still cut up if it is a choking hazard) It was a heck of a mess for a while, and there is still a point when she is done where if you don’t catch her, she will play in her food and make a disaster out of dinner. (Thank god for pets and hardwood floors.) My take on food is to just put good choices in front of her and see what happens. I put spinach in front of Punky for 6 months or more before she finally ate it.
    I think that I have the opposite problem- My 2 year old can out eat me. She is still at the bottom of the curve, but man! can she eat.

  21. I can’t actually remember how old my daughter was when we cut out the formula. But she absolutely refused cow’s milk. Even from a bottle, even mixed with formula, just plain not interested. She only started drinking it once she saw all the other kids at daycare drink it when she was about 20 months.I took my time with weaning her from formula because, as you pointed out, it made me less worried about what & how much she was eating. You know she’s getting what she needs from the formula & breast milk, so you can just let her explore food and figure out tastes & textures. She just gradually started drinking less & less formula, and once she was only drinking about 2oz at a time we just stopped. I suspect that for your average kid, having you stress out about their eating habits is going to turn food into a control issue. So if giving her formula lets you not stress…keep on giving it to her.

  22. Haven’t got time to read the comments (hope to later), but a couple quick thoughts before I rush off to work:I always thought sippy cups were a means of transitioning a kid from a bottle to a regular cup in a less-messy way. I agree with moxie that they aren’t necessary — but it takes a lot of patience to offer a cup, hold it properly, etc., particularly if you have a headstrong child who wants to hold it him/herself.
    All my kids were prone to ear infections, which can be exacerbated if your baby is bottle-feeding. They just naturally suck harder with a bottle, or so the doctors told us, and that puts more pressure on the ears/ear canal. So if you’re also dealing with frequent ear infections, dropping the bottle is a must. This is the situation my daughter was in at about a year old. So we dropped the bottle and things got much better.
    As far as food choices go, you have to go with your gut, keeping in mind that you want to offer a variety of foods, a healthy mixture of protein, carbohydrate and fat, and avoid fostering a sweet tooth (so keep the cookies, chips, etc. out of sight as long as you can manage to).

  23. Great question- I am curious about the answers.My 12 month old basically eats what we eat- cut into bite sized pieces as he only has 2 teeth. When he started refusing baby food and pointing at what we were eating at meal times, we took his cue. He loves salmon, asparagus, blueberries, spaghetti and meatballs, spicy chili- whatever. He has always been at the 5th to 10th percentile for weight and the 85th to 95th percentile for height, but as long as he keeps gaining, the ped isn’t concerned.
    He still bf every couple of hours too- it is the pattern he has always had. Daddy says he eats like an endurance athlete (like himself)- small, frequent meals with lots of activity in between.

  24. I had major problems breastfeeding, so we were on formula for my daughter. Then at 12 months we switched to organic whole milk, then at 18 months weaned from the bottle to the sippy cup. Sippy cups are a pain in the butt ( just like bottles) but like other moms have said it saves on the spillage. Lil S is now approaching 4, and for the most part can use a real cup, but for outings and other ppl’s houses we go sippy still.She was lower percentiles for weight as well (born at exactly 6 lbs – this was 9 days overdue as well!) and she’s a foodaholic. It gets easier as they get older, well most days unless they are being pigheaded and stubborn which is TOTALLY from her dad! 🙂

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  26. I feel so sad and inadequate because my 2-year-old refuses to eat anything. I make him separate dinners because he won’t eat what we’re eating. I have tried forcing him to eat what we’re eating and he ends up going to bed hungry. He is between 25th and 50th percentile, which makes absolutely no sense given how big my husband and I are. Also he tested low in iron, and I’m freaking out that he won’t eat any of the iron-rich foods I’m trying to throw at him. I even made the boy special cookies with blackstrap molasses, and he wouldn’t eat one.

  27. I breastfed to 2 years, but was very happy to stop pumping at a year and give cow’s milk at daycare. My son tends to sensitivity to cow’s milk (constipation), so if we start to have an issue, I’ll also swap in soy milk or rice milk. But he’s 3 now, so he doesn’t need a lot of nutrition from milk.I never did the baby jars (they just all look disgusting to me) and just mashed up everything we ate (not including any allergens), plus lots of different fruits and veggies. Never did the rice cereal thing, either…again, it didn’t look appetizing to me at all, and my son was happy to eat mashed banana, avocado, etc.
    I think the sooner you can have your child eating real food (not food processed by Gerber’s), the better. This is how they’ll eat the rest of their lives. I suppose part of it was laziness, too…it was always so much easier to give our son bits of our dinner than open special baby jars or baby puffs.
    Brilliant on the sippy cups, by the way, Moxie…I definitely won’t do the traditional sippy cup with the next baby!

  28. I’d love to slightly derail this post and ask for suggestions on getting a fussy toddler to eat. My daughter is about 21 months, and she used to eat anything. Every 2 weeks or so, though, she’s started refusing one more food that she used to like, and she’s really not so interested in adding in new ones. At this point, she eats a very typically toddler diet: bread, cheese, crackers, hummus, raisins, noodles, a teeny bit of chicken (preferably as a nugget), and the occaisioanl frozen pea or blueberry. This was the kid who used to eat quinoa and greens and salmon!She’s also 50th %ile for height, and 5th for weight, so while she’s growing, I do try to keep an eye on it.
    It also seems to me that part of the problem is that she doesn’t have the attention span for a meal- she’d like to get down and play after 2 minutes, but she’s still sort of hungry. I’d rather not get into the habit of her eating when she gets down, but on the other hand, I’d also rather she eats!
    Thanks for any advice (and sorry to digress the conversation here).

  29. Everything Bree says sounds just fine to me.My son never ate purees and he didn’t eat much food at all until he was about a year. We started giving him milk at meal times at around a year (and he still nursed a couple of times a day for a few more months after that). Steamed carrot sticks or coins, broccoli trees, sauteed zucchini, little spinach fritters, hummus on rice cakes (or even by the spoon), plain old white beans, shaped pasta in chunky tomato sauce with some vegetables in it, turkey meat balls (made in large batches, frozen and reheated as a main course). He only had two teeth until he was 18 months and he could eat pretty much anything we gave him. At that age he would eat most anything… at two, not so much.
    On weight. He was 6lbs when he was born (probably small due to high blood pressure). He reached 50th %tile within 3 months, and stayed at 50th until he was about a year and over a period of six months dropped to 3rd. No one acted too alarmed, despite what was technically failure to thrive, but was probably the result of being chronically ill. I really appreciated that. He slowly gained back as we got his health under control. He’s really thin and muscular, he’s about 24th and been that way for 6 months now. So, I think a steady 5th is GREAT in comparison with a wildly fluctuating weight.

  30. @ MemeGRL: Word on sippys in the car. Also for us beside the bed at night (when it’s dark and people are half-asleep and uncoordinated).It killed me to have to buy new sippy cups for Passover (kids are 4 1/2 and almost 3), but the last thing I want to be doing is moving beds/changing sheets in the middle of the night because someone spilled their water.

  31. Shannon, that sounds like a stressful situation. I too love Ellyn Satter (I have “How to Get Your Kids to Eat, But Not Too Much”); have you read any of her books? Her philosophy is basically, you as the parent control which foods your kid is offered when, and the kid controls how much of each food to eat. She suggests always having something at each meal that you know your kid will eat, like bread or potatoes, so that he won’t go hungry if he really hates everything else. Eventually his range will expand.I don’t know all the specifics of your situation but you might try just starting over completely. By that I mean offering your son healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with healthy snacks (that he likes!) in between, roughly at two-hour intervals, so that he always knows when he’ll eat next. One of those snacks can be right before bed so he can count on that, too. We offer yogurt before bed most nights, or a piece of whole wheat toast. That way if he doesn’t eat dinner, you and he both know that he’ll get something before he goes to bed. That might take some of the pressure off. Then you could stop making the special dinners, while still making sure that there was one thing in your dinner that he likes to eat (cheese, beans, bread, potatoes, pasta?).
    You might also try experimenting with the form. For example, does he like to have things in large pieces to pick up and bite off, or does he really like to use a fork? Sometimes my son will refuse a food one way but will eat it another way.
    With the iron issue, your pediatrician might have a recommendation for iron drops or something that you can give him so you don’t have to worry so much about getting iron in food. I know that there are a lot of iron-rich foods that I don’t like eating all that much.
    And, a repeat from the posts yesterday: this too shall pass.

  32. Shannon, my 18-month-old (70th%ile height, 25%ile weight) seems like he barely eats anything, too. I definitely feel inadequate as I set yet another lovingly prepared something in front of him knowing there is a 90% chance that it’s a no-go. Still, though I worry a little, mostly I don’t, and sometimes I feel bad that I’m not more concerned (although our ped is completely unconcerned, so hey). On the iron, the US charts may expect higher than what is normal in most parts of the world (probably because many people here tend to eat a lot of meat), from what my MD family/friends tell me.On sippy/straw cups, my son didn’t figure out the straw until 16 months (despite trying) but since he never took a bottle, a sippy was helpful for a few months spill-wise. I started with two cheapy bpa-free ones, then got a few straw cups when he figured that out and seemed to like it better. (Speaking of which, what is up with the insanely complicated straw tech? It takes me 5 minutes to disassemble the thing and another 10 to put it back together.)

  33. We started weaning off the bottle to a straw cup around 9 months – eliminating one bottle feed with a cup every few weeks until it was done at a year. My son didn’t use the bottle for comfort, and loved his straw cups so it was no problem. I didn’t know that at the time so was a bit stressed about the process (particularly the bed-time bottle) but in hindsight it was pretty easy. I had already stopped giving him the bottle immediately before bed because I wanted to brush his teeth in between, so I think having that sepertion between bottle and bed made the process easier. I did offer him a bottle of water after tooth brushing but he usually refused it.We transitioned to cows milk around one year. Then noticed his excezema had flaired a bit and his nose was running all the time. On a friend’s recommendation we switched DS to goat’s milk and that cleared the problem up right away. Not sure why that happened because he eats tons of other dairy foods without a problem.
    DS is a pretty good eater. We don’t really worry about it. Around a year, he started getting what we ate, just cut smaller. He’s been a bit pickier lately (at 18 months) but we just try to stick to our guns about set meals and snack times. And if he doesn’t eat the food in front of him he is allowed down from the table without a fuss – but without anything special been made for him.
    He’s not a big veggie eater (but, to be fair, neither are his dad or I) so we do a lot of vegee purees to add to his food. Mac and cheese gets a head of cauliflower. Meat sauce (for lasagna or shephard’s pie) gets a bunch of pureed carrot. We make little mini pizzas on toast and put two or three table spoons of pureed spinich under the tomato sauce. Grilled cheese sandwhiches get a thick layer of pureed brocolli. I still offer him vegetables straight up with his meals, but when he refuses to eat them I don’t stress cuz I know he’ll get the vitamins in other ways.

  34. MamaBird — your kid sounds right on target as far as starting the annoying toddler pickiness. Keep offering new things cheerfully and matter-of-factly, and do NOT let her know that it bothers you when she doesn’t eat!My kid knows that she will get a treat, that is, a cookie or some other small goodie, if she eats a decent dinner — since she’s been old enough to understand cause/effect, she’s found that very, very motivating.

  35. @ shannon – I used to feel so devastated and panicked over my son’s refusals to eat. Have you read “My Child Won’t Eat: How to Prevent and Solve the Problem”? If not, please do. It will put your mind at ease, and help you to let go and trust you child’s choices. Once I relaxed, things improved significantly. Is there one food your child will consistently eat? If my son doesn’t eat dinner, I give him a toasted pita and strawberries (his favorites) in the bath. That way, I know he’s not hungry going to bed and I don’t stress at all if he refuses dinner. I don’t worry too much about rules at this age either (he’s two) — I will happily make him a simple meal that differs from ours, or offer him the same thing day after day, or let him munch away in his stroller or the bath – I want him to have positive associations with eating, not stressful ones. Since I relaxed, it took a couple months, but he now jumps up to his high chair and wants to sit with us and eat what we eat, with gusto. So please know, what you’re going through is normal for your child’s age, but if you need help to accept that please read the book I recommended. And look through Moxie’s archives – there are a bunch on this exact issue. Take care!

  36. When we were introducing solids, we found that every time S. was ready to move “up” a step, he’d start refusing what we were giving. We introduced rice cereal sometime around 6.5 months. After a couple weeks he started refusing that, so we gave him frozen storebought baby food. Another couple weeks and it was on to soups and then to bits of whatever we were having. By a year he was eating what we were eating, regularly.(I didn’t worry much about allergens or introducing new foods. Our pediatrician feels it’s not a concern if you don’t have a family history of allergies and the child is well. Also, if it matters, we eat mostly vegetarian, because my husband is. I try to give S. meat once a week or so, because that’s what feels healthy for me.)
    We introduced cow’s milk around one year, but our experience there isn’t very helpful, since we never gave S. formula and he wouldn’t take a bottle. He didn’t drink much milk until around 21 months or so, and we just gave him water otherwise.
    S. has also been in the bottom 5th percentile ever since 7 months. At 2 years he has bumped up to the 10th. I agree with Moxie, and Shelley’s ped. said the same as ours: he’s following our body types, and S. has been healthy, happy, developing fine, etc. Many toddlers follow an S-shaped growth curve, leveling off when they start to get active, bulking up when their eating catches up.
    MamaBird–around 22 months S. hit a phase where he wouldn’t eat anything with veggies in it. I don’t think it was purely psychological, because if you snuck something in his mouth with hidden veggie he’d still shudder, gag, and spit it out. Maybe it’s some developmentally related texture issue. I thought, oh boy, is this going to be the rest of the year? We kept offering all the normal foods, though, and tried not to show any reaction, and around about a month later he started eating more normally again.
    So, I don’t know if it’s the same situation as you, but maybe just keep on trying, and don’t get sucked into tailoring meals to her current issues too much? And, as someone else said, I think it helps not to let them know it bothers you when they don’t want to eat something. Because lord knows toddlers love to push those buttons. Oh, and he did eat cauliflower, I suppose because it’s kind of crunchy.

  37. @Shannon- I want to chime in with another “you’re not alone, don’t stress too much” comment. My almost two year old is a pretty lousy eater. We have found a few reliable things she likes, and are trying to expand from that, but it is slow going.If you’re worried about the iron and/or vitamins, ask your doctor about using a vitamin supplement. We started that as we started decreasing the amount of breastmilk she got. Also, her lousy eating habits are one reason I pumped at work until she was 17 months old. I just worried less when she was getting breastmilk.
    Definitely read the books people are recommending, but also think about what you know about your child’s personality. Our approach is similar to Ellyn Sater’s, but with some modifications based on my memories of being a picky eater as a child. I’ll be incredibly crass and post a link to my blog entry about this: http://wandsci.blogspot.com/2008/11/confessions-of-picky-eater.html
    The most important thing is that we absolutely do not try to reason with Pumpkin or push her if she doesn’t want to try new things. That approach actually made me STOP eating some things as a child. And I still am less likely to try something if someone is backing me into a corner about it.
    As for the original question- we only finished weaning from the breast a couple of weeks ago (at 23 months). Day care required that she be transitioned from the bottle to a sippy or straw cup at about 1 year- some parents and doctors are really strict about this (something about the effect on teeth), and it is hard to be strict with some babies and not others. So day care had a rule, which was really a pain in the butt. But its all OK now. She drinks from sippy cups, straw cups, and regular cups. As for what to feed- I’d offer anything the baby seems interested in eating and that doesn’t present a choking hazard. I wish I’d been less nervous during this time period, when Pumpkin was more willing to try whatever was on our plates. This may or may not have helped with her picky eating.

  38. As with others, we switched from formula to cow’s milk after my son’s 1 yr well-kid appt and the green light from his ped. I honestly can’t remember for certain but I think we just tried it cold turkey and never looked back.We never did the sippy cups because my son HATED them so we went right to the straw cups which he adored. After about 13-14 months, he would be offered either a straw cup with milk or very watered down juice (8 to 1 water to juice ratio) with his snacks and meals. Actually now that I think about it, he was only using straw cups during the day from about 11 months on. However, he still seemed to really need a bottle at bedtime. He weaned himself off the pacifer at a year but still needed that sucking action to wind down. So we probably did a night-time bottle until 20 months….I know, I know many of you probably think that is too late but he didn’t fall asleep with it and I always brushed his teeth after the bottle so I figured it wasn’t the worse thing in life.
    I also never fed commercial baby food to my son as I thought it was gross. Instead I just mashed, chopped or pureed regular foods as necessary. By 10 months or so, my son had quite a few teeth so I would give him pasta and meatballs. I would make meatballs with organic ground chicken or turkey (or both) with sometimes some sweet potatoes mixed in for moisture, used rice cereal as the binder and then poached the meatballs in organic chicken broth so they stayed nice and soft. Chopped the meatballs and elbow macaroni into Cheerio-sized pieces toss with some steamed peas/carrots and butter. Voila! My little guy has also always eaten a lot of yogurt. At that age, I just gave him some plain greek yogurt with applesauce or pureed mango mixed in for flavor. Sweet potatoe fries were also a big hit at that age. As was roasted cauliflower.
    Basically from a year on, I chopped most of what we ate and gave it to the boy to try. Avoiding peanut butter and fish (family history of allergies) until age 2. Now at nearly 3 he eats just about anything.

  39. @caramama: is your daughter using a spoon or do you feed her the oatmeal/cream of wheat? My 22 month old son refuses to let us feed him anything and hasn’t grasped the use of utensils yet, I’m curious about others’ experiences.He’s also still taking a nap and bedtime bottle, I just haven’t been that fussed about trying to stop it, although he probably wouldn’t resist overly much. It helps reassure me that he’s getting enough milk every day. He uses a straw sippy just fine, but drinks much more from the bottle.
    Also, he loves the horizon organic strawberry milk (they also have chocolate and vanilla). It’s only 2%, I think, so we mix it with whole milk, but it’s a good thing to try if you have a kid that doesn’t like milk.

  40. @Shannon – ditto everyone else. If your child’s between 25 and 50 and is gaining, I don’t think there is anything to worry about no matter what your and your husband’s sizes. Genes are not so linear. :-)For pickiness and eating and stuff mostly I point to Ellyn Satter; her books are great. I think a lot of pickiness is just developmental + personality, provided the opportunity to try other things is still there.
    But that said here are the things we did and do that I think help some (and my son, although he has some picky times, generally eats what we eat or better and begs for broccoli. Or did until I wrote this comment!):
    – biggest thing: 98% of what is in our house is something we’re happy with our son eating. Removes the arguing about the chocolate whatever on the top shelf.
    – probably the second biggest thing we accidently did was have organic produce delivery to the house. It came in a rubbermaid bin. Every week when it came we would rush to the door, drag it in, and unpack it with glee. “Oh look, BEETS!” My son thinks, basically, that vegetables are pretty much on a par with Christmas stockings. Although he does not like the beets specifically, but the squash and broccoli, yes. 😉
    – my son helps prep, shop, and plan. Right now I meal plan and he picks one dinner a week.
    – while we’re preparing, he can snack on appropriate bits – pieces of diced eggplant, etc. This is often the best time to introduce new or not-recently-loved healthy stuff; he’s hungry and in a good mood and not under pressure.
    – following the “Dinosaur trees” example from Mindless Eating (which is a great book), we try to make food kind of fun or at least frame it. (Mindless Eating says before about 3-5, kids are not that socially influenced by people around them but starting in the preschool years, kids will eat more if eating socially, are more apt to come home with the idea that “broccoli is yucky” etc. – or that broccoli is cool dinosaur trees!)
    So we say carrots are good for your eyes, and so on. We also leap on any interests – like he saw Ratatouille and so we made… ratatouille. I realize sometimes this pushes the envelope of truth but I feel it is a time-honoured tradition. 🙂
    – in that vein, we try to make his plate attractive – sometimes using cookie cutters to make sliced melon in the shape of hearts, for example
    – that said, we don’t cajole. We don’t trade 3 bites of broccoli for dessert. We don’t insist that he even try things (we do put a bit on the plate and we reframe, so if he says “I don’t like that” we say “Well you haven’t tried it, so you mean you don’t THINK you would like it.”)
    I don’t know that this would work with every child but mine responds to pressure by assuming that he in that case DEFINITELY does not want to try it.
    However, WE eat whatever it is in front of him (without fanfare). That kind of pressure works a lot of the time. 🙂
    – mealtimes we’re very hands off. Very. He needs to sit with us for the first 5-10 minutes and then he can be excused. What he eats is up to him. We make what we make.
    We do allow a backup food (unlike Satter) which is PB on whole grain bread, but we also try to include at least one usual favourite in the meal. If he’s hungry a half hour later, he can have the PB sandwich (again, not what Satter says) or leftovers if there are some (this doesn’t happen often, so it doesn’t drive me nuts).
    So far so good.

  41. @amie, we never fed our son using a spoon because he flat out refused. By 18 months he was pretty facile with feeding himself stiffer things like oatmeal, and we let him have at it with the yogurt too, though that was definitely messy. At 22 months he could feed himself a bowl of cereal with milk without spilling it (choosing to pour the milk all over his tray after he was done, is a different story). His fine motor skills have always been pretty good (gross motor, not as good).Drinking from a glass was something he has been able to do himself from about 12 months, though we rarely LET him because he makes soup out of his meal and uses a spoon to drink the milk and I like to just avoid that conflict by keeping his milk in a straw cup that he can’t put food into (though he does like to stick the tines of his fork into the top of the straw for fun)

  42. I got pregnant when my son was 9 months old, and my supply dropped to almost nothing, so my son started weaning himself. We switched from bmilk to formula gradually–1 feeding a day for a few days, then 2, etc. Formula is so expensive–I myself could not *wait* to switch him over to regular milk at 1 year, and so when we hit the 12 month mark, we used a similar approach. We started mixing formula with small amounts of whole milk, then upped the milk content until we were out of formula and on to 100% milk. If you want to switch to milk but are worried about your baby getting enough vitamins/minerals, you could ask your doc for baby vitamins (liquid form).My son still gets 2 bottles a day–one 1st thing in the morning, one right before bed, but the rest of the time he uses a sippy cup. I kind of like the morning/evening bottle ritual, and he does too. He tends to drain 6 oz. in the morning and about 3-4 at night, which helps me feel secure that he’s getting enough of it. I also give him whole milk yogurt and cheese during the day.
    I figure we’ll do away with the bottles at some point but I don’t feel like there’s any hurry. As for food, I just try to offer him a variety of things, and try to give him stuff he can feed himself in addition to me spooning in the sloppier stuff. He eats and drinks when he’s hungry/thirsty, and doesn’t when he isn’t. Some days he hardly eats, other days he’s a billy goat. At the least I just try to make sure he gets the milk/yogurt, enough liquid during the day, and hopefully some fruits and veggies, too.

  43. @Amie – My 24 month old uses spoons and forks (she LOVES to have both) for meals, so yes she uses a spoon on her own for oatmeal and cream of wheat and even cereal with milk. Since we did the baby-led feeding, we barely spoon-fed her anything solid and pretty much just put food in front of her which she would eat with her hands.I think we started her with spoons for rice and corn and oatmeal around 12 months. Although it has taken her a while to truly master utensil use, she got the hang of it and really enjoyed doing it herself pretty early on. But I do still put a bib on her, cause it can get messy–especially yogurt.
    As for weaning from the bottle, I still don’t think it’s a big deal. Only reason we are starting to push it now is that the second child is due in June, and I would prefer not to buy new bottles, so it’s easier if my toddler is not using them.
    Also, we did straw cups at first, because my daughter did not take sippies and I didn’t see the point. However, my girl is a very active child and loves her water. She ended up making big messes by opening the top of the straw cups and getting the water to come out of the straw. So we switched to sippy cups, especially for milk (I do not like the smell of sour milk on my milk-colored couch!). She can drink out of any type of cup without an issue, although she often spills out of regular cups.

  44. Oh and I so agree with everything that Shandra listed! My child goes through some picky stages, but I do a lot of what Shandra does which keeps us from getting too stressed about it. For us, the pickiness passes relatively quickly. I’m guessing is mostly just how my daughter is, but partly about how we react to the pickiness.

  45. Little One is 22 months, we are down to 1 bottle first thing in the morning. I’m getting the sense that he’ll be ok with dropping it soon, but I feel no need to rush. I’m not sure what kind of tooth damage five minutes of sucking on a bottle first thing in the morning could possibly do. That does not feel like something I need to invest a lot of energy in fretting about.Otherwise, he would never take a sippy cup, so we just went straight to regular cups (sometimes straw cups, but he doesn’t love those either), between 15 and 18 months.
    Food is a bigger issue for us, though. I did not do a good job transitioning to solids and relied way too much on jarred food. Plus he has always had some aversion to textures – wouldn’t even eat Cheerios until almost 10 months. Now he will only eat corn and peas (the latter must be pureed), and applesauce. No other fruits or veg, other than what I can hide in muffins. The ped was unconcerned but I worry about it all the time.

  46. My doctor always points me to kidshealth.org, saying that every article is doctor approved and that she agrees with everything she reads on there.As for my 1-yr-old, I thought I would gradually switch him from formula to whole milk, but he really didn’t have any trouble with the switch. (I still breastfeed him as well.) I’d just try switching and see how your daughter reacts – if she’s fine, great. If not, then mix with formula.
    As for the larger question about nutrition, I really feel like once your baby turns one, you’re kind of on your own about what they “should” be eating! I just aim for about 20 oz of milk (however much breastmilk I *think* he’s getting, then the rest in whole milk) and a variety of foods over the course of three meals. Although I’m not making purees, I still make food for him. I like to make a lot more than he needs for one meal and freeze it for later. The more I have in the freezer, the easier it is to just pull something out and still be giving him a wide variety of foods.
    I use this cookbook all the time and love it: Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Rachael Anne Hill.

  47. On the caveat for kids with disorders/special issues, I will actually say that following Moxie’s advice may make it clear much sooner that there IS an issue, if there is one.If I had not spent a lot of time singing to Mr G, cajoling him, essentially tricking him into eating, I would have found out before he was 5 that there was A Problem. My efforts to MAKE him eat actually ended up disguising the fact that there was indeed A Problem. (In his case, oral traumas accumulated to produce defensive oral behavior including what was diagnosed as ‘acquired dysphagia’ – really severe picky eating to the degree that it affected his health and growth, and that was not essentially biological in origin, but was the accumulation of multiple negative experiences to do with his mouth, including dental work, choking incident, bad suction job at birth, etc., etc.).
    Even with the other kids, who have a digestive issue (Fructose Malabsorption), letting them lead also was the best plan for helping identify the diagnosis. If they’re eating normally (self-driven, even if picky between 2 and 5 years old), and there is Still Something Wrong showing up in growth or their emotional response to food (panic, say), then there IS something to work with there.
    You can search the archives for my many comments about my kids and food behavior. I won’t reiterate that here. I know I’ve mentioned how to tell if they are growing well in a few places (mid-parental height, using growth velocity rather than charts, etc.). Those might be useful because parents (me included) tend to a) over-estimate how much they need to eat, and b) misunderstand how growth functions – knowing a little more can be a big help.
    I will give you the only red flags that I found useful:
    1) Child has intense emotional reaction to new foods (negative). Normal is being willing to taste it if they’re allowed to spit it out if they don’t like it. If they don’t feel allowed to spit it out, then that’s not self-driven, and therefore you lose the ability to determine if they have a deeper issue here.
    2) Child is not maintaining a curve after either 1 year of age or weaning from breastmilk. Within the first year, chart crossing is very normal. After a year, it gets iffy. If it keeps going after 2 years of age, then that’s RED FLAG. Mr B started at 90th%ile, stuck that curve until 15 months, and *then* crossed down, and down, and down, and down the chart (essentially almost straight sideways as the charts went up), until he was 25th%ile at 3 1/2 years. 25th isn’t bad for usual adults, but his mid-parental height calc puts him in the 97th%ile +/- 2 standard deviations. He could reasonably be 75th%ile, and if he’s a genetic outlier, maybe 50th, but 25th is much lower than expected. He does tend to hold a curve at this point, which is good – it means his HGH is working okay. Before 3 years, most growth is calorie-driven, after 3 years growth is more hormone-driven (though not all, definitely).
    @Shannon and any others worried about 2 year olds and food, some reassurances:
    1) Appetite drops around 2 years old, period. Especially later in the day. I was told (PHEW!) that if my toddler/preschooler ate ANYTHING after about 4 PM, that was bonus. Their appetite is lower in general, and it should be lower after 4 PM. Focus on the same pattern of feeding as breastmilk production has – that is, early morning and mid-morning are the highest supply, and that’s when the highest appetite is, too. Declines through the rest of the day. So, load good food into the morning, and don’t fret about PM feeding.
    2) Total caloric needs also drop – the growth rate is lower, and the body needs are lower. It seems CRAZY that someone so active doesn’t eat so much, but it’s actually okay. There’s no need to force it, because all that teaches is over-eating and not listening to your body. It’s HARD to not force it. Even worse if there is any growth or feeding issue. But don’t. Really. Get the book(s), and reassure yourself.
    3) Feeding/eating patterns vary wildly between 2 and 5 years old, and are tied to growth patterns more than daily patterns. My kids will go days without eating much at all, then stuff themselves for a few days, then taper off, then fade, then surge. Their bodies know what they’re doing. Eat before growth spurt or during, whichever track their bodies take (I have kids who do one, and kids who do the other).
    4) 70% of picky eating behavior is GENETIC. The rest is social, and it tends to be stronger if there was pressure to eat. Assume the majority of what you’re facing is genetic. It’s a safety feature to keep your 2 year old from eating poisonous stuff. It was easier to deal with picky ‘I don’t like this, I don’t like that’ behavior than it was to worry about what non-safe things Miss M was eating (she doesn’t have that gene at all, I think).
    The books have good strategies for making the meal OUR meal, instead of one for you and one for him. Search the archives, that’s in some Moxie posts, too. The most important thing we did (on feeding clinic advice) was to add one thing that the child eats to the ‘usual offerings’ each meal. Mostly, that means we have cucumbers or carrots as a staple, because it’s the one area of intersection for all the kids and adults. But we do shift it around some. Even if there’s a bit that’s always different (Mr G gets himself yogurt for dinner many days, nobody else eats it for dinner, much), there’s a sense that we eat a common set of foods. And yes, that meant that sometimes the grownups ate chicken nuggets for dinner. The point being that we set the culture to ‘there is no ‘little people food/big people food’ split, there is only US food’. Eventually, that takes root, and the kids – even if they prefer the simple high-fat fried stuff overall – really believe that there is only one ‘set’ of food, and within that, some they like, and some they don’t. Meal culture becomes a group thing, which is where it starts being a healthy thing (rules apply to everyone, etc.).
    Okay, running to another meeting… I hope that helps…

  48. Here’s our data point with milk transition: my son was breast fed until 13 months, but I started working in some whole, organic cow milk at around 11 months. I started by mixing in cow milk with breast milk in increasing quantities in his bottle. By 12.5 mos. he was drinking cow milk during the day and nursing morning and night. I would gladly have breast fed longer, but at 13 months he more or less weaned himself and switched over to cow milk. He drank milk from a bottle in the mornings until he was 20 months old– I never worried about it as he was introduced to the sippy cup at day care and learned to drink from a straw at about 18 mos. Now he has the morning milk in a Born Free sippy cup and drinks from an open cup, sippy cup, straw cup or sports bottle during the day– he likes the open cup and straw cup the most now. Honestly, I never worried to much about the vessel– he has several types of cups and eventually learned to drink from all of them.As far as food, early on I did the one-new-food-a-week thing and tracked what he ate very carefully. Starting at about 9-10 months, my son really went after the food on my plate. My pediatrician said it was fine (within reason, of course– no peanuts, no olives with pits, no sushi, etc.), so I started serving him more and more of what we ate (mashed up or ground up in the baby food grinder as necessary) along with his avocado mash and pureed squash. My son really responded to strong flavors– he preferred peas sauteed in olive oil with a bit of garlic to the jarred pureed version (and I can see why!). When he was ten months he took a bite of my morrocan chicken stew and grinned– neither of us ever looked back. I just experimented with different flavors and textures and had fun with it. As per my ped’s advice, I offered foods repeatedly, even if they were rejected once…now at 2 years old the kid eats more or less everything from anchovy pasta to spinach to cucumbers to steak to baguette. The only things I have to consistently disguise are broccoli and beets, though he’ll readily eat both if hidden effectively in pesto, spaghetti sauce or soup.
    @Shandra: Yes! You hit the nail on the head. Ditto everything. Our son loves pretending to cook and actually helping me, loves food shopping, helping set the table, etc.– I think that really helps him feel like making the meal is a team effort. Our only difference is that there is no alternative meal/backup food. My son has tried to play picky and beg for crackers and extra milk a few times (even when we have something he normally loves). I always shrug it off, stay cool and say, “You don’t have to eat anymore if you don’t want to; but that’s all there is on the menu.” Another answer is “The Tuesday milk is all gone; we can drink Wednesday milk tomorrow.” This very morning, he tried asking for more milk (after downing a large cup) and for more juice; I played it cool and eventually he stopped whining and ate his cereal and fruit and then asked for more cereal (which he got, since he’d finished what he had). It just seems pretty clear to me in these situations that he’s testing the limits and experimenting to see how I’ll react– he’s like a little scientist or anthropologist, mapping out the norms of the household. I feel like the best thing to do is keep it light, keep it fun and show him very clearly where the boundaries are without having a big reaction. My son has cried for cookies and had to leave the table hungry once or twice– that may sound harsh, but he seems to connect the dots pretty well and didn’t try it again. When it comes to food, I will just never believe that kids need special food (barring a medical condition). In my home country and other places I’ve been around the world, kids are simply expected to sit at the table and eat what everyone else eats– I did it, all my cousins did it and no one ever made a big deal about what any of us ate or didn’t eat. That’s the model I follow, and it seems to be working pretty well so far (now that I’ve written this, my boy will probably go on a crackers only strike starting tonight :o)
    To paraphrase the late, great food writer Laurie Colwin, kids will pick up on the merest bat squeak of any issues you have with food. I know eventually my kids will probably rebel against wholesome home cooking at some point by spending their allowance at McDonald’s, but c’est la vie… for now, I just try to focus on exposing him to a variety of healthy foods and initiating him into the rituals of the kitchen and table. Hopefully, that will pay off someday.

  49. I know this is not the issue in today’s post, but I feel the need to mention this now (and henceforth whenever worries about small kids. I’ll be like hedra with the fructose)Constitutional Growth Delay:
    In a nutshell, it’s a variant of NORMAL growth. Kids start on somewhere expected on the growth chart and the proceed to fall off it. Growth picks back up around 2-3 years, but kids hit puberty later so lag behind peers in terms of size.
    Sometimes small is just small. Sometimes the location or shape of the curve doesn’t fit your kid and nothing is wrong.
    FWIW, Sanna gets offered what we eat. For awhile we would offer her beans instead because they were high in iron and she liked them (and we were uselessly under the ‘care’ of a nutritionist). Now she eats dinner or she doesn’t. We do not coddle the pickiness, but acknowledge she has her own tastes (eg she doesn’t like squash or potatoes at all, ever).
    Karl will start on solids when he’s ready and he’ll get what we’re having, but I don’t do puree.

  50. @Brooke- your comment made me think about one of my friends, who has a very small son- he’s 3 and only marginally bigger than my not so big 2 year old. Her husband, now what can only be called very tall (maybe 6 foot 5 inches?), was the same way as a child. Her mother is a pediatrician and her mother in law clearly remembers her husband’s growth curve, so the entire thing has never bothered them much. It sure bothers some other people though. People are so nosy sometimes.I’m enjoying all of the comments and have found some new ideas to try. But I will also make a plea as someone who almost certainly has a child who will always be a picky eater with a limited list of foods she’ll eat (see Hedra’s comment about the genetic component to picky eating and know that I was an extremely picky eater as a kid): please, all of you with kids who will eat whatever the rest of the family eats, don’t assume that the reason my kid won’t eat a lot of things is that I did something wrong. I get almost as much annoying “help” with Pumpkin’s eating as I did with her sleeping. And my (usually silent) answer is the same- its just how she is. There is no “problem”.
    And for those of you who weren’t picky eaters and now have a picky eating child, maybe it will help you to know that I started eating more veggies and fruits when I went to college. I started eating stronger flavors when I was in junior high. I’m still not an adventurous eater, but I do OK. I’m really pretty darn healthy. The side of the family that is the probable source of the picky eating genes has some amazing longevity in their genes, too (they live well into their 90s with regularity). Picky eating is not a sentence to poor health. I know that it is easy to get obsessive about your kid’s eating habits (I’ve done it, too), but really, its not as big of a deal as it seems.

  51. @Cloud, ep didn’t start trying some of the things his mom cooked until we were engaged. That’d be way past college! :)And his mom didn’t push. He just has those ‘please don’t eat yucky stuff’ genes. I’m the opposite, so it kind of freaked me a bit… but I’ve learned.
    @Brooke, good point on the growth differences. Fortunately, there are simple tests for constitutional growth delay (like the hand x-ray to see if bone age is same as chronological age – if the bone ‘age’ is behind, then it’s CGD), though a family history is usually enough (was he little for a long time? did he keep growing after high school? If yes, then CGD.).
    And I agree, it is just another NORMAL growth pattern that doesn’t fit the ‘usual’ curve. (I dated a guy who had CGD, and in college he was still, er, developing. He was used to the fact that he was still growing and everyone else he knew had stopped already.) Technically, I probably fall in that curve, as well, because I continued growing well past the usual age where girls stop (actually grew more in later puberty than earlier on). Unfortunately, that’s not the issue with Mr B’s growth (sigh – bone age matches chronological age exactly), but it may play a role in Miss M’s later height. I’ve stopped worrying about it, and manage the parts that are under my control, the main part of which is presenting food as a whole and integrated part of our lives, and not as a separate and excessively enforced part of our lives. EVEN with the weird dietary requirements – living as adults with a healthy relationship to food and eating is the larger goal. What her dinner plate looks like to start or at finish is almost entirely beside the point.

  52. Thanks so much for all the suggestions/advice! I think I feel better that she is getting nutrition even from (what looks to me)the minuscule amount of food that seems to making it into her mouth.The linked previous post is super helpful – I’d looked through the archives but hadn’t found that one – thanks!
    Also someone asked about breastmilk/formula – I think that question really clarifies my concern (for me anyway). Bunny is down to just her morning nurse and I’m not concerned at all about trying to wean her from that nurse – but formula is spendy (and I’m thankful that we’ve only needed it in the past few months) so I want to get her off of it but not at the expense of compromising her nutrition.

  53. Yeah, Hedra, my picky eating baffles and sometimes annoys my husband, who will really eat just about anything. The only thing I’ve ever seen him push away was an ice dessert with durian cream that we got in Singapore. He comes from a family for whom fruits genuinely ARE dessert. And here he is stuck married to someone who is so so on quite a few fruits and won’t eat a lot of things he likes. He can’t help himself and tries to push things on me from time to time. It used to make me mad until I realized that he just wanted to share things he thought tasted really good with me. He’s been really good about not pushing Pumpkin, though.

  54. My daughter is 1 year and we are at the same moment. We LOVE the Ellen Slater book, it just makes so much sense,… but we too are struggling with this transition. We want to eat with her at the family table, but she doesn’t eat much then AND out schedules are different. I am a professor, so i am thinking when the summer hits it might be easier to adjust to her routine.Good Luck, and know lots of us are having the same thoughts….

  55. @hedra-Oh yeah, I never think that could be someone else’s kid, but it was like a light bulb went on when we learned about it. Not that the kid has been diagnosed, but the family history is certainly there. Also I clearly still have some residual bitterness about the implication that we just didn’t know how to feed our child.@Cloud- I hope I didn’t come across as saying if you just feed the kid what you eat, they won’t be picky. They are or they aren’t, but I have already used up all my caring about whether or not she’s eating enough. So she eats or she doesn’t, but I’m also not going to keep making her eat stuff she really doesn’t like. I’d be pretty unhappy if I had to eat beets, okra, and mackerel every night.

  56. Just wanted to point out that the reason for trying to wean off the bottle is the possible increased risk to teeth. I don’t know how strong the evidence is for this, and I’m sure your child doesn’t suddenly go from low-risk to high-risk just because she’s had a birthday, but just wanted to point out that it’s not purely a custom thing and there *is* a potential medical issue involved.With regard to breastfeeding and teeth, I have skimmed through the abstracts of available studies and, while the evidence is contradictory (some studies suggest a link between extended breastfeeding and tooth decay, some don’t), there was enough there to give me pause. After reading that, I was careful about nursing my daughter only at times of day when she was due to have her teeth brushed.
    It’s not something I’d be particularly worried about if the baby’s being slow to transition over to a cup, but it’s worth knowing that it’s a potential issue to take into account when deciding whether to make the switch.

  57. My son at 17 months is still on the bottle, but he can and will drink from a normal cup, but refuses sippy cup for the most part. He is more interested in taking apart the sippy cup than actually drinking from it. Same with straws. He would rather play with the straw than actually drink from it. I’m really not too worried about it, and will probably just go straight from bottle to regular cup because I’ve already tried every kind of sippy cup out there to no avail. He’s a head strong kid and likes what he likes. I think it is also about comfort too. Good to know we are not alone.

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