Why Your 1-Year-Old is Suddenly a Picky Eater

dinner2Yesterday, Mason happily ate cooked apple chunks, as well as steamed edamame and carrot from his lentils. This morning he was picky and peckish.

I have a tight group of mom friends in my neighborhood. (I’ll call them the LIC Mamas here since we all live in Long Island City, NY.) We met during the postpartum period through mommy-baby yoga and a Sunday morning coffee group, and our babes are roughly the same age. I couldn’t have gotten through the last year without their support and advice. Yesterday, one of them emailed the rest of us in a panic. She and her family are on vacation, miles from a real grocery store, and her 11-month-old daughter was suddenly refusing to eat her typical faves. “She pretty much wants to eat cheese all day,” our friend wrote. “Thoughts? I’m ready to call the pediatrician.”

As it turned out, each one of us had experienced this phenomenon. One day our babes are eating every single thing we put in front of them, the next day they reject practically everything. Mason was a champion eater yesterday but he was peckish this morning. Despite a spread of cheese omelet, toast with blackberry jam, and fresh cantaloupe — all things he loves — he only wanted the cheese toast I was eating. Yesterday, on the other hand, he had a breakfast of crepes at home then went to daycare and devoured a second breakfast of eggs and melon and a lunch of pasta, pesto chicken, and fresh orange slices. He ate his new Sesame Street crackers on the subway on the way home and then he enjoyed veggie lentils, chunks of cooked apple, steamed edamame, and strawberry yogurt for dinner.

breakfast2Jazzed to be out of his high chair — and in daddy’s arms — this morning.

In addition to making us worry that they’re losing important nutrients, our toddlers’ finickiness can be downright annoying. As another LIC Mama wrote in our email exchange,  “Stuff he loved he now throws on the floor. He only seems to want purees after having completely rejected them for the last month.” What mom wants to spend hours making food for her babe only to have it thrown on the floor and devoured by the dog, stepped on and mashed into the carpet by a sibling, or unceremoniously tossed in the garbage?

Intrigued by our discussion, one of the LIC Mamas decided to get an expert’s take on our situation so she turned to Dr. Sears. Apparently, he’s been where we are. “When our first few children were toddlers, we dreaded dinnertime,” he says. “We would prepare all kinds of sensible meals composed of what we thought were healthy, appealing foods. Most of these offerings would end up splattering the high-chair tray and carpeting the floor.” He goes on to note that “Being a picky eater is part of what it means to be a toddler,” and he offers some very sensible strategies for getting them to eat a variety of healthful foods. I love his idea to make nibble trays with a range of finger foods, and I think dip is a great way dress up fresh veggies and fruits (just be ready for a mess!).

Have you experienced the same mealtime issues that we have? What are your go-to tricks for getting your toddlers to eat well?

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  1. by Lori

    On September 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Sometimes I think it’s best to look at their nutrition over the course of a week, because not every single meal is going to be a home-run. So many things can contribute to why they suddenly turn away from a food they previously liked, it can make you crazy trying to dissect the reasons. Keep in mind, if they are eating well most of the time, then they are doing very well.

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    On September 9, 2011 at 3:02 am

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  3. by Stacy

    On September 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I am going through this exact problem. I have a 14 month old and he used to eat everything. He loved turkey and ham. I could make him sandwiches and it would all be devoured. Now all he will eat is cheese. I feel like he’s not getting enough to eat. I’ve tried putting cheese on top of meats and eggs but he will pick off tge cheese and give the rest to the dog.

  4. by Heather Morgan Shott

    On September 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? Last night Mason would only eat cheese and graham crackers. The other stuff on his tray were all faves but he threw each piece one by one on the floor…!!

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