When my son was in preschool, he had a pal who was obsessed with pasta. One day, his mother dropped him off for a playdate and warned me that he'd only eat plain noodles with grated Parmesan on the side. I dutifully boiled some penne, yet the kid wouldn't touch it. At pickup time, I confessed to the mom that her son didn't eat a thing all day. "Oh, I forgot to tell you -- he only likes fettuccine!" she said.
I guess I should have known that no ordinary pasta would do, since toddlers are famous for their mealtime quirks. Some days, your child will eat as if he hasn't seen food in days; on others, he'll play with his meal or refuse everything, even the toaster waffles he'd eat at every meal if you let him. "A lot of toddlers' food issues are actually just power struggles," says Andrea McCoy, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Temple University's School of Medicine, in Philadelphia. One of the few things kids can control now is what they eat, and they're not shy about making demands. But you don't have to cave in or argue. Instead, encourage healthy eating -- and save your sanity -- with these solutions to common mealtime dramas.