Q: My 20 month old son refuses to eat anything other than crackers, yogurt and bananas. I've tried to give him a variety of foods and if he doesn't recognize the food, he refuses to touch it. As a result, we still have him on formula at night, but I'm desperate to get him to eat real food. It is not a weight issue - he is in the 80th percentile for his age.
A: Getting toddlers to try new foods is a challenge for many moms, so you’re in good company! You’ve done well getting your son to eat yogurt and bananas. Now it’s time to incorporate additional foods into his diet. Your son is probably filling up on the formula he’s drinking at night, and it’s definitely time to wean him. Infant formula is a good source of nutrition, but it is very filling, and it’s likely that it’s reducing his appetite as well as his willingness to try and eat new foods. The first night or two that you put your son to bed without giving him formula might be a bit challenging for the two of you, but it’s an important step.
You can offer him other nutritious, age-appropriate foods instead of the formula. Foods that are good sources of protein and high quality fat (such as omega-3 fatty acids) would be ideal, since they’re nutritious and filling, and he’s not getting enough of these nutrients in the yogurt, bananas, and crackers that he normally eats. You can offer him bits of fish or chicken as well as cut up fruit and vegetables. It’s always a good idea to sit down and eat and enjoy these same foods with your child, so he’ll see that they are not only edible, they’re delicious! Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t gobble up everything you offer him the first time you try, but stick with it. If he’s not filling up on the infant formula at night, he’ll be hungrier the next day, and as a result, he’ll be far more willing to eat the foods that you offer him. It’s going to take some determination on your part, but if you stick to your plan in the short-run, your son will be happier and healthier in the long-run.