A Very Picky Eater...

Received Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
Hey everybody! MissDee here and I have a problem concerning a child in my class. After a week of observation, this is starting to concern me, and I'm not sure what to do. I have talked to my director, and I'm not sure what to say to the parents. Anyone who has parented or cared for a child under 2 knows that children of this age may have certain foods they like, and sometimes toddlers go in stages with food and eating in general. What is the best way to handle a child who won't eat all day, only to eat snack @ 3p? I have a child who does this-they may eat breakfast at the center in the morning, won't touch lunch, and will eat snack, wanting more. Last week this child ate breakfast one morning, had one bite of lunch, and ate snack every afternoon-this was the amount of food eaten in a week, compared to the rest of my class. Yesterday my assistant teacher had to feed this child yogurt, by placing a small bite in the child's mouth and the
child liked it. Other foods the child refuses to eat, and because they don't eat, they haven't pooped for me in a week. Forcing a child to eat at any age isn't appropriate, because it can set up eating disorders. I am concerned about this child, given what little food they ate last week, and that we eat am snack at 845a, lunch at 1145a, and snack at 300p. This particular child goes for eight hours without food-one day last week, they didn't eat all day, and sometimes this happens, too. Eating habits similar to this child's can also lead to overeating. My director thinks it's a phase, I think she is right, but I also think this child isn't exposed to new foods at home. Any advice?


Emily said...

Any advice? . . . ummm yeah: talk to the parents. What do they have to say about their child and his eating habits? How does he eat at home? What times does he eat at home? How do they want you to handle this?

Hopefully you've just left all that info out of your post, because I don't think that the panel of ISYN posters, as insightful as we are, should be your first go-to on problems with individual children under your care.

UmassSlytherin said...

I disagree Emily. I think every poster on ISYN should come directly to me first with their problems, as my insight is the best thing going. :) j.k.

But seriously, OP, that is good advice: speak with the parents. Sometimes you just have to roll with it. I know it can be difficult, especially if the child is wanting more at snack.

Keep us posted and good luck!

BeNicerEmily said...

Emily, is it possible for you to EVER be not condescending?? You are such a know it all with a real lack of kindness. Just read the last part of what you wrote. It is so rude and not necessary. Miss Dee is just asking for some advice don't badger her for coming to us. Lord. I would say that it is a phase he's going through, most 2 year old's go through it. However-proper nutrition is very important, maybe you can talk to the parents and see if they can speak with a doctor and get him on some kind of supplemental diet like children's ensure or something. I wouldn't worry about it too much-every 2 year old I have watched has gone through this and it goes away. They are just "so busy" at this age and often don't want to bother eating, its called the terrible 2's for a reason. Best of luck!

Holz said...

I agree with Emily- talk to the parents.

The kid's not going to starve himself, but unfortunately at that age they don't get that they need the proper nutrition.

Emily said...

beniceremily, I'm sorry if you felt I was being unkind, and I believe you're right that I was being condescending, it's a character flaw I have.

potmeetkettle said...


don't start this again. everyone has a different way of expressing themselves. emily is unique. if you are calling her a "know-it-all", you are name-calling yourself and shouldn't be pointing the finger at people for being "unkind."

benicerEmily said...

I have not started anything, this is the first time I have ever posted. I am long time reader and EVERY single time she comments she is condescending. In this case , it wasnt necessary. I am not name calling. You can offer advice without being rude and making snide remarks like she did with her "advice". Potmeetkettle if you feel she is unique that is your opinion. But just take a hard look at the last part of her "advice" and you tell me that wasn't condescending! What I said was not unkind -I am only pointing out there is no need to speak to someone in that matter when they are asking for our advice. It discourages people from every asking future questions

beniceremily said...

that was meant to read "ever" asking future questions

Emily said...

I don't know if this violates the comment policy to say, but I find it interesting that beniceremily and missdee share the same grammatical tick, that single hyphen thing.

Linzbaby1 said...

Hi there. I teach early childhood also, and have encountered many kids like this. Usually, I try talking to Mom and Dad about it. I usually mention that the child is not eating the center provided lunch, and ask if they have this problem at home as well. Sometimes it's something as silly as the approach, sometimes Mom acts as a short order cook at home and makes the child whatever they want, so they become somewhat picky. Usually I encourage parents to bring something in that we can offer the child when all else fails. One little boy I work with comes with a cheese stick and a yogart from home everyday. We encourage him to try the provided meal first, but when all else fails, we have something to give him that he eats. I've worked out a system with him where I put on a glove and ask him to take one bite, and if he doesn't like it he can spit it out in my hand. He'll usually at least try things that way. I have another little girl who has a box of nutragrain bars for when she refuses lunch. Hope this helps!

Beniceremily said...

Many people do that-but that is fine if you want to think I am "MissDee". It's not a unique thing to do but assume all you want-you know what they say about people who assume! LOL

Mom said...

I suppose Holz is "MissDee" as well because she used a single hyphen too!!! Unbelievable.

Sprak said...

I'm envisioning this kid in thirty years, sitting in front of the television with a massive arsenal of snacks, along with a twelve pack of beer, laid out on a gooey, garbage strewn coffee table, his hairy, ginormous belly spilling over his stretched out boxers, watching some NFL football game whilst belching and passing gas, and somehow I just can't conjure up any worry for him. Uh, that's assuming this is a male child.

Emily said...

It wasn't an assumption, it was a suspicion. But, for what it's worth, I regret it. I think the comment policy is wise & I shouldn't have deviated from it.

JD said...


nycnanny said...

Well I don't think that beniceremily and MissDee are the same person-many people use that dash thing-including me! I do agree that Emily can be a bit condescending and everyone is entitled to their opinions. I think basically , Emily, you have good intentions but can come off a little harsh at times. With that being said-I wouldn't worry too much but I do agree with Emily that you should speak with the parents. Maybe it would be best that the child bring in his own food-food he likes!! Ahh-2 year olds-gotta love them!:)

Manhattan Nanny said...

Ladies, PLEASE! Does every thread have to deteriorate into petty bickering that is of no interest to anyone but the two or three involved?

OP, does he at least drink milk at lunch? Are the snacks nutritious? Does he appear undernourished? If the mom makes sure he has good nutrition at home, and his overall consumption is adequate, I don't think his lack of appetite at lunch is too serious. I have school age charges who are starving after school because they talk so much at lunch time that they don't eat. I give them sandwiches and fruit for snack.

does this moniker make my butt look big said...

If this child has a good amount of energy ,his weight seems appropriate and he appears otherwise healthy, I would not worry.

Children at this age are often distracted when it comes to eating. It may also be a control issue. They have control over very little at this point in life and at such an independent stage, this is one of the things they can control.

He may go home and eat a dinner big enough for a grown man.
I do think that suggesting he is not being exposed to new foods at home might be a bit premature at this point as this is such a common problem with toddlers.

As for pooping,perhaps he poops at night or in the AM before arriving.

As suggested above, talking to mom & dad might make you feel better.

This is a very common thing at this age. very common.

As I said, if he appears otherwise healthy, I would not focus too much on it . Best of luck .

Marypoppin'pills said...

My son used to have problems, too.
His Dr. suggested "Boost" because I was worried he wasn't getting enough of the right nutrition.
He's gotton so much better, and his appetite has picked up, but he still enjoys a "Boost" for Breakfast occasionally.

Linzbaby1 - I think that's an excellent suggestion!

Try talking to the Parents and find out how his eating habits are at home. It could either be a phase (that they all go through) or he may be like my son, and when he's at school, he hardly wants to eat ... he'd rather play and socialize! But when he gets home, he definately makes up for it.

bebe said...

Not taking a poop at school? Maybe he does it in the am before he leaves or when he gets home?
Tell the mom he isn't eating much, and you want to know how he does at home. Things could be completely different at home. If it's not, and he doesn't eat much there either, then get together with mom and try to come up with a solution. Find out from mom what he likes at home, maybe she could send it in for him?

ceo said...

I agree, talking to the parents. In this case it shouldn't be uncomfortable or awkward in any way. This is a normal concern to discuss. My son is 2.5 and I'm a firm believer in he will eat when he is hungry. I feed him well, and he always has healthy snacks he can help himself to. But if he skips a meal or is picky with his food, I know that he'll be fine. In my experience most kids get the nutrition they need, even if it doesn't seem like it. But again, mentioning it to the parents can do nothing but help!!
Good luck

ericsmom said...

Don't say anything. My son is the same way. When I go out and my parents are watching him, he won't eat. But when I pick him up he eats for me. I enrolled him in nursery school part-time. And the same thing he wouldn't really eat for them. And I would get the notes, etc. But my doctor told me not to worry, hes fine. When hes comfortable he will start eating.

More likely this child is eating the minute he sees mom and dad. He feels comfortable in his own surroundings. Thats my own personal experience.

m said...

I also use the single hyphen, double hyphen and triple hyphen. I also use ellipses...a lot. I love to use them.

Here is one thing I've always said...posters need to stop telling people how to sound and who to be like.
You won't like everybody, so please get over it. There are some people who are natural people pleasers, and there are others who are just more honest about how they truly feel. I had someone accosting me on this blog before. I simply told them to mind their beeswax...pretty much I have my own opinions and no one- not one soul can stop me from speaking my mind.
I could care less who wants to like me. It's called being real. I know not everybody knows what that is like; for those of us who possess it, know it's a gift.

If you stop commenting on people then you won't cause a controversy.
Most people who do that are usually the troublemakers and 'control freaks' oh I just hate those.

This is America people! Speak your minds!

ericsmom said...

My son was exposed to alot of new foods, but he just wasn't interested in any. A young child of two-three years old sometimes gravitates towards, a couple of favorite items. Its a phase.

If it is something major lets hope the parents talk to the peditrician. They have experience and can order tests and recommend other specialist if need be.

MB said...

Hi MissDee, All the toddlers I have known in my classes and nannying have had erractic eating habits. It is the number one thing parents and caring teachers are concerned about. If they are hungry, they will eat. They may not be growing as fast right now so they are not as hungry. If they go through a growth spurt, they will eat more than usual. When you have your own children they will probably do the same thing.

On a different note, I am also from the Milwaukee area and I have found a great deal of support and interesting discussion on Milwaukee We are always talking about these kinds of things. It does help to get other people's opinions and advice. You shouldn't feel bad about asking questions, ever.

mom said...

First, there is more than one "mom" on this thread. (Maybe on others too, as I have not had much time to read or write on here for a few days.) I am "original/regular mom, of War-and-Peace-length posts fame. I made no comment on who may or may not be whom earlier in this thread.

Anyway, I agree with ceo on this one. I got the same advice from my pediatrician for my incredibly picky eater first son. His preschool was in fits because he would't eat their lunches...and in further fits over my unconcerned attitude about that. I chose to believe my doctor when he told me that 1) kids don't EVER starve themselves to death, 2)kids will eat when they are hungry, 3) his overall nutrition would balance itself out over time and 4) the worst thing I could possibly do is make a big issue out of it, causing the potential for numerous related problems down the line.

He said that I should just calmly serve my son a plate with a well balanced meal on it at each meal, let him eat what, and how much, he wanted, and then remove the plate withut comment when he was finished. So, that's what I did.

And you know what? he was right. It all worked out perfectly...and at age 22, the boy likes and eats a wider variety of foods that I do!

There are also times (when they are in a growth spurt) that kids cannot seem to get enough food into their mouths fast enough, and other times it seems like they are existing on air. I also did not monitor my kids' poops past the time they dealt with BMs themselves...and they are all alive and thriving.

Talk to the parents...and then relax.

Emily said...

I'm curious, ericsmom, why you would counsel the OP not to say anything? Don't you believe in open communication between parent and caregiver? Wouldn't you want to know that Missdee was observantly caring for your child?

ericsmom said...

Where did I counsel the O.P..??

I told her MY situation. MY opinion. My sons teacher would leave a note in his bag, what happened during the day. If he ate or not.

Theirs nothing wrong with having open communications with the teacher/parent. But as long as my doctor reassured me everything was okay, I don't get too stressed anymore.

UmassSlytherin said...

eric's mom,

I think emily just meant that you "advised" (means the same as counsel) the OP to not say anything.

kids should be at home said...

it would be easier if kids were just home with mom...instead of in daycare

UmassSlytherin said...


every family is different, and sometimes this is just not possible. it is for the individual parent to decide, not for us to pass judgement. In OP's case, the reason why this child needs daycare is not relevant.

most of us on this site are advocates for quality childcare.

Marypoppin'pills said...

Mom (original, #1 Mom)
I saw that post, and I thought it might be you, but it didn't look like your typing "style", lol. Funny how I second-guessed myself, and as it turns out, it wasn't you!
Glad you could set the record straight. We have to know when it's you posting so that you get full credit for your Legendary posts!

Emily said...

ericsmom, the first thing you wrote was "Don't say anything." That's why I asked why you were counseling the OP not to communicate with the parents.

mom said...

Thank you MPP! Actually, credit for my posts isn't so important to me as it is that somebody not have hurt feelings and think I am the one who said something mean to them.

DowntoEarth said...

Our 2 yr old would not eat anything but Spaghetti for a while. Then it was hot dogs. Sometimes she just wouldn't eat . She was not on the bottle so I was concerned and the doctor said not to worry and to buy some pudding. I did and when she wouldn't eat anything else I would get the pudding out and she never turned it down. She went to day care and she would not eat their food so I packed her lunch for her and if we had leftovers from the night before and she had liked the dinner I would pack her a lunch from it. I wouldn't worry too much if the child is not losing weight or acting sickly but I would ask the parents some questions to make sure the child is eating at home and to ese your own mind.

TheOneTheOnlyMissDee said...

OK, so to answer some specific questions:

This is a little girl that I concerned about. She is not underweight, that I can see. Of course this noneating thing is new to me, since I have mainly cared for preschoolers and have never dealt with this problem.

Emily: So you think I am an idiot for posting this question here? Whatever.

Thanks for the advice everyone!

Yaya said...

She probably
a) gets really big breakfasts and dinners at home? My bosses make huge breakfasts for the kids, I'm talking scrambled eggs, ham, etc in the mornings and then they kids might have a light snack but really don't eat a huge lunch.
b) shyness/anxiety about eating w/ others...just something that will come with time.
I wouldn't worry about it, just let the parents know that her appetite is low so that they can be sure to supplement at night with a bigger meal.

mom said...

No, miss dee.
You are not an idiot and it is a good question. Thank you for caring enough about the child to ask for help with a situation that is new so that you can do the best possible thing for the child involved.

good god said...


Don't post on a nanny blog.

Emily said...

Missdee, I don't think you're an idiot and I never said anything that should make you think that. I do think you're a bit naive, perhaps rather young, because of your reluctance to talk to the parents.

But that's just what I think, and for all you know I'm a fat old man who can't get off his couch and enjoys pretending to be a nanny, so don't get too worked up over it.

EmilySucks said...


Oh my gosh I feel for you. Picky eaters are so frustrating! Especially if you really are trying to make a difference.

I think the most important thing is to always offer healthy choices. Remember the rule for feeding: You (or the parents) decide when and what the toddler eats, the toddler decides whether to eat and how much.

But really main habits of eating have to start at home. So if you are trying your best to consistenly offer food without forcing, you are doing the most you can. The parents are going to have to handle the rest.

If you feel like you have to do more, you can always print out an article or two or give the parents some literature on nutrition for toddlers and how to handle fussy eaters.

Remember the parents are ultimately responsible for everything in this kid's life, and they are going to have to learn to take the initiave.

You sound like a really good and patient person!

cfg said...

I may not always agree with what someone has to say... hell, I may even hate it, but I don't go around saying that person sucks.
That wasn't necessary.

does this moniker make my butt look big said...

Emily sucks,
I think you should read some of those articles that you speak of missDee printing out.
You will see that this is common toddler behavior.
Insinuating that the parents "need to take some kind of initiative" or that missDee should be as bold as to offer advice to these parents as far as eating habits and nutrition for their child is and extremely premature on your part.
This is a VERY common behavior and more often than not is in no way any fault of the parents or childcare provider.

She should feel free to mention to the parents that their child is not eating at school except for an afternoon snack.And that is all she feel free to do at this point. As mentioned, several times above, hopefully it is due to large meals at home or simply being distracted. (the latter often being the case where toddlers are concerned.) MissDee said the child does not appear underweight. If the child appeared mal-nurished, then perhaps your advice would be appropriate.
Your post suggests you are young and presumptuos and like the rest of us still have much to learn from each other..your moniker on the other hand suggests you need to get your head out of your @$$!
Concedeing that you might be wrong is not often doen on this site. I have seen Emily do it on more than one occassion..and like cfg said above, weather we all agree with her posts or not, she has a right to post without some @$$hat(see ladies, I've been paying attention..hmmmm?) coming along trying to make her the next ISYN joke!
You too have a right to post , perhaps you just shouldn't do it after bedtime kiddo!


MissDee, seems like you have gotten quite abit of input. Along with that,I hope you will feel better after talking with mom and dad.