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Help a Mom: Toddler won't eat fruit

Posted August 28, 2012

I received this question by email a few weeks ago from a mom of a toddler. Here's what she wrote:

My son does not eat any fruit and I mean, literally, any fruit. He mainly lives on milk and wheat-based products. Even fruits in disguised form do not work. Please help.

Do you have advice for this mom? Please share your tips in the comments box below. (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

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  • rathburns2011 Aug 30, 2012

    My daughter's paediatrician says not to worry too much about mealtimes with toddlers. They will eat as much or as little as they want :) My toddler (16 months) eats fruits and veggies but won't eat any meat! The best advice I have is not to make mealtime a battleground :) The more disputes and struggling involved with food the less they will want to eat.
    Best of luck!

  • babbleon Aug 29, 2012

    Brassy's idea is good - you can also use prunes for some things.

    wheat-based products isn't very specific, but applesauce could be used for anything. It doesn't have to be cookies and brownies, if you're worried about sugar. Here's an applesauce pizza dough:

  • shall6 Aug 29, 2012

    From my inbox:

    Blend them into a smoothie. worked for all 6 of ours.


  • brassy Aug 29, 2012

    If he likes baked goods, maybe try subbing applesauce for oil.

  • FromClayton Aug 29, 2012

    mine either. We know why. He has GERD (bad heartburn). We have consulted with a nutritionist to make sure he is getting what he needs...i think you should too. Your ped can set you up with one and your insurance should pay for a visit or two. We are on vitamins and previcid (heartburn meds). I eat fruit every day in front of him. I always offer him a bite, but respect him when he says no thank you. I'm told in perfectly normal kids it can take around 10 tries for them to agree to try a new food and the best thing you can do is eat it yourself and offer them a bite. If they see you eat it all the time, it must be good and courosity will eventually get the best of them. I can't say it is working yet (because there is a known physical problem with my child), but I am hopefully as he will at least take a bite sometimes, and that is a huge improvment...and good enough for now. Good luck!

  • busyb97 Aug 29, 2012

    He very well may grow out of it. My almost-9yr old is still trying new things that for years he refused. Now he finds he loves them. We always try to get our kids to give things at least ONE bite. If they don't like it, they don't have to eat it. They have a pretty good variety of things in their diet, and always find new things to add.

    As far as saying "Eventually, most kids will get out of their food rut, especially once your food starts to look more interesting." I hope that is the case. At least keep encouraging him to try new things. Even if he refused something once before, try it again later down the road.

    My niece is 15 yrs old. As a toddler, she was only given chicken nuggets and pizza. That's about all she still eats today!! She won't eat much of anything else (She'll starve at my house!)

  • babbleon Aug 29, 2012

    My son also went through a phase of not eating anything but white foods for about six months. While it is common, there could be something else going on.

    With my son, it was lactose intolerance. Does your son have a lot of diaper rash? Diarrhea? Lots of gas, or tummy aches?

    If yes, talk to your pediatrician, and maybe try elimination diets - he may be lactose intolerant (milk) or even glutein sensitive (wheat products). We use Lactaid (Soy and Almond milk are also common), no real cheese (we use SoyaKaas from Whole Foods and VeggieShreds from Harris Teeter), no commercial yogurt.

    If he has no gas, no diarrhea, no tummy aches, then just wait it out. Nutritionally, if they get veggies, they're not missing anything with no fruit. If he's not eating veg, then a vitamin covers the critical stuff. Keep putting fuit on the plate, eat it yourself, don't push.

    (ps - tomatoes are fruit w/lots of Vit C - spaghetti sauce can cover a lot of basic nutrition, esp with a good blender)

  • JAT Aug 29, 2012

    Don't worry about it. He'll grow out of it. I knew one kid that didn't eat anything but potato chips for a year. As long as he's happy and healthy otherwise, don't fret. The more you bug him about it, the less likely he is to eat it on his own.

  • thinkb4speak Aug 29, 2012

    If he eats veggies - I wouldn't worry about it. Veggies are much better than fruit for him anyway. If he is healthy and your pediatrician isn't worried, then don't make a big deal about it. Sometimes the food thing really is a control issue. He has the power when you are begging and bribing him to eat it.

  • corwinsshadow Aug 29, 2012

    Three things occur to me:
    1) Try asking why. There may be a simple reason that can be overcome. It could just be a certain type of texture/taste that is common to one group of fruits (say, berries) but not others.
    2) Take him to the farmers market. (The NC State Farmers' Market is great!) Turn it into a fun time out with mom & get him to sample a wide variety.
    3) If the doctor says he's otherwise healthy and fine, leave it alone. Offer foods on a regular basis, but don't force it. Eventually, most kids will get out of their food rut, especially once your food starts to look more interesting.