Is your toddler a fussy eater? Here’s how to solve it

Won't eat vegies. Will lick mixing bowls.

Won’t eat vegies. Will lick mixing bowls.

By far the most common email I get is from stressed parents (actually it’s always mothers, but I’m being PC) of toddlers aged 2-3 who refuse to eat anything much and particularly won’t eat vegetables.

Getting the little darlings to put food into their gobs isn’t generally the problem. Ice-creams, lollies and chips usually disappear without any delay whatsoever, but finding a way to get any amount of fresh produce down the hatch is a constant and miserable drama that is starting to impact the family wellbeing (and mum’s sanity).

Does this sounds like you? Have dinners become miserable? Is your toddler holding you to food ransom?

Firstly, let me assure you that I feel your pain. This site exists due to my own experiences dealing with these issues. Back in 2006 when my daughter started causing me these headaches, I looked everywhere and really didn’t find too much helpful information. There were ‘cooking with kids’ books, which focused around getting them to bake treats and top pizzas. And there were ‘healthy kids’ books, written by nutritionists who insisted that all I had to do was serve my kids burgul salad and all would be well. Considering the short list of foods that were acceptable at the time, this idea was beyond laughable.

These days, there are a lot of good resources to help parents out, but I like to think that I’ve got some great ideas and recipes here to help you, in fact enough that I wanted to collate them into one toddler-specific post.

The good news is, that I’m living proof that this toddler behaviour is manageable and that you can overcome it. Now aged 8 and 6, both my fussy eaters are fantastic and will eat most things. It’s been a long but worthwhile road, one I would do all over again to achieve the outcome of healthy kids, without food issues who enjoy flavours and will take a food adventure with me.

I truly believe that if I had indulged them, to keep the peace, and maintained our limited menu, I would still be dealing with children who ‘won’t eat that’. Because one thing is certain, children who aren’t offered healthy food, definitely don’t eat it.


• Why do I create my recipes the way I do? Click here to see a list of ten tips for smuggling vegies.

• Feeling overwhelmed? If this toddler behaviour is all new, read this post “Please help Vegie Smugglers, my child only eats…”

• More specific help. And if you need more help about dealing with toddler food behaviour, read “How to get fussy kids to try new foods.”

• Find inspiration. Click here for more of my personal story, and a great toddler tinned-spaghetti recipe.

• Recipes. Then of course you’ll need more fabulous recipes suitable for toddlers. As with most of my recipes, I aim to make them interesting enough for the whole family (no one wants to cook twice a night). Often I’ll suggest ways to ‘adult up’ a meal, by adding extra ingredients once you’ve served the kids. I’ve got a post about that, and a recipe for tomato & lentil pasta, both for you and your toddlers here.

• Even more recipes! You can see a selection of meal ideas here. Also, browse this entire blog. There are over 150 recipes on here that are all aimed at feeding fussy kids.

If you find all of this info helpful, and want even more recipes, you may want to buy the books or ebooks. Your purchase will benefit your family AND keep me afloat and able to whip up even more great ideas for you in the future.

Good luck and keep me posted on how you go!

16 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    The Yogic Housewife said,

    Great wrap up! It’s such a weight on parents mind, but your right its totally a phase 🙂 – we are going through an “I don’t like bread” phase at the moment (kindy lunches are getting crazy….) but it’s a phase and he’s eating his weight in fruit instead. I’m cool with that.

  2. 3

    M said,

    Thankyou so much for this post! Our previously good eater has rebelled!

  3. 5

    Kirri White said,

    My girls aren’t toddlers anymore but they are still inherently fussy. It’s still frustrating at times but I was exactly the same when I was a kid. Karma hey 🙂

  4. 7

    mamacino said,

    I agree! It is well worth the effort to ‘encourage’ toddlers to eat in a way that is good for them…you can adjust the meaning of ‘encourage’ to suit yourself 😉

  5. 8

    katie poli said,

    how do i fix the reverse problem – a four year old who will eat platefuls of ‘plain vegetables’ but won’t have a bar of anything with sauce, seasoning or flavour???!!! (i’m not complaining about the health benefits, i’m just sick of having to always cook a separate meal to save the fighting!)

  6. 11

    brenda34 said,

    Great resource here Wendy. One incredible eater and one fussy here. It’s hard not to compare. Thanks for all the wonderful tips.

  7. 13

    Lisa W said,

    My fussy babes are 5 & 8 and one is a natural vegetarian and the other is purely a meat eater, no vegies. I only offer great healthy food & I eat everything! Its so frustrating!!

    • 14

      wendyblume said,

      Yes, frustrating is the word. Your kids sound like mine. Miss f doesn’t like meat still. However she likes good quality meat like rump in a stir fry. And my son loves meat, but is now used to eating more hearty vegetarian dishes like my vegie lasagna. I still need to plan carefully and there isn’t often a meal that thrills them both on the same day, but we get there in the end. They keep life interesting!

      Some things my two do both like – spaghetti carbonara, chicken pasta, chunky bean and vegie soup and my pizza sauce. Hope this helps!

  8. 15

    Nicole said,

    yep, our phase has so far gone on for more than half of miss nearly 3’s life, she got fussy all of a sudden shortly after turning 1. Thankfully she will eat most hidden veggies, so until she voluntarily eats plain veggies (with or without some sort of sauce, I’m not going to be fussy about that aspect) I’m glad we’ve got your books and term planners to help keep things interesting and still get some nutrition into her

    • 16

      wendyblume said,

      Awww, thanks for that! Yes, teaching them to love fresh produce does take time, so I’m happy to smuggle in the mean time. Definitely reduces stress, knowing that there’s some nutrition going in.

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