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Crying Boy While Eating Cereal

Is Your Toddler Not Eating? Here’s Why and What You Can Do

Written by: Dayvin Malifer



Time to read 7 min

Is mealtime with your little one turning into a culinary challenge? From food flinging, lack of attention, sudden food strikes, toddlers have a knack for keeping us guessing.

In this blog, we’ll unravel the mysteries behind those half-eaten peas and explore practical tips to turn mealtime battles into victories.

Here are the reasons why toddlers can be picky eaters or refuse to eat, along with some doable solutions you can slowly apply.

Why Is Your Toddler Not Eating?

1. Asserting Independence and Control

Toddler Boy Eats with Spoon
Toddler Eating Snacks

Toddlers are at a stage where they’re learning to assert their independence, and mealtime is no exception. They may refuse certain foods or demand others as a way to exercise control. It’s important to strike a balance between offering choices and setting boundaries to guide them towards healthy eating habits

Solution : Serve one meal for everyone, but let your toddler decide what and how much of each item they want to have.

2. Skepticism of New Foods

Variety of Food on Wooden Coaster
Assorted Nutritious Food

Is your toddler not eating the new foods you feed them? Relax, the hesitation to try new foods is a common trait among toddlers. They may be naturally cautious about unfamiliar textures and flavors, leading to a limited diet. Gradual exposure and a positive, pressure-free environment can help them become more adventurous eaters.

Solution : Expose them to a variety of foods over time to encourage openness.

3. Fluctuating Appetite

Toddler eating yogurt
Unhappy Child looking at her empty plate

Unlike infants, toddlers have slower growth rates, which means their appetite can be unpredictable. They might eat well one day and barely touch their food the next. Offering small, nutrient-dense meals can ensure they get what they need even on their less hungry days.

Solution : Pay attention to portion sizes and avoid overestimating their needs.

4. Illness or Discomfort

mother caring for sick toddler
Father Checking Forehead of Sick Toddler

Sometimes, picky eating can stem from underlying health conditions like allergies, gastrointestinal discomfort, or sensory processing issues2. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider if you suspect a medical reason behind your toddler’s eating behavior.

Solution : Be patient and offer comforting foods.

5. Mimicking Behavior

variety of nutritious foods
family eating together in the table

Toddlers often imitate the eating habits of those around them. If they see parents or siblings being picky, they might follow suit. Setting a good example by eating a variety of foods can encourage them to do the same.

Solution : If your toddler is not eating, why not establish a consistent routine with regular meal and snack times as you show that you do it for you? Introduce a diverse range of nutritious foods and be a positive role model by showcasing healthy eating habits yourself.

6. Developmental Milestones

Family Eating Dinner at a Dining Table

Picky eating can coincide with developmental milestones as toddlers learn to express preferences and make decisions1. Being patient and consistently offering a variety of foods without forcing them can help them outgrow this phase.

Solution : Be patient, stay positive, and continue offering a variety of foods.

Understanding these factors can help you as parents and caregivers navigate the picky eating stage with more empathy and effectiveness. Remember, patience and persistence are key in helping your toddler develop a healthy relationship with food.

The quote, “Patience is key.”

Don’t overthink it.

Toddlers from 1 to 3 don't need to pack on much weight , so if they're not chowing down a lot, it's totally cool. Let them call the shots on what, how much, and whether to eat. Keep mealtime fun, and don't stress about pushing them to eat stuff they're not into!

Establishing Healthy Habits and Its Benefits

Introducing a variety of foods to toddlers ASAP is like giving them a head start on a healthy future. It's like planting the seeds for good eating habits that stick around for life. So, by letting them try different tastes and textures early on, you're basically helping them build a strong and lasting friendship with healthy food.

Limit sugary drinks and snacks and serve proper portions for them, and get creative with food presentation. Involve toddlers in cooking activities, encourage independence during meals, and minimize distractions.

Another thing to remember is that well-nourished toddlers tend to have more energy, enabling them to engage in social activities and explore their surroundings, fostering social and emotional development.

Is your toddler not eating? Is their playmate not eating as well? What are they eating together? Observing social interactions with your toddler can help you think about ways your toddler can overcome this problem.

Proper nutrition helps prevent developmental delays and ensures that toddlers reach important developmental milestones on time, promoting a well-rounded and healthy early childhood.

Navigating Toddler Nutrition: The Right Portions and Choices

In the journey of nourishing our little explorers, understanding what and how much to feed toddlers becomes a compass guiding us through the culinary maze. Let’s decode this nutritional adventure together!

Caloric Guidelines for Your 2-4 Year-Old Babies

Healthy nutrition for kids
Boy eating watermelon
Ages 2 to 4: Daily guidelines for girls

Ages 2 to 4: Daily guidelines for boys

1,000 to 1,400, depending on growth and activity level
1,000 to 1,600, depending on growth and activity level
2 to 4 ounces
2 to 5 ounces
1 to 1.5 cups
1 to 1.5 cups
1 to 1.5 cups
1 to 2 cups
3 to 5 ounces
3 to 5 ounces
2 to 2.5 cups
2 to 2.5 cups

Nutrients To Provide if your Toddler is Not Eating

About  25-35% of toddlers  and preschoolers are seen as picky eaters by their parents. So, what exactly is a picky eater? It is exactly what it means, being a picky eater in babies and toddlers is totally normal. They might say no to both familiar and new foods because they're navigating a fear of trying new things.This can often lead to conflicts between parents and children and cause significant worry for parents. 

Nutrient-Rich Meals For Kids


Protein is like a super-seed for your little one’s growing tree! It's a big deal for their growth, fixing tissues, and making important stuff like enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Enzymes handle digestion, hormones control growth, and antibodies keep them healthy.



Vegetables are loaded with all sorts of vitamins and minerals that are super important for keeping your little ones healthy. These nutrients help them grow, boost their immune system, and even support the development of their organs and tissues. So, adding some colorful veggies to their plate isn't just tasty, it's like giving them a little health boost too!

Cooking Vegetables


Fruits provide important vitamins such as Vitamin C and folic acid. Based on research, the recommended amount of intake of vitamin C for toddlers ranges from 0-15 mg . And here's the cool part – the natural sugars in fruits not only make them delicious but also provide a healthy energy boost, perfect for keeping active toddlers on the go!

Fruit Salad in Heart-shaped Bowls


Picky eaters might miss out on essential nutrients because they avoid certain foods. If this goes on for a while, consider checking for nutrient deficiencies and, if needed, provide supplements.


Additionally, nutrient-rich foods and children’s supplements can influence mood and behavior, contributing to a happier and more emotionally balanced toddler. 

Our  TruHeight®️ Toddler’s Essentials Kit  offers a natural alternative for toddlers who cannot sustain their daily needs of nutrition.

This includes  TruHeight Brain Growth Gummy  that fosters smart thinking and enhances mental focus for your toddler's brain development along with TruHeight Bone Growth Gummy that helps height growth and supports strong bone health with essential micronutrients for a holistic healthy balance.

Nutrients such as Omega-3, DHA, supports brain growth with EPA, aids cognitive development through lecithin, and enhances neural vitality with Pine Bark Extract's antioxidants laying the foundation for cognitive skills, learning, and problem-solving abilities.

Essential nutrients that support bone growth and strength with essential minerals like calcium, Vitamin K2, enhance bone health through Vitamin D3 helps the development of strong bones, muscles, and a healthy body, by incorporating these key nutrients, TruHeight®️'s Bone Growth Gummy  help toddlers grow with the energy and strength needed for their joyous explorations.


Your toddler not eating enough food that you serve is not a huge disaster. You just have to remember steps that lay the foundation for healthy eating habits in toddlers who do not have healthy eating behaviors. By incorporating a variety of nutritious foods, fostering a positive mealtime environment, and being mindful of portion sizes, parents and caregivers can empower their little ones to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.


How can I improve my 2-year old’s appetite?

First, you can offer nutrient-dense foods . Serve small, frequent meals with a variety of nutrient-rich options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Second, create a positive mealtime environment and make eating enjoyable by sitting together, minimizing distractions, and being patient. Lastly, avoid pressuring them. Don’t force your child to eat and be patient in their journey to getting the right appetite.

At what age can toddlers feed themselves?

Toddlers typically begin to feed themselves using their hands around 12 to 15 months of age, as they develop the ‘pincer grip’ necessary to pick up small pieces of food. By the age of 2, many toddlers can proficiently use a spoon without assistance, although it may still be a messy process.

Encouraging self-feeding is crucial for developing fine motor skills, building independence, and helping toddlers learn to regulate their appetite.

Can milk help with toddlers’ appetite?

Milk, in a regulated number of glasses per day, can be a beneficial part of a toddler’s diet, offering a comforting routine that may increase their willingness to try new foods. TruHeight®️ Toddler Complete Nutrition is a good milk powder that provides a good source of calcium, and other essential nutrients for a growing child’s bones and overall development. It is designed for easy digestion and is the best for sensitive stomachs.