My Baby Who Used To Eat (Almost) Anything Is Suddenly Turning Into a Picky Eater. What Did Go Wrong?

Updated: Jul 19

Did I do something wrong? I kept asking myself when my son turned 15 months old and suddenly stopped eating most of the healthy things he used to like as a baby. He's always been one of the most agreeable babies when it comes to eating. For the most part he was very adventurous about food as a baby, eating pretty much anything I would put in front of him. I was completely clueless about what had changed and why he was suddenly turning into a picky eater.

We started solids with him when he was around 6 months old, and had shown all the readiness signs. We did baby-led feeding from the start, we followed the division of responsibility in feeding, we never forced him to eat, and we have been exposing him to a very wide variety of foods. So what had gone wrong? Why suddenly had my baby who used to love beans and blackberries, now only eats crackers and pasta?

He is my first baby, and at that time little did I know that baby’s eating gets quite quirky as they become a toddler. This is very common, completely normal, and age appropriate for children to become more or less picky about food between ages 2-6 (though it can start at 1 year old).

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After loving to eat as a baby, now the almost-toddler or toddler starts to be skeptical about new food (even if they have eaten it before), they eat less or nothing at mealtimes, and say “no to food they end up eating five minutes later. Tell me if this sounds familiar, your kiddo refuses meals, begs for crackers right after, and then has a tantrum when you refuse. After the storm, they act like nothing has ever happened and like you better than ever.

My son is now almost 3, and he still has his very selective days, weeks, or months when it comes to food. But overall he is a good eater. He eats a decent variety of foods, and for the most part he enjoys coming to family meals and behaves well there. My daughter’s first birthday is this week, and I am already anticipating this stage with her. It’s just a matter of when it’s going to happen, not if.

For this reason I want to bring some clarity on what normal toddler eating looks like, and the best strategies to navigate this phase with our littles ones. Hopefully I can reduce the self-imposed pressure we parents create when it comes to feeding. And I want to share all this good information with you. So hang in there! At the end of this post, I promise you’ll feel a lot more CONFIDENT in how to handle this stage with your growing baby.

“Average” or “Typical” Age Related Picky Eating

As babies turn to toddlers they start to become their own person and to have a need for more independence and autonomy in many areas of life including eating. In addition, toddlers aren’t growing as rapidly as babies so while your child may have eaten a lot as an older baby, they might not be as hungry now. And they also may be much more sensitive to new foods due to a normal phase called neophobia. This fear of new foods, which usually spikes between 2-6 (though it can start at 1 year old), can cause them to refuse foods they once loved and foods you think they will love. A toddler’s newfound use of the word “no”, their ups and down in appetite, and desire to exercise control within the eating environment can at times create a challenging feeding dynamic between parent and child.

What it looks like:

  • Your child likes to come to family meals and behaves well there.

  • While limited in their food preferences, your child will eat at least 30 different foods on a consistent basis.

  • Your child eats from a variety of food groups (at least one item from each food group).

  • Your child eats one or two food items, ignores food they don’t want to eat, and eats a food one day but not the next.

  • Your child goes through food swings, or only wanting a few select foods on repeat for days or weeks at a time.

  • Your child watches you eat new food (or food they think is new), touches it, puts in their mouth, and takes it back out again.

  • Your child eats inconsistent amounts (i.e. a lot at one meal or on a given day and then only small amounts at the next meal/day).