Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. I think almost every parent of a 2-4 year old has some food or drink that their child has difficulties with. For us, it was milk.
Back at the start of the year, we were struggling to get G to give up his bottle. He was drinking juice and water out of “big boy” cups, but rejected his milk in them. We tried softening the transition by using sippy cups, but he turned those down as well. Eventually we decided that the only way the bottle was ever going to go was if it just disappeared one day.
That worked, for about a week. After that he began an utter and complete strike against drinking milk. Suddenly the same milk he’d been drinking for most of a year was “yuckie” and “sour” and he wouldn’t touch it. At his 2 year check up, our doctor encouraged us to find ways to get more milk into his system. It was time to get tricky.
Give them coffee
Holy cow, not seriously people. Toddlers are incredible mimics. They want to do everything you do, and around our house, I have tea every morning and when my Mr. is home for breakfast, he always has coffee. G wanted to have coffee too. Since he’s able to drink out of big boy cups, I’ve started pouring chocolate milk into a mug and he will sip away at it happily all morning.
Find milk in a juice box
Presentation is everything when it comes to convincing a picky toddler to eat or drink something they don’t want. For G, putting the milk in a juice box was the only thing that worked to get him to drink it at first. He loves juice boxes, and because they were opaque, he didn’t know that they contained milk. Once we had reintroduced milk into his diet this way, it was easier to convince him to drink it using some of these other tricks.
Let them pick their own glass
If you child is able to drink from an open cup (as opposed to a sippy cup), take a deep breath and let them pick a glass. G is much happier drinking his milk if he has chosen the glass. He has now had milk in everything from large tumblers to tiny wine glasses. I only allow him to drink out of glass when he’s sitting down, and so far he hasn’t broken any of my glassware. More importantly, I haven’t had to fight him to drink his milk the days I let him pick.
If your little one isn’t quite ready for full on glass, get them a special cup that’s only for milk. Something with twisty straws or their favorite animal. Use it only for milk.
Don’t be afraid to go chocolate
Yes, in an ideal world your child would happily munch away on high fiber cereal and tofu sprouts while sipping a veggie smoothie, but lets get real here. If you’re facing an all out milk strike, sometimes a little chocolate can make all the difference. Once they’re drinking it regularly, you can always “water it down” with plain milk to wean them away from it.
Drink it yourself (and “refuse” to share)
This one plays into your toddler’s desire to be like you again, and I’ve used it for everything from milk to carrots. It seems to work more effectively when we’re not at the dinner table, but sometimes you just need to get your toddler to try something and it will become less of a struggle. Pour yourself a big glass, don’t pour one for them. Pretend it’s something (like coffee!) that you really wouldn’t want to share with them. 9 times out of 10 their curiosity will get the better of them and they will beg for a taste.
If all else fails, substitute
If your child still refuses to drink milk, find other ways to incorporate dairy into their diet. Try yogurt or cheese. Check with your doctor to be certain your child doesn’t have a lactose intolerance that is causing them to dislike milk. For most foods you should be able to find substitutes that will provide the nutrients your child needs without driving you to drink.
How do you deal with your toddler’s picky eating?