Ask a Dietician: Junk Foodie

What to do when your baby eats poorly

Tanya N: I have an almost three year-old who thinks its ok to live off of cookies and junk. I try not to feed him that stuff, but the only “real” foods he will eat are chicken, corn, and the odd banana. I give him vitamins, but should I consider giving him Pediasure?

As parents it is our job to provide the “what,” “where,” and “when” of feeding, and our children’s job to decide the “if” and “how much” (called the “division of responsibility of feeding”- a term coined by dietitian and feeding expert Ellyn Satter). We can’t force our children to eat, but we can encourage them and provide an environment for them to grow up to be healthy eaters. As long as your child continues to grow well and develop, try following the principles of balance, variety and moderation with respects to feeding the family. Do your best to provide well-balanced meals and snacks (remembering that most children need 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily), and that sweets in moderation are totally fine! Actually, banning them causes more of a problem.

Be a good role model and eat with your son, showing him that you like healthy foods. Take him to the market with you to pick out fresh fruits and veggies—studies show that when kids are involved in the process of shopping and cooking they are more likely to try new foods. I do not usually do not recommend supplements like Pediasure unless children are failing to grow or there is a medical necessity for its use. If you are concerned about his growth or development in any way, discuss with your child’s pediatrician.



About Nicole Meadow

Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD is a mom of two amazing children, Andrew and Emily, and Registered Dietitian with specialized training in infants, pediatrics and young adults. She works both in private practice at her own firm NutritionWise ( in Encino, CA and at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. A native New Yorker, Nicole moved to Los Angeles after completing her Bachelor's Degree at the University of Michigan in order to continue her studies at the University of Southern California where she earned a Master's Degree in Preventive Nutrition. She and her husband now live in Valencia with their family and 3 dogs.

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