Ask AF: Erratic Eating Habits

Our expert discusses how to overcome abnormal eating habits in your newly adopted children.

Q: We adopted two toddlers internationally, both with unusual eating habits. The first is so finicky that I cook six meals a day trying to get her to eat. The second eats anything, but is territorial about her food. Help!


A: These are two problems commonly seen in kids adopted from institutional settings. For the picky eater, try offering a couple of choices at each meal. Don’t let mealtimes carry too much emotional weight.

Keeping a neutral tone when your child rejects food will be difficult, but try to make mealtimes enjoyable. A relaxed, social atmosphere will encourage her to develop more confidence and curiosity about food.

As for the child who eats anything and everything, make healthful snack foods available to her throughout the day and let her eat as much as she wants, whenever she wants.

Many parents are afraid of letting their little ones eat too much, but it’s important for children to know that food is plentiful and freely available. After they learn the feeling of being full, they will begin to regulate their eating habits.

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