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PICKY 4 Year Old .. Won't Even Try a Bite! HELP!

My son is 4 years old and has always been a picky eater. I guess my question is.. what are ways you moms have gotten your children to just TRY a new food? Doesn't even have to be a vegetable or a fruit.. just something that they have never had before. Do I make him sit at the table until he tries a bite? Send him to his room? Put him in time out? Keep wasting money on food he doesn't eat? Give up and maybe one day he'll "come around"???? I'm going to write everything he eats and maybe you guys can give me some clues as to what I can do with the food he eats (incorporate food he eats now with new foods recipes?)

Scrambled Eggs
Baby Cereal (doesn't like the look of the regular oatmeal)
Pancakes (his favorite)
Bananas (loves them)
Nutri-Grain cereal bars
French Toast
BREAD! (all time favorite... toasted with butter and jelly.. plain and raisin bread)
Pizza (of course)
Fries
Chicken Nuggets
Turkey dogs (once in a while)
Apple Sauce
Yogurt (yoplait kids kind)
Spaghetti
Cheese
Chocolate

That is about it! Any input will help :)

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Sounds pretty typical except it would be good to have something with some crunch. My son has weak jaw muscles but will eat Chinese pea pods with dip and somtimes carrots. We make the dip from the Star Wars cookbook which makes it more fun for him - cooking together has increased his repertoire considerably. I would pick up a kids cookbook to his liking and see if him being invested in the meal helps. I also just thought of apple slices.

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That's so funny, but gosh....so typical of a 4yr old diet...sounds just like my grandson....minus the scrambled eggs. He will come around one day. Be thankful he eats that, I have another nephew that is really only happy if he's eating candy, and the rest is a force.

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Does he have any "cool" older cousins or adults who he looks up to? My son has a tendency to copycat people that he likes/admires...

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Mu daughter has been through therapy for low sensory which causes her not to eat specific textures in foods.
Your menu is ALOT larger then what my daughter will actually take in.
A few things that may help you...

1. Always mirror your plate with the same foods as your son. Place a FAVORED food for him along with 2 other new foods. Talk about it have him smell it , feel it , and figure out where and how it was born.
Acknowledge him for just touching it or asking about it.
This procedure may take 10-12 attempts
2. Add calories or nutrients in the foods he does take.
Pancakes- I add wheat germ , liquid viatmins , whole milk , and vanilla with cinnamon.
EGGS- Add olive oil for frying , cheese , or tortillas , also flax seed or wheat germ.
If your son eats sauce with spagetti/ add pureed veggies in the sauce.
My daughter only eats PLAIN spaghetti- I add parmesean and butter.
She does n ot even eat pizza , or meat!
I allow her to eat breakfast foods at lunch / dinner as well.
As they get bigger they will explore more.
good luck- I know how frustarting this issue is...

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Others may not agree with this, but I use bribery.

I tell DD (3.5 yo) she needs to take X number of bites if she wants dessert (typically ice cream). She can eat what she likes for breakfast, snacks, lunch - it's all healthy stuff anyway. Actually, her list of regular foods isn't much different from your son's, though she will eat more fruit (especially blueberries and grapes), some more veggies (especially carrots and sweet potatoes) and she doesn't do chicken nuggets. For dinner, I expect her to eat what we are eating, within reason (like some pork chop and sweet potatoes, or pasta and meatballs with sauce - I don't make her eat spicy stuff that we enjoy, like chili or chicken curry). She often decides she doesn't want any of it, so we tell her if she wants ice cream, she needs to eat 1 bite of chicken, or 3 bites of pasta, or whatever. If she chooses not to do it, fine - but then no ice cream. 9 times out of 10 she will comply and I figure the more often she is exposed to a food, the more used to it she will get - and she is also learning that I am not going to make something different, no matter how much she begs.

Offering some kind of "dippy sauce" or letting her sprinkle parmesean cheese on stuff helps too. Sometimes she is more interested if she is allowed to eat little bites of things with a tooth pick. The other night she happily ate chicken and broccoli stir-fry because she used chopsticks, knowing it was "Chinese food" and that is what chopsticks are for.

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Sometimes making a new food look really fun helps--but not always. Also serving it up in a fun way can help as well.

When my daughter was six she didn't like trying new foods if you put it on her plate and then encouraged her to eat it. So we would put a really fun-looking food on OUR plate only, and then made a big deal about how delicious it was, or how much fun we were having. She'd look at her plate (which only had the foods she liked on it) and then our plates and then ask for the new food. Usually we'd say "well, I don't know...I don't think you'll like it because it's for grown-ups to have fun with." That ALWAYS did the trick! As soon as we were having fun and she couldn't have any she WANTED it! (Had we put that same food on her plate and tried to get her to eat it she wouldn't have tried it no matter what we did. And if she did try it, she'd act like she didn't like it no matter what.)

We did a lot of decorating our food. We made oatmeal with raisin smiley faces (again, for us of course until she wanted to try it), sandwiches with bug ears. One thing she liked was when we'd put sliced cooked carrots on stick and said they were caterpillars.

She also liked Bento style meals where everything was served in cute little boxes. She'd try it if it was served in a cute little box. I guess it's all about presentation! One time we put the new food in little box plastic containers and I put bows on the top so they looked like presents. When we opened our "presents" and ate what was inside (peas) she had to have one too!

I also love being creative with food. So you may just want to wait until he outgrows it if that's not your thing!

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I thought my SIL had a great tactic with her child: she put a *very* small serving of every food served during the meal on the child's plate (not enough food for his typical appetite.) If her child wanted seconds of something, he needed to finish everything on his plate...and then could have seconds/thirds/etc. of whatever he wanted (and didn't have to have any more of the "offending" food.) She refused to fight with him -- if he fought, he was calmly excused from the table. It worked great for her!

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I've been through that with my son and it can be very frustrating. I totally understand.

I talked with my pediatrician about my son's eating habits and he suggested not making food a big deal. He encouraged me to look at the whole week of my son's eating instead of worrying about one or two meals.

As you know, you can really get into a power struggle with children about these issues and I would suggest choosing your battles with it. If it's essential that he eat a veggie in order to have dessert, then stick with that. What I'm trying to say is pick and choose your battles and if you feel strongly about something, then stick with that. I wouldn't make too many things a battle though because you don't want food to become an issue.

In our house, I've decided that my son has to eat a fruit or vegetable with his meal in order to have dessert. He doesn't have to eat all of it, but he does have to eat some.

As far as nutrition is concerned, our pedi encouraged me not to worry so much about that. I was concerned for a while that my son was eating too many carbs, breaded foods, etc. I'm trying to be less concerned about that.

It sounds like your son does eat a variety of foods. It may not be perfect, but at least he does eat different kinds of foods. Try introducing chicken dogs, instead of turkey dogs. Maybe try introducing different kinds of cheeses, if he is used to one particular kind.

My son swears that he doesn't like pears, but when I make pear bread, he sure eats it. Funny how kids are!

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There is more nourishment in whole grain breads than in white breads. To get him to try something new, you will need to reduce the while bread, pizza and fries. In their place, pack treats for travel or shopping of pumpkin bread (homemade), carrot cake (homemade), carrots/celery sticks, and smoothie fruit drinks (homemade).
I would make homemade bread, have it set to be finished at 7 AM and the aroma was fantastic for breakfast....it was 1/2 white, 1/2 whole grain and it was a big hit. Get a Breadman (brand name), it is easy, just make sure that your yeast is good (not expired).
Also, garnishing food as if you were at a fine restaurant, also, appeals to shildren. Usually (cookie cutters of)Mickey Mouse, Spongebob, or his favorite pets, will get his attention when trying new sandwiches.
Good luck! Bon apetite!

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I was a professional nanny for twenty years and I think your son is eating a "normal" diet for a four year old. I can tell you a few things I did to try and get my charges to try different things....I always had the if you don't like it you don't have to eat rule. They could take a bite and if they didn't like it they could put it in a napkin, because, well frankly sometimes I do that(don't we all?). I would cut up different foods and put them in a muffin tin and sit them on the coffee table for snacks and let them choose something. I had one boy decide he like cauliflower and broccoli raw, only four, never ate it raw before. I cooked brussel sprouts and put them in the muffin tin, got two more boys hooked on them. I did this with veggies, fruit, meat and hummus. Another tricked I tried was I gave them a bowl/plate(not one with there dinner on it) with something new and sat it next to their plate. I told them they didn't have to eat but the plate stays next them. It took about two weeks before they started to try what I put on the plate. I allowed them to poke, smell and lick before a taste too. I also tried this with one of my older charges. She was nine and she only ate pasta, baked potato with cheese and broccoli, sweet potatoes, pasta, and cheese pizza. So I started making a smaller amount of dinner for myself and told her it was just for me that she wouldn't like it I did this for a week and she finally she could I try it and I gave he a very small spoonful. She started eating more and more foods. Then I took her to a buffet and told her she could try anything she wanted, but to get small amounts and she could go back and get more. I did this about three times and she became a lot more adventurous in her tasting. I also started having her help cook, she loved that too.

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so basically your son likes junk food. Stop buying and or making it. Your son will not starve to death lol. Give him at least one thing on his plate you know he likes and then the other stuff. Let him eat the helping of whatever it is he likes and the no seconds till he eats the bit of the new stuff. My son was exactly the same as yours. basically he likes stuff that is easy to chew. nurti grain bars have pretty much zero nutritional value better than a cookie I guess but thats about it. french toast is good as it has the egg in it so there is some protein. get him some cream of wheat. that has the same sort of texture as the baby cereals. not sure if he is your only child but he needs to be weaned off the baby food type stuff he is old enough to chew lol I found that if I let the kids help prepare / shop for the food they were more likely to try it. stuff like broccoli and cauliflower are easy to chew and they liked them both raw w/ranch dip and cooked not to mushy but to softer stage. carrots are sweet as are sweet potato so maybe try those. and your the mom so take the control back. give the goodies only as treats.

forgot to mention at his age a serving of something should be about a tablespoon or two. not a big huge ladle full. if you give him the new stuff in a tablespoon size then he can try it and move on. but do make him try it each time and when he says no remind him he had to "try" pizza to know he liked it and the same with chocolate, spaghetti etc.

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You've gotten some great ideas here (I'll have to try some with my picky eaters!). I didn't get through them all, so this may be repetitive, but a couple things have worked in my house even with my semi-picky husband.

First, Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook has some great ideas of how to hide the healthy stuff into what the kids think is their regular favorites. It really does work!

I add pureed sweet potato (about 1/2 c) to my spaghetti sauce. No one can tell! I've also added sweet potato puree to pancakes and it has turned out fantastically. You might also try sticking dry oatmeal in the blender to get it into a fine meal, and then make it as usual but it won't have the same chunky-looking texture as normal, but the good fiber and all that will still be there.

Make sure that what your picky eater is eating is as healthy as possible. So, chicken nuggets that are all-natural and not full of processed stuff, whole-grain breads, baked fries (or at least not as much saturated fat--Alexia brand is really good).

Also, get him involved in making lunch, dinner, whatever. If he feels some responsibility to getting it on the table, he might be more inclined to try whatever it is. Additionally, if he likes apple sauce, you can show him how apple sauce is made and have him try bites all along the process from raw apple through to apple sauce (or work backwards since you know he likes the sauce).

Try and reinforce the good choices (apple sauce, cheese, spaghetti is actually good with all the veggies in the sauce), scrambled eggs, etc. and limit the not-as-good fries, pizza (unless its homemade), fried nuggets, chocolate and other processed foods.

Good luck! Now if only I could get my 1-year old to eat any veggies... :)

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Well, when I worked with kids overseas, I had a VERY picky 5 and 7 year old. They would not try anything out of their comfort zone. So, we had a long talk about taste buds. I told them that their taste buds love trying new things, and how can you tell me they don't like these things if you don't let them try it? Plus, taste buds change their minds sometimes. So you better try everything and see if your taste buds like them now. ha! Worked like a charm =)
Also, I made food that was fun for them. We tried fajitas. Super easy- warm up tortillas and made some side dishes- cut up bell peppers, shredded cheese, meat, sour cream, guac... Anything he will try. Then he can throw it all together and make it himself. The boys I watched loved it. Anything like that (fajitas, tacos, spaghetti w meatballs, etc) that they can kind of make themselves should be fun for him. Maybe let him help you make dinner so he gets more into it!

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That's so funny, but gosh....so typical of a 4yr old diet...sounds just like my grandson....minus the scrambled eggs. He will come around one day. Be thankful he eats that, I have another nephew that is really only happy if he's eating candy, and the rest is a force.

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Sounds pretty typical except it would be good to have something with some crunch. My son has weak jaw muscles but will eat Chinese pea pods with dip and somtimes carrots. We make the dip from the Star Wars cookbook which makes it more fun for him - cooking together has increased his repertoire considerably. I would pick up a kids cookbook to his liking and see if him being invested in the meal helps. I also just thought of apple slices.

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Yeah, my boys have to eat... they go to time out if they won't they have to eat at least 3 big bites of vegetables every night for dinner. They can't have pizza or anything like that until they have eaten something healthy. Hated it at first, but now they ask for seconds and thirds. My boys are 3 and 5, they both love veggies now and there are very few things they will not try or eat. They cannot have bread/crackers during meals (otherwise they will get full eating all the rolls/biscuits) until they eat a veggie, they can't have dessert either. They go through picky phases where its a battle, but a time out usually curbs that for a while.

Also, try doing healthier versions so he's getting some veggies in, like sweet potatoes fries instead of other fries, or squash spaghetti instead of noodle spaghetti. Tons of ways to add in veggies.

I do put a little bit of Girard's Light Cesear on the side for dipping veggies (even cooked ones). Just a little bit for flavor, not so much to hide the taste of the veggies.

try something fun, like celery boats... celery slices with peanut butter and raisins.

Dr. Sears has some advice for you about picky eaters:
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/3/T030100.asp

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I haven't read all of the responses, so sorry if this is a repeat but here are a few suggestions:

1. Try going to a cooking class together. My son would never eat salad and then we made one at a cooking class and he ate the entire thing. He liked that they made homemade croutons so he makes them at home now and will eat the salad too.

2. Try planting a garden with easy to eat things like cherry tomatoes. We started some seeds in paper cups inside. This is a fun thing to do together. They sprout pretty easily in about a week. Once the weather warms up a little, we will plant them outside. It is fun to watch them grow. Once the tomatoes appear, I casually would eat a couple in front of him right off the vine. I wouldn't even suggest that he do it, but he might surprise you and want to try one. It might not happen this summer, but it might next summer. You don't even need a big garden, just plant one or two tomato plants. You even could plant them in a large pot on a patio.

3. Try making something different with what he likes. For example, you could make banana bread together. This will show him that you can get the same taste in a slightly different way. Then, very gradually you can do this with other things to expand his list.

4. In the Fall, you can go to an apple orchard to pick apples. It is very fun. Ahead of time you could explain that applesauce comes from apples. You could even show him how it is made. Again, he might surprise you and get hungry while you are picking and decide to try one of the apples. I would really take a slow approach and not even suggest that he try one. Let it be his idea, not yours. If you take the "struggle" off the table, he probably will be more open to trying new things on his terms.

Finally, remember that this is a long, slow process. It isn't going to happen overnight. Look for small successes!!

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I wouldn't spend too much energy worrying about what your son doesn't eat. The less fuss you make about it, the more likely he is to try foods himself when he's ready. It probably won't be too much longer before he becomes a bit bolder. The picky stage is very common until age 4 or 5, and then it fades for most kids (unless they have some serious sensory dysfunction and cannot tolerate certain textures, smells or flavors).

The bigger a fight you turn this into now, the more resistant your son will probably stay. Eating is something children seriously need to have control of, or they may be set up for eating disorders later. Punishing for not eating is a huge mistake. Your son is in a common, even normal stage. He will grow out of it.

Meanwhile, get the healthiest versions you can find of the food he will eat. Organic, natural, good quality fats, and so forth. With fried/breaded foods particularly, the grease in most commercial foods is nasty stuff.

A neighbor's boy would not eat veggies until he was around 4.5. His parents never made an issue of it; they just enjoyed a variety of vegetables and seldom even asked him if he wanted a taste. Suddenly he began asking for salads with his meals, and still orders salads when they go out to eat.

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Does he have any "cool" older cousins or adults who he looks up to? My son has a tendency to copycat people that he likes/admires...

I kept putting the offending fruit, vegetables and meat on her plate. Ketchup was always allowed... Broccoli and ketchup (yep, that's how she eats it), greenbeans & ketchup, steak & ketchup. She'll eat asparagus--but I call it celery because the Wonder Pets eat celery! She also likes cole slaw, but I call it mermaid salad.

When she was 3 years old, I told her she could have 1 jelly belly if she ate 3 bites of "something". If she didn't eat a good dinner (and by good, it meant a satisfactory portion of all parts of her plate) then no treats after dinner. (Her "treats" are her various evening vitamins; she thinks they're candy.)

Good luck!

Let him eat what he will and his diet will expand as he matures. My oldest grandson was the same. Granola and milk or soy milk morning and evening.
I was travelling with him and it was impossible. The year he turned seven all of a sudden he asked for venison at a restuerant. I let him and ever since he's a gourmet eater.
The picky food thing was part of OCD. Which is tame at this point.

Honestly my daughter isn't a particularly picky eater, but she is a toddler and is sometimes COMPLETELY stubborn when it comes to trying something new. One thing that helps during these moments is for her to see her father and I eating the "new food" and enjoying it. If she watches us eat it willingly, and looks at us like we are crazy (which has happened more than once) I will offer her a bite off of my plate, even if she has the same thing on hers. I know I probably shouldn't do that, but it does get her to try new foods, and once she is comfortable with it she will eat it on her own.

I have a picky three year. Your list looks like hers, except she wouldn't even the banana. About 2 weeks ago she started to add to her list. Her 9 year old sister was eating peas and made the make a popping sound as as bit into it. We asked her if you would like to try it. She did and now loves peas. Then I started making her eat a tiny bit of food. Saying if you don't like it you don't have to have more. She is now eating rice and chicken.-not nuggets-baked chicken breasts. She is now try our dinners almost every night. Eating 75% of them. It was tough sometimes and she cried several nights, she just wasn't going through to eat chicken nuggets or pp& j every night.

When we were that small list of food. She would drink a V-8 in the little cans. She thought it was pop because on the can. I would make smoothies with slip in vegs and fruits. For protein it was yogurt, peanut butter, and milk.

My 3 year old son was the same way and he is still pretty picky. He takes FOREVER to eat, especially if it's something he's not into so I have to feed it to him otherwise he sits and complains. But I did the bribery thing to and it worked for me. He wasn't (and isn't still) a veggie eater (he would gag on stuff) so I cut things up nice and small to make it easier on him and I also tried to make it fun. I started with carrots and said if he ate one carrot, I would give him a penny to put in his piggy bank (and I set the bank in front of him) and as soon as he took the bite, I let him put the money in (instant satisfaction) and I gave him a penny for each bite he took. He just liked the idea of 'feeding' the piggy money, so it wasn't about the money really. And eventually I took coins out of his bank so he could put them back in. And there were some days that I would use something other than the bank as incentive. But I didn't go overboard on the variety of food all at once. I wanted to give him time to get used to eating certain foods. It's also about food texture too and my boy is weird with that. Also when I have something I want him to try (or if he's curious about a food) I'll ask him to try it and without the blink of an eye he says 'I don't like it' and I'll say 'did you ever try it' or how do you know you don't like it? I'll then just ask him to try a little bit and if he doesn't like it he can spit it out or not eat it (and also I might do a bribe to convince him to try it) and half the time (or more) he'll say 'it's good'. And I give lots of praise for trying new stuff. Another thing I noticed he'll do is if I'm eating something (like as a snack) by myself, he'll come over and ask for some. So maybe try snacking on something healthy to pique his interest. Something else I thought of that I always do is I add carrots (nice and soft and cut up small) to spaghetti/beefaroni/tuna helper... that kind of stuff, to sneak some veggies in. The tomato based foods are the easiest since they can't see it's in there. And don't make your kid his own meal at dinner... make him eat what you have. I was doing that and not realizing it (like if we had regular chicken, I made him nuggets). He was hungry a few times (and lived to tell about it) and eventually he came around (like how I mentioned above) and I was able to 'really' see what foods he genuinely didn't care for, like potatoes (all kinds except french fries). Good luck... stick to your guns!

I have a 3.5 y/o daughter that is extremely picky as well. Ugh! Your son has much more variety then my daughter though. Like other posts, I would suggest doing the healthiest versions of the foods he eats. With scrambled eggs, you could add small bits of ham, turkey bacon, different cheese's. My daughter is into different types of spreads, like sunbutter, almond butter, nutella etc. We also do homemade smoothies, if you google kids veggie/fruit smoothies, you can get some great recipes. There's one on there for a 'green slime' smoothie. It uses plain, non-fat yogurt, white grapes (we substitute green), apple juice, fresh baby spinach. It turns out to be green, frothy looking. My daughter LOVES it! I also make her smoothies and sneak in cooked carrots (she hates veggies), but can't taste them in the smoothie. Good luck, I've heard this picky stage is short lived.

plant a garden or grow a couple things on a patio. have him pick out something new to try at the grocery store. have him help you cook. also be a good role model. whatever you cook for you is what he eats . He has to try it before you even consider making him another meal and IMO that is even too much. My child has from babyhood eaten what we were eating. I am not a short order cook and if i am not eating healthy enough for my baby to eat it them i need to look at what i am eating. good luck

Hmmm, please don't make him sit at the table until he tries a new food. my Mom did that to me when I was little. (yep, 46 now, and I still shudder at the memory). I was a very picky eater as a child and my Mother would just force me to eat....looking back - not really fun for either of us.

Food should not be a battle - dinner time should be a time when the family comes together to be together.

You have gotten some great advice from the other Moms on this post. Offering small bites of new foods along with small amounts of known favorites is a tact that I took with my son. I also limited white foods - his plate contained the protein and veggie first - once that was eaten he could have the rice, bread, whatever.

Involve your son in grocery shopping - mine was allowed to pick anything he wanted...from the produce department. Have your son help you cook - toss salad greens, tear lettuce, stir things in bowls...etc. Involvement in the process will increase his interest in eating since he helped prepare it.

Mine also hated to have his food touch on the plate so I either served him on several small plates and I bought him a divided plate for his meals...that actually helped a lot - it was a visual thing with him. But there was a time I just stopped fighting it and he lived on Tyson chicken nuggets, mandarine oranges, corn and milk. He eventually got bored with that menu and asked for "my" dinner. And that was the turning point for us.

At 14 now, my son's favorite foods are still pizza, burgers, and chicken nuggets, but he also eats curry, and lasagna, and stir fry, and actually has a larger repertoire of foods than his peers. He also still helps me grocery shop and plan menus.

So be patient, persevere, he will begin to eat other foods.

Good Luck and God Bless

I think all of those things are pretty darn good. I would say offer but don't force. Try and make all of the above things as healthy options as possible, such as maybe adding flaxseed mill into pancakes, make sure all bread/pasta is whole grain/wheat, make your own spaghetti sauce to limit sugar/salt and you can sneak in vegies into spaghetti sauce. I don't think you have to go all "organic" but just make the healthiest choices you can. And you know, if you have to change the names of things to make it work, do that too....fish sticks can be crocodile toes, sweet potato fries can be Sponge Bob Fries...The other day I was eating "Total" cereal which my daughter wont even touch. She asked me what they were and I said "Mommy's frosted flakes." and now she can't get enough of them. Crazy.
My daughter will rarely try anything new but I offer all the time. Once in a while, she will try. Some times I tell her she has to take one bite and she will. But alot of her issues are about how they look, not what it really is.... As a matter of fact, today, we were at a friends house and for lunch they made PB&J pancake sandwiches. My daughter loves pancakes, she loves peanut butter on pancakes, she loves PB&J sandwiches, she loves Jelly....but because it was peanut butter and Jelly on two pancakes smushed together, there was no way in heck she was going to eat it.....CRAZY!
Try not and stress too much. Keep trying and eventually he might surprise you.

I haven't read all your responses so I hope this isn't the same thing everyone else said :)

My kids eat pretty good and here is how we handle food in our house. I prepare a meal for them usually of my choosing (although sometimes I'll give them a choice between two things) and that is what they have to eat. They can choose not to eat it. I don't make them and I don't punish them if they don't. Although that is the only food they get for that meal. I will put the food on the counter or in the fridge and if they get hungry they are given the same meal back. However, I won't hold breakfast for lunch, or lunch for dinner etc. They do get new food for each meal. When they are limiting what they eat it's even more important that what they are eating is healthy.

Maybe let your son pick between two new things you want him to try, that way he will feel like he is in control here. You are in a power struggle with your son. It has absolutely nothing to do with food. You have to win without giving him a food complex.

There is a great book by William G Wilkoff, MD called Coping with a Picky Eater that every parent or provider of kids should read and have a copy of. http://www.amazon.com/Coping-Picky-Eater-Perplexed-Parent...

This book has what I call the Picky Eater Plan. I have used this plan with kids that literally threw up at the sight of food and within 2 weeks they were eating normal amounts of everything and trying every food.

First you need to get everyone who deals with the child on board. If you are a provider it's ok to make this the rule at your house and not have the parents follow through but you wont' see as good results as what I described up above.

The plan is to limit the quantities of food you give the kid. When I first start with a child I give them literally ONE bite worth of each food I am serving. The book suggests that every time you feed the kids (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner) you give all 4 food groups. So, for lunch today I would have given the child one tiny piece of strawberry, one spoonful of applesauce, 3 macaroni noodles with cheese on them, and 2 oz of milk. Only after they ate ALL of what was on their plate would you give them anything else. They can have the same amounts for seconds. If they only want more mac and cheese, they only get 3 noodles then they would have to have more of all the other foods in order to get more than that. If they don't eat, fine. If they don't finish, fine. Don't make a big deal out of it, just make them stay at the table until everyone else is done eating. They don't get more food until they are sat at the next meal and they only get what you serve. When I first do this with a child I don't serve sweets at all. So no animal crackers for snack but rather a carrot for snack. Or one of each of those. I don't make it easy for them to gorge on bad foods in other words. Now if they had a meal where they ate great then I might make the snack be a yummy one cause I know they filled up on good foods.

Even at snacks you have to limit quantities of the good stuff or else they will hold out for snack and just eat those snacky foods. I never give a picky eater the reward of a yummy snack unless they had that great lunch prior to it.

It really is that easy.

ps - proper eating schedule for under 5 yrs old - times are just for demonstration purposes to give amount of time between things
7 eat breakfast
8:30 snack
11 lunch, followed by nap
3 snack
5:30 dinner, no further food for the day unless under 2 yrs old, then a bedtime snack is ok

I'd use a technique I call "roadmap parenting". Look at where you are now (which you listed above) and where you ideally want to be... then plot out steps along the way. You said he likes pancakes and bananas - will he eat them together? If not, try that as a next step. If he's already doing that, throw some strawberries into the mix. One little step at a time until he's eating new foods. Throw something new onto bread of pizza, which he likes. The key is that you also sit down with him and every meal and eat the same exact foods! Give him a plate with a few bites of three different foods. When he clears the plate he gets seconds of his choice. If he doesn't clear his plate, then he's done eating. No haggling or nagging with this. That's the rule, period. Meanwhile, you eat and obviously enjoy all the same foods to set an example.

Just keep trying and maybe have somebody else to offer it. When one of our friends offer my daughter some celery and carrots with dreesing I was sure she wouldn't eat them but she did and still does.
Also don't try feed him either when he is full but also not when he is hungry, maybe after some milk in the morning, or an hour after his afternoon small snack.
Some times (but not always) make it a game, if you eat-___ you can ____
Let him help you buy ONE vegetable or fruit at the store that he would like to try.
Eat it your self and keep offering and explain why is that veggie or fruit important.
Carrots help your eyes, etc.
Good luck.

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