29 answers

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 :)

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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...

3 moms found this helpful

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.

3 moms found this helpful

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!

2 moms found this helpful

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!

2 moms found this helpful

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!

2 moms found this helpful

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!

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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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