9 answers

3 Year Old Won't Try Anything!

My son will be 3 in October and I can not get him to try anything! Even stuff that I know that he likes, one day he will decide that he won't eat it. He does eat good things such as yogart, green beans, peppers, and lots of fruit, oh and peanut butter crackers, but that is it. No chicken nuggets, no pb&j, no grilled cheese. I keep thinking that this is just a phase, but it has been going on forever! I have even given him a choice of taking one bite or going to his room. He will get up and go to his room. He does not have toys in his room, so it's not like his room is this overly fun place to go. My husband tells me not to be a make-to-order cook for him, but honestly if I don't give him something he doesn't like he will not eat! I just don't want him to turn into that 12 year old kid that doesn't eat anything. Anyone have any suggestions?

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More Answers

I have 3 kids and its hard to make something different for everyone. So I stopped doing that because it was driving me crazy. I make 1 meal that everyone has to eat. Here is the rule in our house and it (after time) works very nicely for us. We have a chart on the fridge that we call the "Try It" chart.
When I make dinner I try to make something that I know the kids all will eat or have eaten before. I then add something new. A new veggie or a new side dish. If you take 3 bites of the "new item", you get to put a sticker under your name for that meal. If you eat the whole portion you get 2 stickers. After accumulating 15 stickers we take a trip to the toy isle to pick out a "resonable" prize for a job well done.
As far as the meal is concerned, I do not require them to eat anything at all. But their plate will sit at the table until bedtime. If they have eaten nothing they will go to bed hungry. If they want desert or a bedtime snack, they must eat their dinner. Not the new item, but the main dish. I dont carry dinner over to breakfast, although I think thats a good idea. We start over in the morning. But the same applies to breakfast and lunch. If you dont eat it, there is no snacks or treats. Even if we go somewhere and the others kids get ice cream or a special treat.... if you didnt eat, you dont get. You may have to tweak it a little to work for your little one, but he'll get the drift.

you aren't being a short order cook, you are just tailoring meals so that your child gets nutrition. you get to decide what you want to eat, why shouldn't he? i know others might disagree, but i don't think giving him what he wants is a bad thing. of course, offer him new foods often, and show him that you like these foods. but i think mealtime becomes a power struggle when you force him to eat certain things instead of a means of nourishment.
my son was like this too. but finally at the age of 4 1/2 he became more open-minded and is eating "normal" food. it just takes some children more time than others.

I have 4 kids and my SD was the same way, even with the being sent to her room, and she would throw up at the table if we tried to make her eat something, even if she had liked it the meal before. but with so many kids it is really hard to make something that everyone loves all the time, so i cook one meal, and it's generally a main dish taht i know we all like, a veggie that most of us like and a fruit that again most of us like and then something newand i always cook way to much so we ahve left overs which makes it really simple. if they don't eat then it's served again at teh next meal time, and my kdis eat 6 times a day, 3 snacks and 3 meals, so on a bad day someone could be getting leftover dinner for breakfast teh next morning or worse for snack time while everyone else is having a treat. worked like a charm. she is now the first person to try new foods, we made eggplant the other day and i wouldn't even touch it, it stunk, she is honest with us if she doesn't care for something or if she likes something prepared a certain way, for instance she will only eat olives in something not alone. it was a long haul, i even had to make ehr eat alone because of teh vomiting at teh table, but it worked and most of our meals are very pleasent, though i do at times make two veggies for dinner if i know the other kdis relly don't like something and because I myself am very picky. good luck.

You could have described my son! Worse, my son gags any time he tries to eat something he doesn't like. I don't think he's faking, either. He's actually thrown up his food during the meal. At first, we tried catering to his taste, but our pediatrician told us we had to stop when he was 3 1/2. He had to learn to eat what was set before him. We were advised to let him get used to the food slowly.

Fortunately, DS (like me) loves chocolate ice cream and cookies. And, I don't feel the least bit guilty if he has to go without them. So, dessert became something he has to earn! For every meal, we try to make one thing he has liked in the past - green beans, peas, hot dogs, peanut butter crackers, ... If he eats that, then he can eat something healthy that's not part of the meal - such as a fruit cup or banana. If he also eats at least one bite of something he doesn't like, then he gets dessert.

If he refuses to eat anything, then we let his own hunger be the punishment. We don't give him anything else (but he still has to stay at the table). He had a few hungry hours during the first week of this, but he rarely refuses to eat completely now.

Now, I can't say it's been a miracle cure. It's been 8 months, and we've only added carrots, pizza, and potatoes to the list of "likes" and we've only increased the number of required bites of other things (noodles, macaroni, chipped beef, pork chops) he can now eat without gagging. Most meals, he's willing to eat that one extra bite to try something new for dessert.

Listen...offer him meals....if he doesn't eat it have one fall back that he does like if he chooses not to eat his meal. My four year old is picky...so whenever she doesn't eat ....her only other choice is PB&J. It is actually a good thing he doesn't eat chicken nuggets, grilled cheese.....etc....those foods are processed and actually bad...just my 2 cents

My 3 1/2 year old daughter is the same way.....she refuses to eat any meat (beef,chicken,pork) product, grilled cheese, mac&cheese, eggs(only the whites of hard bolied eggs will she eat), lunch meats,or tuna fish. She loves spaghetti, but will eat around the ground beef in the sauce. She knows that if she doesn't eat her dinner, or at least try it she doesn't get any dessert. Breakfast & lunches aren't as much of a struggle because she likes the foods that are served at those meals. She eats veggies, fruits, yogurt, cheeses, pb&j, chicken nuggets, sometimes a hot dog. I have had this discussion with her Dr many times and she isn't worried because she is were she should be for age in weight & heights. I am more worried about protein that she would get from meat, but she says she gets it from other sources plus she takes a multi vitamin everyday.


I am also of the opinion that you eat what I put in front of you. Now, I'm not going to slap a plate of liver & onions in front of the kids and force them to eat it, but within reason they must try new foods. I have a very simple rule that you try at least one bite of everything on your plate or there is no snack before bedtime. I like to cook and I cook new things often. I now have a five and nine year old that love a variety of foods.

Your son is coming into a phase where he is trying to see how much of his environment he can actually control. Food is an easy one for him to try to do that with. Maybe try giving him some choices or input on what you cook for dinner. Giving him a selection of two different vegetables, or a choice between pasta and rice. You could also try to include him in the cooking process. Kids that age love to help dump in ingredients and stir things up. He may be more likely to try something he helped create.

Good luck!

Maybe I'm just reading this wrong but from what I'm reading your son is eating good food. Be thankful that he's eating yogurt and fruits and veggies like he is. I have a 6 y/o little boy that is beyond picky. The only fruit that he will eat is a banana and the only veggie is "circle potatoes" (scalloped potatoes). The one thing that he does love is yogurt. For that I am thankful. If he had the choice, my son would eat chicken nuggets at every meal and I'm not going to let him.

Keep feeding him the good foods that he is wanting to eat and just be thankful that he's not asking you to stop at every McDonald's that he sees for an order of nuggets.

My best advice is to keep trying. It's very normal for kids to be picky at this age. Eating is one of the few areas of his life he can truly control. At mealtimes decide what is being offered for everyone. Try to include one thing that he likes and is nutritious and encourage him to try other things. If you let him go a little hungry eventually he will eat - unless he's underweight or has other nutritional deficiencies you aren't hurting him if you don't make his favorites for every meal. Also, don't make it a battle or punish him because of food choices. Just don't give him an alternative of his favorite foods. If you're offering pb&J and he doesn't want it just say "Okay, if you decide you're hungry later I'll have it waiting for you" put it in a baggy and save it for later and dismiss him from the table. You can't force him to eat, but you can keep offering and limiting his choices. The more stuff he is exposed to now the more likely he is to come back to it later in life - it may take awhile though.

Good luck!

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