T.H. asks from Waterford, CT on February 10, 2010
Extra Picky Eater
My son is an extremely picky eater. He likes yogurt, crackers,cereal, bread, peanut butter, (only) american and chedder cheese, and milk. Occasionally he'll eat a couple pieces of lettuce, 2 or 3 green beans, or a tiny bite of chicken, all of course with Ranch dressing. Notice the lack of meat, fruit and veggies. The doctor keeps reassuring me, that if I continue to offer him foods, eventually he'll eat them. I've tried everything to get him to eat and try new foods. Most nights he goes to bed without dinner or snack and then eats a huge breakfast. I'm to the point that I'm considering bribing and begging, which of course won't work because food will just become a power struggle that I'll definitely lose.
Is there any way to get this kid to start trying foods? Or at least sneak them into what he eats right now?
To answer some of everyone's questions:
My son is six years old. When he was a baby he ate everything I fed him. His pickiness started when he was almost a year and we found out he was allergic to dairy products. He out grew the allergy around 3. I do not make him special meals. What I serve is what you get. Eat it or go hungry. I learned the hard way with my 12 year old, that I did not like being a short order cook. My older two kids (9 and 12) are very good about trying new foods.
Nate, the picky one, will pitch a fit when I put food on his plate that he doesn't like or has never tried. He insisted that he doesn't like foods that he's never tried. And will not try them. He doesn't really eat any junk foods, I keep most of that stuff out of the house. My big concern is his size. He is in the 5% (maybe) for his height and weight. He wears 3T and 4T clothes.
He does drink V8 veggie/fruit juice, takes a multi-vitamin, and I've recently started making chocolate milk with Carnation, to try and get some protein and vitamins into him.
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L.O. answers from Detroit on February 10, 2010
bribing is not a good answer or a long term solution.
I would try to get the child a multivitamin.. to make up for what he doesnt eat.. Will he drink juice for the vit C?
in the shor term you might get more food in him-- but you do not want to set up food issues that will go on for years.. a lot of kids are picky eaters.. they usually outgrow it or they dont... some adults are picky eaters.
my daughter is picky my son eats everything.. I fed them the same jars of gerber food and they are just differnt people..
L.S. answers from San Diego on February 10, 2010
My son is 5 and is now attending a feeding therapy group at our local children's hospital (they call it the feeding team). I can tell you that we were also told that our son would "grow out of it" or that "he'll eat when he's hungry" because he was still at 4 at average weight and height for his age. My son eats only a handful of foods ... no meat or vegetables (he just started eating lettuce and took his first bite of a hot dog a week ago). I got to a point that I had to reach and take the matters into my own hands. I researched and asked around and found out that this "picky eating" is not uncommon. I found that our local hospital had a program for feeding therapy. There is so much to tell you about the program, the method, the myths about eating and the family dynamic that I'm afraid would turn into a book However, we know the fun methods they use works with our son (its a group therapy with similiar kids). If you get to a point that surpasses what you feel is not typical eating behavior you need to look past your doctor and look to your local children's hospital and seek answers. I recommend an excellent book that I wish I had when my son was 3 and started exhibiting these type of eating behaviors. The book is called "Food Chaining" by Fraker/Fishbein. It is a plan to stop picky eating, solve feeding problems and expand your child's diet. There is invaluable information in this book and helps you to pinpoint where the eating problem is occurring. My son is now 5 1/2 and is very small for his age (he wears size 4T) he is now below average on height and weight. My suggestion is to continue feeding him his preferred foods while adding a new food on his plate. Observe and see 1) Does he tolerate it on his plate? 2)Will he pick it up? 3) Will he put it to his mouth? 4) Will he at at least taste it? 5) If he tastes it, does he swallow it? Observe and see how he is with textures of food. There are so many steps to actually eating that those of us without any feeding issues don't realize it because its natural for us. I wish you lots of luck. P.S. A good place to start is to check your local Children's Hospital they usually have a feeding team. It is not for severe cases.
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T.F. answers from Boston on February 11, 2010
I know someone who's had success sneaking in foods using recipes from this cookbook called The Sneaky Chef. This little boy is still picky but at least she's able to sneak a greater variety of healthier foods into him. I suppose it may only be a band aid to your problem but it may give you some temporary sanity. (And take comfort that you're giving him a great example to follow through the rest of his family.) Good luck!
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B.W. answers from Minneapolis on February 10, 2010
Picky eaters are made, not born. And its a common thing, but if you let him do it, you will quickly become a short order cook and find yourself saying ridiculous things like 'joey only eats spaghettio's and apples without the skin, but only sliced into quarters adn only cored a certain way'.
I make the food, I serve the food, and if its not what they want, too bad. I always put at least one food in the menu that I know my kids will like, like a veggie, fruit, bread, or meat. If htere is one food they like, they are more apt to try something new, and they are required to take one bite of everything on their plate. I refuse to allow them to be picky, and thye know it.
Of course there are foods they don't care for, I get that, and I understand. My 7yr old doesn't like potatoes in any form. THats just fine. My 4yr old despises broccoli. But he likes cauliflower, so I make both and still put both on his plate, and he always tries it, and he always dislikes it. Thats fine. There are afew foods I don't care for either. But my point is, if you don't nip it in the bud right now, you will become a short order cook for a mini maestro who demands a certain chicken nugget and only Kraft dressing.
Make and serve the food, let him eat what he wants, and don't make a big deal out of it. He will get the hint fairly quickly, and will also realize he likes many foods as long as mom doesn't make a big deal out of it.
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A.S. answers from Clarksville on February 10, 2010
i just went through this with my 2 year-old except he didnt eat bread...so i know where you are coming from. Our son is recovering from pneumonia and is on a completely different diet b/c he had to be on the brat diet for like 5 days. And he HATED it of course.. but giving him the foods that he wanted would make him have really bad diarrhea (sorry). Now he is eating just about everything i put in front of him and it is wonderful and i dont give in on anything. I dont know why this happened. I got sao sick and tired of being sick and tired of him not eating right that now i am a force to be reckoned with.
We would give him everything that he wanted which i believe is exactly what you are doing. Dont let him make the adult decisions for you please. I am not saying put him on the brat diet but give him what you want to give him and ONLY what you want him to eat. There will be crying...there will be screaming...but after about 3 to 5 days he will get the picture...and NO he will not starve. He will act like he is but he isnt....I promise. Do this and you will come out successful but you cant give in no matter what. I know you can do it we are doing it right now and he still pitches the most royal of all fits but..oh well. Good Luck.
Also if he likes drinking juice you can get a juicer and put real fruit and veg juice in it. or a blender and you can create delicious smoothies using fruit and vegs, too.
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D.B. answers from Boston on February 11, 2010
Your child may have some sensory issues - a lot of kids do. New textures and tastes are a problem. I have friends whose children even have Sensory Integration Disorder, which includes environmental sensory issues as well as taste problems. You have also identified the problem of him getting insufficient nutrition. I absolutely understand your concern. There is a much better supplement you can give him to replace the multivitamin and the Carnation. It is balanced and has all the nutrition he needs in a highly absorbable form. The vitamins he is currently taking are not absorbed as highly, and they don't have everything in them that he needs. Some pediatricians even call them "expensive urine" because so much is eliminated! On the other hand, NOW for Kids comes in chocolate and vanilla, has DHA which is essential for brain development, and is put together in a synergistic formula. It's given to preemies through feeding tubes, and it's given to 97 year olds with Alzheimer's or post-stroke brain issues. The company has a charitable foundation that feeds 43,000 people a day thru feeding stations, most of them children in severely malnourished condition. So it's safe for everyone. It's made here in the US under very strict conditions with top quality ingredients. It comes with a 30 day money back guarantee - what other company gives you that? It's available thru distributors and you can purchase it on line thru a distributor. I would be happy to help you and give you more info. Once you re-establish the balance in your child's body, you may find that these sensory issues disappear over time. Meantime, you'll know he's getting great nutrition. Let me know if I can help you.
T.C. answers from Austin on February 10, 2010
My son has always been a picky eater. When he was 1 year old, he wasn't gaining weight and our pediatrician threatened to report us to CPS and made us go to a nutritionist. Her suggestions were adding powdered milk, mayo, peanut butter, etc. to add more calories. This didn't help us because my son had a problem with the texture of sticky or mushy food. We were so desperate to get him to eat that we got into some bad habits. We let him stay up late to have one more snack; we would stick bits of food in his mouth while he was playing, we let him eat fast food in the car, my husband pretended to try to steal food from his plate to get him interested in it; we let him dip chicken nuggets in honey, french fries in butter, spaghetti in milk, and pork chops in soy sauce; we begged him to eat ice cream.
What worked better was offering him lots of variety, but nothing with spices til he was ready. We used plates with lots of sections. Colorful noodles with interesting shapes. Lunch meat cut with cookie cutters. We had him help grow vegetables in the garden. When he tastes a new food, I ask him if he likes it "today" so that he will be open to the possibility of trying it again in the future.
He does eat an amazing variety of foods now at 8 years old, but still won't eat some "normal" stuff. He will eat king crab and asparagus, but won't eat a peanut butter sandwich! In the last 2 weeks, he finally likes hamburger(but still not the bun). He's still in the 5th percentile for weight, but our current doctor isn't worried because he's growing consistently.
L.B. answers from Boston on February 11, 2010
Wow you could be describing me and my son. He had a milk based allergy that he outgrew around 3 also and the pickiness started when he was around 1 as well. We did the eat or go hungry from age 3 to 4.. he'd look what was for dinner and instead of crying say 'goodnight!' and off he'd go to his room!!! It frustrated us to no end. He too got up early in the morning and ate huge bowls of raisin bran! and then 2 peanut butter sandwiches for lunch...the kid tanked up!
The pediatrician said his iron was good and to give a drawer in fridge for him, let him cook his own.... yep at age 4 he knew how to operate the toaster oven to make himself his chicken nuggets or hot dog.
Fast forward many stressful dinners, holidays etc... and he is now 16 and is STILL picky! He won't eat any beef or pork (nope not even a hot dog if you call that pork). He eats chicken. No rice, pasta and only french fried potatos. Still loves peanut butter and grilled cheese. ... I now just figure god help the woman he marries!
B.S. answers from Boston on February 11, 2010
I think you have my son, except mine was picky even as an infant. He, too, had a dairy allergy he's outgrown. And he as an oral allergy/reaction to fresh apples/plums, etc. He likes bananas, but had a reaction to something recently. no vegetable, meat, beans, nuts pass those little lips. he's 5. I've given up. I've tried the you don't eat it you don't it. I made it to about 3 days with him not eating (several times in the last few years) to no avail. Bribes don't work. I stock what he will eat. He used to eat zucchini muffins that I would make (not anymore, apparently). I have a recipe that I've tweaked to make it healthier, pancakes with pureed veggies. I keep cheese and the yogurt he does like on hand. PBJ/PB and honey/uncrustables. I hold no illusions he'll change. No grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, hamburgers, pizza etc in this house for him. He does like Kraft mac and cheese.
I have no advice for you. I approach it now that I don't have to cook for him. He eats "dinner" that he usually gathers for himself - cheese stick, mac and cheese or drinkable yogurt. i feel like an awful mom but his will is stronger than mine. I think some kids are super sensitive to taste. He will look at something and declare he doesn't like it without tasting it. I feel your pain and this offering of food does not work and I want to slap the next person who tells me it will work.