16 answers

Food Ideas for a Picky 4 Year Old

I am having a problem with my 4 year old daughter who will not eat what most kids her age does. She wants hot dog, yogurt and cereal every night. I get a little shredded cheese in her. She is a breakfast lover. She loves pancakes, waffles, french toast etc. We have her try thing and she said she likes them but when asked if she wants some on her plate she replies "no thank you". Does anyone have any ideas that I could hide some veggies in her food? Thank you!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all your great ideas. I haven't really tried many because she is getting sick and I don't want to upset her too much. It is so great that I found this site.

Thank you again.
S.

Featured Answers

Make meals fun for her. My daughter is going through some of that, she is 3 years old. I started having her help me knae dinner and pick things out. I told her that what she picks out is what we are going to eat. I also have a kids cookbook that might help with ideas for her it is called "Cooking for Kids"

Also if she wants breakfast food 24/7 let her. My husband is the kind of person that will make a big deal about her eating waffles at 3 in the afternoon. It is something which is better than having her eat nothing.

We also were concerned about her eating habbits and mentioned it to her dr. the last time we were in and she said just realize that picky eaters are some times the best because they will never over eat and become obese.

A.
Hope this helps out a little.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Make meals fun for her. My daughter is going through some of that, she is 3 years old. I started having her help me knae dinner and pick things out. I told her that what she picks out is what we are going to eat. I also have a kids cookbook that might help with ideas for her it is called "Cooking for Kids"

Also if she wants breakfast food 24/7 let her. My husband is the kind of person that will make a big deal about her eating waffles at 3 in the afternoon. It is something which is better than having her eat nothing.

We also were concerned about her eating habbits and mentioned it to her dr. the last time we were in and she said just realize that picky eaters are some times the best because they will never over eat and become obese.

A.
Hope this helps out a little.

1 mom found this helpful

I think all kids go through a picky phase several times before they hit six. I know all of mine did.

To be honest, your daughter is eating fairly well. She has a majority of food groups and is eating ideal foods.

Try adding applesauce or bananas to her pancakes, or make pancakes out of different things such as cornmeal (with shredded cheese in it and real corn) or whole wheat flour (with oatmeal and shredded sweet potatoes, carrots, or zuchinni). Stuff her french toast with low-fat cream cheese and try applesauce or yougurt on top of it instead of syrups. With her hotdogs, try making homemade catsup out of fresh tomatoes, a little salt, and sugar. Be certain you are buying hotdogs that are lower in fat or preservatives (I love kosher ones for my kids meals). If she likes fries, make oven fries with both sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes. Make cereal clusters with dried fruit and marshmallows (like rice crispy treats).

And best of all--- take her shopping with her own shopping list and cart. When my kids hit the 4y/o pickiness, I took my digital camera, made photos of common ingredients they could help find (ie: apples-green and red, lemons, oranges, bananas, breakfast cereals that were whole grain no sugar added, etc...) and put it together with a little ring binder in the corner. I gave them a mini shopping cart from the Dollar General and let them loose with me following carefully behind them. By letting them pick out the fruit and snacks themselves, they wanted to eat it because it was "theirs". I even let them help me cook it. For green eggs and ham, we blended spinach with eggs and then scrambled it. Served it with ham and toast with ripe avocado sliced on it.

My kid will eat almost anything now--- but love helping me decide what they have to eat.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

Oh, we've all been there with our little ones and you sound like you're really on the right track. You know we have to remember that any bite is something and those bites do add up. So, even if she's trying only a bite or two, that's some nutrients she's getting.

What about offering her some sweet potatoe - may be the sweetness would be appealing and she'd be getting lots of vitamins. May be try a caserole type dish, something with noodles and sauce and you can sneak some veggies in there. Or like, mix peas in to a mac-n-cheese or something. My kids always liked veggies with cheese on them. Another idea might be to try a "veggie" hot dog - I've seen those out there and that might be something worth trying. Or, there's always fresh veggies with yummy dip! :)

Don't fret though, my kids pretty much just lived on corn and carrots at first - it took them awhile to branch out and try new things, but they'll get there.

Good luck!

I have a picky eater at my house who would live on fruit juice and oranges and maybe a hot dog or 2 if i would let him eat only that. Recently we had to rezort back to putting him back in the high chair so that he would actually sit still long enough to know that food really exists. Anyway, i just wanted to let you knwo that posting this has given my a few ideas to try. Also my youngest sister was a picky eater and I remember we used to make up goofy names as to what things were and let her help cook it and then she was willing to eat it. You may want to try that. And if you get any great ideas that really work let me know so that i can try them with my 3 year old. e-mail address ____@____.com Thanks again for posting this

try beef rice a roni cooked as directed by the box add 1 cup extra of water and i package hot dogs cook till dogs are done my kids eat it up. Let her have the cereal for desert like cheerios, chex cereals it wont hur ther to have them it could be worse. and the yogurt wont hurt either let her have it my 9 yr old has been eating that since she was big enouch to point go online to a recipes site and type in hot dogs see what all comes up then slowy encorporate other meats back into her diet after a while she is bound to get sick of hot dogs i know i did growing up lol

I've had to deal with some picky eaters (my hubby for one!). One thing I would try is what can be called the "no thank you bite system". A little bit of everything must be on the plate; in fact, if you can set the plates of food beforehand the better. She must take a "no thank you bite" of each thing before she can have what she wants. She may not spit it out and it must be a full bite. After each taste ask her if she likes it; remember what she says she likes. Next time if she refuses, remind her that she said she liked it. You'll (and she'll) be surprised at what she likes.

Good luck!

I bought little stools for both of my boys in the kitchen. They help prepare just about everymeal. Then they set the table. They'll try everything because they see how it started. Steamfresh vegi's are out of this world fresh and yummy and my almost 3 year old will eat half a bag himself. I also make lots of cassaroles and meatloafs that hide spinach and carrots (which I won't eat whole). For quick meals I buy the refridgerator spinach chicken ravioli and they "dunk" in spagetti sauce. They boys each have a plastic butter knife to "chop". They seed bell peppers, season and stir. It takes a few days to get used to the "help" but it is worth it. and maybe they will cook on their own soon.

I just read all the other postings and there are some great ideas there, many that I was going to mention.... making smoothies with yogurt and fruit, sweet potato fries (just cut up sweet potatoes, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper, maybe a little cumin, spread out on a baking sheet and bake until done), spaghetti sauce with pureed veggies in it. Buy organic ketchup (lots less sodium and sugar in it) and put it on whatever so maybe your child will eat something different. Also, something I haven't seen here and frankly I don't see too often with parents these days: Fix one thing for dinner for everyone. I never wanted to get in the trap of cooking two meals every night so I started this way and I still do it, with a 4 year old and a 3 year old. Don't ask them what they want for dinner, just make one dinner for everyone and serve it. Of course, I try to make things I know they will like but sometimes they don't want to try it. Whatever it is they say they don't like, I just keep putting it on their plates, just a little bit. I don't force them to try it, it's just there every so often and I figure that one day they will try it. Also, before dinner, when the kids are getting hungry and dinner isn't ready, or when they are watching TV, hand them a carrot or other fruit or veggie they might like. My son likes veggies but only certain ways: only frozen peas, raw carrots, corn on the cob but not in kernels, steamed broccoli, etc. Maybe your daughter would like to try veggies different ways. Good luck!

I'm lucky that my 2 yr old and 1 yr old daughters will eat just about anything, but when I watch my neice and nephews (ages 9, 8 and 5), they are picky...the oldest likes macaroni, but not the cheese, so I take his out and put butter on it before adding the cheese for the other two...and the youngest would not try broccoli, but I offered to put cheese on his and melt it and he ate it. Let her experiment different foods her way...ask her what she would like on it...does she like bacon? Put bacon bits in her green beans. Explain to her she has to eat the beans to get the bacon. Cut up carrot slices, raw broccoli florettes, pea pods, etc (or get a veggie tray at the grocery store) and let her pick if she wants to dip them in yogurt or salad dressing for a snack. Let her try veggies raw and cooked or steamed...see how she likes them best. I was a VERY picky eater as a child (and still am for the most part), but would eat raw veggies instead of cooked...I didn't like the mushieness (is that a word?) of them cooked, but liked the crispiness. Try a little bribing - if you eat the small amount of veggies and items on your dinner plate (or at least most of it) you can have yogurt for dessert, or a bowl of cereal of your choice before bedtime.

If she likes breakfast foods go to the vegitarian part of the freezer foods and get her veggie sausage, they have veggie hotdogs hamburgers chicken nuggets corn dogs lots of options!! I know my giant eagle has a large selection if your market doesn't look for health food store near you google it it should give you a list of stores near you! When my daughter went through the "only hotdogs" stage we gave her morning star hot dogs and chicken nuggets she never knew the difference!!! there's always the " this is what's for dinner if you don't like it you can be hungry" but I can never do it I always feel to guilty to let her go hungry, even if it did work for my mom!!! good luck!

How about potato pancakes? You could shred veggies in them as well if she eats them plain. I loved these growing up- you can still put syrup on them, too, and you can either make them homemade or buy the boxes to keep it easy. What about hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls with cheese and small pieces of veggies inside? You could do the same thing except use bread instead of crescent rolls, and use a toothpick to hold it in place. You could make different kinds of bread or muffins with veggies hidden inside- like pumpkin bread, or zucchini bread (I hate zucchini but love zucchini bread), or experiment with adding veggies to oatmeal or corn muffins. Another thing you may want to try- my parents always made us try two bites of everything that was offered when we were growing up, and eventually we learned to like most foods. Good luck!

My 3 1/2 yr old very rarely eats meats so I know how you feel the other way around. I recommend trying WWW.KRAFTFOODS.com this website has great recipes and has a list of things especially for kids. It'll make it fun for her. I've always been told that a child will eat when she is hungry and not to force things. Breakfast is a great meal for her to love.I alos have a recipe that is chicken and veggies mixed together in a casserole my boys loved it if you'd like I'll send it to you and try it tos ee if she'll like it. Try just mixing things up a little for her and see if there is something f un for her you can do at the same time. It's really a hard situation. Best of Luck.

S.:

My son was the same way. I ended up bribing him to try new stuff. Took me a while to convince him, but he'll be 7 in December and finally started veggies within the last year! Ask her what would it take for her to try it...would it take a new toy...perhaps a favorite candy? And it's just not a little bite of something...I made the deal that he had to eat at LEAST a tablespoon full of what I was offering. 9 times out of 10, he liked it.

Good Luck!
D.

Smoothies!
You can blend up frozen spinach or other veggies and really not taste them at all and the kids think they are getting a treat.
But honestly, it sounds like you are doing better than average with her eating. Don't sweat it too much.
Have fun,
S.

I am having the same problem. There is alot of good advice here, I think I will try some of them with my youngest. When my kids were still in child care, they ate veggies all the time at her house. She fed alot of fruits, vegetables and generally healthy snacks, and they ate them without a problem. But for me? No way! Why is that?

I am going to try some of the suggestions, thanks ladies!

i havent yet read the other responses, so i might be mentioning something youve already heard...but here is something i do for my 2 year old. when making Knorr/Lipton Pasta Sides like their creamy chicken flavored noodles..i first put all of the liquid ingredients (just measured water and milk) in the blender with a little bit of frozen mixed vegetables (ones that would be good with the flavor packet). i blend it till smooth but still liquid enough to boil noodles in. you may eventually need to add more water. then just make the noodles as directed.
to add more fruit to her (or your)diet you could try blending 1 cup milk with 1 cup frozen mixed berries. not blueberries tho. it doesnt come out right. it will have the consistency of icy soft serve. or add more milk for a delicious smoothy.
for my daughters french toast i saute some apple slices while the french toast is cooking and sprinkle with cinnamon. then i put them on top of the french toast.
and cookie cutters are always fun. try making cute shapes out of things like apple slices, wheat bread, cheese,etc...arrange them on a plate and make snack time interesting.
i hope this was of help to you.

m

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