35 answers

Help! My Daughter Will Only Eat 5 Different Foods...

I have a two year old daughter who is the pickest eater I have ever seen. The only food she will eat is cereal, applesauce, grapes, chicken nuggets and hot dogs. there is absolutely no veggies or pasta in her diet. I give her a vitamin everyday but I am so worried that she is not getting enough nutrition. I have tried everything to get her to eat more variety. i've tried to set the food in front of her, sit down and eat with her, force feed her, talk to her about food, show her pics. I am at a loss for what to do. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

What can I do next?

More Answers

Hi A.,

I have read all the advice and I am furious with most of it. I am a family health and wellness consultant. I work with families who want to make a difference in their lives of their child. Most of my families have overweright or obese children because of the eating habits they developed when they were young. I have two of my own children and over the years, I have worked with over 500 kids...so I have a bit of experience.

You are the parent. Ask your self, Why is she only eating hotdogs? Why will she only eat chicken nuggets? The commonality between the two questions is YOU. You buy them, you cook them, you feed them to her. YOU. Your child is two.

Yes it is true that children have more food sensitivity, meaning that they have about 3 times the taste buds as adults do on their tongues. But this just means that it is that much more important to get them started on the right track. It may not be easy, but you MUST do it.

You get to make the decisions for your family. Children will eat what is good for them, if they are given the right choices. It is up to you to give her the healthy choices.

1. Put a variety of fruits and veggies in small bowls on the table or in the fridge (that is HER food and her food only) BUT ONLY HEALTHY FOOD! NO other snacks. NO JUICE, NO MILK NO COKKIES NOT SUGARY TREATS AT ALL. Fruits and veggies only They have all the naturally ocurring sugars a child needs.

2. Start the day with a good breakfast. Fruit, toast, eggs, protein shakes (NO JUICE- way too much sugar). Most cereals that you buy are quite unhealthy (eating the box oftentimes is better). Read the label on your cereal or email me (____@____.com). Make sure you are setting her up for success for her day. A sugary cereal in the AM is the worst thing you can do for her.

3. STAY AWAY from too much milk. It is empty calories meaning it fills you up but there is no substance to it.

4. DO NOT hide her veggies, DO NOT trick her into eating. SHOW HER how the entire family eats healhty (I am sorry chicken nuggets and hotdogs are two of the foods that are exceptionally unhealthy for kids)

5. Make food fun. Allow her to be in on the preperation.

6. If she doesn't want to eat the HEALTHY meal you both have prepeared, DON"T FORCE her. She will eat when she is hungry. Leave her only healthy options. Her bowls of fruit and veggies are still available.

7. BE THE PARENT. If you buy the bad stuff, you can't complain that is all she will eat. It is up to you to make a difference in the life of your child.

8. As for the vitamins, again if you want, we can chat about which one you are taking. Many are filled with preservatives and sugar just so the kids will eat them. Bottom line is, if it was bought at a grocery store or a department store then it is not that great. Remember, you get what you pay for.

I give free first time consultations if you are interested just call.

B., B.A.B.Ed.

3 moms found this helpful

Talk to your pediatrician. My older children went through phases like that and outgrew them quickly. My youngest daughter has been that way since she began eating and it is just one of the symptoms of her autism. Your daughters pediatirician can ask the right questions to let you know if it's truly a worry or just a phase.

My oldest daughter ate nothing but cheese hot dogs for almost four months and her doctor said not to worry, she was healthy. Sure enough one day she just got tired of the hot dogs and started eating everything else!

Please don't try witholding foods she will eat until you see her doctor. My youngest child with autism can go without food for days and just sleep through the hunger. While well meaning people dishing out advice think that she will get hungry enough to eat, they are wrong. If she doesn't eat and just sleeps through the hunger her health becomes seriously endangered.

One other trick I learned with all of them - just put one or two bites of each food on her plate. When she eats them, offer more.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
I have 2 year old triplets and they all like different things. I bought the book called the Sneaky Chef and I use it everyday. The recipes have you make a lot of purees and sneak it in food they like. It works on my kids and some of the food is so good that I like it. You should check it out. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Probably not the pickest eater, but pretty picky :-) - I knew a child who would only eat PB&J. Anyway, my kids eat anything, and it is because we didn't give them a lot of choice 'not' to eat it. First, it is human nature that we won't starve ourselves to death, at least a small child won't. So basically, don't offer those 5 things as options. Granted she may not like this, and those foods you mentioned are not 'bad' foods, but I probably would not consume great amounts of hotdogs (have you ever looked at what is in a hotdog...that is scary). But you can still offer great foods that offer more nutritional value. For example, macaroni and cheese, apple wedges, melons, pineapple, peaches, baby cooked carrots, oatmeal, grits, mashed potatoes, yogurt, cheese bites/sticks, PB&J, or PB&banana, even fish sticks that look alot like chicken nuggets would be great.
I would not make a big deal about 'oh we are going to try new foods today, etc.' I would just make the food and put it in front of the 2 of you, and you eat like there is nothing different.

I had a great book called, 'Feed me I'm Yours'. and I really liked the recipies and ideas.

I never disguised food, but I know people that would put other things in food to get their kids to eat it; or they would make cute little mickey mouse pancakes, etc. If it works I guess do it. My kids didn't need that.

I remember my kids were eating salad with ranch dressing at 18 months, and my son ate liver, fish, and squash casserole. We just NEVER cooked anything different for our kids and they just ate what we ate and we never thought about it. My biological children ate everything, but didn't care for ice cream, and my older son doesn't like ham. Of our adopted children, the only thing that 2 of our kids would not eat is sweet potatoes, as their culture doesn't eat that (they are Ukrainian), and they just don't like the feeling in their mouth. So it is o.k. not to eat 'everything', but to have such a limited diet is probably not the best. I'm not knocking vitamins, but I think that the best source of vitamins is through eating the food itself, plus it tastes a whole lot better.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sure you've tried everything, but just in case you haven't ... If she likes cheese, you can try drowning some broccoli or cauliflower, or any vegetable you think would work, in cheese sauce, like velveeta. My mom did this with us. Each time she made broccoli, she made less and less cheese sauce, till eventually she just "forgot" to make the cheese sauce and we ate it plain, or with a little Lawry's Seasoned salt or regular salt. Also, to get vegetables in us, she would coat them in flour and then fry them. It's not the healthiest, but we developed a taste for eggplant, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. and then we she offered them to us unfried, they weren't as foreign to us. With the fruit, you can maybe try "smoothies". You can throw in her applesauce and grapes (not sure how it would turn out) and she can taste it with just the two ingredients. Then maybe the next time you throw in some strawberries without her seeing. Then a few more the next time, and then a few more, until she likes the taste, and then when she sees you do it, tell her you've been making it that way all along, she'll taste it and see that she likes it. Use blueberries, bananas, any fruit I guess.

What also might work is the reward system. She can have her chicken nuggets if she tries one bite of macaroni and cheese, or spinach, or tomato, or pork chop. Maybe give her a choice, so "she's" the one in charge. She can choose to take a bite of watermelon OR peach, and then she can have her grapes. Then the next time, it's two bites, but put less grapes on her plate, and if she wants more grapes, she'll have to take one more bite of a different food first, and then more grapes.

I know you said you give her vitamins, but to make sure she gets her fruits and veggies, you might want to check out Juice Plus. My daughter loves the gummies. She takes the fruit one with breakfast, and the veggie with dinner. I've tried them and both are sweet tasting. If you don't want to invest in 4 jars before you try them out first, maybe go to ebay. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

That's so funny. My 17 year old did that when she was little.. Chicken, grapes, cereal, potatoes, and bananas.

The good news is, if you don't make a big deal, it will all balance out in the long run. Seems like she's been given attention for this & the more attention you give to this matter, the more she'll do it. Plain and simple. (Why wouldn't she do something that seems to get so much of mom's one-on-one attention/time?)

Another thing you can try that's not so attention-giving to the matter in her eyes.. is trays of options. I use to leave plates of foods out in the day, a variety of raw veggies, finger sandwiches, fruits, dried raisins and such. That way she'll have her "pick" at any given time. Make sure she's not over-consuming liquids so she'll be hungry. Give her liquids of course.. just don't let her fill up (juices are food ya know so this can count as a fruit).

Also, at the age of 3 I told my daughter "we have a new rule in the house.. everyone has to say 'hello' to everything on their plate. That means you must take one bite of everything. You don't have to eat it.. just take one bite." She's been eating full-force ever since. That helped her learn that she actually DID like other things.

For the next week do not give her those options, and avoid snacks. She will be hungry enough to eat what she is given. If the cereal is whole grain that is good, real chicken is good, grapes may give her an upset stomach if she eats too much, applesauce is also good but too much will effect bowels, I would act as if hot dogs dropped of the face of the earth... Offer her what you think she needs, put them in something fun, like an ice cube tray or something fun looking, say when you are done we are...(for example) going to the park or we will read your favorite book, if you do not eat it you will sit on your bed and then give it to the child for the next meal/ or we allow them to cover anything in ketchup if they eat it!...Goals are good they work for all of us. Good luck!

PS I have 6 kids and have been there!

Sounds like one of my boys. He's 3 now. And he is the most strong-willed, picky child I have ever met. You cannot trick him with hiding food. You cannot give him a plate of something he doesn't "like" and expect him to eat it no matter how long you hold out. I tried that once. I had also gotten suggestions like a couple below that says just don't offer her the foods you know she will eat and eventually she'll eat the food you give her. HA! I started at dinner time. (We ALWAYS sit as a family at the dinner table every evening) I gave him a plate of the same things mommy and daddy were eating. He sat there. Bedtime came and he was still sitting there. He went to bed hungry. The next morning I heated up that plate of food and he still wouldn't even taste it. He went to play and when he would ask for food, I gave him his plate. It lasted until lunch the next day and he still wouldn't touch it. I wouldn't let it go on longer than that. He was only 2. But he,literally, would rather starve than eat something he didn't like. And the thing is, he doesn't know he doesn't like it. He's never tasted it.
So every night, to this day, I still make his plate with all the same foods everyone else is eating and sit it in front of him. Sometimes he'll take a bite, sometimes he won't. After we're done eating, I will make him what I know he'll eat. Keep offering, but you can't force it.
I found that if you stop the grazing kind of eating between meals, they will be more willing to try new things. They need to feel hungry or it really won't work.
I like the idea that one lady had below about putting a variety of different foods out and letting her pick. We do that too. Lunch will be a large assortment of different little foods. Some raw veggies, raisins or other dried fruits, peanut butter on a teaspoon (he likes it better that way... who knows why), apple wedges, melon balls, graham crackers, yogurt, waffles, breakfast sausages, bacon... they love bacon! Pudding works too.
The truth of it is that they do grow out of this. The older she gets, the more you can negotiate with her. You set the example by eating what you want her to eat and she may, one day, want a bite of mommy's food. As long as her growth isn't suffering, the doctors will tell you to not make a big deal out of it. Try the V8 juices like the other moms suggested. It's good stuff. And don't worry about it too much. You'll both get through it and be fine!

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