22 answers

Ideas to Get My 6 Year Old to Eat

My 6 year old has a very limited diet. My new years resolution is that he will eat what my husband and I eat at dinner. My only idea is to say if you don't eat dinner you don't eat. I also thought I would try to add something he likes to the dinner menu and bribery in the way of desert if dinner is eaten. All ideas will be appreciated.
Thanks

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much everyone. Great adivice. I'm going to try them all. Thanks for wishing me luck...I think I'm going to need it. L.

I have been trying a combination of ideas...the one-bite rule, small portions, not making a big deal if he doesn't eat...but nothing else if dinner isn't eaten and a dessert or snack if he eats/tries dinner. I'm happy to report he is starting to eat more. Thanks for the advice...I really appreciate it.-L.:)

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I have three children one of which was a picky eater, had a
hard time getting her to eat green beans. She love's ketchup, so I had her put ketcup on the green beans. try letting him
use ketchup on his food.

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My son was exactly the same way! What I did, is I got rid of all the stuff he would want to eat instead of dinner. I didn't buy cereal, peanut butter and jelly, or bread for a few days, because, my husband would usually give in and make him whatever he wanted. This way, nobody gets tempted to give in. Then, if he doesn't eat dinner, then he doesn't eat nothing. He will be okay, eventually he will eat anything!
I also used a timer...I gave him 25 minutes to eat all his food, if not, he got more veggies, or some kind of consequence...no t.v., no skating...etc.
good luck!

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Hi L.~
I too have issues getting my 4 year old to eat a variety of foods. He is very stubborn and gives us a hard time at all meals. So I don't have much advise for you there...sorry. But I did notice that you want to loose weight this year. I too am a stay at home Mom and I sell Herbalife, I started with the company about 3 years ago and I lost 40 pounds in 4 months and have kept the weight off and even lost a few more pounds since then.It is a really easy diet, it is meal replacment shakes and healthy snacks and meals. Supper easy to stick to. I signed up to be a distributor right away so I could afford the products and make some extra money. If you are interested contact me at ____@____.com or ###-###-####.
Sincerely, A.

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Hi L., My daughter (5 1/2) is pretty picky as far as eating is concerned. What I've always had her do is eat the number of bites which equals how old she is. (5 now since she's 5). I started this when she was 3. Also, I've explained to her over and over that she will like more and more foods as she gets older so she needs to "retry" things. This also isn't something I just tell her, she does like many things she didn't the first time around. I've also heard children have many more taste buds than we do and naturally don't like as many foods. She's just started really liking apples after not liking them for almost 2 years. The other day I made 1/2 and egg sandwhich for her and had her take 5 bites. Then she was able to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. She knows the 5 bite rule and I make a point of praising her for following this rule and saying "someday I bet you'll really like ______". I try to be positive and casual about it. I also remind her of things she loves now that she didn't at first. The funniest is macaroni and cheese which is now her favorite but she didn't like at first.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, I am very fortunate that my daughter at the moment eats everything but I grew up with 6 other siblings and our parents motto," You don't eat whats put in front of you, you don't eat". They stuck to there guns. It worked. We all are still alive and well. However being that you have a 6 year old, get your child involved in the cooking process. Ask them to look for recipes and maybe invent there own. I also agree with one writer smaller plate and smaller portions. That way they can always ask for more and it will give you an idea what they really like and enjoy. Good luck to you~

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L.,
Coming from a person who was forced to sit at the table until we ate everything, that is not the best idea. Try to make dinner time a really enjoyable time. Veggies are important, of course, but don't make a big deal regarding how much or other things he eats - it'll just create issues around food later. Just support your child in what he's going through. Kids don't starve themselves - they know better. So just let him listen to his body and try to present him with some really yummy veggie options - like broccoli bread :).
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I found that if I include my kids in menu planning, and especially in the cooking of it, they will eat anything. My twins are now 12, and are very good at trying new things, and have a pretty broad palette. I started them in the kitchen very young, told them they had to try something, but if they really didn't like it, they didn't have to eat it all. Hope this helps.

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I would not use dessert as bribery as that can lead to other problems such as weight gain. I would introduce one thing that is new and ask him to eat that first before he eats he favorite food. I use the line even if you don't like it the last taste in your mouth will be what you do like. I have tried the if you don't like it you won't eat but that can back fire if you go straight to that. Other things we used is for example with raw carrots (the baby kind pre-cut in a bag) we use a non-fat ranch dip and that gets our kids to eat them. This can work with other vegetables too. If you want to use bribery offer something that isn't food related such as playing a favorite game or something. I'm with you but just so you know. My now 10 year old who used to be very picky is branching out and starting to eat things he never would before so there is hope.

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I wouldn't put a lot of obvious attention on him not eating. The reason being is he is getting attention for it-negative or whatever- and he may become accustom to that attention and like it. You don't want food to become a power struggle or the topic of conversation during dinner. Put the plate of food down in front of him and talk about something else over the meal besides him and what he is eating.

I would also quietly stop any sugary treats right away. Not as a punishment rather as a way to get his taste buds back on track.

Note: When the kids are busy playing and not looking I like to leave health snacks on the coffee table. Apple, cheese and cracker - If your son sees that your not around and there is no [power struggle or nagging he may feel more at ease and start to eat.

just a suggestion

I wish you luck!

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L.,

We've had similar problems with our 5 yr old. And she is STUBBORN about it. What I started with was giving her what we were eating, only I'd taken bits out before adding spices, or all of them, depending. Get her used to other things first, and the spices. She's now eating almost everything we are, and is nearly always willing to try things. The "too grown up for you" comment only worked twice on her, she said she'd eat it when she got older. We also switched to letting her put food on her plate instead of bringing it out. She needs to try a little bit of nearly everything. Our rule is you need to try things at least seven times, on different days before you can say you don't like it. So she can take a single piece of vegetables or meat or tofu or whatever and try it, she needn't have a huge amount. Usually she likes it and wants more.

It seems like it took ages to get to this point, of her not fighting about what we are eating, but it's only been about 6 months. We started this way with our youngest, not quite 2, and she literally eats everything, other than mushrooms. She hates those.

Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

Could you try involving him in the menu planning, shopping and cooking? What about making a list of food he likes together and allowing him to put one item on the menu. When you have his attention and he feels empowered and in control a bit more maybe begin pusing him to try new foods. It would be good experience for him to choose the other parts of the menu...even stuff he doesn't like...just to learn what is healthy. If the amount of nutrition he's getting worries you have you heard of Jessica Seinfield's book? I think it is called deceptively delicious. Good luck to you and hang in there!

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Take this with a grain of salt. I am only 8 months into parenthood but I bought the Deceptively Delicious book for myself and love it! It was written specifically for what you are going through. I've tried almost half the recipes and love them!!!!!
here's the link
http://www.amazon.com/Deceptively-Delicious-Simple-Secret...
good luck
A.

1 mom found this helpful

Children are very perceptive; they will be able to tell if there is any chance you are going to give in on whatever rules you set. Bribing with desert puts a negative shadow on healthy foods and sets up a reward system that works well on other mammals. You are the adult and you know what is right and your son should be able to look to you for clarity. In our culture of increasingly obese and diabetic children, try to avoid sugar as a reward. BTW, ketchup is just tomatoes with sugar, I encourage everyone to reject using ketchup to make children eat. If you put dinner on the table and that is that, you will be surprised how quickly children catch on. Follow up a missed dinner with a healthy, protien packed breakfast and you'll be surprised what he will eat. I am a kindergarden teacher, so I am not just talking about my son here.

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There is a book out called "First Meals" by Annabel Karmel that has great ideas on what to feed your kids in certain age categories and how to make it fun. She decorates the foods so they look very appealing. I hope it helps. I'm the mom of an 18 month old so I'm not in that dilemma yet but I'm sure I will be at some point. Good luck!

G.

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Also there is this cookbook out called deceptively delicious and the sneaky chef that have receipes designed for picky eaters. For example did you know you can make a home made mac & cheese with pureed cauliflower and it makes it super creamy and cheesy? I just found out about these books from another mom friend of mine. She has tried several meals and not only does her picky 3 year old loves it so does her VERY picky husband! I am going to get these books soon for my picky 3 year old.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index...

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My 3 year old is a very picky eater. I have recently bought the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. It is a wonderful book that teaches and gives you recipes on how to add pureed veggies to tons of recipes, including brownies which are Yummy.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.. Introduce new foods just a couple at a time. You may need to offer it 10-12 times until it becomes familiar. Offer the vegetables with ranch dressing or melted cheese. You could say the whole family is trying to eat better, healthier rather than turning it into a "battle" or something over non-compliance. Kids are finicky eaters generally and it takes them 10-12 times of seeing a new food to get used to it. Also, most kids like blander foods. They need to get used to sauces, spices, salsa etc. Be patient and they will get used to new foods and start eating more of them. It also helps if you have a garden and they help plant, grow, pick wash the vegetables. You can also finely shred or puree small amts. of vegetables and add them to spaghetti or casseroles. They will be eating vegetables and not even know it. K. San Leandro

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Are you perhaps putting too much food on his plate at once? I've learned that the serving size for a child is one teaspoon per year of age, which isn't much. We started feeding our girls (5 and 7) on bread and butter plates.Keeps us from over-serving and they don't seem overwhelmed by the amount of food. They are allowed to have seconds of anything after they finish their first servings.

When I introduce new foods, my husband and I only put them on our plates. We tell the girls that the foods are "too grown up for them". It usually works to at least get them to try them. I also put everything else we're eating on their plates with the instructions that if there is something they don't like (after they've tried it) they need to quietly push it to the side of their plates and not make a big deal of it.

I also tell them if they don't want to eat dinner, the next meal is breakfast. Then I drop the subject -- no arguments. This usually gets them eating. I keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter, so they know they're not going to starve.

My pastor mentioned on Sunday (4 kids 7 and under) that they do their meals in courses. If they have chicken and green beans, the green beans come out as the first course. When everyone has finished those, the chicken comes as the second course. Just another way of serving less food at a time.

HTH

S.

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Hi there :)

I am a Mom to 4 kids(18, 17, 14 and 8), I have dealt with my share of picky eaters. I solved the problem with getting them to help me in the kitchen when it is time to make dinner. Also we set a rule that they have to try the food before they reject it. All 4 of my kids love to cook and bake and will eat almost anything I put in front of them. You may also want to try the cookbook by Jessica Seinfield "Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets To Get Your Kids To Eat Good Food" Good luck :)

1 mom found this helpful

We try to do the same thing for our 12 year old and our 5 year old. I tell them they have to a least try each food item we have at dinner each night. They say it takes at least 8 times to begin aquiring a taste for some foods so we figure that if they at least eat some of each item they will eventually aquire a taste for some new things. And it has worked! It just takes time. We also supplement our diet with the best whole food fruit and veggie supplement I have found. It is not a replacement for eating fruits and veggies, but a nutritional seatbelt for my family. It has many published studies on the benefits of JP+ You can check them out at www.StudiesOnJuicePlus.com. My kiddos love the fruit and veggie gummies! We are a very healthy family and I believe a big part of it is our eating habits + our Juice Plus!
Good luck with your little one and don't give up!

1 mom found this helpful

Definitely don't bride with dessert. I would suggest talking to your childs pediatrician, but mine has told me all along not to offer anything special for her. Don't ask her to "clean" her plate and don't offer dessert if she finishes dinner.
This is what I do. When I make dinner I always put something on the table I know my daughter will eat. For example, mandarin oranges, yogurt, sliced apples, bread/butter. I put a little of everything on her plate and if she won't eat it she doesn't get anything else. Sometimes I'll tell her "no more yogurt until you take a bite of chicken" or something like that and that usually gets her to get a few bites in. And as a rule we don't have "dessert" but once a week I'll let the kids have a popsicle or cookie after dinner.
Kids will eat when they are hungry. You have a lot of suggestions to work with though so good luck! I have a 1 year old that isn't much of an eater but I just keep on trying.... I figure if he's hungry enough he will eat. :-)

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Hi L., my 4 year old is going through this. We make him sit down to eat with us every night for dinner. If he chooses not to eat what we eat he doesn't get dinner and he doesn't get dessert. He gets to decide what his dessert will be each night (I love cooking!) so he knows in advance what dessert will be. I also let him help me cook - it seems to make him want to eat dinner. I also let him eat what we are preparing to eat (I don't care if it is cooked as long as he eats). I also do not let him eat anything after 2:30 pm until our dinner at 5:00pm - except for the prep stuff. It's hard to send your child to bed without dinner because he refuses to eat. As his pediatrician told me, he won't starve himself. He has not lost any weight and he has grown 4 1/2 inches since July. We also only limit his breakfast to a regular child size portion. The way we do this is let him have a 1/4 cup of his dry plain oatmeal (disgusting, but his favorite), a 1/4 cup of plain lowfat yogurt, and then if he is still hungry a 1/4 cup of Cheerios with milk, a piece of fresh fruit (this usually stops him because he doesn't like the next step), and a fresh vegetable. For lunch because he goes to school he gets a cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread (dry because he doesn't like the meat or condiments), fresh fruit, watered down juice (1/2 100% juice and 1/2 water), and some fresh veggies. If he doesn't eat it, that's his choice. He gets two snacks at school and one at home. My point from this long winded tirade is: It's their job to not want to eat well and our job as parents to give them proper food and nutrition. That way when they are old enough to move out, they have the healthy eating habits already ingrained in them.

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