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Kid-Friendly Meals or Eat What I Eat?

I would like to know if I am a mean meal-time Mommy.

My children have become very picky eaters, and my opinion is that my 18 month old and 3 1/2 yr. old should (within reason) have to eat the same meals I prepare for my husband and myself. I especially think they should eat a meal if they have eaten it in the past and liked it. I don't make things that are difficult for them to eat (like steak) and I do not fix foods that I know for a fact they do not like (like broccoli or liver) and if I make something super spicy, I make them a milder version.

However, several of my friends have inadvertantly caused me to think this is cruel and unusual treatment. Even when serving the adults simple chicken dishes, they prepare chicken nuggets, smiley potatoes, etc. for their children. OR they always provide plenty of food their children like along with the meal (like fruit, bread, and cheese). However, the fruit, bread, and cheese end up being the ONLY items the children eat. I don't think this is forming healthy eating habits. The kid-friendly food isn't necessarily bad for them, but doesn't a child need to be exposed to a variety of foods and also taught to eat what is served?

So, should I join the ranks of fish-sticks and ketchup parents or should I stick to my guns and make them eat real food? (By the way, we do occasionally eat pizza, Mc.Donald's, and other kid-happy meals.)

Thanks for your input.

What can I do next?

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It's not often you hear of people sticking to their guns like you, kudos! When I make new meals for dinner, I make the kids try at least five bites (that we scoop). After five bites if they don't like it, I will make them oatmeal, or something quick. Typically though after five bites they forget it's a new meal and eat the whole plate. Yes there will be some nights when they complain about a meal that they don't want to eat, but if they have eaten it before, I just tell them that's all they are getting. If they choose to sit at the table till we are all done eating, but not eat their food that is fine; I don't force them. I also don't give them any snacks after dinner, if they say they are hungary, they get dinner again. And yes, my kids have gone to bed without eating before; no biggie. Oh and by the way, my kids are 3.5 and 2 years and we have been doing this since they started solid foods:)

This was talked about the other day on Dr. Phil who said that if kids don't like what you cook, too bad, but don't worry, they will not allow themselves to starve. So, you are right on the money on this one. I have fussy eaters too, so I know how you feel. My son will throw a complete tantrum when we have something that he has never had before. He has to at least try it and I'm like you, most of my meals are kid friendly anyways. If he continues the tantrum, he gets put in time out.

I agree with you whole heartedly! In fact, my pediatrician has told me the same thing several times.... that they are to eat what we eat, I do not make separate meals for them. They do not get to tell me what they want for dinner (for the most part! :-)). I have some friends that do not do this and listening to their dilemma's about what to make for dinner because child won't eat x,y,z and how frustrating it is makes me very glad that I started from they time they could eat food giving them what we had.

I now have 2 pretty decent eaters (2 & 4) who will eat just about anything that is given to them - especially if we are out someplace. Makes the grandma's really happy when they eat what we are eating!!


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I don't think it's cruel or unusual at all! My kids are 4 & 3, and have been eating what I make for my hubby & I for as long as they were on solids! I think it's much healthier, they get exposed to a wider variety of foods, and I find when we eat with our friends and families, that our kids are ready and willing to try new things, and often like them! Where, the other kids are usually whining and picking at their food, which personally I find quite rude and annoying. My kids know that they must try everything on their plate, if they don't like it this time, it's fine, but they know they are expected to try it if there's a next time, because next time they just might like it! I always am trying new things, and I don't always like them the first time, but our tastes change and develop over time. Plus, I find my kids eat a great variety of fruits and veggies that many of the kids their age won't touch. I think it's much healthier for them and makes my life much easier! I mean, who wants to cook 2 or 3 separate meals? You're not a short order cook! Plus, who wants their kids eating chicken nuggets and tater tots for dinner every night! Then they'll just develop tastes for junk all the time, and it will last into adulthood. I mean, we don't eat the healthiest all the time, we do indulge in the typical 'kid food' once in a while, but they like other things just as much. And, I've read in lots of parenting mags that it might take a kid up to 10 tries before he/she likes a food. In my opinion, it's better to start when they're young instead of when they're like 11 or 12 and have a more rebellious attitude!
:) Good luck, good eating!

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Did your parents do that for you? I doubt because I know my parents didn't do that for and my brother. We would have just gone to bed if we didn't like what was on the table or we could make our own cereal. I do the same with my son, well the going to bed hungry part. He has to at least try everything on his plate several times. I can tell when he's bluffing or not. I have to admit that my son eats what we eat (even steak) and he's 3. The only thing he doesn't really care for is tilapia. I make him try a bite or two and if it's a no go he can have cereal. A healthy cereal like cheerios. Not luky charms or something that is full of sugar. I know that my son will sit and say I don't like this for everything that is on his plate. I say to him yes you do you have had it before, your not getting anything else, now eat. Usually once I call him on his con, he's fine, but he has to try and see how much power he has first ;- )
Good luck & stick to your guns! Your the mommy!

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I agree that you should not have to make separate meals for everyone. Our kids for the most part eat what we eat, and they are also VERY picky eaters. Their tastes also change frequently, and there are things that they whine about eating that they used to like, but they also know (at 6 and 4) that we expect them to eat what we put in front of them. They will try to see what they can get away with, but they know they won't get snacks or treats later when they don't eat dinner. Sometimes they are stubborn and refuse to eat dinner, knowing they won't get anything else for the night, but it is a very rare thing these days. It has gotten better with time.

However, I am willing to make small compromises. They have very different tastes when it comes to vegetables and I will usually provide two veggies and let them choose which ones. That way, they are getting the veggies I want them to have, and still have some choice in the matter. My 1st and 3rd child love rice but my second decided that she hates it now, so I will allow her to have some whole wheat bread in lieu of rice. One of my girls decided she doesn't like sauce on her pasta anymore, so she has to eat extra veggies to make up for it. All of these little things make dinnertime a little less frustrating for me while still getting them the nutrition they need, and I don't have to make different meals for everyone.

So, I agree that you should stick to your guns, but be willing to make small adjustments to what you are serving that will make them want to eat it. One of my friends lets her kids put ketchup on pretty much all of their meat and even some of their vegetables (ugh - does not sound good to me!) because, hey, it gets them to eat it! Good luck - I know what it is like to raise picky eaters and it sounds like you are doing the right things!

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Hey A.,

I tell my 3 year old and 19 month old that "I'm not a short order cook" and serve them pretty much the same thing my husband and I eat. (Hey - we Mamas are busy ladies, why should we make more work for ourselves?!) So far, it's worked well - they are great eaters! I also think that they see me and my husband "modeling" what to eat, if that makes sense? I provide them with a variety of foods, as to offer them choices (I serve them in plastic divided trays, but I heard of a mom using an ice cube tray to offer even more choices to her kids!) and make them feel like they're making the decision on "what to eat". For example, a fruit, veggie, cheese, hummus, raisins, in addition to the main course, such as chicken & rice. Most of the time, they're healthier choices too, so I know they're getting good-for-you-stuff. I also try to expose them to something they don't necessarily eat all the time (like beans - kidney, garbanzo, etc) and if they don't eat it, that's fine, but the more exposure to an item, the more willing they become to try it.
And hey...if they don't eat, they'll be hungry and learn to eat what is served the next meal!

couple of websites I like:


PS. we enjoy our share of McDonald's & pizza too :)

1 mom found this helpful

I make what they love one day a week and otherwise they eat what we eat. Sometimes they only eat a little bit and other times they want seconds, I tell the girls this is what we are having and nothing else try it and eat what you want but this is it. It is not being mean it was the way my mom did it and i learned to like so many more foods because of it. You will drive yourself crazy if you make meals for them and you and anyone else that doesn't like what is for dinner that night!! I even have steak and other adult foods and just help them with the cutting of it and maybe give my youngest ketchup to dip it in but nothing different.

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I say stick to your guns. I have the same rules. I only make what we all like. If I know they didn't like something in the past but daddy and I want it, I make them something they do like.

My **opinion** is that parents are way to lenient with their kids, in general. I know what my kids need to eat, they know what they like to eat...BIG difference! I will never cater to my kids the way the trend seems to lean nowadays. I am responsible for raising my kids into adults, not serving their every whim. You are not being too strict or cruel. The parents who are teaching their kids entitlement and immediate gratification are the ones who are slacking. They are raising spoiled brats.

Sure, kids like junk now and then, but moderation is key. Just take a look at the number of obese children! Those poor kids never even have a chance at normal.


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Obviously, you're doing the right thing and the Mamas are in agreement. Here's a little trick I've tried with my youngest that seems to have made an impression on her. When she sees what's on her plate and tries the "I don't like that" before she even tries it, I remind her what her body is getting from each part of the meal. I say quite simply that "this is your protein, these are full of B vitamins, this is your calcium, etc." We've had the discussion about what her body needs to grow many times. (Since she's the youngest, she looks forward to being "big" like her older siblings.) I say it made an impression on her, because her pre-school teacher told me she was verbally dissecting her lunch for her table mates one day and teaching each of them what her body was getting from her sandwich, her fruit, etc. Kinda cute. Just another thought on the "whys" of eating what Mommy and Daddy eat.

Keep feeding them the good stuff! Regards, L.

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You are doing the right thing. Seriously, why should you feel bad about not giving your kids processed food every night! Of course you shouldn't!

I give my kids what we are eating-- or a version of it. I.e. my 22 mos old can't eat taco shells...so if we have tacos she gets a little meat sprinkled with cheese and tomatoes. We always have fruit with dinner and they can eat as much as they want. If we are having a particular veggie that they don't like (asparagus) I will sometimes let them have carrot sticks. Sometimes I will also supplement with a yogurt. But bascially they with us...

We are responsible for teaching our kids healthy eating habits...and we can't do that with "kid friendly" meals each night. If they are hungry...they will eat!

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Eat what you eat, definatly. Much easier on your food bill! I even give my 6 month old what we are eating (he would not let me have peace otherwise) within reason. My kids, ages pretty near 7, 5.5, and 3.5 eat what we do. I am sure your friends would think this is mean, but if my kids do not eat their food gone, we don't make them sit there and eat it except in very rare instances, but we just put it in the refridgerator. Food is so expensive lately I am not going to give my husbands hard earned money to our dogs b/c my kids are picky. My boys (the 7 year old and 3.5) are good eaters, my daughter is putsy and slightly picky. We don't purposly give them things they don't like, and if we do, it is in a small amount (my older 2 hate Sasla, #3 loves it, so we give the oldest like a small spoonfull) and they need to eat it. I want them to have their fruits and veggies, and like your kids, if all I give them are their "favorites" (bread, fruit and cheese) that would be all they eat. So call people can call my hubby and I mean, but that is tough. Btw, we also do pizza (usually homemade, kids love) McDonalds and such now and then, and hardly any "junk" food, and sweeties are almost always homemade, from scratch.
I do hope this helps and I don't want anyone all mad at me, we do what we gatta do. Our kids are healthy and happy :)

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Lots of great responses! What more can I say??
I totally agree with you and the other Mamas. A family meal is for the entire family ;) Nice job and keep up the good work!

** One note... As part of our meal planning, we just recently started a Kid's Choice Night. One night each month, each child (ages 3 1/2 - 10 y.o) gets to be the "head chef". With Mom or Dad's help, they choose a recipe, plan dinner and assign jobs for their siblings (set the table, help with dishes, etc.). It's a new experiment, but so far it's been fun. I'm pleasantly surprised by their adventurous and healthy choices and love the willingness to help out in the kitchen.

Hi I grew up on a farm, which at the time I hated, not knowing then just how luck I was. If we wanted red potatoes, one of my fav. after school snacks, we had to dig them up, beans, pick them, caretts, lettus, tomatos, ectra. My mother was not a cook, she should have bought more frozen foods. However you sound as tho your a good cook. Quick story, my 6th grader went off to camp, w/ the school, now a 3 day, back in my school yr. 1 wk. anyway, when she returned, she said she could not wait to get home to eat her mother's cooking. The foods they had were fish sticks, nuggets, hot dogs, rairly cooked in our home. Bottom line, you probally make your friends look bad, because you can cook a delishes meal for the whole family. Bon apatete. To answer your question, NO

Dear A.,
No, you are not a mean mommy. "Kid Friendly" food is not necessarily health food. vitamin deficient and overly processed foods place added stress on the body and stunt cell growth. These food are linked to many health problems and learning disabilities such as ADD/ADHD. With high doses of MSG, sodium and fat these foods are also linked to obesity and cancer.(they have found clogged arteries in children as young as 3years old!!!)
A mean mommy would let there children eat whatever they want.
I know kids taste buds are always changing so it is important to let them try things often. They might not like broccoli now, but next year...maybe.
I also know that it makes no difference how healthy the meal is if the kids won't eat it. So what I try to do is, let the kids help plan and if possible prepare the meal. They can't turn their nose up too much if it was their idea.
I know that your kids are still very young but they will be in competition before you know it., and when that happens you can let them compete to see who can come up with the tastiest and healthiest menu. but in the meantime you can make it a rule to always have a "thank you bite". that means that whatever you serve them they have to at least have one bite. and say "thank you that was great!" or "thanks but no thanks." The key is the first bite. allot of times kids just think they don't like something because it"looks funny"
But if they just have one bite, chances are they will have at least three.
your kids are at the perfect age where you can teach them to have a different relationship with food than we had.
teach them that food is for nutrition not for comforting or celebration.
My 10 year old made a face at me for picking a zucchini from my garden for dinner last night. My response to her was, "I don't make dinner to tantalize your taste buds. i make dinner to nourish your body, if it tastes good to you then you got a bonus." LOL...talk about a mean mom :)
Yours in health,
wellness coach ####-###-####

Stick to your guns!!!! Of course! Look, if you're feeding your kids nourishing food, and they haven't had a problem before, you're the parent and it's your job to maintain discipline.
And just for the record, lots of behavioral problems have been linked to diet. So do as much healthy stuff, organic, etc. and it's no one else's business what you feed your family. And the pizza, McD's, etc are like rewards and a day off. Nothing wrong with that.

A.; i raised three boys well still raising, hahah they ate what i fixed as a family , i was raised in a family wehre my mom could not afford good food for all of us five kids so dad got steak and we got hotdogs, and this made us feel unworthy to eat the same and i swore i would not do that to my kids, besides its ok if dad eats the chicken nuggets and smiley potatoes too, my kids ate what we ate and had to have at least one bite of everything then cuold have seconds if they finished their one bite portion, that way it taught them to eat what is put in front of them, after all it helps them to see food is important, and it is proper manners to eat what is served to you , its ok too if they are not feeling well to give special food to maybe one, its ok to treat them as equal, and its ok for us adults to eat what they eat too, what does a family mean ? does it mean you all get your own way and do what you please ? or doyou work together and share? you are NOT a mean mom for keeping life simple for yourself and to let your kids know they are just as important as the adults, of course you would chop the food up smaller and smush it more so, and with broccoli i know is not an issue but serve it with cheese poured over it, its really yummy, just have fun and enjoy dinner times together, my kids did not suffer because they ate what i ate, and today they are mannered when served food at someone elses house, be happy and be a happy family , teach togetherness, not ok mommy will give ou what ever you want, which is not wrong either, what ever works for you , but its really nice to have everyone eating same meal, and dont forget dad and mom can eat their kind of food too once in a while, if the kids are having smiley potatoes, why not everyone, except for smile in your hubbys, make a heart!! or your initials, just enjoy D. s

Hi A.,
As long as your child doesn't have any intolerances (lactose/dairy/cheese etc) or allergies (egg/fish/wheat/nut/gluten etc) I would agree with the 2 previous posts. Kids can eat what you eat once you start making something different you have to keep it up to keep the peace. Two of my sons sre allergic to almost everything so I make seperate meals for them but everyone else gets what we get (I have 5 kids)...hope this helps

I'm with you. I would never think about making a seperate dinner for the kids. If my kids don't like it, then they leave the table hungry. I do end up giving them a healthy snack later, making sure they don't realize they get something different if they just complain. My 2 year old eats village salad almost every single day. She asks for more onions after she eats them out. My kids eat salmon, all vegetables, and snack on fruit during the day. I do let them have an occasional McDonalds meal. But make sure I tell them the rest of the day they need to make sure they eat lots of veggies and fruit, because McDonalds doesn't have enough healthy vitamins and minerals in it. I say trust your gut. You know kids that don't get enough veggies and fruits are sick with colds, viruses, etc. more often. You don't want to have to deal with that! Keep up the good work!

I don't think you are cruel. I agree with you on this subject. Childhood obesity & diabetes are at an all time high so those people who only feed their kids fish-sticks & McDonald's are only hurting their children. This is how I do it: On average, we have 3-4 nights a week that we have "kid food", all other nights, we have "mom (or dad) food". The thing is, "kid food" consists of spaghetti, tator-tot casserole (made with ground turkey, tator-tots, cream of chicken soup, and cream corn). I only serve up hot dogs or chicken nuggets every couple of weeks so they always think it's a treat when they get it. I use those kinds of foods when I'm in a big hurry and I have to get the kids fed quickly. Also, every meal, whether a "mom's food" or "kid's food" meal get a vegetable to go along with it. They don't always like my foods (which aren't weird foods...steak, baked chicken, pork chops), but they have to eat a set amount of bites (but all their veggies) to get a nighttime snack. I always tell them that they don't have to eat it, but if they don't...No snack! That usually inspires them to get it down.

Just a little about our situation: We adopted a sibling group 3 years ago. They are now 13, 11 & 6. Prior to us, they only ate ramon noodles, chicken nuggets & hot dogs. They had never eaten a veggie. We've come a long way. I also explain to them why our bodies need the things they do. I use a car as an example to explain it. Like, what happens if you don't put gas in your car? It won't run, right? Well, your body needs fiber-that is your body's gas. What happens when you don't put oil in your car? The motor will seize up. Meat, fish, nuts, healthy oils...they are your body's oil. You get the picture.

Also, for my little one (who struggles the most) I say things like "Don't eat your veggies cause I want you to stay little". As soon as I turn away, his daddy sneaks him veggies so he can be big and go on daddy's harley with him. He thinks he's totally tricking me. When he outgrows things I say (suspiciously) "you aren't eating veggies are you?". Reverse phychology is a beautiful thing :)

Hope that helps.


Stick to your guns, mom! You're doing the right thing! I do not prepare several meals because I am not a short order cook. If the kids are hungry, they will eat and they are not going to starve. It's more important that they eat healthy, good food-it's good for them now while they are growing, as well as setting up good habits for when they get older.
I've always made my daughter (5yrs) the same food as my husband and I, and with the exception of a few things that she just doesn't like she eats the same as us. That's not to say that she doesn't complain and say that she doesn't like some of the meals that I make and that she won't eat them...but, she then turns around and eats it anyway...
So, my advice would be-don't listen to the complaining and do what is best for them and offer good, healthy food.
Good Luck Mom! :)

Hi A.,
First, you are not a "mean meal mama"! I do the same thing with my daughter and our meals. If she doesn't like something (she has to at least try one bite), I will let her eat what she does like from her plate and offer her a snack later of her choice...no candy though. How else did you learn that you liked something different if you never got to try it right? Keep doing what you are doing and don't sweat it. Good luck!

This was talked about the other day on Dr. Phil who said that if kids don't like what you cook, too bad, but don't worry, they will not allow themselves to starve. So, you are right on the money on this one. I have fussy eaters too, so I know how you feel. My son will throw a complete tantrum when we have something that he has never had before. He has to at least try it and I'm like you, most of my meals are kid friendly anyways. If he continues the tantrum, he gets put in time out.

Keep doing what you are doing... there is no reason why they need "special" food. You are helping your kids in the long run, as well as immediately with healthier meals than fries, hot dogs, fish sticks all the time.
Stick to your guns, good job !!

Stick to your guns girl! You're not the food nazi, you're creating good eating habits for your children. Better to fight these battles at this young age then try to teach teenagers, or young adults who are obese, to eat healthy foods. This formative time is when their taste buds are being developed and TRAINED.

My daughter ate ANYTHING I gave her until we moved when she was 15 months old. Suddenly she became picky. Well, we didn't give in, and she's overall a very good eater. When she gets picky (she's 2.5 now) we let her know that she needs to eat what's on her plate on her own or we will be assisting her (she wants to be independent). Often she pulls it together and eats it, but other times we have to help. It only takes one or two forced bites and she realizes she IS GOING to eat the food, so its best to cooperate. Sometimes she just wants the attention from us. People are always amazed that my child will eat vegetables and will finish her plate. But that's not an accident. I certainly don't force her to eat foods that she truely hates and that make her gag, but I don't think kids should have a wide range of foods they hate. Many times she refuses to eat something and when I make her try it she likes it and keeps asking for more.

We don't do any of the "kid friendly" junk food meals (except when traveling and need to do fast food - though usually we can do taco bell or something unfried) because they lack nutritian, so why get used to eating that stuff. Yes we do eat pizza ocassionally, but it has lots of vegetables on it. I just think its important for kids to get used to having fruit or vegetables at each meal. Something they'll feel they've missed out on if its lacking. Its just a training process, so keep at it and ignore these people who try to make you feel like you're a mean parent for not feeding your child a diet that will make them obese one day.

You are absolutely not give in! My son is very picky (4 in Nov) and my daughter is not picky (3 in April). My son used to only eat chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, french fries and peanut butter sandwiches. Finally, when he decided he didn't want to eat Mac and cheese or nuggets, I started giving him food I made for the rest of us. He was told he had to eat 5 bites of everything we put on his plate, if he liked it, he needed to eat more, if not, he could have a sandwich. Nothing special. If he refused to try it, we left the plate at the table until he got up ... his pediatrician recommended putting the food in a Tupperware container (yes, I buy Tupperware) lol and put it in the fridge and refuse to give him anything other than water or a small piece of fruit for the rest of the night. Eventually, he figured it out that he needs to at least try the food we put in front of him. He still has some problem with meat, but he loves tacos (buy ortega mild seasoning) and he loves my homemade spaghetti (email me for the recipe) ... he spent 2 nights with my mom and last night ate 2 big plates of spaghetti. Good luck!

Hi A.,
I'm with you, my kids eat what we eat. You sound exactly like me. If we have mexican I just make theirs less spicy but other than that they eat what we eat. We had a christmas party last year and one of my friends asked me what the kids were going to eat (she had hers over too). I told her what we eat and she was amazed my kids would eat everything we were. We had hummus for an appetizer then had steak, lobster risotto and broccoli. Well she was a little mad and said her kids can just eat bread. LOL!! I ended up baking a couple of chicken breasts (which her kids wouldn't eat either) and thought that was good. My kids do eat alot of things that other kids might not but that's because it's all that's been offered. They know that if they don't eat dinner they'll be hungry. For lunch it's a different story. I'll usually do something "kid friendly" because I usually just have a salad. Stick to your guns. You're doing a good thing.

Hi A.,

I don't think that you are being unreasonable. As a parent what I try to do is fix more kid friendly lunches and snacks such as chicken nuggets, corn dogs, pb&j, and etc.. with in reason. I think that it is important to give our children guidelines within reason. If you are making seperate meals or modifying your meals when necessary I feel that is great. I don't think you should have to make seperate meals for your children and seperate meals for you and your husband on a regular basis. It sets the kids up to believe that don't have to eat what is served and they may begin to start becoming even more picky. I think you are doing the right thing. What happens when they go and visit family or friends if you start serving them different meals. Will they eat there or will they expect to get served what they request? In the long if you stick firm to how you are feeding your children it will most likely be easier in the long run. That is what I have experienced with my children. Family members comment all the time how great my children eat and it makes things a little easier when or if you ever need a sitter. Sorry for being so lengthy but I have experienced the same feedback before. Keep up the good work!

My kids eat what we eat. I make them eat at least 10 bites of what we're having. (Slight adjustments made if we're having salad - they get more toppings, less lettuce, or if we're eating spicy foods - they get less spice.) After the 10 bites, if they are still hungry they can help themselves to fruit from the fruit bowl. We have a lot of conversations about "this is what we're eating for dinner" and "the kitchen is closed after you take your plate to the sink". My kids are 2.5 and 5. But, we're on the same page as you and my kids are great eaters.

It's not often you hear of people sticking to their guns like you, kudos! When I make new meals for dinner, I make the kids try at least five bites (that we scoop). After five bites if they don't like it, I will make them oatmeal, or something quick. Typically though after five bites they forget it's a new meal and eat the whole plate. Yes there will be some nights when they complain about a meal that they don't want to eat, but if they have eaten it before, I just tell them that's all they are getting. If they choose to sit at the table till we are all done eating, but not eat their food that is fine; I don't force them. I also don't give them any snacks after dinner, if they say they are hungary, they get dinner again. And yes, my kids have gone to bed without eating before; no biggie. Oh and by the way, my kids are 3.5 and 2 years and we have been doing this since they started solid foods:)

It's a great goal to have your kids eat the same meal you eat (and you shoiuld keep trying to reach that goal), but it is unrealistic to believe you are going to always get that kind of cooperation from a 1 and 3 year old.I still have a hard time with my 8 and 9 year olds because their tastes have changed over time. In fact, my 20 month old eats better than the two of them.

You don't have to offer fish sticks and smiley fries, but why not try a balance and keep it realistic. Tastes, colors and textures all play a huge role in what kids like, so you have to offer a variety (including fruit, bread and cheese) if you want your kids to eat. Always offer and encourage what you (the adults) are eating by putting it on their plates and asking that they at least try everything, but I know that I was forced to eat/finish zucchini as a kid and to this day i cannot stand it or anything else from the squash family. My son actually threw up a chicken dish I forced him to eat once many years ago and peas make him literally gag. I can no longer even make the dish (chicken satay) because he is so haunted by even the smell.
So I say don't 'force' them to eat/finish anything, but ask them to try it and encourage them to try to stick with it. Offer only real food in your house (not processed), but make it a variety every night of "your" food and some of "theirs" (fruit, etc.). They are still so young, give it time and they will begin to like new foods.
As a sidenote, my nine year old used to eat everything when he was 1/2/3 from toboulleh/hummus to salad and pasta/meat sauce. Now at nine he won't touch any of those things. Kids are ever-changing. I think asking them to just "try it" and offering only real foods is a balanced solution.

I agree with you. When i met my husband, his son turned 2 soon after. And when I cooked, he ate what we ate. I told my husband then that I would never be a mother that cooked seperate meals for the kids. I know some people that do that and when we do there, it's frustrating for us. They make the kids eat first, and then serve others the other food. my kids know that we all eat together, and eat the same foods.

I do keep chicken nuggets and tator tots, and fish sticks around, but those are used for lunch time meals, or when we want quick things. I have found that my kids ask for these items very little. The one time they actually complained.

If your kids always eat the same things, they won't ever learn about different foods. I would say keep doing what your doing. I would come up with a clever comment to say to people that tell you that you should feed your kid the same thing all the time.

Hi A.,

According to some of the books/websites I've read, you are doing the right thing to attempt to curve their being picky eaters. What they said was, you tell the kids "This is what we are having for dinner tonight." If they don't eat, ok. Eventually they will get hungry and they will eat.
They do recommend though that you do the same thing you are doing, prepare foods that you know they can/have/will eat.

Good luck! My son is already a picky eater, bummed because as a baby he ate everything!

I think you should stick to your guns. There is no reason why kids can't eat the same meal as adults, within reason. People who continue to cook special meals for their kids as they become toddlers and older are only setting themselves up for more work and hassle. I know families who are having a very difficult time getting their kids to eat anything but pizza and fish sticks. This is also contributing to their kids being overweight which is another awful issue to have to deal with so young.

My daughter is 1.5 and doesn't have very many teeth yet. For the most part, we feed her what we eat or if we're at a party what they are serving. But if I know there won't be enough softer items, I do add on some other items just for her. And she's a great eater. I can't think of hardly anything that she doesn't like. And she always wants to try what the adults are eating. Hopefully this will continue.

My 2 cents...

I think you are totally in the right. Those who "cater" to their kids now are going to find they will have to continue when the kids are older. Children need to be introduced to some foods up to 21x before they will eat it - but they will not starve. If they get hungry enough, they will eat it. I used to do child care and I had a child who would not eat one of the meals I had made (I can't remember what it was). His mother told me to put that plate in front of him three meals a day until he at least tried to eat some of it. I felt bad, and soon found that he did eat it and he enjoyed it once he tried it.

Stick to your "guns" - your kids will be all the better for it! :-)

You go girl! I am completely with you on this one. We also have never given the opportunity for our kids to have something different than what the family eats each night. Of course there are certain foods that they don't like, but we always heard that it takes like 21 tries of a food to decide if you like it or not. We kept trying when the kids were babies and now all three kids love fruits and vegetables. My kids fight over the salad at the dinner table! My sister's kids, on the other hand, have never had to eat what's been placed in front of them and have always had chicken nuggets or hot dogs. That makes for difficult dinners when they come to my house, as I don't serve them differently. Anyways, stick to your guns...you're doing a great job!


Of course this is a personal choice, but I rarely made different foods for my kids. They ate what we ate or didn't eat. They are not going to starve, they will eat it if they are hungery. I grew up in a house hold that if you didn't eat it for dinner it was there in the morning for breakfast ( I never went that far), but if they didn't eat what was on the table they didn't eat for the rest of the night. If they said they were hungry I offered them what was for dinner.

They are both adults now and have the choice to leave if they don't like what is for dinner. But my oldest gf has children and that is the model they follow also.
Again it is a personal choice, and all the frozen chicken nuggets and smiling face fries are really all that healthy anyways.

Good luck and do what is in your heart.

Stick to your guns!! I have recently done the same in my home. We have 4 children (3 eating food) 7,5,and 3. I will try new foods too!! They have to try it. If I know they don't like something ie. my 7 year old hates couscous while the others love it. I will sub her for a slice of bread with butter or any pasta leftover in the fridge. I do admit that I do plan my meals around things they like but we are definetly not eating nuggets!! I would suggest keeping in the fridge leftover pasta(plain keeps better) and plain cooked rice , if your kids like that. Paired with a cheese stick and fresh carrots sticks its a meal to fall back on. I also let the kids do a little meal prep, they are usually more excited to eat what they make. Your kids are a bit young so you could keep it real simple or make them you tasters!!
Good Luck T. K

Hi! Definitely stick to your guns! You are making an excellent choice in giving your kids healthy variety and balance in their diet. That is NOT being mean. What you end up with if you don't ensure that they eat "non-kid" food is an adult with horrible eating habits. I have a friend, "John", whose mother never wanted to hear her little prince unhappy, so she never gave him anything to eat that challenged him at all. He is now a 32 year old man who eats nothing but fried chicken, bacon, hamburgers and french fries! Occasionally he'll eat iceberg lettuce when he's feeling adventuresome. I'll invite him and his wife over for dinner and he has to bring a bag of drive thru food because he won't eat what I'm serving. I love this couple and I fear for his long term health.
Conversely, my policy with my kids has always been, for dinner, they eat what I have prepared for myself and my husband. Now I have a 10 and 8 yr. old who love to try new foods, eat a greatly varied diet, and are healthy. My 8 yr. old will ask me when I'll make brussel sprouts or sushi again!
There is a terrible trend in our society to avoid standing up to children at all costs. If we give in on something as basic as food what else do we give in on? Don't let your friends make you feel bad. It sounds like you're a good mom!

You are absolutely doing the right thing. When you cater to the kids and make them a different meal every night, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of doing this with them. They need to learn young that they eat what is offered, and they aren't getting a special meal just for them every night. You dont want to be a slave to your kitchen, making one or more seperate dinners every night, because this one doesn't like this, and that one doesn't like something else. It doesn't end when they hit a certain age, it is something that by doing, you teach them they deserve, and it very quickly gets overwhelming to even make a family meal when you are making something different for everyone every night. Not to mention what happens if you go to dinner at someones house, are you going to bring seperate food for the kids to prepare there? I know it's a simple question, but after having 6 kids, and half of them being picky eaters, it was what i had to do to stay sane LOL. If they dont like what I make, they can make themselves a sandwich, but mom cooks one meal a night, and that has been our rule through the years. It led to them trying new things, and actually finding they liked stuff they thought they wouldn't. Mine are grown up now, and starting to have kids of their own, so it will be interesting to see how they handle this in the coming years hehe

I think you're absolutely right to serve your kids what you eat. I do exactly the same with my kids and have done since they were babies, I just used to put it in the blender (obviously no salt or spices when they were babies). It is much healthier to eat "grown up" food rather than chicken nuggets, potato smiles etc (my kids don't even like potato smiles lol). They need a variety of foods and they need to be taught early about healthy eating. If you make them separate meals when will it stop, they will expect that from you. I do also make chicken nuggets or fish sticks etc sometimes, but again we all eat it, not just the kids. There are few foods they do not like and I do not force them to eat foods I know they don't like. My youngest goes to preschool and his teacher says he is the best eater there, if they are trying something new they give it to him first because they know he'll try anything and then the other kids are more likely to follow.
I think you're doing a great job in setting an example of healthy eating. :)

It is NOT wrong to make your kids eat what you prepare for you and your husband. It's the "new" thing to prepare a separate dish for your kids, but we ate what our parents prepared and they ate what their parents prepared. If you have time to prepare a separate dish and you want to do that, then great, but if not then you're doing nothing wrong. In fact, seems like if you prepare a separate dish for them then when you go to family or friends' for dinner then your kids won't behave at meal time properly since they'll expect their own meal. Also, seems like it would encourage their picky behavior. Don't feel bad at all for what you're doing!

I agree with you whole heartedly! In fact, my pediatrician has told me the same thing several times.... that they are to eat what we eat, I do not make separate meals for them. They do not get to tell me what they want for dinner (for the most part! :-)). I have some friends that do not do this and listening to their dilemma's about what to make for dinner because child won't eat x,y,z and how frustrating it is makes me very glad that I started from they time they could eat food giving them what we had.

I now have 2 pretty decent eaters (2 & 4) who will eat just about anything that is given to them - especially if we are out someplace. Makes the grandma's really happy when they eat what we are eating!!


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