40 answers

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?

Featured Answers

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!!


More Answers

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!

2 moms found this helpful

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!

1 mom found this helpful

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!

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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.


1 mom found this helpful


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.

1 mom found this helpful

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!

1 mom found this helpful

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.