19 answers

My 5 Year Old Refuses to Eat

Hi, my 5 year old refuses to eat nearly everything I put in front of him. He likes Hamburger Helper, PB&J, Hamburgers, Tacos, Macaroni, Chicken Nuggets and fries. Other than that he won't eat. I have made him sit there "until the food is gone" but he will just put the food in his cheek and let it turn to mush. I finnally will just let him spit it out. I have taken things away, and I will not make him a seperate meal. He will gag at the table or even puke on his plate. He will tell me he doesn't like what I've made before he even knows what it is. He also tells me how disgusting my food that I do make is. I have two younger children a girl 3 and a boy 2. The 2 year old has started repeating things my 5 year old says. I don't know what to do!

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Featured Answers

Another great book addressing the issue of picky eating: "Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater." The website is very helpful as well> http://www.BabyBites.info

The book corporates multi-sensory learning with mealtimes.

More Answers

My son has done the same thing at times. I just make sure his portions are smaller then what I would eat. He will tell me he doesn't like something and I will ask him to have 4 bites of each thing on his plate. Most of the time he will eat everything. There are times he doesn't but he knows he can get anything else unless he has eaten some dinner. I would try having your son eating so many bites each time. Good luck.

Have you tried having your 5 yo help out with dinner? Maybe if he participates, he will be more apt to eat the food. It's worth a try. Plus, it will be an opportunity for bonding time between you two.

Here are my 2 cents (for what they're worth!). If you have dinner ready on the table & he doesn't want to eat it... fine. Excuse him from the table, but remind him to behave while you (and everyone else) are eating. No disruptions - play quietly, read books, etc in another room. No exceptions!
He can eat (what you made) or not, but make it clear that it is his choice. Make up a plate for him and put it in the fridge - if and when he wants food, there it is. Basically, put him in charge of when he eats but keep control over what he eats.
Maybe sit with him sometime without food and say something like 'I love you and was worried about what you eat. But I decided that I'm not happy when I bug you and you're not happy when I bug you so I'm going to quit doing that. You don't have to eat with us, but I won't make special food. You will have to behave better - no more disrespectful comments or xxx.'
Do not give in and make something different. Do not allow misbehavior - the talking badly about your food thing has to stop before your other kids really start to take after him. Make sure he understands that the consequences (time out or whatever) are for talking disrespectfully, nothing to do with food!
Whatever you decide to do, good luck! :)

A., It is time to teach your son to respect women. It start with mom. You have 2 issues. First, he doesn't give you the respect that you deserve. You are his mother and he does not have the right to say ugly things about you or the foods you prepare. At our house, children are allowed to say, I wouldn't care for any. If it is a new food, they are required to eat (and swallow) one tsp. of it, with no nagging. They absolutely may NOT say "This is Yucky." or "I don't like it." Only, I wouldn't care for any. This makes meal time SO pleasant. And it teaches them an important life skill.

Secondly, I see that everything your son likes has MSG in it. Please research the dangers of MSG, It is a long term toxin and it is addictive. I would suggest getting him and the rest of your family off of MSG. Then, cook some good foods, that are home made. Offer your son food for 30 minutes at meal time. Have everyone at the table and set a timer. After the timer goes off, no more food is served. They may finish what is already on their plates. (I know this seems regimented, but it is temporary and it WORKS)
Anyway, after the timer, nobody gets any food until the next regular mealtime, except raw veggies and water. Keep a cup with raw veggie sticks in a bit of water to keep them fresh, allow the children access to these veggies all the time and when they want juice or milk, give them only water, between meals. Within one month, you will find that you will have no whining or complaining about food, the msg addiction will be gone and your children will have healthy appetites.

Note: If your child says that the food is yucky, sweetly take it away, saying,"We do not disrespect mommy by talking badly about the food. I will take your food away now. you may have all the raw veggies you would like until
(Next meal time)" Be absolutely consistent, absolutely kind and I guarantee you will see results.

Also, when your child stops fighting you with food, you can lose the mealtime timer. Only bring it back if he relapses.

This process has totally reformed our mealtimes and the health of our children. I hope you can try it. Remember, never feel guilty for offering fresh raw foods and clean water to your child, that is the premo stuff, in spite of what we have allow them to get accustomed to.
Mom of 8 ages 5 to 25

Poor kid-- sounds a lot like mine. If his jaw strength is weak, or his tongue isn't helping the food process, he won't be able to eat more textured food. What worked for us was getting "Feeding Therapy" from a speech language pathologist. In some areas, an Occupational Therapist offers this service. I suggest you call around and see if there is anyone in your area who works with kids and schedule an evaluation. Made a huge difference for us!

I have a very similar 6 year old who has a very limited idea of what foods she likes. However, I have recently had much success. I have been serving her very small portions (1-2 bites of everything) and requiring that all the food be eaten before she is served anything else. I do not make her eat it, I even tell her she doesn't have to eat it, HOWEVER, I will NOT give her anything else to eat until she has finished what is on her plate. I then continue to serve that plate of food until she has indeed finished everything on her plate. We have been doing this for the last 3 months and while initially it was rough; she once went 2.5 days without eating anything as she did not want to eat 3 bites of eggs, that was the longest and only multi-day battle we have had and she did indeed eat the eggs of her own free will and now is a huge fan of eggs (go figure). In the last few days I am happy to report she has happily tried chilli, chicken tortilla soup, potatoes au gratin, salmon, garlic bread, and a new cereal; all without even a world of battle. The key was to take the fight out of the situation. I never once told her she has to eat it, I simply didn't and wouldn't serve anything else. We also discussed how I have never once served anything to make her sick and how I really attempt to serve healthy foods so even if she doesn't love the taste, it is good to eat foods as times because they are healthy for her. If you do try this you have to be totally committed and willing to let your child go hungry, he won't let himself starve, he will eventually eat. Make the portions small, you can always give more if they like it!!

Another great book addressing the issue of picky eating: "Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater." The website is very helpful as well> http://www.BabyBites.info

The book corporates multi-sensory learning with mealtimes.

My 4.5 year old eats even less - or so it always seems. Rice, beans, chicken nuggets, and other "kid food." Anything new he is presented with he will respond "I don't like that" and refuse it. Our rule is he has to have one (very, very small) bite of everything on the table. I don't expect him to like it, and I don't ever ask him to clean his plate, but he does have to try it. We also enforce no nasty comments about food until after he tries it - so if he says "I don't like that" I ask him if he has tried it and he says no, and then I respond with, "then you can't not like it, as you just don't know." We try to make sure at least some portion of every meal he will eat - so if we make chicken we also make rice or some side that he will eat. He tries the chicken, and mainly eats the rice. We will not make him a separate meal and do not allow snacks if he flatly refuses to eat the meal.

I tend to think of it as, if he was an adult and he refused a meal because he did not like it, would you push him to eat it anyway? Even if it made him sick? I know I have refused some things for dinner because they don't taste good, and I want to respect that my children have opinions too. Just so long as they try it first! Oh and a good book we found on trying to get kids to at least try new stuff was Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater.

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