23 answers

My Son Won't Eat!!! - Bellingham,WA

Okay, I know you've heard this all before, but my son is the horrible about eating. His diet would be (if I allowed it all the time) peanut butter and honey sandwiches and when I break down and make it, sometimes he won't even eat that.

The doctor says he's healty and he gets a multi-vit. everyday. I tried the Pedisure thing, but he got to know if he didn't eat he'd get a "milkshake".

My husband works late hours so we never have a chance to sit down as a family. I usually make my son a kid friendly TV dinner, hoping he'd get something in his system.

He doesn't go for hiding the vegs in other food, he just won't eat that either. He's gotten time-outs for screaming and crying at the table about the food, earlier bed times, and even toys taken away, to no avail.

He doesn't get sweets, unless he eats all his meal, then he gets a little dessert. He gets one snack of crackers and juice between breakfast and lunch, hours before.

What more can I do? I'm at a total loss. Please help me!
Thank you!
K. S.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well, I haven't had a chance to try anything yet; it's morning and he eats breakfast just fine. But I will try everything you all say. Thank you all so much for the help. I'll let you know what happens.

Featured Answers

Best thing that my Dr. said years and years ago that really helped me, when my kids only wanted pb&j or mac & cheese was: "They won't starve themselves to death" That really stuck for me. It really is just a faze. Just keep offering the food. He really will eat and eat good when he is hungry. When you don't fuss about it he will relax and it won't be a "power struggle"

1 mom found this helpful

I'd cut out the juice since he doesn't need the sugar, and unless it's tomato juice it doesn't really add much nutritionally.

Then not make it a battle. Serve dinner for both of you. Sit down together for dinner. Talk about nutrition of balancing fruits, vegies, dairy, meat. But if the doctor says he's healthy I wouldn't worry about it. Make simple foods and eat them and enjoy them. And don't let him watch tv while you eat.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

K., if you have checked with your pediatrician and your son is growing properly, then don't worry about it. Kids are pretty good regulators of what their bodies need and they go through phases regarding food intake. Sometimes they eat a ton and you wonder where it's all going, and other times they eat like a bird and you wonder if they are getting enough. If they are hungry, they will eat. If they are thirsty, they will drink. So long as the doc says everything is okay, then try not to make a big deal about it at meal times, just give him his food and let him take care of business (of course with a little encouragement, but no arguing). I bet you anything, pretty soon you won't be able to fill the guy up! Good luck! :)

Me: 35 yo married SAHM of 3 boys...7 1/2, 3 1/2, and 22 months.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with others. Feed your child what you eat. But i do agree with your kid veggies out of TV dinners BLAH. lol.
Some younger kids like ketchup or ranch dressing with everything. Have you tried that yet?
Mine would dip chicken into there ranch dressing. Or ketchup with scrambled eggs. Some like dipping there steak into there gravy/mashed potatoes

1 mom found this helpful

I read something in a book the other day that may help you. The book is called "Making your Children Mind without Losing Yours" by Dr. Leman. It makes a lot of sense and he does cover the picky eater and here's what he suggests you do. (Note: this doctor has many years of experience in private practice and has written several books).

At mealtimes, give your child his food (you may offer 2 choices if you prefer), if he refuses what you are offering then he does not eat, throw it away in front of him. Let him leave the table, go play, whatever - do not punish or yell at him. He'll probably come to you wanting to eat before the next scheduled meal - tell him No, dinner is in a few hours, you'll have to wait until then. He will probably complain, cry, hold his tummy saying he's so hungry BUT you have to stand firm. Going a little hungry will not hurt a 4 year old and he is learning a lesson - he eats what is offered or he goes hungry until the next meal. And when he comes to dinner do the same thing, chances are he'll eat what you offer because he's hungry. And don't make a big deal out his eating his dinner, just accept it like a normal meal. Hope that helps. It's certainly something I would try if my son were to behave like that about meals - he's only 16 months now, so I may still get the chance. :)

1 mom found this helpful

If the peditrician says he healthy, he may not be hungry. If he has leveled off and is not having a growth spurt, he may have a smaller appetite. Write down everything he does eat in a day and then call the peditrician and relay the list to them to see what they advise. If and when he gets hungry he will probably let you know. My oldest, who's now 15, only wanted to eat pb sandwiches when he was 2 for months. It's a good source of protien, so just gave in. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My response is pretty much the same as the others - your son will eat when he's hungry. As long as yoru doctor has ruled out any medical conditions, and he's healthy and growing, he sounds pretty normal to me. My son (same age as yours) will go through periods where he hardly eats anything at all, then there will be a week or two where he'll be eating all day long (which is when I usually assume he's going through a growth spurt). I don't make him anything special (well, okay - sometimes), so if he doesn't eat what we're eating, then he doesn't eat at all...

But yeah - I'd lay off those Pediasure shakes. I'm sure he learned to take advantage of that pretty quickly! Plus I might worry that if he has a few of those a day on TOP of a multivitamin that you might risk his getting too much of certain vitamins (though I don't know exactly what's in Pediasure).

So don't worry! As someone said earlier, your child will not starve himself. He'll eat when he needs to...

1 mom found this helpful


I also have a very picky 4-yr-old, followed by an even pickier 1 1/2-yr-old. The best strategy I've found is just to make sure that most meals contain a "new" food and plenty of healthy choices. I set the timer for 30 minutes, let them eat what they're going to eat and leave it at that. I tried getting angry with my older one, but like you I found no success whatsoever. It's been a very slow process, but once I stopped stressing out about mealtime, so did my son. As long as he's healthy, the doc says try not to stress.

Another thing that helps is to let him watch you make healthy food choices and let him see you enjoying your food. He may even be brave enough to try a bite of mommy and daddy's stuff.

Good luck and stop stressing!

1 mom found this helpful

I'd cut out the juice since he doesn't need the sugar, and unless it's tomato juice it doesn't really add much nutritionally.

Then not make it a battle. Serve dinner for both of you. Sit down together for dinner. Talk about nutrition of balancing fruits, vegies, dairy, meat. But if the doctor says he's healthy I wouldn't worry about it. Make simple foods and eat them and enjoy them. And don't let him watch tv while you eat.

1 mom found this helpful

My son (now 8) went through a picky eating state early on. Our strategy was to not make a fuss about it, but also to not cave in and serve special stuff. We made dinner, which may have included items he "didn't like" or refused to eat. Any whining was mostly dealt with by saying that this is what's for dinner, it's the food on your plate, eat it or don't eat it, but there certainly doesn't need to be any freaking out about it. We didn't make any special food just for him, and other than a rule of trying one bite of everything served, if he didn't eat a certain thing on his plate, or didn't eat anything else, that was fine.

The reality, I find, is that kids will eat when they're hungry. Maybe he's trying to push boundaries for awhile, maybe he's going through a stage or phase where he just isn't intersted in eating or isn't feeling hungry. If your pediatrician says he's healthy, I would just let it go. Offer him nutritious items for snacks and meals, but don't get into a battle over it; that will just escalate the issue into being about who can 'win' the battle - we all know that 4-year olds can be irrationally stubborn! When he's hungry, he'll eat, no matter what you're serving.

Any melt-downs or tantrums should be sent away from the table, I think. Emotions are great and I encourage them, but the family table isn't the place. If he's upset, have him get down and go to his room - not as a punishment, but just as a "hey sweetie, it's okay to be upset, but you need to take it to your room. When you're feeling better, come on back".

I believe that kids are just little bundles of feelings and thoughts and opinions and emotions and they're learning every day to sort through them and figure out who they are. It's our job as parents to provide boundaries, so they feel safe and can clearly see where those limits are and work on keeping themselves within them. Consistency and maintaining your own even, understanding tone is the key! :)

1 mom found this helpful

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