July 21, 2009,
S.G. asks from Brockton, MA on July 20, 2009
Need Ideas on How to Get a Picky Eater (4 Year Old Almost 5) to Try New Foods
I need help. My son only eats chicken nuggets, spaghetti,rice and crackers. He drinks all kinds of juices, milk, and water. He is not open to trying anything else really. When he does, it is just licks the fork or spoon. He does not eat any sweets at all. I have tried and but have given up. He is going to be 5 years old. My husband and I would like to start taking him to restaurants other than Wendy's and Burger King. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you!
1 mom found this helpful
J.B. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
we have picky eaters here.
at my house- i make dinner and whats for dinner is dinner. and the rule here is they have to at least try a bite. if you dont like it - thats fine - but you need to taste one bite. no if ands or buts.
i'm not running a restaurant - whats for dinner, is dinner. but i always make sure there is something on the plate they will eat. so say i make grilled chic, a veggie and a fruit -i know they will at least always eat the fruit so they wont go hungry. also i really think no child will let themselves starve. they will eat when they are hungry.
and i would nix the whole fast food thing too if possible.
A.R. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
My 4.5 year old has always been a picky eater and seems to be getting pickier as she grows older! So I try to vary what I put on her plate. For instance, she eats one egg everyday but she can choose how she wants it. So one day, it's an omlette, the next day it could be scrambled, the other day it could be sunny side up, etc. If she doesn't want a particular food, I tell her to taste it at least once and if she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to eat anymore. And usually she will take that one bite. If you keep presenting these options, hopefully, one day your son will eat more than that one bite. Take him to restaurants and show him the menu - the pictures are always very attractive so they might entice him to try something different. If he can't quite read yet, then read him the menu options that you'd like him to try (don't read the ones you don't want him to have!). Hope this helps. Good luck.
D.B. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
My stepdaughter's son was like this, and I have to say that, the older and bigger he got, the more malnourished and moody he got. He was eating enough quantity, but not enough variety. So I commend you for working to take a look at this. My friend is a kindergarten teacher and sees more and more behavioral & focus issues with kids the more junk they eat and the pickier they are.
For starters, you can switch to really healthy alternatives of the foods he eats. You can make your own chicken nuggets with white meat chicken and a breading of wheat germ and ground flax seed (you can find it in the grocery store marked as ground flax seed or flax meal). Dip the chicken in egg and then in the breading, fry up in canola or olive oil until crispy on both sides, then finish in the oven. This gives healthy fats and no salt, although if you have to add a little salt for flavor, it's not the end of the world. Then you can switch the pasta and rice to whole grain pasta and brown rice. Even if you have to go half & half to start, that's fine.
You can look into cookbooks such as Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious - the libraries will have them. My son was a horrendous eater - we joked that he only ate "tan food" - PB, nuggets, crackers, fries. We couldn't even get him to eat at McDonald's although I felt guilty about even pushing him to do this! We did all kinds of sneaky things (before these cookbooks came out!) like putting soy powder in the batter and going for really healthy breads. I made pancakes with added wheat germ and oatmeal and soy milk. When my husband and I would make steamed vegetables, we saved the water in the bottom of the pot and used it for rice or couscous - no sense wasting those vitamins. That nice "green water" was fully absorbed in the rice our son ate. He also ate zucchini bread and banana bread. Kids also like to dip foods - raw veggies in ranch dressing, or in hummus, can be fun as well as healthy.
You also can continue to offer a variety of foods with meals, and you should. Research shows that kids need to try a new food at least 6-8 times before acquiring a taste for it. Don't offer him large quantities of the foods he loves - offer a little and offer some additional alternatives. A child of 5 will not starve if he misses a meal or two. You need to be firm about loving him and caring about him and making sure he knows that this is the reason you are expanding his diet. I would steer away from restaurants at this point - let him get the variety at your house rather than take a chance on an unfamiliar place. Offer foods, and try to get him to try them. If he is "done", then take the plates away and announce that dinner is over and it's time for story or bath or whatever. If he is still hungry, put the same food out again! That's dinner! It can also be breakfast the next day.
So, you have to strike a balance between giving him the foods that he wants, making healthier versions of the foods that he likes, and introducing new foods either directly or in hidden form. The key is NOT to make mealtime a battleground - you have to try (I know it's hard) to take your emotions out of it and not engage in any of his tantrums or drama. Be matter of fact and balanced.
I would also take away any purely junk food at this point until you get more balanced nutrition in him. Cut back on the juices if they are filling him up with too much sugar.
Lastly, consider an outstanding nutritional supplement which can be put in the many of the liquids he drinks. It's made by the same scientist who came up with ProSoBee infant formula and who is world renowned in the area of pediatric liquid nutrition. It's called Now for Kids and it's a whole food, contains vitamins and minerals and trace elements that we don't get from our food anymore (even if we eat perfectly), and it also has key elements like omega 3s and DHA which are essential for healthy brain development. It's made here in the US under strict standards, and it's an incredible bargain when you consider that it is so highly absorbable that nothing is wasted. It's available through distributors who will give you great support and help. Contact me for more info if you like. You will see a huge difference in your child with immediate nutrition while you continue to try to introduce new foods. He'll be more agreeable once he's better nourished with things his body craves. I've seen tremendous changes in our family and want to pay it forward by helping others.
L.D. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
HI. I have 3 kids all with different tastes. My 5 yo is the pickiest. Some kids will try new things if they have dip(ketchup.ranch dressing,sour cream,etc) but my picky one will not. I always put a tiny bit of everything on her plate. sometimes she eats it, sometimes not. I figure it is aworth a shot. Have you tried making a sticker chart- each time he tries something-gets a sticker and at the end of a week,maybe a small reward or a trip to special playground? How about making the lates look fun-funny face(chicken for mouth,brocolli eyes,potato nose and salad hair? my kids love that. Also in a restaurant, my kids tend to try new things. I think with most kids it is all in the presentation...make it look fun or festive. Good luck. I know it is tough but i just try new things.
L.S. answers from New London on July 20, 2009
I would start by serving him one nugget or two and whatever you eat for dinner. Do this every night. When he is hungry he will eat it. Don't take him to fast food places anymore. If he is not given the options he will eat what is given to him. Don't make a big deal out of it, just say, this is all we have. Don't give him any juice with dinner because they tend to just drink the juice and they fill up. What does he eat for breakfast. My son eats oatmeal, babyfood like peaches or pears mixed in with yogurt. This has been really nutritious for him. If I give him too much juice or milk during the day, he will not eat dinner and he will only eat nuggets, etc. Or you can also try serving him what you eat and then if he doesn't eat it, you can tell him if he eats 5 bites he can have 3 chicken nuggets or some spaghetti. Bribing may work. Always serve him what you eat for dinner and a couple of options ... rice, chicken, green beans. They deceptively delicious recipe book is also something you may consider. You hide all sorts of good for you veggies in things like mac and cheese, spaghetti with veggies, even cookies. good luck!!
P.M. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
are our sons twins? My son doesn't eat anything either. he will eat applesauce,cereal, crackers,chips, fruit snacks, and the chicken nuggets. He drinks milk and a little bit of water. It's sohard to get him to eat anything. My son is on the autism spectrum and it's kind of normal for kids like him to like only particular foods. My son will be 5 in Nov. At this poing we'll be serving chicken nuggets at his wedding.
My husband and I just keep offering different things to him.He helps us cook sometimes which is progress for him because a year ago he wouldn't touch certain foods. I don't want to makeeating and trying new foods a battle an have hi resent trying thngs even more than he does now. I'm sorry I don't have any great suggestions for you. There's the book the Sneaky Chef that shows you how to add certain ingredients to make food healthier. I haven't treid it because the foods my son eats is so limited that none of them would work
J.B. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
A healthy child won't starve themselves. It is hard to see kids eat very little (or nothing at all), but it is sometimes true that they are just not hungry. And sometimes they are just stubborn. But if you mainly provide healthy foods and don't let them fill up on unhealthy options, eventually they are hungry enough to eat the good food - and do eat it. My son loves yogurt and we'll often say that he can have yogurt if he eats the new food on his plate...we've had some success with that option.
D.M. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
My daughter has been drinking smoothies, yogurt, banana, and a fruit in a blender. It doesn't help with the Fast Food options, but some places do have them when you're out and about and he only wants those choices or liquid.
K.H. answers from Boston on July 21, 2009
Your son sounds like my 4 year old daughter. One idea a mom gave me (which unfortunately didn't work for us) is to do yogurt smoothies. She used to make strawberry smoothies and add an entire can of green beans to the mix. As long as her son couldn't see her do it, he never noticed they were there. This is one way to sneak in some veggies, as long as your son will drink the smoothie. My daughter wouldn't even try it... even when we didn't add any vegetables! Go figure...
The only other thing we have done is made our daughter try one bite of something new every night at dinner. She typically puts up a little fuss over it and everything has to be covered in ketchup, but at least she has eaten new things. She hasn't liked any of them yet, but I'm hoping some day....