3 Year Old Stubborn Eater

Updated on February 20, 2007
K.A. asks from Gardena, CA
13 answers

I have a 3 year old son who is beyond a picky eater. He refuses to try a lot of foods. He has been like this for two years. He sticks to only particular foods and that's it. I tried every method on mixing and changing foods for him to try. I used to get frustrated with the situation, but now I just let the situation take it's course. I wanted to know if any mothers have the same problem and what they did to help their child become curious about eating other foods? I want to be able to sit at the table at dinner time with my son, but since we eat different foods, we eat at different times separately.

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answers from Sacramento on

I have the same thing with my 21 month old. Lately I've been letting him "help" me. It works about 50% of the time so far. If he gets to stir something it makes it super tasty! (in his mind!) The boy can't eat PB&J forever! He's a big snacker. He loves fruit and eats healthy snacks I just can't get him to eat real meal with me at night most of the time. I have him taking Lil critters gummi vitamins and Rhino Fruit/Veggie bears to supplement his diet since he likes and dislikes vary from day to day. The dr told me that he won't let himself starve and he'll eat when he's hungry. See if letting him help out might make things taste better!


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answers from Los Angeles on

My 4 year old is the exact same way. It's frustrating, huh? We tried a lot of different things to try and get him to eat his dinner but nothing seemed to work and I would get frustrated and cave, and make him what he wanted, just to avoid the fuss. But I got sick of making 2 different meals every night, you know? So basically, he ate what was on his plate, or he didnt eat. He's old enough to know that if he doesnt eat, he's going to be hungry. We also praised him a lot when he did try a new food. He often realized that it was good too! Another thing is that when my son helped me cook the dinner, even if it was just pouring milk or stirring, he was more apt to try the food. Hope this helps

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answers from San Francisco on

hi, i am a mother of two an 11 year old, and i to have a 3 year old who is a finnicky eater. i personally would not eat at a separate time, the point is to eat as a family. i've figured out, he does have the right to be picky an it is a way of expressing his self and learning his likes and dislikes. i would say as long as he eats, you dont have anything to worry about. get back to me and let me know if this answers your question.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Okay here is a helpful hint. Let him help out with preparing the meals. I had the hardest time with my oldest and she is doing this right now. I was asking my mom how a nine year old could be so picky. I found that having her help me pick out what we will be making for dinner and having her help me with everything, she is willing to try some new ingredients. The hardest thing for me to get her to eat was some of the green veggies, until she started helping me prepare them. It does help when they know what is going into the meals. I even have both of my girls taste the veggies before during and after they are done. Hope that everything turns out for you.



answers from San Diego on

K. A, I so know how you feel. My son is 10 years old and he has been such a picky eater since he was about your sons age. It does get better. He is still picky but I try to give him choices of the different foods that my husband and I eat. Ususally if they have to make their own choice they just might eat it. It is so funny because my youngest son will ask what I am making for dinner and I will tell him and he will say "I don't like that", but as soon as I give it to him he will eat it all and ask for seconds.

I hope that this helps. Let me know if it helps.

S. R



answers from San Francisco on

I have a three year old that started off as a young toddler eating most everything but over the last 1 1/2 eats basically fruit, whole wheat bagels and nuts. Oh and he'll drink milk. I have constantly questioned my pediatrician and other moms and they all say don't fight it. He will eat banana bread but only if we bake it together. He cracks the eggs in and dumps the ingredients together. Once he's done, I add some spinaich (I know that sounds gross but you really can't taste it!) and some wheat germ. I just wanted you to know you are DEFINATELY not alone! Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Keep offering him healthy things. Once he tries something 10 times or so, he'll get used to it. Don't force him to eat anything or to clean his plate, but just keep offering him healthy things. He will not starve himself. In my house, growing up, We had a rule, "Don't say you don't like it, until you try it." You have to try a little bite of everything. To this day, I am the most unpicky person you would ever meet. My son, who is 4, eats everything except spicy food, which makes him cry. People are amazed by what a good eater he is. You just have to keep exposing your kids to different foods and try not to be picky yourselves. We only make one meal for all of the family. That's all he gets. If he really really doesn't like it for some reason, He can have a small healthy snack later. I agree with an earlier response. Your son is three, so he can start helping in little ways in the kitchen. Let him wash the fruits and veggies in the sink or help measure things. My son is so proud when he has helped us make something.



answers from San Francisco on

my daughter is the same way. it started when she was about 18 months old. she started refusing all her old favorites and no wanting to try new foods. of course i freaked out and talked to everyone i know to see if they had the same problems. my pediatrician had the best advice. she has 4 kids one of whom was 4 years old. when i told her my daughter only eats about 15 different foods she told me that was 8 more than her son would eat and not to worry, kids will eat what they need as far as nutrients go. this will probably go away but just keep offering different foods but don't make it a big deal or stressful to him. i just added nutritious foods in sneaky ways like carrot juice in the apple juice or baby mixed veggies in tomato sauce for pizza or give him a vitamin if your worried. i make my daughter her bagel( the only thing she eats for dinner for over a year now) at the same time we have dinner so we can eat together. like you have been doing, just go with it , it will end.



answers from Los Angeles on

My 3 year old daughter is very picky as well. Her doctor recommended that we give her what we are serving that meal and if she doesn't eat what's on her plate, she doesn't eat anything until the next meal (at which point we offer her more healthy food). We've been working with this method for a few weeks and at first she was angry that she couldn't just eat PB&J, but now she understands the expectation and is starting to eat more of a variety of foods. She still puts up a fuss sometimes, though! My husband survived primarily on Mac and Cheese his whole childhood (and into the beginning of our marriage!) so I don't want her to turn out like that.



answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear K.,

O.K. so here comes my advice. Others may have better ideas, but these are mine.

Use some of your quality time with him as you prepare dinner. Let him stir and so on, you know what you can handle. He can rinse the vegetables and fruit. He can do the dishes, so on.
Make jello, and so on.

Take him to the grocery store so that he has a part in choosing some of the food and you can choose some too. Your turn, my turn.

Sit with him to eat. Very important. Converse and just be friends. I am glad that you don't bug him about his eating habits.

Maybe he has a allergy to something in food.

Maybe he is just a strong willed individual. You know, we just can't force people to do things our way sometimes.

Good luck, C. N.



answers from San Francisco on

Of the foods that he does eat, does he eat a variety of textures or does he refuse certain textures? We have dealt with a lot of food refusals with my 3.10 year old since day 1. She used to only eat only a few things ALL the time, but we have worked through a lot with feeding therapy. My daughter is an extreme case, though.



answers from Reno on

Im 27 have a 8 yr old sister and 6 yr old brother who sound just like your 3 yr old . I have a 2 yr old son who never had a problem with what he ate until spending more time with his aunt and uncle .One thing you can do is keep two or three fruits or veggies or other healthy foods he does eat and keep feeding him healthy choices that are his choices. Even if it seems like repetition atleast hes getting some nutrients If that doesnt work there are liquid vitamins you can find in a few stores that can be mixed in with his juice or what not , they are virtually tasteless and taste kinda like fruit. Hell never know the differance as long as he never sees you mix it in . Also just because you dont eat the same meals doesnt mean you cant eat at the same time. If its too hard to prepare two meals make one in advance and reheat it when you sit down for your meal or vice versa , if your worried about him starving give him a small healthy snack of his choice.Also what we tried with my brother and sister were the no thankyou helpings, where you have to try a bite to be polite if you like it you can have more and if you dont you dont have to eat it again.They are gradually growing out of this and are willing to try things more often than before. They know if they hadnt tried new things they would never know what some of there favorite things tasted like.I hope this helps.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, my name is M. and I am new to the group. I saw your "picky eater" message and just couldn't believe how much I related! My son is 3 1/2 and will NOT try anything new. He eats about 4 different things and that's it. Sometimes I don't mind...but I feel like I'm not being a good mom (with the help of my mother in law) and feel like I should be helping him eat veggies and fruit. It's like...you can lead a horse to water, but...I CAN'T MAKE HIM EAT ANYTHING HE DOESN'T WANT TO EAT. I'm told to try something new at least 10 times, but it doesn't matter. He won't eat it. I guess he will outgrow it in time. I admire you. Working full time and going to school and being a single mom! I go to school full time and take care of my son, but I am married. I don't know how you do it. Anyway...maybe you have something new to add to our similar dilemma.


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