4 Year Old Picky Eater

Updated on April 28, 2013
J.K. asks from Chandler, AZ
10 answers

My 4 year old has been picky since her 1st year of life.She only likes chicken nuggets,mac and cheese and soup.I dont want to put on to much pressure but i also want her to eat more.Any ideas?

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answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like nothing but salt :-(
I have no problem with picky kids, I was one myself, but I would stop buying the nuggets and mac and cheese, and only do homemade soup. She will find other things to eat, she won't starve. Just make sure those high salt, processed choices aren't around.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Wow! I could have written this question myself. I have 4 year old twins who are also very picky. In fact, they only like the exact same foods as your daughter, except they will occasionally eat PB&J sandwiches. My advice would be to just let her eat the foods she will eat. As she gets older, she will probably start to like other foods, but for now, as long as she is eating something, then it's ok. I would suggest giving her new foods to try every once in a while. Eventually, she will like some other stuff.

Good luck. I know how hard it is at this age!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Well, she'll learn to eat other foods if you completely stop serving the two of three things that she's willing to eat. She needs to venture into other food groups.
My suggestion for when you have a young kid who is very picky, is to serve a lot of food choices at meals and let them make their own choices as to what to serve themselves, without commenting on their choices, without begging/bribing them to just take a little taste of the whatever. So in addition to the main course, you can put out a fruit, a cooked veggie, a raw veggie, a starch, bread, something else like cheese cubes/nuts/olives/hard boiled eggs. While not ideal, a kid can make a meal of brown rice, bread with butter, cheese cubes, watermelon and cucumber slices. Expose her to a lot of foods and let her tastea and eat them to her comfort level. Good luck


answers from Dallas on

Find a good vitamin supplement, keep introducing new foods, and as your child gets older she will probably get bolder. I think I lived on peanut butter and jelly until l went to college!

Try making your own (healthier version) of chicken nuggets. Take strips of white meat chicken, dip in egg white and then bread crumbs and bake uncovered in the over to crisp them up. My kids went nuts for this. Make easy homemade mac and cheese (healthier without the sketchy cheese and preservatives in a box), freeze in servings and that's not bad either! Offer fruits and vegies at most meals. Eventually she will try them.

Also, I am a Shaklee gal and Shaklee sells a great little chocolate drink that is very healthy. Tastes like chocolate milk to me! Message me if you want details on that.



answers from Spokane on

my daughter went through 2 years where she only ate chicken nuggets, cereal, pbj, and mac and cheese (only the frozen kind). though she does like her fruits and veggies (always has)
then i got tired of making 2 meals and said thats it. she could have whatever she wanted for lunch and breakfast but she had to eat what we ate for dinner. if we ate something i know she didnt like i would fix her something else.
if it were me i would cut her off cold turkey at dinner. she is to eat what you eat. give her small portions (less then what you think she will eat). that way its not an overwhelming amount on her plate. encourage her to eat it. let her know that when her plate is clear she can have more of something. if she clears her plate atleast once reward her with a dessert (fruit slices, ice cream etc).

i also agree with the mom(s) that mention to make sure she doesnt have a sensory/texture issue. it doesnt sound like it to me but theres no harm in being sure.

also might i add that my daughter is now 6 and eats whatever i put infront of her. she does however get to choose her meals when we go out to eat.



answers from Orlando on

Try making chicken nuggets from scratch. Buy boneless skinless chicken breast and cut it up into bite size chunks. Dip in flour, then egg, then panko bread crumbs and bake at 375-400 for 20-30 min. Serve with ketchup. She probably won't eat them at first, because they do taste different, but just give it a few tries.

Instead of mac and chz from the box, cook barilla pasta with protein (yellow box) and serve with shredded parm chz and maybe a little butter.

Try making the soup from scratch rather than from the can, less sodium that way.



answers from Minneapolis on

You can't make a person eat (or drink, pee, poop, or sleep) no matter how hard you try or even force. Instead, make food more fun. Serve food she likes with other new things. Offer fresh vegetables with dip as a "first course" before a meal when you know she is hungry. Do not force, just offer.

Try things with different flavors and textures. Take her to the store (or a farmer's market) and let her pick out a new veggie or fruit, even if it's just because she likes the color.

Demonstrate your enjoyment of eating new and different foods. Let her taste and don't make her swallow if she doesn't want to. Do comparison tasting, ask her opinion.

Forcing leads to power struggles, which are a waste of time at best and a eating disorder in the making at worst.

My dad was the picky eater in the family, so I wasn't exposed to anything new growing up. I went to college and discovered a world of food, and now eat (almost) anything. She'll be fine.



answers from Seattle on

No matter what you serve make certain there is one thing she will eat on her plate. It takes a numerous amount of times trying a food before a kid can be comfortable and enjoy it. Allow her to play with her food to get used to new foods. I realize this is messy but this is how children explore their world and there's really no sense in making mealtime a stressful time. Always offer snacks and foods you approve of but don't stress if they're not tried nor eaten. Also, do not give a huge portion of anything, including the foods you know she'll eat.

Provided your little one has no other issues hopefully this is phase and it will pass. Try to branch out her existing foods into healthier options. Make the foods homemade also add in veggies and fruits as often as possible. Seeing as she likes chicken nuggets have her help you actually make them, the same goes for mac and cheese and soup. Get her involved in the process of not only eating but choosing and preparing food.



answers from Des Moines on

Since my kid is the same, probably worse, I can say that they may not grow out of it. Depends of the reason they are so picky. Does she have sensory issues (clothes fitting weird, sensitive smeller/taster)? Mine son does, along with anxiety about trying new foods.

If sensory is the issue, you may want to get help from an OT. Otherwise, from what I have learned in feeding therapy, is to let her play with new foods. Work on touching them, then putting them near the mouth, then on the lips, then in the mouth (spitting out if necessary), then taking baby bites, then hopefully swallowing.

It may be a control issue, she may grow out of it, she may not. And to those that say 'just don't make them anything else' or make them try it. Have you ever had a kid starve themselves or have a true panic attack when trying new foods?

My advice at this age, always have something else on her plate and let her explore that food (as above). Have fun with it. You can play with your food too! Have her help grow food, go the grocery store with you and make food. All of these will help her get exposure to other foods even if she will not eat it right now.

Good luck!



answers from Columbus on

I'm always confused by this type of question. My child will only eat XXX, and the XXX is always things that are typical kid foods and terrible for them. Well, how did you get there? My kids are given what I cook. If they don't eat it, they end up hungry. I might make "kid foods" occasionally, but choosing only those foods would be completely out of their control because they'd be awfully hungry if that's how it worked.

She can't eat what you don't make. I totally agree - homemade only to control sodium and additives. And then you can also control tastes. Make homemade chicken nuggets, but change how they taste each time -- different spices or herbs to give her multiple experiences. Introduce new foods often and repeatedly and don't cave when she wants something different. Insist on 2 bites and then let her focus on whatever else is on her plate. My son is picky, but he knows his snack options are fruit or vegetable before anything else. If he's still hungry after that, he can pick yogurt, cheese, or some sort of multigrain cracker. My kids never ask for cookies because we rarely have them -- when we do, it's a treat and when they're gone, they're gone. And our diet it very varied, so if one meal isn't to his liking, the next one will be. But she didn't get there on her own. She was too young to make her food choices - you chose for her. Continue to make her choices and lay ground rules that you follow consistently.

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