5Yr Still a Picky Eater

Updated on June 30, 2008
P.R. asks from Fredericksburg, VA
14 answers

My 5yr son has always been a picky eater.He won't eat meat.Drink milk.He doesn't even like pizza.I've taken to the doctor so many times the assure me he will grow out of it.Im worried he's five and lives on cheerios,crackers,yogurt,granola bars,any kind of juice.Any suggestions would be great. Im very worried.

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Thank you every one for all your advice and support. It's so great having a group of women who understand what your going through. I will give all the suggestions a try and let every one know what happens. Thank all of you again.

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answers from Knoxville on

I am right there with you. My 5 year old will eat. Pizza, waffles, chicken nuggets, fries, fish sticks, poptarts, dry cereal and chips. Nothing else! I am at my witts end. I don't know what to do about it either. This started when he was off baby food. When we force him to eat he throws up, he has a very sensative stomach, he once saw melted chocolate on the ground and he thought it was poop so he threw up. He was loosing weight so we pretty much had to make him something different to eat so he would gain weight. The doctor told me he would out grow it between 3 and 4, he will be 6 in June and still won't eat. He is so skinny that it worries me. I don't sent his lunch with him to school (all that can go in there is dry cereal and a pop tart), Sometimes he eats nothing, sometimes the aides can get him to try something. He told me that he now likes chicken quesadillas with ketshup. lol.

I don't have any advice but I wanted to let you know that I am in the same boat. My 3 year old seems to be going down the same path, I don't know what to do about it. My older 2 boys are picky but they still have a wide range of foods that they like.

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answers from Nashville on

You know what honey, you are gonna have to get tough - and I mean tough. My daughter went through this and when I got over feeling guilty over all the aspects of the situation, she was told lovingly but firmly that she would eat what was given to her and if she did not eat it, there would be nothing else. It was the hardest thing I have ever done for she went two and a half days with nothing but water, but she eventually got hungry enough that she ate what I knew was good for her. I know it sounds cruel but the stubborn, demanding habits had to be changed. I discovered that because of all the carbs (cereals, crackers and sweet juices) she had become an addict of sugar - her intestinal bacteria was out of whack and basically, I had allowed a subtle growing of her way over mine. So I cut the sugar from her diet, gave her probiotics to build the good bacteria in her intestinal system, and patiently made changes that improved the diets of our entire family. She is less irritable as the sugar cravings were driving her behavior and now enjoys cooking good carbs (quinoa, brown rice and raw nuts) and loves the flavors of amazing sauces to compliment fresh veggies, chicken (organic) and fish (not farm raised.) She now enjoys the sweetness of fresh oranges, organic grapes and strawberries, bananas, and fruit smoothies. These are special treats that the whole family loves. We made the changes as a family in order to support our little one and we are all better for it. Blessings to you in this transition

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answers from Charlotte on

Hi P.,

Yours is a common issue & I believe that your Dr is correct. I also believe that there are things you can do to encourage him to eat better.

1. Daily put out a tray of food at his lower reach level. Sm portions of raw veggies, dip, gr beans from can, cheese, crackers, fruit, boiled eggs, etc. (Can put Ziploc bag of ice under plate if needed for long periods, or have freezer plates with gel inside them.)

2. Make house rules like "We have milk at dinner time". (You may blend it with fruit or chocolate.) "We take at least one bite of everything on our plate."

3. Include a veggie that he does like with a new one tried at dinner.

4. Find dips or alternates to make a food taste better, such as, sour cream on top of the salmon or other fish he won't eat. He can dip chicken into BBq sauce. Oreo cookie dip into milk. Grilled teriyaki thin beef strips on a stick: he can dip into sour cream sauce.

5. Sneak veggies you have pureed into sauces & homeade breads... green peppers, carrots, zucchini... maybe into spaghetti sauce.

6. Use Shaklee's protein drink & food supplements to lay foundation for good daily health. (Click on website listed below for more info.) My kids have made Shaklee a part of their daily eating since age 2. At 15 & 17 they are extremely fit athletes & very healthy, alert teens. I have used Shaklee for 30 years & recently ran a marathon with Shaklee as my supplementation.

7. Put protein such as peanut butter or cream cheese on bread, celery, crackers, apples.

8. Have him help you cook or grill out. Sometimes kids will start eating things they have helped prepare.

Hopefully you can find at least one of these things works for you. My entire family starts their day with a Shaklee protein drink blended with milk or oj & fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries). Then I don't worry as much about what they "have not eaten" that morning. It is great!

D. M. Focht

"Shaklee -Creating Healthier Lives & Environment"

click on: www.Shaklee.net/Focht


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answers from Chattanooga on

I am the mother of 6 and grandmother of 6. He will grow out of it. My grandson lived on veggies and yogurt til he started school and his choices were limited. He has eaten veggie plates at school up to the last 2 months. He has began to experiment with other foods.

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answers from Louisville on

Hi P., I hope this eases your mind a bit. I have a little boy who is now 8 years old and he seems to have the same eating habits as your son. He eats yogurt, cheerios, crackers, and any type of pasta...no sauce. Basically he eats anything without color. I can sometimes get him to eat a chicken nugget but as soon as he remembers its meat...that's it! Our doctor says he is perfectly healthy and may even have better eating habits than my 10 year old who will eat anything and everything! Both of our boys are trim and have lot's of energy and seem to be thriving. My husband says that our picky eater will grow out of this one day as his palate becomes more mature. He thinks it's a security thing and he feels safe with just a few food items. I think your son will eventually broaden his food choices as well. Just lately we almost had ours eating a piece of grilled chicken breast but at the last minute he "chickened out." Just keep offering various food and maybe one day he'll go for it. I heard if you offer it 10 times...they'll try it on the 11th. hmmmmm??? Best of luck...and don't worry...he's a heatlhy little boy.

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answers from Owensboro on

Keep offering a variety of foods. The diet you list isn't a bad one, you can't make a kid eat what he doesn't want no matter how much you would like to. Fruit smoothies might be an agreeable addition, yogurt and fruit!! Most kids love them. I have two great girls and a mean 3 yr old boy who won't talk!!!! I'd be happy to be worried about his diet!!

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answers from Nashville on

My daughter tried the picky eater thing. I have a rule at my house...No special meals. You get the same food as everyone else you choose what you want to eat you don't have to eat everything but you do have to try one bite of everything. If you say "I don't like..." You have to eat all of it! This rule works very well with my family. I absolutely refuse to be a made to order cook, I have 3 kids! No special meals except on birthdays. If you sneak food, you get no snacks for the rest of the day. Ask if you want something. Make sure he is not filling up with his comfort foods (cheerios, yogurt, granola bars, etc) He will get the message.

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answers from Huntington on

I'm a grade school cafeteria manager and mom of three teenagers. The best resource I've ever seen for reassuring moms about picky eating is the book "Feed Me I'm Yours." It gives surprising info about how small a portion a child actually needs and has good recipes with hidden veggies.

But you really probably shouldn't worry too much if he's not either gaining weight too fast or losing it. If at all possible, make the crackers whole grain (wheat thins and triscuits are good ones)and cheerios are vitamin fortified. Read the boxes of granola bars and try to find ones with more fiber and whole grain (the first ingredient should say whole wheat or whole oats, etc.) and little or no hydrogenated vegetable oil or high-fructose corn syrup. If he drinks more than a couple of cups of juice a day, you might want to water them down, as that's a lot of fruit sugar and he's getting more calories than fruit value (you are using 100% juice, aren't you?) So try to make what he likes the healthiest version you can get.

Then try getting some fruits and veggies, fix a plate of them for a snack, and offer them to your older boy, your husband and yourself. Make sure you tell the five year old that these are just for grownups and big kids, not for the little ones, and that he and his baby sister aren't old enough to like them. Tell him you know he won't like strawberries, especially dipped in yogurt dip. Then you all eat them right in front of him, talking about how good they are. See if he appears interested, but ignore him. If he asks for a bite, tell him you don't think he'd really like it. Get him to kinda beg for a bite, and then say "okay, just one bite, because you probably won't eat it and I don't want to waste anything this good." Lots of times, kids will eat anything they think is special food.

Another way to get kids to try things is to invite friends over to play, and offer them the foods you want your son to like (you might check with the friend's moms and find out what their kids will eat that yours won't, like raw broccoli or spaghetti, etc.) I've noticed at lunch at school that if one kid really likes a food, often all their friends want to try it, too. But not when Mom is the one pushing it.

So that food doesn't become an issue that he uses to irritate you or get what he wants, ignoring what he does or doesn't eat is a good idea. Just offer him things, or put them on the table and don't offer him any, and then don't comment on what he eats. If he tells you he likes a new thing, you can say "good, I like that too!" But food isn't the main topic at dinner, what we did today is a better topic.

Children grow out of being so picky as they get older unless you have made an issue out of it, and then they milk it for attention. But they also have personal likes and dislikes, just as you do. I never made separate dinners for my kids, but I'd make something like tacos and they could have a taco salad, a soft taco, a hard taco, etc. with a variety of veggies and cheeses to choose from. Each kid liked different things, but it was all the same dinner. Some kids liked spaghetti with sauce, some with just cheese, etc. By the time they were six, they could make a peanut butter sandwich or a warm cheese sandwich (a slice of cheese on bread, heated in the microwave for 10 seconds.) If they hated what we had for dinner, they could make themselves a sandwich.

Oh, yeah, buy orange juice with calcium in it to help make up for the milk, and encourage the yogurt to make up more. And don't worry. He'll be fine.

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answers from Louisville on

Hello, My name is R.. I have a 4 year old daughter who just completed feeding therapy at Richmond Children's Hospital Day Program. You can see her at http://www.youtube.com/millerrenee. Her case is a little different she was totally g-tube dependent! She refused pretty much everything. However, in 7 weeks we were able to get her to eat 100% by mouth (all pureeds in her case because she doesn't have the chewing skills yet). Hope you can get some ideas from my videos! The biggest thing for Reanna is the rewards. She loves her DVD player. I reward her with each bite by letting her watch her video! You can also use toys at the table. You just don't give the reward until the bite has been taken. You would be suprised what rewards will do. You should think about joining my yahoo group at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/learn_to_eat/. This group was originally designed to share her feeding progress as we were in the program. However, others have requested to join and now it is turning into more of a support group where other people can join and talk about their own challenges with feeding their children.



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answers from Nashville on

I would cook and put a little of everything on his plate every night. Try and coax him into taking just one bite. At least if he sees your eating he may eventually try it.
Do the bribe thing... tell him he can have ice cream after if he will eat a little of this or that.
Just be careful. My sisters child was a picky eater. Only ate pizza and fried chicken and ice cream all his life. He is not in college and I sware he weighs 900 pounds. Both sides of the family are little people. He is also having health problems now because she didn't resolve this when he was little. She just gave into him and catered to him. Now they are looking at the lap-band to help with the weight loss because his arteries are clogged too and this child is just 19 or 20 yrs old in college. So sad!
So just start now and make sure that he is offered everything and given good stuff whether he eats it or not. At least it was offered and make sure he sees you eat it and exaggerate a little and let him know how good it tastes.
Also... make sure that you give him a vitamin also. His brain needs those vitamins to develop propperly whether he eats right or not.
Good luck.

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answers from Charlotte on

Yep. He WILL grow out of it. And none of the things you listed are too unhealthy for a five year old. Sounds like he's getting a ton of fruit, too. Have you tried to "hide" some veggies in something like cookies, or make your own granola bars?

... Oh and I just read some of the other responses. PLEASE do not bribe your kid with food. Google that. I'm sure you'll find where they're finding that just causes all kinds of bigger monsters down the road.

Bribe him with a toy if you need to bribe the kid, but NOT food.



answers from Nashville on

Some children won't eat things that make them feel bad. Children with food allergies seem to know these things so they avoid stuff that make them feel "itchy" inside. If he looks healthy, plays well, and is active, don't worry..he will eat more things as he ages. Keep as much fruit and vegetables around and let him live on the fruit, veggies, granola and yogurt etc.He will be fine. Sounds like he might be a vegetarian and that can be the most healthy diet around considering the chemicals in meats.



answers from Jacksonville on

Sugar free pudding, now you have milk. Peanut butter takes care of meat, I have a 23 year old nephew who has always been a picky eater, one time he told my mother, that he hated Christmas and Thanksgiving, because everyone got on him about food, making things much worse. The fight is not worth it. Try some of the new v8 juices to get veggies down. And please don't worry about it, my nephew is in the army now, still a picky eater, but healthy as a horse. Kris

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