How Do I Get My 3 Year Old to Eat More Healthy?

Updated on March 01, 2007
J.D. asks from Greenville, AL
7 answers

it seems that all my 3 year old wants to eat is junk. when i don't give him junk food he throws a fit, and screams and cries sometimes even hits me. I am worried that he isn't getting the proper nutrtion that he should be getting. ive tried the nutrition drinks but he says they are nasty and won't drink them. Please if anyone can give me advice i would greatly apperciate it.

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So What Happened?

thank you for all the respnses that people have given me. it really helped me a lot. he know eats what i put in front of him and he enjoys it. he only gets to eat desert after he eats all his food. i only keep a couple of snacks, but they are mostly fruit snacks, those fruit puffs and veggie puffs, he also love the freeze dried corn and fruits. again thanks so much i am greatly apperciate it.

More Answers



answers from Nashville on

Do you give in and give him the junk when he throws a fit? If you do you have taught him that that bevior works and gets him what he wants. I know it is hard to be firm but it is worth it in the end. If he gets hungry enough he will eat the healthy food. Make the healthy food fun by having him "help" you cook it. Cut it in fun shapes or give it fun names. Instead of broccoli say little trees. Family Fun magizine and their website have good ideas on how to make healthy food fun to eat.



answers from Tuscaloosa on

I had a wise mom tell me "No child has ever starved in the presents of food." When they are hungry enough they will eat what you have put in front of them.
I too have a 3 year old that goes through spurts that all he wants is junk food. Don't give in and throw the junk food out of the house. Have good snacks on hand like, craisins, carrots, fruit. Goldfish and crackers aren't so bad, but don't have chocolate or candy in the house, that way you can't give in.



answers from Auburn on

Hi mom,

Ive walked in your shoes. And from 2 points. 1 as a mom and as a preschool teacher. Remember, be consistant. As a teacher I have seen my 2 & 3 year olds come with a variety of foods for snack. Right now I have a 2 yr old that doesnt like sweet things, candy, cereal, etc. I thought that was totally cool, but as mom and I were talking she has a point. One his birthday he doesnt want his cake, cupcakes, icecream etc. The closest thing he gets to sweet is gummies. I have another little boy that eats very healthy. He loves the pasta that is green, red, etc. that is made from tomatoes, broccoli, etc. Every child is different and goes through phases and changes of taste.

At home it is different. My 8 year old was born GERD, (Gastroesphogal Reflux Disease). We waited for 2 years for her sphincter muscle to develop but it didnt and she ended up having surgery. But in those first years, when nothing would stay down. She developed a quick dislike for anything, because it would come back up. We tried the starches like rice and pasta, etc. to help. I worried that as she grew up she would be a picky eater. And she did. BUT.....BUT she developed a love of fruits, and a few veggies (green beans(the jolly green giants arms legs, etc was what i used to encourage her), green peas (army hats), carrots and celery(both raw) with ranch dressing. Make it an adventure, be creative. But be persistant and remember if worse comes to worse (and it did for me) if the child is hungry and you are offering something they like that is healthy. They can eat or do with out. Tough Love. But it is for his/her own good. I went to church and work(one in the same) with a woman that her granddaughter would throw up if she was offered certain foods. mainly veggies. But the doctor told them to make her eat them and it would pass. It was hard but they did it. Good Luck and stand firm (dont look them in the eye it will get you everytime). Im praying for you cause I know it is hard.



answers from Tuscaloosa on

Don't keep the junk food in the house, it is bad for everybody, not just him, but if you have to have some, hide it where he can't see and doesn't know you have it. I know it sounds harsh, but when my 2 year old became addicted to candy after Christmas when my Mother in law was giving it to him whenever he wanted it he would scream cry and pitch fits wanting candy. I had optional healthy alternitives like fruit snacks, raisins, and they love the new Yogos snacks and whenever he screamed for candy I'd tell him I don't have any candy (and I didn't have any)and then offer him the healthier snacks. At first he did not eat them but now he asks for candy and I just hand him the healthy snack and there is no fuss.
He will eventually get hungry enough to eat the healthier food. Try healthy alternatives like apple chips instead of potato chips, even unbuttered popcorn maybe lightly salted.



answers from Iowa City on

The thing that has worked the best for us at our house is to keep the "junk" food out of the house. If those tempting goodies are not around, there is so much less to fight and argue about.
Kids also learn so much better from example, so if you try it for a month, going without any junk food in the house, both you and your family will benefit. You might even find some great new favorite healthy foods while your at it!



answers from Chattanooga on


Ellen is right! As hard as it may be to hear- much less DO- giving in to your son's tantrums will only teach him that bad behavior will get him what he wants. And the longer you hold out before giving in, the longer he'll be willing to push next time, because he knows you'll give in eventually.

I'm very fortunate. My daughter has, for the most part, always eaten healthfully willingly. I have dealt, though, with new resistance to foods she used to like and reluctance to try anything new. With that, we made a deal. My part was to put a lot of effort into making good-for-her taste really good. I like to cook, so that part is fun for me. Also, whatever I know she likes that IS healthy, I will fix infinately while trying out new stuff (LOTS of veggies and dip). Her part is that, whatever I fix or she encounters anywhere else, she must eat 2 kid-sized bites of, then no more unless she wants to. Her dad introduced the notion that you grow all new taste buds every 6 months, so you never know what you might suddenly like. I can't verify that, but it works, so who cares.

This has been VERY successful. She always eats healthy stuff she enjoys and we've added many things to that list. In mommyhood, to me it's important to pick your battles carefully. Your child's health is worth it. Good luck!




answers from Chattanooga on

Hi J.,

My 5 year old gets like that sometimes. Now she eats more healthy foods, Thank God!!! When she was younger, she would scream and cry until she got what she wanted too. Then I smartened up. I didn't give in to her tantrums and when she hit me, she was put in time out. It is hard but if you stick with it, don't give him anything else, leave out the food that you want him to eat and tell him that what is on the plate is all he will get, he will come around. It can take a long time to do this so be prepared. If he hits you, hold his hands down and tell him that hitting is unacceptable and it will only land him in a longer time out when he does that.

Be prepared, your heart will break with the crying but if you stick with your guns and tell him that the 'junk' food is only a treat if he eats the better food he will come around eventually. I started with carrot sticks, pea pods and cucumber slices with ranch dressing. I added broccoli with that and sometimes gave her some of the dipping cheese. She loved that. Raw veggies are really better than cooked but now she loves this as a snack. Her junk food she only gets on the weekends and she only gets what I put on the plate and no more. She now understands that I make the rules and she has to abide by them. Now when she throws a fit, I only have to say her name in a very stern voice an look at her and she knows she has gone to far. It takes time and practice. Good luck.


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