My 3 Year Old Son Not Wanting to Eat Only Wants to Drink Milk?

Updated on November 07, 2010
L.M. asks from Lewisburg, OH
10 answers

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to get my 3 year old son to eat? When he was younger he used to eat cheeseburgers, tacos, he wont eat hardly anything. All he wants is Milk all day long! The doctors say he'll eat when he's hungry but I cant get him to stop wanting milk. he is very strong willed and stubborn and his not eating is starting to stress everyone in the family out! So please if you have any tips to help out it would be greatly appreciated!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Ladies, I would like to Thank You so much for your help! Im going to start using some of these ideas tomorrow. Thank You so much!!!

Featured Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

What about putting 24 oz. of milk into a pitcher each morning and when "his" milk is gone--it's GONE!?

Edit My Answer
2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Columbus on

Don't worry about it. It's milk he wants, not soda. And how long has this been going on? It's probably not nearly as long as it feels to you. A week? A month? He'll be fine. You said he went through a cheeseburger taco phase before. Now milk. It'll be something different next. He just doesn't like his food to touch! lol Good luck. Relax.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Start w/ baby steps. Tell him he has to eat "TWO BITES" of whatever and THEN he can have his milk. Go w/ that for a few days and then make it three.
2. Lessen the amount of milk you give him by just a little each time. When you are at the "half way point", tell him two more bites and then more milk.
3. You'll probably find at some point that he'll take more than two bites.
Milk fills you up, so cutting back on it and requiring bites first.

The doctor is right. The more you make a big deal out of it, the worse it will probably get. I've got a three year old in my preschoolers that has some hitting and tantrum issues. When I give him choices, and REMIND HIM that HE is the one making the choices, then he will make the right ones 90% of the time. I give him choices and walk away and let him make them.

If you have to, put a few bites in front of him, tell him he has to eat those before he gets milk........and walk away and go back to whatever you need to do. Remind him it's a CHOICE. He can either eat that and then have milk or nothing at all. This is NOT being mean, it's allowing the child to learn about making choices. They may not always be the choices he wants (they seldom are in life) so start letting him make some choices on his own. He WILL eat when he's hungry enough.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I like Denise's suggestion. And, don't worry about him not eating so long as he is still himself. He is listening to his body, and his body says to drink milk. If he is still growing in the same line on his growth chart, and his personality is the same, he's just fine, like your doctor has said. If you can let go of him not eating, you will save your whole family a lot of heartache. As long as he sees the rest of the family eating a variety of good foods, he'll be getting the message. When he's hungry, you'll know. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Have the doctors look a little closer to make sure there isn't an underlying problem that is making him not want to eat. It is a bit concerning that he used to eat all of those things, but now doesn't. A friend of mine just went through the same thing with her son (19mo), and her ped just kept saying it was a phase. She finally took him to an ENT against her peds wishes and the ENT said his tonsils were the size of an adult man. The took the tonsils out immediately and he is now eating great. She felt bad for trying to force him to eat food when he really couldn't. It could be for another reason, but he needs to be throughoughly checked before you start behavior modification.



answers from Dayton on

I agree with Denise. When his milk is gone, he can have water if he's thirsty and food when he's hungry. Also, act like it's a no big deal thing -- if he wants to fight you on it then, you've taken away his battle.



answers from Honolulu on

That is my son!
My son... is also a very picky eater... only eats if hungry and stops eating as soon as he is full. But that's good- he knows his body's hunger and full cues.

My son though, as he's gotten older... does eat more variety. I/we never force him nor make meals unpleasant.
My son... is very healthy, a tall lean boy, in the 97th percentiles... and LOVES milk. How the heck, if he drinks so much milk? Well... he is getting what he needs... and will eat too, when/if hungry.

My friend's son is like that too, just like your and my son.
HE is a tall/big/lanky kid.... now 5 years old. VERY healthy and doing just fine.

I, with my kids, do not make eating a "battle."
I don't want to eating to be an emotional based eating... nor just to please someone... or eating out of 'fear.' Thus, dysfunctional food eating... can arise.

Again, my son... as he's gotten older, just NATURALLY eats more variety... and now, even Artichokes!

all the best,



answers from New York on

We had a milk rule in our house. My kids can drink as much of it as they like but they had to trade for it. One bite of real food for one sip of milk. If they didn't do that then they didn't have milk. We also always ended the meal with milk so that way they weren't over eating just to get the milk. My son went through two whole years with the milk rule before he finally just started eating and drinking normally. It's more work but it eliminates the arguement and still gives them control which at 3 years old is really what it's all about. I wouldn't force him to eat a ton though because they don't really need as much food as most people think they need. Try to remember their stomach is only the size of their fist. Introduce some new foods he may surprise you and if he doesn't just remind yourself that milk is a complete meal. Also I would cut it to 2% or skim because if he is drinking that much milk whole is probably going to be too high in fat. Good luck!



answers from Columbus on

My suggestion would be to only give him 2 glasses a day, and I would give it at the 2 meals he can eat the best at. I would not set it on the table till he has eaten a "given" amount of food! He is old enough to understand (simply explained) that until "this amount" is eaten he doesn't get his cup! The rest of the day would be water and 1 4-6oz cup of fruit juice. My 4 yr old went through this at around 2 and it was hard times for a few weeks, but now he opts for water when asked!! ; )


answers from Dallas on

I have a suggestion for protein you could add to his milk if you'd like a link.

Next question: 2 Year Old Refusing to Eat Last Bites