My 5 Year Old Is a Member of Picky Eaters Anonymous!

Updated on September 02, 2010
M.J. asks from Glenview, IL
6 answers

A year or two ago, we put our foot down and revamped our daughter's eating habits. She then went from only cereal/pizza/nuggets for dinner to eating more variety of foods.
Now, it seems again that she only eats certain foods. It's become an impediment when we go out to eat, or are at a friends' house. We'd like her to eat more variety, and try new things.
If I ask her to try a new thing, she says "no" but with some coaxing, she takes a tiny bite. Even if it tastes good she would not eat it again.
I read some of the responses about picky eaters in the Mamapedia archives, and I agree that I should start only offering her what the rest of us are eating that night for dinner. No exceptions, no special alternatives. So I'm starting that today.

However, I'm concerned that she only has about 2 hrs to eat...she is in school all day, and then at 6 pm we start dinner. If she refuses to eat the food that is in front of her, I plan to tell her to leave the table and we can try again later. But we only have, like 2 hours, before her bedtime! I can't have her sit forever at the table. She can't eat earlier than 6, becuase at school they offer a snack at 3 pm which keeps her quite full until then.

Any suggestions, how to make her eat more variety and to eat in a timely manner? I'd hate to have her refuse to eat and then we have to go to bed hungry (if she stays up past 8 pm, she is really tired at school the next day).

Thanks, a lot!!

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answers from Joplin on

I have a picky eater too, I always thought she would outgrow it. Most of my concerns are health related. Talk to your pediatrician and ask for some pointers as to what are battles that need to be fought. I Try and offfer at least one thing with every meal I know my daughter will eat. I truly think some of it is sensory issues as my daughter is very well behaved, this is not her being "spoiled" as some people might think. I think as her mom you know when she is playing you or not, be firm about somethings and relax on others. We give a few choices but there are nights when my daughter does not eat much, you have to come to the point where you are sick of being a short order cook ( my picky eater is nearing 10 ) I also only have healthy snack can meet in the middle and have both of you be happy = )



answers from Dallas on

Turn to your trusty dog training book. It says, pick up the bowl after it's beern down ____ minutes. Not hours. Wasting time there.

With my children, I insisted on them taking a fair bite of the new thing. Just one. If they don't like it then, they don't have to eat it again. It may be on the table again, but they'll have to fill up on extra portions of the other foods on the table. (Hopefully, there is a balanced meal with say meat, starch, hot veggie, cold veggies or tomatoes, and a healthy dessert (like fruit or mixed fruit or something).

If she arefuses to eat at all, give her one other choice that isn't too bad and you don't have to cook and she can help prepare: peanut butter and ___ sandwich, cereal and fruit, veggies and dip. She will surely get sick of them and want to try more things out you'd think. If she's eaten it before and scarfed it down but is saying "I'm not hungry," pack it up in the fridge and when she says she's hungry, you can microwave it hot. No snacks offered or substitutes.



answers from Dallas on

I was and still am somewhat of a picky eater. I still can't eat cooked vegetables for the most part. But when I was younger it included casseroles, foods touching each other, etc. My mom would make me sit at the table some nights, but I would literally sit there for over an hour and not eat the rest of what was on my plate. She eventually made sure I had a good solid breakfast - (my favorite meal). At dinner she usually include an item that I would eat. Often it wasn't the main course, but it was something (bread and salad). I was allowed to fix myself a bedtime snack that was usually cheese, fruit, etc. I eventually decided to try other things on my own. But the texture and smell of some foods still make me literally nauseous.



answers from El Paso on

I have not experienced this with my oldest who is now 10 and will and always has eaten anything and everything, but I believe that I am headed down this picky road with my 15 month old son...we'll see.

If my youngest turns out to be a picky eater what I will try is to include him on the cooking and what we are making for dinner.

Maybe you could have your daughter help you. Ask her to get different things out of the fridge, maybe tell her about the ingredients etc. At dinner she can get credit for making the meal or at least helping, then she might be more apt to eat.

The method my grandmother used on me and my oldest boy was to tell us that we were hurting the cooks feelings. God knows we didn't want to hurt grandma's feelings so this might work as well.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Sounds like a good plan to me. If she doesn't eat, she can have a bowl of cereal before bedtime, right?



answers from Sacramento on

Our oldest (seven) has got to be one of the pickiest eaters on the planet, so I can relate. I can name the foods he'll eat on two hands, dinner foods on one. I used to do custom meals and stopped that due to burnout (I just got too wiped out making two dinners).

Just this week, we ended up with an interesting compromise. I'm continuing to fix one meal and if he doesn't like it (and he will absolutely refuse to eat it, preferring to go to bed hungry), he asked if he could make his own food. I said, "Sure!" (as long as it's reasonable) So, he took out a box of saltine crackers and a jar of peanut butter and made little peanut butter sandwiches out of them. Not too bad, I thought. Our four-year-old wanted to do the same, so I said ok and she did fine making her own, too. Just an idea you might consider. This is ultimately what my parents did if I didn't like a meal ... I had the option of making my own.

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