Need Food Ideas for Picky 3 Year Old

Updated on June 11, 2009
N.B. asks from Culpeper, VA
6 answers

My daughter has always been a picky eater (like her Mom and brother). She likes fruit, french fries, Ravioli, omlettes, cereal,and breaded chicken. I can get her to eat sandwiches maybe once a week. I am running out of ideas of things to give her. I put something new in front of her and she sees everyone else eating it but she won't touch it. Even the daycare center is having trouble getting her to eat what they make.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all your help. I will try everything that was suggested even if it means making two separate meals. (I used to work at a restaurant Now if I can only get her potty trained....

More Answers



answers from New York on

Hi N.,
While it may make you crazy to see her eat the same meals over and over, if she is eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, it doesn't matter if the source of protein is the same over and over, as long as it's complete. If she eats one green veggie and one orange/yellow veggie, it's fine - nutritionally she wont' benefit from eating 10 of them. If during family dinnertime, you don't want to make a separate meal, then serve whatever main course you want, but lots of sides that include things you know she likes and could make a meal out of - a raw veggie plate, a cooked veggie, some pasta or rice, a cheese plate, some rolls, etc.
Good luck



answers from New York on

Don't fret, it normal! Some picky eaters out grow it and others well ...they continue. My son is my picky eater and he is now 13yrs old. I've been down the road and retraced my steps a million times. I have learned somethings ...
1. They will eat what they want when they want it.
2. No kid would purposely starve themselves.
3. This soon shall pass.
Some hints:
1. Keep up with the vitamins.
2. Continue to offer variety.
3. Don't continue to cater to their needs. Make a dinner and if they are hunger we only hope they will eat it.
4. Some kids have texture issues ... my son couldn't stand lumpy type things. Sometimes figuring that out does help.
5. Picky eaters typically have to taste things about 100x before it can become acceptable to eat. I know this sounds crazy but I am not kidding!! Most kids try something just a few times and acquire a taste but not the picky eater. That is why it so important to not give up and continue to offer variety over and over again.

I thought it would be easier as a mom to cave into "his" likes and just feed him watermelon, chicken nuggets, peanut butter, and bread 24/7 at least he was eating and I didn't hear him complaining --- Right? Do you know how tough it is to go out to dinner with a picky eater? It's ok when they are little and you bring their food but when they are 8-9 years, playdates and all --- the kid begins to starve. My point, if they never taste anything else it will only make it harder as they get older. Believe me ... been there.

At the age of 8-9 yrs. old we really tried to put or foot down but I had created a monster and supported the eating habit for too long. We also had a daughter who was know getting old enough to have an opinion about food and I found that my son's pickness would rub off on her.

The solution ... we all ate the same dinner. If you didn't there was yogurt or peanut butter and they could feed themselves. But there was one rule ... you must try a bit of each item on the plate. It was pretty much torture! The whining and complaining, but it definitely helped to open my son eyes to try knew things and he is a better eater. Still doesn't like most fruits and veggies but I do try to stock the ones he does like and he still takes vitamins. He is 13, eats every type of meat now and fish, loves pasta with any type of sauce (which that was unheard of till 12 years old--- butter was the only sauce!).

Be patient, keep trying, don't create the monster but encourage it, and request that they try a little bit. Do it over and over and over every time ... I have a child who eats PEAS! It'll happen, PATIENCE --- do you know an adult who only eats peanut butter and jelly? Deep breath and keep trying.

Also, forgot to mention that kids go through growth cycles and their food intake amount will very during them. Do not be suprised when they begin to reject the very foods they loved. Variety is the key and keep them trying. Of course make "their special meal" every once in a while too --- except EVERYONE eats it. We would have chicken nuggets about once a month to make my son happy. The best thing ever is when they hit puburity (my son s just starting) they are always hungry and you will be SHOCKED at what you can get them to eat and I smile inside when I hear my son say "that wasn't too bad." PATIENCE!! Lot's and lots!! :)



answers from New York on

Try dips like ranch dressing or ketchup not too much though toddlers like that and don't put a lot of food in front of her at once it can be overwhelming, also don't let her fill up on milk all day or she'll never eat. And bottom line don't sweat it she'll eat when shes hungry just don't let her take her hunger out on sweets and junk, etc. also vitamins give you an appetite so give her a chewable vitamin even fruit can stimulate her appetite and make sure she gets plenty of exercise to work up an appetite.
Secondly about you you need to connect with other moms where do you live? Good luck!



answers from New York on

One of the things my children loved was a "picky plate" . I would have a variety of simple things - cheese pieces, crackers, cut up fruit, cut up meat, cucumbers, celery sticks, carrots, hard boiled egg - whatever you feel like puttig together.

another idea is dipping - use all natural real peanut butter with apples etc. You could use yogurt. Even a small amount of salad dressing. All vegies will then taste better!!

smoothies with protein powder and fruit, or peanut butter.

Of course, make she has adequate nutrition with good supplementation.




answers from New York on

Hi N.,

I am also a single mother of four and I can relate to the picky eater thing. What works for me is changing up food options and trying easy to make light meals. Sometimes small children get overwhelmed if we go nuts trying to feed them and mealtime becomes a chore for them, instead of enjoyment. Mini pancakes with small cut up fruit and maple syrup or whipped cream is an option; veggie dogs, if you don't like the processed hot dogs, cut them up and wrap them in dough and pop in the oven (like pigs in a blanket); kid-sized yogurt cups, dried cereal or granola bars, grilled cheese (you can add tomatoes) and cut them into shapes; there are also some great kid recipes online to inspire you--if you google it so many will pop up. As for being super mom, give it up--I did a long time ago and it is liberating! Just do your best, give them your love and support, and take a moment for yourself every day, even if it's for ten minutes--we moms need that to recharge. I hope my advice helps. Take care.



answers from New York on

I have a blog called nutrimommy with thoughts and ideas about meals and snacks for kids. best luck,