Picky Eater - Waldorf, MD

Updated on July 18, 2008
B.W. asks from Waldorf, MD
17 answers

I have a three year old son who is a very picky eater and always has been this way. Right now his diet consist of Fruit Loops, pizza, potato chips and crackers. He is slowing getting tired of pizza, just like he did with chicken nuggets. My husband and I are trying new things with him but it is a STRUGGLE! While trying new foods on a Saturday morning, (oatmeal with apples and eggs) he had a bad reaction that had us rush him to the emergency room. Come to find out he is allergic to apples and eggs. Now it seems like he is scared to eat anything. I would be too if I was in his shoes. But I really want to try different foods, so when he is tired of pizza I will have something else for him besides his usual. PLEASE HELP!!! Thanks in advance for the advice

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A.F.

answers from Washington DC on

Rice is a very nutritios food. Thousands of people in the world live on it. I would try rice and fruits. If he is allergic to apples he may also be allergic to pears because they are closly related. How about bananas, plums, peaches, melon? These fruits are rich in Vitamin C and A and potassium. Beans or peas go good with rice to make a complete protein. Sometimes when you make food look pretty it is more inviting to eat it. AF

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K.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Trying new foods is great, but you need to be offering healthier foods, so that at least the small amount that he does eat will be good for him.

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H.E.

answers from Norfolk on

We have a two bite minimum rule for everything. Many kids will say they don't like something, and your brain still tells you that after the first bite, but the second bite sometimes gets them to say, hmmmmm. Also, every time we have that food they must do the two bites. I have a 9 and 8 year old, boys, and they eat just about anything now. I also have an 8 month old, and even though she sometimes turns up her nose at items, I still give them to her the next time. She is starting to eat pasta now, whereas before she would spit it out.
Good luck.

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D.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I'm just writing to reinforce the idea of having him help make some foods. My two year old makes green bean casserole and I'm not kidding, he eats it for snack. Same thing with oatmeal. We do 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 cup raisins, 2 cups whole grain 1 minute oats, and 4 1/4 cups milk. Bring to boil, simmer one minute, let cool. We bring this with us for snack, he eats it for breakfast, before bed, whenever. It's healthy and filling. Try letting him make other foods too and it might surprise you. Good luck.

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S.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I have had a couple of very picky eaters and the best info. I got was from a nutritionist. Children in general like repetition so it is normal for them to want to eat the same thing for a while and then move on to something else. She said on average a child needs to see a food 10 times before they will accept it into their routine. I have found it takes more than that for my picky eaters. I just keep putting new things on the plate every now and then and only asking for them to try a bite. I ask for more from an older child. My picky daughter would not eat eggs for years and then woke up one morning and they were her favorite. For my boys that have never been too picky I served salad with dinner for a long time with no love for it and now that they are older they enjoy salad. He will eventually eat more foods. I would just keep healthy options in the house for him to choose from and be careful of foods that are likely allergens.

R.D.

answers from Richmond on

when i had my first daughter, she was like that, PICKY! when i had my second daughter, i realized how unhealthy we were all eating... and changed it ASAP. at first, my kids wouldnt eat ANNNNYTHING... but i stayed strong. if they didnt like it and didnt eat it, they didnt eat. i didnt STARVE my children by ANY means, but if they were hungry, they could eat whatever i made, all fresh stuff, fruits, veggies, you name it. slowly but surely, they realized i meant business, and came to like those foods by repetition. now, all they want is oatmeal and fresh fruit for breakfast, PB&J and applesauce for lunch, and grilled chicken with broccoli or green breans for dinner. trust me, stick with your guns, and it WILL get better!!

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M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Hello,
I too have a picky eater. He is three years old also. His diet consists of pancakes with strawberries, home made pizza (sometimes) PB & J sandwhiches occasionally, and chicken nuggets with cucumbers.
I have been making beef stew with lots veggies and puree it and I sometimes add white rice to the food precessor and puree it all together and he eats it with baby food fruits. like one spoon of fruit mixed with the puree to disguise it a little :-)
I am not sure if trying to make some kind of stew and puree some foods and vegggies might help.
I also sneak ham and other veggies puree also into the tomato sauce for his pizza.
If you will like some more ideas please don't hesitate to email me at [email protected]____.com
i will be more than happy to help you.
I hope I was helpful
have a wonderful day!
M.

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L.C.

answers from Norfolk on

If he still likes pizza, you can get the premade dough, and make your own pizza, and put on it whatever you want. That way he gets his comfort food, and you can make sure he is getting the meat and veggies he needs.

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E.M.

answers from Washington DC on

First of all I would remove potato chips and fruit loops from his diet. I realize it is hard to do that when you only have 4 things he eats, but those really aren't much food. I realize that means you only have pizza and crackers left. I would add ensure or pediasure to the diet and see if that works to get the vitamins his growing body needs. Then I'd make a few odds and ends items for him to try each meal...

- shell pasta or alphabet pasta are fun to pick up and eat and if you get whole grain, it is better for you.

- mini meatballs - make them out of ground beef and make them only 1/2 and inch or so in diameter. Freeze them and then quickly fry them in some olive oil and they will stay together. Give him some dipping sauces to choose from... ketchup, ranch dressing, bbq sauce. We have a few little plastic cups from Target that are perfect for holding dipping sauces. Offer the dips with multiple meals. I'd never dip a bean in ketchup, but if my kid will eat the bean that way... go for it.

- get some toothpicks and let him eat his food with that. It makes it more fun so they enjoy the act and focus less on the food. Just watch him because they can poke.

- make fun food and let him help. Buy the pizza boli ready made dough, pizza sauce and cheese. Maybe he'll want to add another thing to the pizza. Does he like any other toppings? Cut a hotdog lengthwise multiple times till you get thin strips. Boil it (they curl up) and then pretend it is worms. Give him a few raisins (Watch him carefully for choking) and pretend they are ants. Heck, let him make chirping bird sounds before he eats a worm.

- make a sandwich and cut it in fun shapes. Does he like cheese? We do "no cook" cheese sandwiches and cut them in big flower, butterfly or heart shapes. PB&J, bologna, all sorts of choices. He may not like everything, but try it. You can cut the sandwiches with mini cookie cutters to get 3 bite sandwiches and sometimes we use crackers.

- try mini ritz bits cheese or peanut butter crackers for snacks or sides for lunch. Try mini goldfish and little pretzels.

- make pasta and change up the pasta sauce to see what works. Salted butter is usually a hit, ranch dressing, spagetti sauce, pesto sauce, alfredo sauce. It's a pain to use the large jars of sauce and then have to store it. Use a spoon to fill up an ice tray and freeze it. Then pour the frozen cubes of sauce in a ziploc freezer bag and label it. Use the cubes as you need them.

- lastly, and probably most importantly, give him small bits of food the adults are eating and make it appetizing. Use a couple of large peas or carrot slices to make eyes and a nose. Use a green bean to make a mouth. Use mandarine oranges (a favorite in our house) for ears and maybe some pasta for some hair.

- a child can go without a full meal if need be. Sometimes we tell our children they have to eat 2 or 3 bites of something and hold our fingers up. When they eat one bite, one finger goes down. It makes it a challenge to get the fingers down fast. Make meal time fun if you can and try to include something he likes with something he isn't sure about. Give him a few choices and test things out. Sauces are great because they disguise the taste of things we don't like. Go for it, but don't let them use the veggie as a spoon (sucking the sauce and leaving the veggie).

- scrambled eggs with american cheese is sometimes fun. pancakes (get the ones with milk and eggs and you know he's getting that nutrition too). Waffles (mini eggos) are great for quick meals and by all means... pick out some nutritious cereal and get him hooked on that. Coco puffs and Fruit Loops and things of that nature will say they have some nutrition... try Puffins cereal or Cheerios or Special K with strawberries... those are tasty but have more nutritious value. Try not to hook him on sweets and salts or he'll always want to turn his nose up at normal nutritious stuff for the chips, cookies and fruit loops.

We've had a fabulous eater and a picky eater and it has caused us to have to think outside the box. Pick up a kids cook book and let him help you make something fun. A smoothy with yogurt, milk and maybe some bananas. Fun to make and drink and really good for you. Explore different fruit in the grocery store and let him pick something out to try.

He is probably going to balk at the pizza soon. Can you imagine eating the same food day in and day out? Good luck getting him to open up to choices. I know it is hard. Just hang in there and know that if he refuses, he really won't wilt away in one day, you can be firmer with him and insist he eat something new every day... even if it is one bite. Also, try to be positive, make it fun and turn it into a game like who can eat the bean first. My daughter will eat most things as long as we eat them at the same time. I have a big fork full and she usually has one. But it works. Maybe make a chart of good eating and give him a sticker to put on it if he successfully tries one new thing. IF he likes it, write it down on the chart. Let him choose an item to have for dinner at least once a week (other than pizza) so he's in charge of the items he's going to be asked to swallow.

Good luck.
Liz

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M.K.

answers from Washington DC on

If you make pizza yourself you can put all kinds of things on it to vary your sons diet and it still looks like pizza! Different chopped veggies, different kinds of sauces, different meats and cheeses. You can make a mexican pizza with beans, cheese, meat, or whatever you like on your tacos.

You should involve your son in choosing and preparing the food and then maybe he will be more willing to try new things. Colorful stirfries are fun, and he could help by pouring different things in the skillet while you stir, or by measuring the sauce. My son loves to help stir things I am cooking and helping me measure. He is 2.5. He also just likes to watch.

It is normal for kids to really like something for a few days or weeks and eat it everyday and then not want it for awhile. My son does this a lot.

L.M.

answers from Dover on

My now 16 year old son has always been a picky eater (he's getting better and he likes some wierd things too) but my 19 month old daughter seems to love everything!

With both, I have always tried something a few times, if they really don't eat it (after a few consecutive tries) then I wait awhile and try it again. For my daughter, that worked with pasta.

I would suggest letting him make his own pizzas and/or making it a variety of ways...on english muffins, hamburger ,hot dog, and/or sub rolls, bagels, flat breads, and maybe even tortilla rolls. You can also use croissant dough (like the Pillsbury croissants in the dairy section at the grocery store) and make a pizza roll out of it. You can also do that with other fixings than just pizza (like hamburger and cheddar cheese for a cheesburger roll, taco meat and cheese for a taco roll, other meats and veggies as chopped or chunky as you like). If you are interested in how I make those, email me directly at [email protected]____.com and I will explain in detail...it is actually easy.

To get him to try more things, maybe buy some meats from the deli case (like bologna, ham, or especially turkey/chicken but not the roll...try the regular meats). Have them slice it about 1/4 - 1/2 thick (like in lunchable meals) and then use cookie cutters to cut in different shapes. Do the same with cheese. You can also try tuna and/or chicken salad on plain crackers...my daughter loves those (just don't put a lot in the tuna or chicken just a bit of mayo and the meat). Another idea is toast with a variety of toppings...peanut butter, jellies, marmalades (my son liked apple butter).

I don't mean to second guess you but are you sure he is allergic to BOTH the apples and the eggs? I am only asking because at age 3, I would have thought that he would have had both before (especially the apples...applesauce and apple juice both alone and with other combinations as well as in cereal). If only the oatmeal and eggs were new...maybe one of them were the true cause. If all were new, it is likely that only one was the cause...not all three or both. Not that it is not possible but it is unlikely. You of course no better than I do but did your son ever have apples before and have an allegic reaction?

Best of luck to you.

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J.L.

answers from Richmond on

Hi!
I don't know if I can offer any real advice to you but I also wanted to let you know that you are not alone with your struggle! My son will be turning three in August and his diet consist only of cheerios, chicken nuggets, pizza, plain toast with Jelly, and yogurt. I have tried to sneak in veggies in his meal, but he wants nothing to do with it. How do parents get their kids to eat a well balanced diet?

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K.T.

answers from Washington DC on

If he is interested in pizza (although he is now getting tired of it) try making different kinds at home. You can make all kinds of pizza now with alot of different things. Check out some recipe websites for some suggesstions. Place the ingrediants out and allow him to choose which ones he would like to try on the pizza. This way you have a chance to incorporate new things into his diet and he still feels in charge of what he eats.

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A.R.

answers from Norfolk on

I"m sure you've probably thought of this but sounds like he should be allergy tested. Explain to him then that the Dr tested and "these foods" are safe for him to eat. Maybe if he knows they're OK he'll be more likely to give them a try.

Also if he's getting tired of pizza maybe revisit some of the foods he's eaten before like nuggets. Have you tried sneaking some extras into the pizza like chicken or veggies, even extra veggies in the sauce (he doesn't have to know about them. (try making your own pizza with either Boboli crust or one you've made yourself and let him experitment with putting things on)

Maybe try the book "Deceptively Delicious" or "The Sneaky Chef" both written by Mom's that wanted to get more good stuff into their kids so they hide pureed fruits and veggies in other things the kids will eat.

The egg allergy will make things more difficult but there are alot of products out there that are "free" of different allergens now, you might have to hunt but they're out there either online or in the natural foods section at the grocery---Ukrops has a good natural/special foods department.

Good luck1 A. (mom to Olivia-peanut alllergy and Andrew-eczema)

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A.D.

answers from Washington DC on

My 5yo son has always been a very picky eater. We read "Green Eggs and Ham" to him everynight for a week. Now if he doesn't eat it we say "Green Eggs and Ham" and he will try 1 bite. 75% of the time he thinks it's "yucky" but it is helping little by little. I know it is very trying at times but as long as he is healthy and putting on weight he'll be ok. Have you tried fish sticks with gobs of ketchup??

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L.R.

answers from Washington DC on

The food allergy incident has scared him off trying anything new -- at age 3, being hauled suddenly to the emergency room is scary enough, and he certainly picked up the correct idea that it was new foods that sent him there.

I'm all in favor of new foods, but first, get to your pediatrican (and probably you'll need to get the pediatrician to refer you to a pediatric allergy specialist) and get him tested for other food allergies if possible. If you can know through tests what he's allergic to now, you won't have the scary scenario of feeding him a new food yourself, only to rush off to the hospital again. I don't know what allergies can be tested for, but if I were you I'd check into it now to see if you can avoid another potentially dangerous situation.

Oh, and remember, if he is allergic to eggs he should not have the annual flu vaccine, which is usually manufactured using chicken eggs -- ask your doctor before you get it for him! There may be alternative vaccines for flu.

Meanwhile, take heart as other people here said -- a LOT of kids eat very limited things at many periods of their young lives. Good luck.

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B.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I have personally been lucky in this area, but I have worked with lots of kids that are picky eaters (I'm a pediatric Occupational Therapist). One thing you may want to figure out is if it is just being picky, or does he have issues with eating different textures (or other sensory concerns). If it is due to sensory processing difficulties you may want to check out this website (www.spdfoundation.net) and see if you might need to see a pediatric occupational therapy for overall sensory issues. If you rule this out and he is just a picky eater then a good reading resource is "How to get your child to eat, but not too much" Feel free to contact me if you have further questions or concerns about getting him to eat.

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