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Pregnancy & Parenting
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Getting my 4 year old to eat

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Chicken nuggets, fries, chips, grille cheese, raman noodles, chips with cheese, fried rice, some fruits and your typical snacks, but not so much junk.

This is a lost of what my son eats. I tried the dont eat than starve method. He chooses starve and its been going on a while. He refuses to try anything new saying hes *scared*. His 4 year old stepsister will eat anything put in front of him. I need help finding a way to get him to eat. I even tried doing a reward method which has also failed me. I dont give him snacks between meals so that I can build up the hunger, but nothing. All he gets is a vitamin and sometimes he eats breakfast. Im at my witts end with him... Can someone please offer me some help.

Edited Aug 11 2008 18:38 by coach_k
Reason: moved to a more appropriate forum
10 Replies (last)

There was a documentary on BBC a while ago called "My Child Won't Eat".  It might shed some light on your situation.

Here is the link to it on YouTube: 9F4A6FB4E9E

There is a forum on CalorieCount about Selective Eating Disorder that relates to it as well found here.

Im not help but I just wanted to let you know, IM THERE! My 4yo eats nuggets, fries, apples, granola bars, grapes, corn, cheerios, mini wheats, toast, crackers, yogurt and lipton soup.

If I try to get him to just TASTE something else he "gags" and totaly freaks and I know he hasnt even tasted it, its simply in his mouth. Its so so frusterating.

My pedi told me to make him milkshakes and sneak in veggies and fruit.

If I let him, toast and apples would be all he ate. I have a 20mo who will eat anything.

My little angels are 6 and 3.  When my 6 year old was a baby, he would eat anything.  His diet changed somewhere around age 3.  His doc said not to worry.  He will eat when he gets hungry.  His enrgy level and stamina remained the same.  But I was still concerned with nutrients, so I started giving him vitamins.

Here is what I found to help.  Relate his food with his favorite cartoon.  Right now, my 6 year old is into SpongeBob.  I don't care much for that silly cartoon.  But for him, we make it a game - that SpongeBob is in Mom's kitchen making a crabby patty with cheese and ketchup.  I make his hamburger on George Foreman Grill.  He plays SpongeBob and builds his own burger (aka crabby patty).

Hope this helps.  Just make meal time into a game.  Try to get him involved in some of the simple food prep.



You might want to visit the Pregnancy and Parenting forum.  The other mothers and fathers there will give you great advice.

It seems like four is the age to get fussy about food.  I remember all of mine doing that, especially my daughter.  I just kept putting the healthy food in front of her (we don't eat packaged foods) and if she didn't like it then after supper she could have a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk. The rule was, don't complain about it, just wait until dinner is over.  Now she's 30, very atheletic, married and a great, healthy cook.  Just don't make a big deal of it because it then becomes a bid for attention, even negative attention.  Don't make the dinner table a battleground.

Don't worry about starvation unless the child actually loses weight.

Have you tried having him make some of the foods in a "healthy" way?

Chips - you can make pita chips that are pretty easy and healthy. I usually get the high fiber/protein pitas & cut them up into wedges (the adult does this), then the child can "brush" with a bit of olive (substitute with whatever "healthy" oil you like) or spray lightly with a pump spray of oil, sprinkle with seasoning (salt or non-salt flavors), bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.

My kids loved them and I refuse to purchase chips and bring them into the house, so this works out for parties for me.

Another thing we do is "build it yourself" meals. For tacos - they get some high fiber/protein tortillas, a small pile of taco fish, avocado, crunchy lettuce, anything I can see them eating, and the obligatory pile of shredded 75% reduced cheddar. They make a mess on the table and floor, but they eat something and have fun. For Indian food - same concept - rice, curry, & naan (bread) for "make it yourself". They love the hands on thing.

My mom tells me all I would eat was mac and cheese when I was that age, the doctor told her I would get sick of it one day and to do a multi vitamin. I did eat bologna, cheese, & mustard sandwiches all of 4th grade. For 5th grade - just cheese and mustard. I can tell you honestly I cannot stand either combo now, so he will grow out of it eventually! If he doesn't, he'll get mighty used to vitamins!

I agree with what others have said, just put the healthy stuff in front of him with maybe one thing you know he will eat.

My daughter goes through stages with eating, and while she usually doesn't eat a lot, I would consider her a realtively good eater at the age of 2.5, but if I let her, she would have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for EVERY meal.  If I ask her what she wants, thats usually her answer (that or chicken nuggets).  I think the kepy to her good eating habits has been that I have ALWAYS put a good variety of healthy choices in front of her, sure sometimes there are the typical "kid" foods like chicken nuggets, etc. 

Just to give you an idea, when my daughter was a baby and started on solids, she wouldn't eat carrots, but I continued to put carrots in front of her every time we had them with a meal, and she would always not eat them, and when she started talkning tell me, "I don't like it."  But amazingly enough one day a fwe months ago, she started eating carrots, after almost 2 years of refusing them.  Same thing happened with green beans, within the last week, she tried them and ate them after over a year of not even touching them, it was all she ate that night for dinner. 

I think the key is to offer the foods, even if you know they "don't like them" or haven't touched them ever before, maybe suggest gently that he tries it, and then leave it alone and then let them decide what they will eat, and then offer it again and again and again.... The other thing is, DON'T stress about it, its hard when its your child to worry they aren't eating enough, but as long as they have lots of energy and are alert, there is nothing to worry about.  There are nights when my daughter eats one or two bites of her dinner and thats it.  I always remond her that if she doesn't eat, there will be nothing more to eat, and sometimes she will even bug me for a "snack," but honestly if she was really hungry at dinner, she would have eaten something. 

All in all, the list you have, isn't too bad foodwise, you could grate up all kids of veggies and sneak them into the fried rice.  Another thing I found is that if she eats meals with us and notices us eating something that is not on her plate, she often wants to try it. 

Keep at it, if the choices are there, they will branch out as long as you don't only offer the favorites all the time.  And if he doesn't eat a meal, try not to stress about it, the next meal isn't too far away and he won't starve!

In all the baby sites that I have visited or books I have read, they say that a child should try something a minimum of 15 times before it can be ruled out. I'm going to try green beans again this weekend for my little baby. We'll see.

Maybe, if your child sees you eating the food, then she'll want to as well? Also, maybe have her "help" you prepare the food, that way she'll have some intrest in what it could taste like. Like the mixing or spreading, stuff like that. The most important thing is to not stress out and make it a battle. 99% of the time a child will eat when they are hungry, you just have to hold out and be firm. "This is what is for dinner. If you don't want it, then you can have an ( fruit or veggie) and then go to bed." or something along those lines

 My parents had a rule that the kitchen was closed after dinner, so if you didn't eat dinner, tough. You would have to wait until Dad got up at 0400 sol you could get something to eat.

What I have done (and still do) with my daughter (she's now 6) is I'll serve her everything we have for dinner...meat, vegetable, and a carb side.  Usually, she's a big fan of the carb side (pasta or potato).  I'll serve her less of that than the rest.  Like clockwork, she'll eat the pasta/potato first and want seconds of it.  The rule is, no seconds unless she finishes (at least) her vegetables.  If that doesn't happen then no seconds of anything.  She is now a big fan of brocolli and corn and will tolerate different variations of mixed veggies.

My son is 5 and he decided he was going to be a vegetarian(not a big deal because I've been one for 7 years) a couple of months ago minus the vegetables.  He hasn't eaten a vegetable in 3 years at least not one in its original form.  I hide them in everything I make from pizza to muffins.  He still gets the veggies on his plate but instead of wasting them I puree them and add them to whatever his is eating the next night.  I have to do the same thing with fruit since he won't eat any of that either.  His doc tells me not to worry that at some point he will eat like a normal person but I still have my doubts.  He is the only person I know that will not eat any type of pasta or cereal.  And with all his eating issues the doc says he is growing fine.  My advice is to hide them in everything (you'd be surprised whats in the sauce I use for pizza) or maybe to try the meatless chicken nuggets my son loves them. Try not to to worry to much as long as he is growing he is probable fine and remember there are kids who eat worst(mine!)

I have a great solution for you!  Jessica Seinfeld wrote this wonderful cookbook called "Deceptively Delicious".  It has recipes that help you to add veggies into kid friendly foods.  The chicken nuggets are outstanding but instead of rolling chicken in egg, you roll it in carrot puree before cooking so the kids are getting veggie nutrients with their chicken nuggets.  The mac-n-cheese recipes includes some cauliflower.  We just got the cookbook and are still experimenting but it's been great for getting extra servings of veggies, vitamins, and nutrients into everyone's tummies!!

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