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Toddler Doesn't Eat

My son is almost 4 years old and I think "picky eater" is an understatement. He flat out does not eat. He hates the idea of a meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) even though my husband and I try to make it as positive as possible. The only type of breakfast he will eat is dry cereal (mostly cocoa puffs, apple jacks, SUGAR). He loves sweets, of course, he's 3! I can get him to eat snacks like popcorn, pretzels, yogurt, etc. but I don't like the thought of him getting so used to it that we can't all enjoy a meal together. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Asked by BraydonsMama262 at 10:28 PM on Dec. 27, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 13 (1,323 Credits)
Answers (16)
  • When he's hungry, he will eat what ever you put in front of him. Offer only healthy choices. No special meals- he has what the rest of the family is having. You're the boss!

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 10:49 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • I don't like to make other moms feel bad when it comes to this one. But, on the other hand, I think America has a big problem when it comes to unhealthy diets leading to chronic disease and obesity. My kids eat. For instance, their breakfast was a salad with spicy jalapeno baked potatos (like chunks) with a fried egg, carrots, avocado, apple and on some kind of greens blend with arugula, kale, and spinach. And they ate it all. Now, just to make this all crazy for you, we used to chew (in our own mouths) the food that we were eating, and that was our kids' baby food. We did not and do not (usually) feed them processed, cooked food out of jars. We don't own a high chair. They are always on our laps at mealtime (even the 3 month old just sits and watches, i let her sniff, occasionally lick, and I blow the smell of the food in her face). *By the way, the food we chew for them is always whole food unsalted.

    Answer by LaMama7 at 11:08 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • So, from a very young age, they ate raw fruits and vegetables, some cooked. We were not too picky about forcing them to eat anything, but we eat everything. You can't expect your child not to be picky if you are picky. I mean, they eat brussel sprouts, beans, broccoli, everything! Okay, here's a little more truth: My daughter does not like mushrooms. Do we serve them to her? Yes! Do we demand she eat them? Usually not. Sometimes we ask her to eat one or two, etc. I have no doubt she will grow to like them. But that's just something she doesn't like. My son doesn't like cooked carrots. I don't force him to eat them because I know this is a true distaste (and he likes raw, so I'm a happy mama!). My daughter lately has been eating all of the savory or sweet things off of her salads and not wanting to finish her avocado or greens and this is frustrating, but that's where we draw the line.

    Answer by LaMama7 at 11:11 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • Stop feeding the sweets and snacks.
    Period. I am opretty sure we have had this discussion before.

    Answer by Dardenella at 11:12 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • We simply say (and DD is 3 now), the rule is that if it's a salad meal, you eat the whole thing (I wouldn't actually make her eat the cooked potatoes or egg if she didn't want it but ate the rest). It's the same thing for other meals, you must eat anything raw. If there isn't anything raw, the rule is they have to eat all of whatever is green or whatever is a vegetable. Something like that. We don't do it in a mean way, but we are very consistent. Some days my DD will challenge this (rarely ever my DS, so I know when I can be more lenient with him like our spicy soup the other day that I let him go without), but in general she knows the rules and is a very healthy eater. *By the way, we went to kids party the other day and I let them have pizza, I noticed the other kids only took one or two bites and my kids ate everything on their plates - nuggets, pizza, cupcakes, oh my! Those things we RARELY ever eat, what a treat!

    Answer by LaMama7 at 11:15 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • Phew, sorry so long, I am definitely new! And long winded!

    Answer by LaMama7 at 11:19 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • Get rid of the sugary cereals. Don't serve them. Put the meals in front of him. If he gets hungry enough, he'll eat them. If he doesn't eat them, don't make an issue of it. Take the food away, and let him go about his business. Don't give him junk between meals. Offer him what was served at the meal if he asks for food. If he turns it down, he gets nothing else. He either eats real food, or he doesn't eat. Outlast him. You'll win. But don't beg, don't yell, don't fuss, don't make it a battle of wills. Be matter-of-fact. Just don't let Cocoa Puffs and pretzels be an option till he learns to eat meals with the family.

    Answer by Ballad at 11:57 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • My DS did the same at that age...never ate. I took him to the Dr and she said he will eat what he wants and no more. He was healthy and she considered this normal, not concerned. Some kids are like this. DD was the opposite. She ate everything. They are now 13 and 9 and are still like this. I wouldn't worry about it.

    Answer by jenny3344 at 11:57 PM on Dec. 27, 2013

  • He can't eat what isn't in the house. Stop buying him sugary crap cereals. He will learn to eat healthy foods, maybe just a few bites at a time, if that is all that is available. You are doing him a disservice by catering to his "picky" attitude. Your job as a parent is to provide a healthy meal. His job is to eat or not. He'll eat when he is truly hungry.

    Answer by balagan_imma at 12:57 AM on Dec. 28, 2013

  • It doesn't have to be complicated. In our house we eat 6 small meals. When they were young, I kept plenty of fruits and veggies available for any time. Now, when they have the choice between fruit or sweets, they always go for the fruit I keep in a large basket on the counter. It's simple, you are the boss. You buy the food. Buy healthy foods, and he'll eat when hungry. If he has a sweet tooth, he'll probably end up liking fruits a lot, so get him to find a favorite veggie too.

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 1:06 AM on Dec. 28, 2013

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