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How do you keep a 4 years old healthy that refuses to eat anyting that's not junk food

Everyday is a struggle to just get my 4-year-old step son to eat anything. I make him breakfast and he screams at me "I don't want that," "I'm not going to eat." When my husband and I get so sick of fighting with him we finally say fine eat nothing and wait for lunch. Then lunch rolls around and its a hit or miss on weather the kid feels like eating at that time or not. Then because he hasn’t eaten much all day he will complain for about an hour before dinner that he's hungry, we will tell him to wait for dinner, and when dinners ready all of a sudden "I'm not hungry," "I don't like that," "I'm not going to eat" and on and on it goes. We try to feed the kid things he likes as well as healthy food, but most of the time it doesn’t matter if his favorite food or food he hates he still acts the same way and just refuses to eat anything that’s not a damn cookie!!

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Asked by ashley.mumaw at 2:27 PM on Oct. 17, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (8)
  • What's his mom give him?

    I want to make a joke and ask "Who's in control" or "Who does the shopping" or does mom give him junk foods? If he shares visitation with both parents, maybe mom should pack him a care package or work with you two to figure out how to get him to eat. Maybe it's him showing his "independence."

    There's a lot of missing information, so real advice is hard to give.

    I'd say find a good cookie recipe made with wholesome and nutritious foods (the recipes are out there) but it would defeat the purpose of having you and your hubby make te final decisions regarding what the child should eat!

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:32 PM on Oct. 17, 2009

  • You can't give in, and that's that. The first and every time you do, it's re-enforcing his negative behavior and teaching him that he will get results. Offer him two choices on what to eat,and if refuses both, don't give him anything. He WILL eventually eat, when he gets hungry enough. When he complains that he's hungry, bring out the same food again and offer it to him. it's very, very unlikely that he doesn't like what you're offering...he simply wants a cookie more. It's hard to do this, I'm sure,but it's what has to be done, and not to be harsh, but it's laziness on your and your husbands part if you give in. Be tough, and eventually your son will learn....and it's truly for his own good.

    Answer by StefanieN84 at 2:34 PM on Oct. 17, 2009

  • I was going to say the same things.. about the shopping. My kids don't ask for cookies because i don't buy them. The closest they get to that junk is those 100 calorie packs and that's for school snack. I have a 3 almost 4 year old and if she refuses to eat SHE CAN STARVE!! Leave his dinner on the table and when he is ready to eat then you can remind him that his dinner is on the table!!
    good luck and I hope this helps


    Answer by Mrs.Oriaku at 2:49 PM on Oct. 17, 2009

  • Try letting him help you fix the food. That worked with mine. Usually they will eat better if they help make it. It may just be an attention thing.

    Answer by annthomas at 3:15 PM on Oct. 17, 2009

  • thank you for all your answers, I think the biggest problem we are having is that when he's at his mother house she just lets him eat and do whatever he wants because she doesn’t want to deal with it so when he's at our house he thinks he can get away with what ever he wants and we don’t allow it. We never give into him when he's at our house. I never buy cookies, sweets, or anything with a ton of sugar in it for the kids; but because there mommy always does they think they can have it at our house too. I always give them nothing but healthy and nutritious foods to eat at our house, I'm just afraid that since the kid never eats at our house and then goes to his mothers house and gets whatever he wants that he will end up healthy. it's so hard to make progress with him because every time we do he goes back to his mothers for a few days and we are right back at square one!

    Answer by ashley.mumaw at 3:48 PM on Oct. 17, 2009

  • My step son was the same way when he was younger. He is 11 now and knows that what is on his plate is what is for dinner. His mother feeds him nothing but junk. If it is not fast food it is a little debbie cake or coco puffs. All I did was make one meal and put a serving at his place at the table. If he ate then he ate. If not it was put in the fridge until he was hungry. It took much longer to get the point across with him than with my own kids bc he does go back to his mothers and all my work was undone. But it did work. He now knows not to even ask so sugary snacks while here-i don't buy them. Also he knows that I always make his lunch for school bc he is known to buy soda and icecream with the money he was supposed to buy lunch with. Just stick to your rules, NEVER give in. He will get it and slowly the fight will get easier and then stop.

    Answer by Carajust at 5:58 PM on Oct. 17, 2009

  • Don't have the junk food accessible! I don't keep junk food in my house so my kids don't eat it. On a rare treat I might get some snake cakes or something like that. My kids don't like it and will ask for carrots or broccoli for a snack.


    Answer by Anonymous at 7:12 PM on Oct. 17, 2009

  • Pediasure. I give my dd who is 4 and a very picky eater pediasure with dinner and I feel better about her getting some nutrition. I've also made a "trying new foods" chart. Every time she tries something that she thinks she doesn't like, she gets a star on the chart. Every once in a while she tries something and finds out she likes it.

    Answer by mom2emily at 11:15 PM on Oct. 21, 2009

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