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HELP! Any advice on how to get my son to eat more foods?

Posted by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:11 PM
  • 9 Replies

 My 3yr old son will only eat 3 things: nuggets, pancakes and french fries. He wont eat anything else. He is on vitamins that were prescribed by his doctor but I still would like to see him eat a bigger variety of food. He is very healthy though, when I take him to the doctor and share with them that he only eats those three foods, they cant believe it because his weight if just fine. He does eat a bigger variety of cookies, but dont eat candy or chips. Sadly I get excited to see him eat anything new, even if it is a cookie.


I also would like advice on how to get him to drink out of a cup. He is attached to his sipping cups. Its so bad to where I cant even switch out his cups and buy new ones because he wont use the new ones, he just likes the older ones, which are starting to fade.

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:11 PM
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Well with the sippy cup thing, I don't have any clue. My 2 year old still uses one and she will not even try an "adult cup".

DD is also a very picky eater. I am not sure if it will help you, but I always feed her favorites to her, but at the same time the rest of the family is eating. I ask her if she wants a bite. She's nonverbal, so she either turns her head or runs away from me. I don't know if its smell or look because sometimes she will not even try it. But on that occasion I feel it is a win, she may take a bite from my plate. If she doesn't like it, she'll spit it out. But that shooting star moment she sometimes eats it and loves it. And then I have a new food to feed her.

The other thing that she sometimes has issues with, we tried to feed her sausage (off a fork) one day, she refused to eat it. Her dad then gave her a bite (not on a fork) and she loved it. And still eats it. Maybe its the utensil, who knows but will take anything. She only eats two types of meats, now three so I will take it as I can.

Gook luck and don't give up!

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 9:22 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of oral defensive! I understand your frustration.

Is it a texture thing? If so, offer similar foods along with same foods. Some days they are more open to trying, other days it won't fly. And don't stress or push it - just sit back and see.

My son is not a huge meat eater. So I offer yogurt on those nites.

Hang in there.

As for the sipy - have you tried straws? My boys love them. The wilder the better. And our OT recommended them to help with oral defensive. 😉
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by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 10:28 PM

We haven't tried it yet (due to restricted diet requirements to eliminate allergies) but Food Chaining is something I have been recommended to read up on multiple times.  I got a book off amazon on it but haven't had time to read it yet.  Basically the foundation is identifying what your child likes and more importantly DOESN'T like about food - texture, color, smell, chunks, they have like 20 categories to place his foods in to identify their similarities and therefore help you identify what you need to do with new foods to make them accessible to your kiddo.  A lot of feeding specialists will use this technique but they must have received training in it! 

Just off the top all your son's foods are very light colored - something very common to autism.  They are also higher in starch and carbs - if there is a yeast issue he might be craving those foods in order to satisfy bad bugs in his guts.  They are also all easily digestible so if his tummy is hurting him these are very easy on it.

Now having said all this, my son's diet is primarily canned fruits of various types, hotdogs of all meats (nitrate free... yeah the HEALTHY hotdog), chicken nuggets, fries, strawberries, and blueberries.  He drinks water and DariFree potato based "milk".  There were many other wheat and milk based foods he loved but those are off the list for a while! 

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 10:41 PM

 Im really not sure what it is with my son. I think it may be the texture. He hates having something on his hands. If i am eating something he will come up to me and examine my plate but wont eat anything from it. Sometimes when he gets close to me i put whatever i am eating on his mouth, and he will lick it to taste and wipe the rest off. He even does this when I put ice cream on his lips.

He doesnt really care to use a fork or spoon, but I am trying to get him use to using them. I have to sit there and make sure he uses the fork to grab his pancakes, because he rather use his hands.

I just think he doesnt like change, because if i introduce a sweet food to him, he still wont eat it because its new. I just dont know what to do to get him to eat other food or drink from a cup.

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 10:43 PM

I tried to use straws but he will take the straw out the cup and chew the straw. He is so picky that he will only use the same cup. If I go buy another cup that is the exact shape but has a different cartoon character on it he will not drink from it. 

by on Oct. 3, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Do you have any programs in your area that address feeding problems in kids with special needs? We know of one, but it is too far away from us. Perhaps there is one in your area. Some people have problems with the use of the muscles in their mouth, tongue, and throat. Motor coordination and sensory issues can both be contributing to the problem and making him feel uncomfortable eating new food textures.

My son has oral sensory problems. He also spent years being terrified of using anything other than his own special cups for drinking. He was literally afraid of certain cups. He also can't stand the visual sight of many foods and has extreme anxiety about many foods. Understanding his problems has helped us learn to gradually desensitize him to these new things. He eats more things each year. We first get him used to the sight of the food over and over before we attempt to get him to eat the food. It takes many times of even seeing or smelling the food before he can bring the food close to his mouth. You may try putting the new cup beside the old cup at meals so he gets used to the cup for several days. Try to tell him it is his cup and when he is ready to use it, he can use it. This no pressure method finally helped our son transition to new cups.

((Hugs)) Good luck with everything.
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by Member on Oct. 4, 2012 at 11:21 AM
When we are trying to add new food to our son's diet, I try for similar textures at first. So in your case, maybe sweet potato fries, homemade pancakes (you can sneak all kinds of stuff in pancakes!) and maybe muffins.

I've also found it helpful when I'm introducing something new to make sure he's hungry (so we might skip a snack before a new dinner). If its something I'm really not sure he'll eat, I'll get a highly preferred food (for Will Ian's alphabet potatoes) and alternate a bite of the less preferred for the preferred.

For the sippy, we had something he loved and hardly ever gets (in his case, those ridiculously expensive gluten free Oreo type cookies). For every sip out of the big boy cup, he got a piece of cookie. Also lots of praise helped.

We still have a long way to go, but I did notice that when we got him trying more foods, he became more open to subsequent experiments. By far the hardest part was the beginning.
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by on Oct. 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

There are some good suggestions here - I can add that sense of smell is huge factor for our son.  He likes cinnamon, so we add it to some unlikely items sugar & cinnammon apple slices for example. 

I agree that the no pressure method has been most successful w/our son.  He seems ready to try new things when he is ready, not when we want it!  We just have to keep offering in a nonjudgemental way.

by on Oct. 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I feel you'r strife! My 3yr old dd use to eat EVERYTHING, but once she was dx'd with PDD-NOS, and i read about how her GI problem could be attached to the ASD, well i cut out the dairy first and saw a HUGE change, i mean my dd use to eat cheese HAND OVER FIST, and drank milk..but it was almost like she was ADDICTED to it! Once it was removed from her diet, within a week her BM's changed, and she didn't have these painful gas episodes. So i then removed Glueten...and that too made a HUGE soon as she started with the gf/cf diet ALL of the other foods (veggie and fruits) she use to eat...she didn't want anymore! My dd use to eat sliced pears,bananas,apples,kiwis...steamed carrots,and suddenly the meere sight of them pissed her off, and the texture of things made her gag...which was confusing because she had NO problem with the texture of a bananana before *shrug*. 

  So now, my dd has her gluten and casein free chicken nuggets (now mind you i have tried NUMEROUS recipes for EVERYTHING macaroni and dairy free cheese, gluten free breads, dairy/gluten free pizzas, etc and she wont try them)...her gluten free apple/cinnamon rice cakes...and i make her smoothies! I use coconut milk (vanilla flavored), coconut milk yogurt (again vanilla), fresh fruits (strawberries,banana's,pineapple,papaya's,cactus pears,dragon fruit,kiwi,or pomegrante..not ALL in one smoothie i mix n match)...and i steam veggies or even easier i will buy the organic Gerber veggies (Carrots,sweet potatoes,green beans,and squash..NO corn or peas)...and i blend them, and then strain it into a sippy cup and put in the fridge. she LOVES THEM!!!!!!!!!! My dd's pediatrician and her GI doc both said that its a great way to get a child to taste,and ingest the right veggies and fruits on a daily basis (of course i and they would prefer she ATE them but since she wont this is one way to get them in her) Plus, i give her supplements..probiotics,omega 3/6/9,GABA,DHA,EPA,Zinc,Mag/Calcium,vitamins a,c,and D...i mean you'd be amazed at the nutrients and vitamins a kid is defieciant in when they are "picky eaters".

 Now the sippy cup thing, i too am struggling dd just WILL NOT use a straw...and she bites on the sippy spout so we are buying new ones (but they have to be the SAME EXACT CUP **design/color**) i too would LOVE some helpful info on that

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