Ask Roni: Feeding a Picky Kid?

http://greenlitebites.com/2011/01/12/ask-roni-feeding-a-picky-kid/

Today I’m answering a question Becca asked about feeding a picky 4 year.

So you talk about your very picky husband and occasionally picky son.  I will say that my husband is actually a very adventurous eater (as I have brought him to that point :). The issue is I have a VERY VERY VERY picky almost 4 year old.  He is getting steadily worse as he gets older.  He was great at 1 and its all goes downhill. He used to at least eat pork and chicken but now those are even off limits. He now eats only chicken nuggets and peanut butter on crackers. I am so ashamed. Anyway, do you have any pointers on feeding a picky kid. If not, could you at least share how you handle meals with picky eaters at the table. Do you make separate meals or offer alternatives?

-Becca

Hi Becca!

Your question could NOT have come at a better time. I swear my 5 year old is getting worse too! It doesn’t help that he’s influenced by his picky dad, friends, food offered at school, and to some extent, me. There are times I’d rather take the lazy way out and succumb to the husbands request to go out, especially being pregnant right now.

All that being said I still fight the fight. The first thing I do is set ground rules. There is nothing off limits (I think that can backfire on you) but there are things you must eat if you want “snacks.” “Snacks” seems to be the word The Little Guy uses to mean anything not good for him, which bugs that CRAP out of me.

We (or I should say, I) also have a rule that there must be a fruit or vegetable (preferably both) with every meal. That means at breakfast we put blueberries, bananas, or anything else we have, in our cereal. When he doesn’t want to, I tell him he has to have fruit on the side. Sometimes he argues and sometimes he wants every fruit in the house. Kids are FICKLE! But I stick to my rule. Even if we split a banana or make a smoothie the little bit he takes in is good and reinforces that I will not negotiate the rule. From what I’ve observed, it ebbs and flows. There are times it’s easy and he just naturally gravitates towards the heathy options. Other times he wants nothing to do with good food and I want to pull my hair out. It’s maddening!

Lunch has been getting harder since school started. I pack his lunch at least 3-4 days a week but he’s been begging me to buy lunch at school. It drives me crazy! I still follow my school lunch rules (click here to read my approach) but more and more the vegetables come back, he doesn’t finish his fruit and sometimes he barely eats anything at all! Again.. DRIVES ME NUTS!

But I continue to follow the rules and sometimes he surprises me and comes home with a completely clean lunch box (although I wonder if he’s smart enough to just dump it at this point. lol) The days that he buys lunch we talk about his choices and he always proud that he picked the fruit or veggie and calls it his “one healthy thing” so I know he’s absorbing what I’m teaching but his “one healthy thing” is not enough in my opinion (normally pineapple chunks paired with chicken nuggets and an ice cream bar)

Part of me would LOVE to control everything that goes in his mouth but as he gets older he’s going to have to make his own choices. My goal at home is to surround him with the good options so he learns what a good choice is. Although Dad’s chocolate cupcakes normally beat out the bananas, I won’t let him dive into the pantry until I know he’s had a few healthy “snacks” first.

Dinner is getting harder and harder as well. As you may have even noticed around here on GreenLiteBite my dinner posts are getting far and few between because I find myself not being able to get as adventurous. It’s hard with a 5 year old AND a picky husband. I feel like I’m fighting a constant battle. As for making separate meals, I am NOT a big fan. There are only a few things I do make substitutes for and most of them are for the husband not the kid. There is only one thing I make special for the 5 year old and it’s fish sticks when we are eating fish. He has never liked the texture of fish, even when he was little. So I cave and buy him traditional fish sticks when the husband and I have salmon or tilapia. Even though he has the fish sticks, I still have him take at least 1 bite of my fillet. One day I know he’ll change his mind, I just know it! :)

Other then that I do NOT make any alternate meals. I think you have to find what works for your family with out guilt! I really try to balance what I know they will eat with what I know is healthiest for us. ‘What I know they’ll eat’ is also made the healthiest possible way. For example, I know they will eat fried rice, so I make it with brown rice and load it up with veggies, like Kale.

As for handling meals at the table with picky eaters I have one rule… YOU MUST TRY EVERYTHING! I don’t care what it is. When trying something new on the family I will serve it with two other things I know they do like so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. This rule has worked many many times.

Fresh From the Farm Vegetable Soup with Leeks and Kale - taste test

Both husband and child were totally freaked out by my roasted Brussels sprouts now they love them. Both put up so many complaints about the beets that I wanted to smack them (seriously, click here to see my husbands face). They aren’t their favorite but when I serve them, they eat them. I think teaching kids that they don’t have to absolutely LOVE everything they eat is a good thing. That sometimes you eat out of respect for the person who made you the meal. Sometimes you eat because you know it’s good for you. And sometimes you eat because it tastes good and you want it. These three things are all very important but I find too many kids are just given a free pass on the first two.

What do we do at the dinner table when he refuses to try that “one thing”? He sits there until he does. I don’t feel guilty or bad about this. I’m not forcing him to eat an entire plate worths, it’s just one bite. He must take the bite if he wants to leave the table. Have there been screams and crying and headaches and frustration… OH.MY.GOD.YES! But I stuck to my guns between the ages of 2-4 and now he just knows. He takes the bite, makes a face, says he doesn’t like it and we move on. Sometimes he surprises himself and likes it. Sometimes he really doesn’t. BUT HE TRIES IT! I really think that is key. The more tastes, texture, and foods you can get your kids to try the more they will like. There are times he hates something he liked last time and there are times he LOVES something he swore to me he would never eat. That’s why it is SO important to get them to try and to not give up.

I do have to add, I take opportunities as they come. For example and this may be TMI for some of you. There were a few times, especially when we are on vacation where Little Man got, umm how should I say it, blocked up. Oh, I’ll just say it… constipated. Honestly, it rarely happens because he takes in a LOT of fiber but when it does I tell him straight out, this is what can happen when you don’t eat a balanced diet. We then talk about why fruits and vegetables are so important. I really think education is key. Even if it may be over their heads they are taking in more than we realize.

I also tell him mommy didn’t like certain things when I was a kids either but I do now. We talk about how tastes change and why eating certain things are good for you. He already understands the importance of nutrition without being overly fanatical about it.

Can you tell this is a big topic for me. I have a lot of opinions and theories but there is one thing I really want to stress. Don’t be “ashamed”! You are doing the best you can and there are a LOT of forces working against you. Stand your ground and know at this point your child will NOT starve himself. Remember that it’s ok to make rules and it’s ok to say “NO”. They may cry and scream but they won’t die. If all else fails, compromise. A 4 year old totally understand the concept of “you can’t have that until you eat this.” Besides educating, bargaining is my next line offense. Life is full of compromise, they might a well learn that now.

I hope that helps Becca. Keep fighting the good fight!

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  1. Kim

    I love this question and response! Roni you hit the nail on the head with EVERYTHING you are doing consistently with Ryan. I seriously love how much time you took to answer her question and cover so many areas of the struggle with a picky eater.

    I have 2 kids (21 and 16) and I did the SAME thing their whole life – AND STILL DO!!! LOL! THEY have to try ANYTHING I make every time I make it – and 95% of the time they love it! They usually want to try things because they like the adventure in it. Heck – I can’t eat citrus food because of the texture but I WANT TO – so I make myself try oranges all the time… (I have never eaten a full one!)

    I went so far as to make my kids friends that came to my house for dinner try foods the “didn’t like” – just one bite! The funny thing is, my son had a friend who ate at our house a lot and after a couple months, he started liking tomatoes, onions and mushrooms! All because he HAD to try them each time he came over.

    I have never made special dinners for anyone – except my son’s girlfriend of 2 years. Here is why…

    She grew up with a mom who didn’t cook. She basically had turkey sandwiches, junk food and starchy veggies. When she came into our lives, she told me something that I couldn’t believe…. She hates chicken! OH man! That has been a tough one! She doesn’t like most foods either… all because she grew up never being exposed to them. The GREAT THING about her is this…. she wants to expand her palate – so she trys EVERYTHING I make EVERYTIME I make it! EVEN CHICKEN! We have found she likes chicken made certain ways…. she has found that she likes a few extra veggies… but like your husband – she may try something and not love it – so, I will have a standby “something” for her… Because she knows she needs to try food and have an open mind to get over the funky feelings she has – she is adventerous!

    Now – to any mom out there struggling with the picky eater… Do what Roni is doing… it works… I PROMISE! They won’t starve…. :O)

  2. Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

    I so wis I had started that “having to try it” rule! I get so mad when they wrinkle up their noses before they even taste it. There are things that I KNOW they would like but they won’t even try! It’s annoying. My 11 year old is starting to get a bit more adventurous even though he’s always been the pickiest.

    I do always give parents advice when their kids are young and just starting to give their kids food. Always give the veggies and don’t give the “junk” until they get older! They always get picky at the age of 1 or 1 1/2 when they actually get an opinion. Once they know the difference between peas and pears, they will stop eating the peas and only demand pears. I like to give the veggie first to them before they get the fruit. If they are hungry, they will eat it. :-)

  3. michelle

    I don’t have kids. BUT I remember when my mom started eating ‘real’ food and I hated it. In the US..there’s so much CRAP that you have to try to feed your kids REAL food and it pays off. I think everything that roni said is important. I live with 20 american college kids in Australia and it’s the first time that many of them have ever had to cook for themselves. I also try to give them bites of quinoa, teach them how to cook, marinade things etc.

    PERHAPS, try having your son go shopping, cook with you. I know it may seem like a chore at first, but even if you let him do one thing and then he runs off..I think it builds up. Make smoothies and when he’s not looking throw spinach in it “green monster” and he won’t know.

    it’s about involved I think as much as it is insisting.

  4. Jan

    Roni – I raised my kids exactly the same when it came to food. I just kept telling them that your tastes change so you have to try one bite of everything. I think what really helped my kids was my huge dislike of cooked carrots. Do you know how many restaurants serve cooked carrots??? They would get such a kick out of saying “Mom, your taste may have changed. Take one bite” I have had cooked carrots a zillion ways and still don’t like them :)

    I also taught them to not make faces about food. That just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t. I find it very disrespectful when people make a face and say ewww at a food. It especially bothers me when adults do it. For crying out loud…..just say no thank you and move on.

    One of my boys is now a chef and the other will eat anything put in front of him and loves to try new cuisines.

  5. Caroline Calcote

    Such a great post Roni! I agree with everything you said. I already do most of the things you suggested, and my 6 and 9 year olds are very good eaters. There have been battles and long times sitting at the table waiting for that one (when they were little, or now a few) bites of something, but the 9 year old is completely past that and will literally eat anything even if he doesn’t really like it. We don’t make them eat anything that we don’t think tastes pretty good (not everything will be the best thing you ever tasted), but we definitely don’t do separate meals. The 6 year old still lingers over things he doesn’t like, but he doesn’t argue about it anymore. My friends are amazed at how well my kids eat and how they will make balanced choices even when we are not there.
    I loved when you said, “I think teaching kids that they don’t have to absolutely LOVE everything they eat is a good thing. That sometimes you eat out of respect for the person who made you the meal. Sometimes you eat because you know it’s good for you. And sometimes you eat because it tastes good and you want it. These three things are all very important but I find too many kids are just given a free pass on the first two.”

    I will definitely be talking to my kids in those terms about it. Such a great way to put it. I have always stressed the “respect the cook” thing (since it’s usually me, LOL).

    Keep up the good fight!

  6. Holly

    In our house “snacks” are healthy and “treats” are special, every once and a while foods. I try to reinforce that idea so my kids know nothing is off limits, but that our everyday food should be healthy and nutritious.

  7. Heather

    Love this article. It is reassuring that we are doing the right thing with our 13 year old and we aren’t the only parents trying to instill good eating habits.

  8. Jzbell79

    Agree with other commenters – great response! Makes me feel good about how I’ve been handling mealtime…

    As a recently child-free, single someone who just six months ago jumped into an instant, pseudo-stepmom role with my boyfriend’s two boys (5 and almost 7), I appreciate any and all guidance I can find. Fortunately, they are fairly good eaters already and both LOVE every fruit I’ve ever put in front of them… but we do battle on the veggies now and then. I don’t require them to eat a lot of something they don’t like, nor do I ask them to clear their plates. But they DO have to at least try everything presented, and I do NOT do alternate meals. If they refuse what I’ve cooked or pick the veggies out of my one-dish meals, fine… but they don’t get anything else to eat. And they nearly always seem to come around, eventually. ;-)

    Even long before stepping into these shoes though, I used to tell this to a close friend whose daughter would eat nothing but chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese – “OF COURSE she won’t eat anything else if you only ever give her this.” As others have said, kids are NOT gonna starve themselves.

    For Becca – maybe try fruits or other naturally sweet foods, or perhaps vary what you put on the crackers. how about making good foods fun, like using cookie cutters to make shaped sandwiches or Roni’s fabulous sandwich sushi idea. (my boys LOVE a rolled up wheat wrap with low-fat cream cheese and all-fruit spread – you could try it with peanut butter and jelly too!)

  9. Becca

    Thanks Roni! I am the one who sent the question and I REALLY appreciate that you took the time to respond to it. Not only that but so thoroughly. I just want to say that my son’s picky eating has been my biggest stress lately and its just nice someone took time to listen and answer.

    I love your advice and in a way I have been doing what you said. I am not sure if I am really taking advantage of the teachable moments but I will definitely start. We were doing the “no thank you bite” which is that we have to take one biute and then you don’t have to eat anymore. The problem is that supper was becoming such a battleground that he was not even wanting to come to the table anymore. So then we were also fighting him to just stay at the table and at least eat what he did like. So the last few days I tried a new strategy – ignoring it. We sit at the table and I don’t put anything on his plate and wait for him to ask. He does ask for cottage cheese and sometimes the veggie that he likes. I mean he does eat healhty things like peas and cottage cheese for supper or cheese and a banana but I can’t get him to branch out. I am so sorry that I am rambling back at you again but just wanted to paint the picture a little more. Anyone have advice on if I should go back to forcing the one bite and create mealtime into a literal battle ground (he has actually puked once) or give him some space and time. Maybe if he got back some control he would come around? I am just so scared of doing the wrong thing now and never being able to go back later. I do hope someday he will take the respectful no thank-you bite but I am not sure I can do this right now.

    I am sorry, I feel like I am ranting on your blog when that is not what your blog is about but I just could not help but respond to the great conversation that was started.

    BTW, I have tried everything like making meals fun and letting him cook. I cut funny shapes, make fun colors. He is picky about everything right down to candy. He will not take vitamins or fortified juices. Nothing.

  10. roni

    Becca – No need to apologize! It’s frustrating. I totally get it. I REALLY do. I’m not sure if this helps us or not but I make the plates and just put it in front of them. I don’t say a word. It just is what it is. When Ryan was 4 we went through the same stage you are going through now. I remember it well. He’d whine, complain and a battle would ensue. And like you, there were days I just couldn’t take it and I’m going to be honest… I screamed, he cried and dinner was just not a fun time. It really wasn’t.

    I wish it was easier but I really think you need to stand your ground. I do remember at least 2 nights Ryan went to bed without dinner. Take it one meal at a time. Give him a choice and if he won’t make it, make it for him. Take a deep and know that you are not alone in these battles.

    As for staying at the table. I’d let Ryan get down when he said he wasn’t hungry BUT I set the ground rule that if he wanted anything else to eat he’d have to come back to the table and finish. There were many nights where he would not be happy with dinner, he’s take a few picky bites and say he was done. My response was, “ok, if you aren’t hungry then go play, but if you want a treat later your dinner will be waiting.” An hour later he’d say he was hungry and I’d sit him back at the table. I believe one of these times was the going to bed without dinner night. He simply refused and I wouldn’t cave so I sent him to bed without food.

    Every kid is different but know what you are going through is quite normal. I hate to say it but you got to keep trucking. It will pay off, I have no doubt.

  11. CindyO

    Thank you for a great response, Roni. Not only is it well thought out, but it is easy to tell that your rules work. All of your videos show a very well adjusted, happy little boy. All of your efforts are, indeed, paying off! Thanks for sharing your tips and follow up with us.

  12. Becca

    Thanks again. Its just nice and reassuring to hear. Especially when I get so exhausted of the battle but its great to hear that it could just be a phase and to keep going.

  13. Kiley

    way to go roni! what a great and detailed answer… this question actually made me think of a recent episode of super nanny (haha)- seriously you should check it out… one of the boys ( i think he was 5) refused to eat just about everything with the exception of “snacks” aka junk food and was highly underweight for his age and anemic… i think there is a good lesson to be learned.. if a child won’t eat it’s probably because they know they can eat what the want ( a snack) later because you just want them to eat something. I would try keeping the child at the table and make him try foods again.. make him eat x amount of bites (ex 5 bites of chicken) if you make reasonable goals and set in place rules kids will get it!!!

  14. Kiley

    Hey Becca,

    I just finished reading your response on this post and saw your kid does not like to take vitamins. Have you tried some of the more kid friendly vitamins? I know online they sell gummy worm vitamins and some shaped like gummy bears.

    Also I just wanted to say hang in there. It’s nice to hear he at least enjoys some fruit and vegetables. One of my nutrition professors suggested to put fruit out into candy dishes if you have those around the house for him to much on. If it is out and visible, he is more likely to eat it.

    One more thing. I saw in your post that your child has at one point in time vomited during or after a meal. Most of the time, physical effects such as sickness are from a child’s need for control. It’s kind of like a power/comfort thing. I would suggest after a bad meal, bring him a glass of water to make sure he is hydrated (especially if he vomits) and talk to him about what happens when he doesn’t eat or when he gets sick. Also, maybe try encouraging him to eat more foods like chicken or fish he doesn’t enjoy by presenting examples. Just like milk ads use celebrity faces, maybe try and make someone he admires a prime example (he’s successful because of what he eats etc). Or talk about an activity he loves and the benefits of eating more/better to be able to perform better.

    Hope some of that helps! Keep Strong

  15. Becca

    Thanks Kiley. Not sure you wanted a response but I do give him a gummy bear vitamin. My pediatrician had recommened the chewable as they have iron but I could not get him to take it. He doesn’t really like the gummy vitamin either but I can at least convince him to take it where the chewable caused a bigger trantrum. He loves sports so we tell him how he needs to eat his healthy foods so he can be big and strong to play. No luck yet but maybe it will sink in someday. I have to say the biggest help right now is t.v. Sometimes if he is watching a show and they mention apples then he will eat one. Otherwise no, but at least its something. I love public television great education and our station is always playing information about eating a healthy diet.

  16. Valerie

    It seems like 4 is the age of fussiness. When my youngest was 4, dinner was a battle ground. My boys are really good about eating fruits and veggies. Neither likes cooked carrots nor does the husband so I just don’t make them. I will put raw carrots on the table and they disappear. We have veggies with every meal with little argument. Our eldest isn’t the biggest fan of brussel sprouts but he will have a few.

    I don’t make separate meals but I will take a little meat out from the main batch for the youngest prior to adding sauces. He loves grilled chicken without sauce. I can marinade stuff and we can have sauce on the side for dipping but not ON it. He will eat lasagna now and loves it but won’t eat sauce on his spaghetti noodles.

    I can’t keep fruit in the house. Bananas and grapes are gone before I turn my back after putting them on the counter. The eldest eats canned oranges and peaches (no sugar added of course!) two to three at a time. The youngest devours granny smith apples. I also purchase nectarines, plums, and peaches but only during the summer. I’ve noticed if I put fruit on the counter, it disappears but if it is in the fridge, it stays there until it is unrecognizable as fruit. I have to be careful not to buy too much or it gets wilted and no one eats it.

    Keep fighting the good fight! :)

  17. Jessica

    Roni- I would like to THANK you for sharing how you get The Kid to try new things, etc. Man Cub is 2, almost 3 and I swear he would be perfectly happy with bananas, applesauce, graham crackers and rice. And green beans. I can’t get him to eat whole fruit! No grapes, tomaotes, apples, melon, ANYTHING! I think it’s a texture thing. He will eat his weight in applesauce, but won’t entertain an apple slice. Anyway, he usually requests applesauce at dinner, lunch,or any other waking moment. I make him take ” One more bite” of meat or vegetable before letting him have a cup. There are some screaming, crying meltdowns, some ‘step time’ and I’ve had to evict Daddy from the table too. ( Talk about wanting to SMACK someone! lol) It seems to work and most of the time, all I have to say is ” Take bites” ( grammatical nightmare, but it gets the point across) So,my point is, THANK YOU! Because I read about you doing something similar and it has really alleviated some lunch and dinner stress!

  18. Becca

    I need to try the fruit where he can reach it. I wish I could leave carrots on the table too but I think they would dry out eventually. I just like food cold so I have a tendency to stick it in the fridge. Good idea!

    BTW, Roni, I just wanted to say I love your site. I just tried your sweet dried herb dressing today and loved it!

  19. Mary Nell

    My 3 year old is getting pickier and my 19 month old always has been. I asked my doctor about making separate food for the 19 month old and she advised against it. I always make sure they have something they like for lunch (peanut butter sandwich is the current favorite) with a fruit, very few chips, and a sweet. For dinner, they have to eat whatever we are eating. If they don’t like it, they just go hungry. I have left out a plate of food that the 3 year wouldn’t touch because she said she was done and then right before bedtime she ate it because she was finally hungry. I feel like when they are hungry enough, they will eat what is offered. I wish they would pick healthier food over non-healthy choices, but that is a long, slow battle.

  20. No Nonsense

    I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old. I generally serve healthy options for meals. For breakfast, a protien, whole grain and fruit. For lunch and dinner, a protien, a veg, a fruit and a whole grain. They drink milk with meals and water in between. We do not have juice in our house. I pack their lunch 4 of 5 days. One day of week they order pizza at school. There is ALWAYS something on their plates they like and I offer choices (ie- “would you like banana or blueberries?”). I don’t make them eat anything, but they get what is on the menu and I don’t make anything special for anyone….no matter what! If they say they don’t like it, I say “try it”. If they do, I make a big deal out of it, praising them. If they don’t try it, I secretly cringe….but I don’t let them see that it drives me crazy (this part is hard). If they say they don’t want it, then they do what comes next in their routine. For example, if it is after dinner, I might say “ok, you may leave the table and go ahead and put your jammies on and get in bed. I’ll be there when I am finished with dinner to tuck you in.” I say this very “matter of factly” and don’t get upset over it (or at least let them know). 99% of the time they decide they are not finished with their meal. Have hey gone to bed without eating, yes!

    Lately my 5 year old has been asking for dessert on a daily basis. I just tell him that I don’t have anything planned for dessert. I also explain that we don’t eat dessert after every meal or even every day. It is something we have every once in a while. If they eat something from their dinner plate and they ask for dessert, I will offer applesauce or plain yogurt with fresh fruit. They ALWAYS take me up on the offer! :)

    They are good eaters and this has worked well with our family. They know about healthy choices and often say they don’t want something because it is not healthy for their bodies.

    Becca – I wonder if your little one is having texture issues. Does he have sensory issues? Walk on his tip toes, opposed to certain clothes, textures, sounds, etc.? You may want to check into seeing a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist that specializes in feeding issues.

  21. Becca

    Hey No Nonsense! I do think textures gets to my 3 1/2 year old. He doesn’t like anything with a spongy texture – muffins, cakes, pancakes, bread, etc. He also doesn’t like things very slimy like fruits. He only eats peaches (canned), bananas and applesauce for fruits. I am not sure if he has the other texture issues. He is only picky about clothes when it comes to tags. He has to have all tags cut off. I don’t think its a sensory issue but it never hurts to check. I could talk to his preschool teacher.

    I do love how you handle your meals and would like to be better at that. I always thought I really pushed him to be healthy and I know I am not doing a terrible job but I could be better. Now its just hard as it would create a bigger battle to start forcing a fruit with breakfast. He used to always get a banana and/or yogurt with his morning waffles but somewhere along the line he insisted on waffles and cereal (and I will say my hubby used to always feed him breakfast and I think he just caved.) Anyway, I digress. I think the biggest thing I need to learn is to stop making it a big deal. I think each meal becomes a tug or war and what I need to do is just make it a fact. You need to eat what I gave you or go hungry and just let it be. We need to stop spending each meal encouraging him to take a bite but just make it what needs to happen, no discussion needed.

  22. Kathikm

    We’ve been having the same problem. Lately one thing I’ve been trying that works is to make a “bar” for pasta or salads. He loves to set it up and make his own. I have been pleasantly surprised by what he eats when he has a choice. Yesterday he chose wheat pasta, spaghetti sauce, sugar snap peas,and orange slices. The other choices were cheese, broccoli, and apples. I didn’t tell him he had to have a veggie or fruit, he just chose them. Also, I’ve been sitting out carrot sticks and tomato slices while I cook and not mentioning them. He is super hungry at that time and will ask to eat them (he seems to think they are off limits because I’m cooking) and will eat a serving of veggies before dinner. While cooking, I often ask what veggie he wants with dinner and he chooses a surprising variety that way. When I’m making something I’m not sure he’ll like (fish) I make a healthy side that he likes. I think at our house it was all about control, so doing these little things to add choice ( without cooking a separAte meal ) and acting unconcerned about what he might eat ( other than the no thank you bite, which we do as well) has reAlly reduced the frustrating battles at meal time.

  23. Ecca

    Hello. I like your advice about feeding in general, but what concerned me about Becca’s comment about her son becoming more picky as he gets older. That can be a sign of a disorder with sensory processing, and should be investigated by someone trained to help address that. I would recommend asking her pediatrician for a referral to a speech or occupational therapist trained in Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding. They can help evaluate the child’s eating and address if it’s just being picky (which it really could be) or if it is a true medical issue. Generally it’s considered a “Problem” if a child eats less than 20 foods.

  24. roni

    Good point Ecca – But I find my son is more picky too and I don’t think he has a “problem.” I feel it’s pretty natural as they get influenced by more things and learn their own tastes. I never knew about the 20 foods thing. That’s something to keep in mind!

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