I need Guidance! 5 YO Eating Habits

United States
August 10, 2010 1:06pm CST
I need some advice - QUICKLY! My almost 5 year old son absolutely refuses to try new foods! I don't know what to do! Now, normally, I am the type of mom who very rarely allows my child to dictate lifestyle decisions... But when it comes to food, I think I've lost him! He still eats like he's 3! And I'm stressing because he starts full day kindergarten in the fall... Everything he eats, I have to prepare for him... Grilled cheese, max & cheese, nuggets/fries, bagels, toast, pancakes, pizza... stuff like that! Up until now, it's been okay because I could always make sure he had a good breakfast and a good dinner and school & camp lunches and snacks consisted of Goldfish, cheez-its, crackers or something like that... Everyone (INCLUDING his PEDI) keeps telling me it's normal, he'll grow out of it, he'll eat when he's hungry, blah blah blah... BUT it's been a few years... And what am I supposed to send to school with him??!! He won't try any fruit, no lunch meats, no PB & J, no chez & crackers, no pasta, no meat... NOTHING! I'm really worried he's not going to get enough to eat, which will lead to attention issues and/or behavoral issues. I just don't understand what happened... when he was little, and starting out on people food, he'd eat anything I gave him... then one by one, he refused to eat something... until he finally got to where he is now. Right now, as I'm righting this, I'm fighting tears because I've tried everything and now he knows I'm upset. I made this big deal out of "Picnic Plan Week" and he was all excited... We made a menu, picked out food together at the store, got a really cute picnic basket... I just made us both turkey and cheese sandwiches, a hand full of grapes, some pringles and a glass of milk. He literally started crying and was almost in a panic because he suddenly decided he couldn't try the turkey. So I put it away, refused to give him anything else and sent him upstairs to his playroom. I can hear him crying, he's very sad and I know he's confused and he's asking me, "mommy, are you mad at me??" So, I say, "I'll take the turkey off and you can have the cheese sandwich" he say's okay, but comes back with the sandwich with the tiniest little nibble taken out of it and says, I don't want this. I'm dying here! Do I deprive him of food/drink until he eats what I give him? Or do I just keep going this path and have to explain to his teachers that he only eats what I prepare so his lunch will be Goldfish??!! HELP!!! (Thanks)
4 responses
@katsmeow1213 (29021)
• United States
17 Aug 10
That's very typical for a child that age.. I think all of my kids have been through it. I know it's hard, but you need to toughen up a little bit. He knows that if he cries, you'll feel bad and give into what he wants. I know you're also worried about him eating, but your doctor is right.. he won't starve! With my oldest I made him just sit there until he'd eaten a few bites of everything. If he didn't try it all, he wouldn't get anything else to eat, and I'd sometimes serve him the same thing for lunch the next day. It only took about a week until he was eating everything on his plate.. and now there's not a single food on earth he doesn't like. Maybe it sounds mean to you.. and maybe the child feels as if it's mean as well.. but parents have to be a little mean sometimes for the good of their child. You'll also need to make him try the same thing a few times before allowing him to decide he doesn't like it. If he tries turkey today and says he doesn't like it, that might just be stubbornness. Have him try it again in a few days.. then again a few days later. I'd bet you he will start to like it. If after the 3rd try he still doesn't like it.. then maybe he really just doesn't like it.
• United States
17 Aug 10
Hi Kat, thank you for the response. Yeah, I know - "TOUGHEN UP MOM!" LOL You're right, I was feeling mean - or I should say I felt good about what I was doing until he started with the "I'm so weak - my tummy is hungry" What a little manipulator! LOL See my responses to others and you'll see I have made some headway, but I like your suggestion - I'll keep giving him stuff every few days to see if it grows on him... School is just around the corner and I really need to stop stressing over his eating habits! He'll either eat what I give him, or be hungry, I guess. Thanks again.
@jennysp8 (855)
• United States
15 Aug 10
Hello! I know what you are going through and I will say as you have heard before - he will grow out of it. There are a few things to consider and a few things to try. First, does the school offer lunch services to the full time little ones? If so, let him buy lunch. It might not be the healthiest of lunches, compared to what a mom can put in a lunch bag, but he might just see other kids eating the different kinds of food and he will too. He will see that it isn't all that bad and his new taste buds will come home with him. You watch, he will be a different child at school than he is at home. Also, yes, if he refuses to eat - don't MAKE him. I believe that this is a problem here in the States. We MAKE our kids eat when they say they aren't hungry and we MAKE them finish their plates. This is just plain wrong. It teaches the children that it is okay to eat when not hungry - which later turns into obesity as adults. He will eat when he is hungry. If you want to continue to work on expanding his menu at home - let him make that turkey and cheese sandwich. Do it together. Kids like eating what they made. Have him cut shapes out of turkey lunch meat and out of the cheese (for example). Get him involved. One more point - he may just simply be trying to express his independence. Up til now - you have made all decisions for him. He is trying to start making his own - which is a GOOD thing - it means he is mentally and emotionally developing into a healthy young boy. Try not to over think this - relax and good luck!!
@dorannmwin (36695)
• United States
12 Aug 10
I babysit my two nieces and one of them is an extremely picky eater. Well, I will fix one lunch for all three kids (my nieces and my son) and I will put it all on the table for them. If they choose to not eat the food at the time, I will put it back out later when they tell me that they are hungry. I will continue to do this throughout the day. Because of me doing this with the kids, I have observed that Lilliana will eat things at my house that she won't eat when she is at home.
• United States
17 Aug 10
Good morning, thank you for your response. Yes, I have started preparing and giving him his meals to try. If he doesn't eat, he get nothing else until the next meal. Seems to be going okay.. hard to stick to it though! Especially when he looks at me and says, "my tummy is hungry but it wants goldfish!" LOL
@pastigger (618)
• United States
10 Aug 10
My daughter used to eat more than she does now. I have a homedaycare so I make one lunch and if she doesn't eat it then she gets a little hungry. Children will not starve themselves. She just started to eat one piece of broccoil when we have that. What I did is I prepare the meal everyone gets the same and pretty much I say nothing about it. I probably served her broccoli one time a week for 2 months before she tried it. My daughters only source of meat is really just chicken. She doesn't eat a lot at dinner anyway, but what I do is make a meal and that is what she gets. Try not to get to upset, I know that it is hard and as long as he doesn't start loosing weight keep at it. Most kids become pickers when they hit about 2 I have seen it happen with several different children, I have yet to see one out grow it my oldest in care is almost 6. I would say get him a multi vitamen if you are worried about that because it won't hurt him to have one anyway. I can usually get my daughter to try something new if I have it just for like a snack and sit down and eat it then she wants to know what I have and some times she likes it and sometimes she doesn't. When he freaks out of something just tell him that it is fine and maybe he will want to try it next time. Going to school may help him eat better as he will see the other kids eatting and trying new things. That is a good thing around my house if I can get one kid to eat something the others peak an interest. I will usually make a comment like Tommy are the grapes really yummy you sure look like you are enjoying them. I haven't found many kids who will eat sandwitch meat, I think it may be the smell. Good luck and try not to stress too much because when you are stressing that he will eat something kids pick up on that and he may be more hessitant to eat it. Don't make a huge deal when he eats something new just tell him I am so glad that you tried that wasn't it yummy. It is a hard line to follow with children. I think I read somewhere kids need to see a new food several time before they will try it so keep making things even if he won't eat them.
• United States
10 Aug 10
Hi, thank you for your response. Yeah, I read it can take up to 20 offerings before a child will try something! But we've never made a big deal about food... We started offering him a bite of whatever we had well over a year ago... now, he'll come over and say, "What's that?" and we'll tell him and offer him a bite, but he always says "no thank you" And I've been hearing about "wait until he starts school, he'll want to eat what the other kids are eating" for too long! He's been in school for 2 years and he still doesn't show any interest in having what the other kids have! We do already give him a multi vitamin, because I've been worried about his eating for about 2 years now... and his pedi, everytime I mention it, says "don't worry about it, he's not wasting away, he'll eat when he's hungry" He did however caution me against the 'stubborn' stage and said if he started to loose weight, I would have to feed him something he would eat... But that will just teach him to be stubborn and in effect, make it worse! I always thought I would be the "this is what's for dinner, eat it or wait for breakfast" mom, but he developed allergies young, along with eczema and certain foods trigger his eczema, plus he had some sort of an immature digestive track so certain foods would give him horrible butt rashes... so we sort of just went along with giving him what we could, always keeping in mind his butt and skin! LOL Now it seems we have a very stubborn, and OMG - spoiled little eater! I've tried eating EXACTLY what I made for him - no luck. Now, we're in a face off. He's not getting any food until he eats the meals I make him. Or at the very least, TRIES the food I put on his plate. I alwasy offer a new food with a known favorite, but he alwasy goes for the favorite and leaves the rest... I guess I'm just going to have to take it day by day... and hope I can get over feeling like I'm depriving my kid! Thanks again.