Stopping Picky Eating Problems

Posted 09-13-2010 at 05:13 PM by whitneywalters

When my son hit about three years old he started becoming really picky. He is already small for his age so I gave into him and this made the situation way worse. By the time he hit three and a half, dinner time was a battle and I was on the loosing end. I could not take it any more so that is when I started making some very simple changes that made our whole family a lot easier.

1. I stopped asking him what he wanted to eat at snack time. While I want him to feel like he does have some choices I did not want to leave it open that much because he would always ask for something sugary. Now I give him two choices. While he was not very happy about this at first it did not take long for him to adjust. This small steps did wonders in changing his behavior. I was truly shocked by the change it made.

2. Do not let your kids fill up on juice or milk. I was letting my son have as much milk as he asked for. This was drastically affecting his appetite and come time for dinner he would not eat. Now I let him have a glass of milk with his breakfast, juice with his snack, and then milk with lunch and dinner. If he tells me he is thirsty in-between I get him a glass of water. When I first started doing this he was not a happy child, he did not want a glass of water and would throw a fit. I simply got the water, put it on the table for him and told him when he got thirsty enough he would drink it, he was not getting anything else.  It only took a couple days and the fits stopped and he was eating better.

3. Do not make something different. I did this more then once, I was concerned about him eating because he is already rather small for his age. In doing this I was making the situation way worse. It got to the point that he would refuse to eat anything I made unless it was the meal he has predetermined he wanted. I would make something and he would tell me, “ I do not want that, make me something else” That attitude is what made me say no more. I make one meal, if he refuses to eat then he does not get anything else. The first time I did this he sat at the table for about twenty minutes, refusing to eat what I made. I told him he did not have to eat it but if he did not eat then he got nothing else the rest of the night. After everyone else was done and I still would not make him something else, he ate what I had made to begin with.

4. If there is a food that you do not like, avoid voicing your dislike in front of your child. My husband dislikes a lot of food and I noticed that anything Alexzander heard daddy did not like, he suddenly did not like either. To stop it I put the food on both their plates and my husband took at least a bit to show Alexzander he needed to at least try it.

5. Stop the distractions. Make your child sit at a table, away from toys and television. We have a small table set in the living room for the kids and for lunches I was letting them sit in the living room and watch a cartoon while they ate but they would not eat well. They wanted to get up and play or they were to distracted by the television. Now we all go out to the kitchen and eat. Not only does this give us a nice and calm eating time but it also made them eat a lot more.

Filed Under: Family Health, General

Comments

11 Responses to “Stopping Picky Eating Problems”

  1. Jill on September 13th, 2010 6:50 pm


    These are all common sense behaviors that moms have gotten out of because of social pressures. We want our kids to behave in public, so we give them what they want so they will. Then it bleeds over into the home. The only rule I’m not ‘following’ here with my under-2 is not giving her milk all the time, but when she visits her doctor for her 2 year check up I’m going over that with him. She only gets 3 or 4 oz of juice a day and milk or water otherwise. So far she eats pretty much whatever’s put in front of her, and I’m very glad about that.

  2. katyldf on September 14th, 2010 8:23 am


    Is my 21 month old to young to try these tactics on… shes tiny for her age (but i’m a tiny person too) Trying to get her to eat has gotten us into her not wanting to eat anything but (well not junk but not the right foods) She was doing well until a good friend moved to town with a child her age and her daughter gets JUNK all the time and so when we are around my DD wants it and now she wont eat meals!!

  3. whitneywalters on September 14th, 2010 4:20 pm


    Katyldf
    I do not think she is to young. I wish I would have done it sooner then I did with my son because I think it would have saved me a lot of stress and issues in the long run.

  4. ChicanaCoqueta on September 14th, 2010 7:57 pm


    Thanks for the tips. So far my son (2 yrs 3 mos) eats fairly well. One thing we try to do is eat meals together and we all eat the same thing. And also not voicing our dislikes, I notice he notices that too and copies us.

    Thanks again, parenting is tough, tips help :)

  5. katyldf on September 15th, 2010 7:14 am


    Thanks for the great advice!! I let hubbie read the artice and he thinks its a wonderful tips too!!! We will be changing a few things around the house now!!

  6. kalmaguer on September 15th, 2010 4:04 pm


    Our 2 1/2 yo is extremely picky. We actually already do all those things above. No negotiating with the terrorist :) He just simply chooses to go hungry (mostly at dinner) rather than eat what he’s given…for months now. It’s the craziest thing! I’m hoping at some point the nighttime hunger will overwhelm his desire to defy us in the eating dept :)

  7. notyetmommy on September 16th, 2010 10:09 am


    First, for those asking if any particular age is too young to try this on, I say no. All children should be allowed to make choices, but ultimately you are the adult and you decide what good choices to give them. Developmentally speaking, this is good practice for all children from a young young age (I’m a behavior analyst, so this is something I address a lot with clients).

    Also, really observe your child to ensure that what’s happening isn’t an aversion to textures or smells, not just “being picky.” Children are relatively sensitive and can have a hard time dealing with textures that are new to them (or different than what they know they like), and strong smells can turn them off from food (i.e., cabbage, and broccoli). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them the food, but be sensitive that that may be the cause. :-)

  8. REFRESHING CHANGE on September 16th, 2010 4:08 pm


    It took us a while with our oldest to figure some of these things out!! Watching the between meal snacking is a huge one at our house!! and having them TASTE the food they say they dont like. I have been noticing over time, as i prepare food over again, he adds more to the menu that he likes.

  9. JuneCleaver on September 17th, 2010 5:34 pm


    Good advice. I went through similar steps when my daughter went from loving variety to magically picky before she turned four. All the sudden, she seemed like an old man all set in her ways about her meals. I used to love giving her a choice, but after watching a friend’s child and getting two answers for lunch each day I soon learned that her choice was just to eat what I presented or not. I also changed the order of how I present food sometimes, for example… she loves broccoli but might ignore it when she has some natural peanut butter, strawberry preserves and wheat bread on her plate…. but if I give her an “appetizer” then she generally will eat that while she waits for her meal… so I win by getting her to eat her veggies before she fills up on something else!!!

  10. steph604 on September 18th, 2010 12:57 am


    These are all great tips but my son has a metabolic disorder where he cant go longer than 4ish hours without food so I cant just let him not eat. Does anyone have any tips to help me keep him from getting picky?

  11. shelby.k425 on September 19th, 2010 6:53 pm


    Vegetables first, sweet stuff second.

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