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Old 10-02-2011, 07:01 PM   #1
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DD will NOT eat dinner-advice needed!

DD1 was 3 in June and has always been a pretty picky eater. She is great with fruit, dairy, whole grains, crackers, pasta, but doesn't eat vegetables or meat.

We have been expecting her to at least try what we are having for dinner. We give her just a tiny portion on her plate. She has tried maybe two things in the six months or so this has been going on.

We do not make her a special meal or put things on her plate we know she will eat (like fruit) until she tries some of the meal. I can probably count on one hand the nights she has finished her dinner.

We've tried cutting out her afternoon snack so that she is actually hungry at dinner, but that hasn't made a difference. We've tried punishing her, bribing her, nothing works.

My concern now is that the battle has become a routine. She cries every night when it's time for dinner and has started refusing things she would normally enjoy.

I'm at my wits end, exhausted and really need some advice.


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Old 10-02-2011, 07:08 PM   #2
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I would just stay strong and make it clear you have no intention of backing down nor do you care a lick about her tantrums. I would make an extra big deal of ignoring her cries and continue on with a conversation with dh etc.

Also, let her know what she doesn't eat now will be covered and stored for the next time she becomes hungry.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:11 PM   #3
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Is it really worth the battle you're going through? DS is 4.5yo and doesn't like trying new foods. Rather than fight him, I just make sure there's something he will eat. If that means we have peas most nights as our veggie because I know he will eat those, so be it. If I'm making chicken pot pie or chicken enchiladas, I set some shredded chicken aside for him. If it is enchiladas, a tortilla with cheese or butter works great. It's not a different meal, per se, just one or two of the components set aside the way he likes it.

My only rule is that he had to eat his served dinner before he can eat anything else. And if the rest of us are all at the table to eat dinner together, he has to sit with us, regardless of what he's eating.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:28 PM   #4
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Re: DD will NOT eat dinner-advice needed!

If you just act like "no biggie" she will read from you. Be casual. Give her the dinner and if she refuses just say "that is your choice". Try not to engage her regarding dinner otherwise. Chat about other things instead. True eating disorders in children are pretty rare. She will not starve herself. Just don't feed into the drama. Best wishes for a pleasant meal.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:31 PM   #5
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Re: DD will NOT eat dinner-advice needed!

Sounds to me like you are unintentionally making her eat less healthy by forcing her hand. She likes lots of good things. Meat doesn't have any special properties she can't get in other foods. Same with veggies. I would leave it be.

There are only 2 universal truths in this life.
1. You can't control what goes in your kid & when.
2. You can't control what comes out of your kid & when.

You don't have to fix her special meals BUT requiring her to try dislikes before likes doesn't encourage her to try stuff new because she wants to, she's being forced to by withholding. I'd probably dread mealtime too, like it sounds like you all do now.

Why? Is it worth it? Is she eating healthier this way than if you just offered her the whole meal without requirements?
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:43 PM   #6
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Re: DD will NOT eat dinner-advice needed!

I agree with pp's.
It's normal for kids to go through a picky stage- especially between 3 and 6. Our 6 year old ate everything and then one day would only eat 4 different things (watermelon, grilled cheese, milk and something else) anyhow, he went to be hungry a lot. He still grew and eventually broadened his tastes after 6 weeks of that, he is just now getting to where he will try more stuff.

DS2- not only is he super little, but he is super picky! He also goes through phases of favorites- wanting mac n cheese for every meal and snack one week-then he wont touch it. . .We don't push them to eat, like DS1 if he doesn't get what he wants, he is stubborn and there are many times he will stay hungry. It's hard for me, because he is little (3-10 percentile) but he also can't live off Poptarts or whatever it is he wants that week. So we offer a lot of healthy choices. We will tell him he can't have cereal or whatever, until after he eats some food-an hour or so later he'll usually request to eat. He'll say "Can I have some food so I can have _____.?" But we don't badger him, then he'd just stay stubborn and not eat. - Yes we use the terms food and junk, so they learn the difference.

Also we offer a lot of protein alternatives. DS1 and DS2 just aren't big meat eaters, which is fine, there are plenty of healthy ways to get protein.
All three of my boys prefer raw fruits and veggies to cooked. I think it's kind of weird that they eat raw broccoli since I prefer cooked, so don't know how that came about, but you might want to try more raw foods than cooked. I think it's a texture thing. None of us like canned veggies--my mom used to always cook with canned veggies and I didn't like them, it wasn't until I started eating fresh veggies that I realized how good they are.

Really your dd is getting everything but the veggies (assuming she eats yogurt or other protein rich dairy) those can be blended into a drink.

I would quit fighting it. Put dinner on her plate, tell her she can eat it or not, but you aren't getting her anything else. If she cries about it, put her in her room away from the table. You're fighting a battle of wills and I don't think that is a good way to teach healthy eating habits
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:47 PM   #7
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Re: DD will NOT eat dinner-advice needed!

My dd is 7 and I doubt she's eaten an entire dinner (and her portions are tiny) more than a dozen times since she was 2. I ignore it. It's not my body, it's hers. She grows and can function throughout the day so I don't worry about it. I do always offer something I know she technically like but that doesn't' mean she'll eat eat it.
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:52 PM   #8
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Re: DD will NOT eat dinner-advice needed!

My dd is the same way (turned 3 in Sept). She refuses veggies and meat. I don't make a huge deal out of it. All I can do is offer. I try making smoothies so that may be a good option to get some greens in her. I stick lots of baby spinach in mine and you really can't tell it's in there.
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:04 PM   #9
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What the pp's said. . I'm sure she will grow out of it.
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:23 PM   #10
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Re: DD will NOT eat dinner-advice needed!

You have to break that cycle, or it will get out of hand and perhaps stretch to every meal. You have to send the message that you are not interested in a battle with her over food.

Serve what you serve, making sure there is at least one thing that she likes. Ensuring the rest of her day is balanced will ease your mind that dinner doesn't "matter." If every meal is healthy, good, whole foods, then her choices at dinner won't really matter. Don't hold one food higher than another, just make it all equal on her plate and let her eat what she eats. I would encourage a one bite rule eventually, but I think you have some damage control to do at your house to remove the stress. Meals should not be stressful for anyone, but it is hard cycle to break once you get into it. You can do it.
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