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picky eater


Full Member
Help! I can't get my 5 yr old to understand that we eat dinner as a family, and that means eating the family meal. He always balks at what is being served even when he's never tried it before. He declares before dinner has started that he is not going to eat 'that' food. Our meals are not unusual in any way. We have tasty dinners: pork chops, baked chicken, stew, etc. He wants me to get him something special, and he usually asks for junk. I have never given into his requests. I am standing firm because I thought eventually it would sink in and he would eat with us. However, I'm starting to doubt myself. This has become such a struggle that I dread dinner time because I know it's going to become this tug of war. Am I doing more harm that good? Should I just make him something I know he won't complain about?


Senior Member
Sometimes you just can't win . .

. . . a battle of wills like this. If you could have an alternative nutritional substitute: cut up apple, carrot sticks, half a pb sandwich (not his choice, but yours) it might be preferable to picking this one to fight. If he declines the meal, let him get this from the refrig, and don't comment on it at all. When I did this, my daughter began showing interest in what we were having (asking questions about how it tasted, etc). Soon she began to eat some things without any urging.

Good luck.


Senior Member
Picky eaters

It sounds to me like you are doing the right things. I have seen programs on tv that say not to pressure them as they will eventually eat what is on your table as they WILL get hungry.
No one in my family was a picky eater including myself. The worst picky eater I have ever met is my husband. He is like a lot of men who will only eat meat and potatoes. But, it doesn't stop there. He doesn't like cheese(yes, can you believe he will only eat pizza without cheese). There are so many recipes that have cheese but we can't have them. He will not eat fish, ribs, ham, steak, many vegetables, and the list goes on. The only way my son and I can eat fish, or anything with cheese is at a restaurant.
A child who is a picky eater can grow up to be the same. It makes it very difficult on what to cook. My husband admitted to me that his mom would cook him something different from what they were eating at the time. I blame his mom for a lot of this pickiness. It wouldn't be so bad if he would try to eat something and then decide if he likes it or not, but he won't do it. Needless to say, our suppers are boring.


Senior Member
My DD was an extremely picky eater and is still relatively picky. When she was little it was definitely a battle of the wills and then I just decided it was not going to make me feel ill to sit down to dinner. We did not fix her a different meal, but instead let her eat what she liked from the meal. We always had a meat, veg. and some strarch. She liked the rice, potato or pasta, as long as it was plain and eats many veg. so I made sure we usually had one she would eat. She has come a long way and will eat many more things. She still does not like casseroles and anything italian. She gets plain pasta and salad if we go out italian. She also does not eat hamburger meat in any size, shape or form, so I will let her eat something else on those nights. She is turning 16 next week and has learned to adapt and eats some different things that I don't like. She eats just about any kind of fish and I'm pretty limited on that.

So, I guess I used the "I'm not cooking special for you, so find something from this table you will eat" attitude, but made sure there was something she would eat when planning my meals.

If we could only mold them into those perfect beings we imagined before giving birth life would be great, but then we'd have to find something else to worry about, so if food is my worry I feel blessed that it's not something worse. Good luck!


Senior Member
My son

is a picky eater but as he gets older it is getting some better. I have finally realized that it should not be a struggle because that makes mealtime horrible. I always make sure that I fix at least one thing he likes during dinner. They say to do that and then put everything else on their plate whether they eat it or not. I've also heard it takes up to 10 times of presenting the food before they eventually try it. My son is 6 now and has done much better at trying things. We encourage him to try things but if he doesn't, then we leave it at that but lately he has asked to try things. My husband is a picky eater so I feel it is genetic. Whenever we have pork chops, steak, etc. I always fix a side dish he likes and then either chicken nuggets or fish sticks. He also takes a daily vitamin. The big thing is not to make a big deal out of what he won't eat and to make sure he has one thing you know he will eat. Meal time is to be enjoyable and if you argue and fight, then it makes things worse. Good luck, I know how hard it is. I have to say it has gotten much better over the past few months and I hope it continues to improve as he gets older.


Senior Member
Don't blame Mom!

My DS is an extraordinarily picky eater and always has been. It is NOT from being "given in to". I found out I was pregnant because I couldn't eat the steak my DH bought me for my birthday! I was not able to eat meat for the entire pregnancy--was my DS just being stubborn then?

There are many foods my DS simply CANNOT eat. He will gag and vomit just at the smell of meat (and some other foods). The smell of fish makes him nauseous. So we just feed him what he is capable of eating, and we eat whatever we want. He usually eats spaghetti noodles w/pizza sauce on them, or PBJ, or fruit, or the one meat he can eat-chicken nuggets, or cheese pizza, sweet potatos as a veggie,fries,just really plain and simple food that really is not much trouble.

So I think it depends. If you think he is just being stubborn and willful, then it is ok to expect him to eat whatever you serve. If he truly has food aversions and sensitivity isuues, then I say feed him whatever he can eat.


Senior Member
this is going to sound bad

I say, "I don't care what you like, eat if you are hungry, don't ruin my dinner with your complaining." and send the child to his room if he complains in your company.

Kids especially often do not want to try new foods. Just model loving to eat what you make. It makes it harder if hubby also doesn't like your cooking. I had that. A whiny 4 year old and an ultra picky hub. No chicken, No casseroles, ever, No fried eggs, No cooked veggies. I left that man and DD now eats all sorts of foods.

Do not feed him later, cereal or whatever = making a rod for your own back.

cut back on his snacks, especially juice. Offer water all the time...no food one hour before meals. "you'll spoil your appetitie" is true.

good luck, dear.

Ima Teacher

Senior Member
I've always been a picky eater. My mom cooked most of the time, and we rarely ate at restaurants. I am still very picky about meat and certain textures of foods just don't settle well with me at all. I can't help it.

When my mom cooked, that's what we ate. I ate what I liked and didn't touch the other. She did not press the issue and I didn't whine for anything else. My two alternatives were peanut butter sandwich of a bowl of corn flakes . . . and I had to fix them myself.


"no thank you bites"

My three year old used to be picky like that. I weaned him off of it by making him do 'no thank you bites." He had take 2 (big) no thank you bites for each item on the plate, and then he was able to have a cheese sandwich, something that he 'liked', but not what he wanted. I decided to go with that because I knew he would eat it and it was quick and not too extravagant. Eventually, even though it took a long time, he started eating what we ate.


Senior Member
picky eaters

When my kids were little, the motto at our house was and still is, "This is not a restaurant." If you don't like what we're having you can choose to not eat it. But I'm not fixing anything else, and the kitchen closes after supper. I also did not let them have juice except at breakfast. They drank water if they were thirsty. I figured that they would eat if they were hungry, and they usually did.

So many kids are such picky eaters and won't eat anything except PB. I have to wonder if they are allowed to have anything they want if they don't like what they're served at home. It has to come from somewhere...


Senior Member
could you make him something nutritious that he likes-my kids were mac and cheese fanatics, and how about some raw veggies with ranch dip, and fruit.
some kids don't like a lot of the things that we do, I think.


Senior Member
Like others here, I was pretty strict. My dh grew up getting special food and even he has learned to eat what I cook without complaining! As someone else said I do try to have something on the table everyone will eat. Sometimes that might even mean bread and butter.

Each of my kids get a free pass on one food - for my oldest it is pizza (!), my youngest chose cauliflower. I never make them eat that, they get to just pass it by. I also keep a running grocery and meal list for suggestions and try to honor those. It helps if they have picked the meal and even really early on they were surprisingly healthy about it!

My oldest is my pickiest and I do make some concessions - when it is easy to do so. We had spaghetti tonight and he doesn't like the red sauce so he has plain noodles, salad, and I usually pull out leftover meat, etc. from another meal for him. If we have lasagna, he has to just live with it because the sauce is already mixed in. I give a little, he gives a little, we're both happier.

We also got stricter as they got older about what behavior was allowed at the table. At 5, I think it's time to start learning that mom cooked the meal and it is disrespectful to say mean things about the food mom worked hard to make, etc. As my kids got older, tears, making faces, etc. also got them dismissed from the table. Give warnings and then send him from the table hungry. Obviously at 5 he'll need lots of warnings, etc. as well as reassurance that you won't let him starve. (You'll be glad to warm up his leftover plate you saved from dinner!)

I saved my kid's dinner plates if they hadn't "eaten enough to be polite" and they often ate it warmed in the microwave before bed because they were HUNGRY and they knew they weren't getting anything else. They wised up, stopped complaining out loud and started eating enough (or at least pushing their food around so it looked like they did) for me not to save their plate - they knew a choking down a few bites would save them a lot of hassle!

Now that they are old enough to cook, like my dh they keep their mouths shut or they know who will be cooking the next meal!