How do you get a 4 year old to eat? She refuses almost everything.

Donna - posted on 11/24/2008 ( 24 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 4 years old and refuses to eat meat, veggies and most fruits, she loves cereal, bananas, tortilla chips, granola bars. She does not like cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream or any kind of desserts, which is not a problem since they are not healthy but seems really strange. She hates foods that have weird textures. We have been having issues for almost 3 years, dinner time is horrible she will not eat dinner at all, then she begs for food all day long. I have limited her to breakfast, then a snack at 10 am then lunch, then a snack after school, then supper. It is very frustrating and worrisome. I do not know what to do anymore to get her to eat healthy food.

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Stacey - posted on 11/25/2008

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My four year daughter doesn't eat all the things she use to has a baby. I have her try one bite of each food she doesn't like each time she has it. I to figure it's something she'll grow out of. I also mix the veggies she doesn't like with something she does.

Shannon - posted on 11/25/2008

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There are so many replies to this-- so I'm hoping you have found something that works a little better! However, if not.. Here's my trick. My 3 1/2 year old daughter is really big on being a "big girl" and "super strong" and "super duper smart!" so.. we have certain foods that help with these.. This really works for her because we teach her which foods help her grow big and strong.. For example-- We have to eat our vegetables because they make us super duper strong! And steak and chicken give us big muscles... and milk is good for making our brain smarter. It may take some time to develop.. but now my daughter will ask me, "Mom, can I please have some more vegetables to make me stronger?? I think I need some carrots too to help make my eyes better too. Are my muscles bigger now?? Wow, I'm getting so huge!"

This way I'm not pressuring her to eat what I want her to eat.. she gets to pick and she feels involved in the whole process from picking out what we will cook (I usually give her a couple choices and she gets to pick.. ex: peas or carrots, mashed potatoes or salt potatoes, etc.)

I'd be really curious if this works for you at all-- let me know! Hope you find something. :)

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my kids get what I cook, I don't make them anything else! If they don't eat breakfast, they wait until lunch. (I may move it up a bit earlier for them) They ALWAYS eat lunch, because I will make something I know they like. That way I know they are at least getting one meal each day. Then they get a snack b/c we don't eat dinner until 7:00. But it's usually fruit or cheese or something healthy. (a banana, or tortilla chips and cheese) And then they eat what I make for dinner or they have nothing. I don't make a big deal about it or chase them around with their food. If they don't eat, we save their plate until bed and if they say they are hungry, we heat it back up.

I'm not a short order cook. If they are hungry, they will eat.

Amy - posted on 11/25/2008

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I try to make one food at dinner that I know my daughter will like. I encourage her to try a bite of everything else. I tell her she can spit it out if she doesn't like it. If she doesn't like it, I'll make her a pb&j sandwich or hot dog or cereal. As she gets older, she's willing to try new foods (she's 5 now). It's not worth getting in a power struggle over food, you can't make them eat something and it's a battle you won't win. As long as she is eating some healthy foods and gaining weight, your doing fine!

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Debbie - posted on 10/27/2013

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I have tried this she will only drink milk juice or freeze pops, some yogos

Donna - posted on 11/26/2008

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Thank you to everyone, I will try all your suggestions, some I have already done in the past and they have not worked, and I am sure as time goes on she will out grow this, my son is 7 and he is a great eater and always has been.

Trina - posted on 11/26/2008

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let her make her own food...it will help with her independence and she will feel proud of what she made and eat it.

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I know it sounds harsh but providing your daughter is a normal weight (not undernourished), she'll eat when she's hungry.
Make sure she gets good exercise during the day and offer three meals. An afternoon snack is nice too - keeps them from getting too hungry.

Alot of kids use food to manipulate their parents and get their attention at the table. It sounds harsh - but it's true. Any attention is better than no attention. My daughter did this, and my mother in law clued me in.

What I started doing was I quit worrying about what she would eat and made meals that everybody liked. We offered it to her and if she didn't want it that was fine, but she couldn't stay at the table. She was 3 or so when it started. So, I'd pick her up and give her hugs and kisses and tell her she could have bonus tv time while we 'ate dinner'. But that the table was for people who were eating.

It took two dinners and it stopped.

Deanna - posted on 11/25/2008

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I have the same problem. I have found that I was giving too much snacks (healthy snacks) that was cutting into meal time. He has breakfast, then eats lunch between 11am to 11:30 has preschool at 12:30. He has a snack at healthy snack at preschool. Gets home from school around 4pm. If he has a healthy snack at home after school then we don't eat supper until about 6/7pm. If he doesn't have a snack then we have supper between 5/6pm. He tends to eat meals and doesn't seem to be hungry in between meals. This was a suggestion from my pediatrician. She also said to keep on a schedule and that if he eats one good meal a day that's just fine along with healthy snacks. I also give my boys multivitamin. It also helps in our household to sit at the table with the tv off talking about the day. Instead of the living room in front of the tv (we do that on movie night with pizza) Good Luck.

Kelley - posted on 11/25/2008

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There is a new cookbook out: http://www.amazon.com/Deceptively-Delici...

Cut and paste that into your browser. You have to take time to prep (puree and freeze) the veggies, but you incorporate them into every day meals like mac'n'cheese. It is really a great way to incorporate fruits and veggies into meals kids love and make sure they are getting the appropriate amount of nutrition. My Mom just got it for me and i cannot wait to get started.

Teresa - posted on 11/25/2008

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A tip from my older sister, my sister has an older child and often would make things my daughter was not used to eating. Her trick wast to tell Nikki she had to eat as many bites as she was years old and then decide if she liked it or not. Usually my daughter would keep eating after her 'years' of bites.

Devon - posted on 11/25/2008

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Just give her what she will eat for now. my kids were the same way and the doctor told me that they will go through fases where they will be picky. so give it time and she will start eating the stuff that she isn't eating right now

User - posted on 11/25/2008

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The doctor probally told you all ready kids will never starve them selfs.....just focus on what she likes for now and build on it.....as she gets older things will change

Amanda - posted on 11/24/2008

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She will grow out of it. My daughter is a wonderful eater no but i am having BIG troubles with my son. I just offer the food and if he does not eat it i am hoping one day he will. If you think she is low in iron etc u could supplement until her eating has improved ie iw chewable vitamins etc

Michelle - posted on 11/24/2008

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my son would not eat eggs, but one day I asked my boyfriend if he would let him help make an omlet. my son was so happy he was going to be a reasterant cooker. he had fun making the omlet, then he teasted it. and liked it. ever since he eats omlets only if he helps cook. thats only one way to get kids eating different foods. (it doesn't work all the time, maybe it will work for your lil one.)

Faith - posted on 11/24/2008

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U can't! At this age, they eat when they get ready. The more u try and force them, the more resistance u'll get. They are also going through a control stage, and are testing their boundaries. Just be patient, and give options. When ur eating the things u want her to eat, but she refuses, act like it's the best thing since sliced bread, she'll eventually wanna see what all the fuss is about.

Melanie - posted on 11/24/2008

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She will eat when she is hungry. My 2 year old didn't want to eat for 2 days and then tonight he decided to eat like I had never feed him before.

User - posted on 11/24/2008

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I totally understand because I have one of those as well. She's nearly 6 and is still fighting me. Is she strong-willed on other issues? Mine is.
A good book that gave me some perspective is "How to get your child to eat-- but not too much" by Ellyn Satter. I don't follow it most of the time though. But it was good to get this: My responsibility is to offer the food; hers is to eat it. We do still fight but she has backed down when something she wants is on the line (I don't follow the advice in the book--- I do threaten to take away items when she doesn't try things).
Other times, I just let it go. Such as if we are having X for dinner and she won't eat it, I tell her she can make herself a PB bagel or sandwich or eat what we're eating. I don't do it for her.
And I have done the "sneaky" thing and pureed cauliflower once or twice to put it into her mac and cheese. She did not notice, but I did.
As far as begging for food all day long, just stick to what you do and say, "that's it," as hard as that can be.
I hope this helps you.

Karin - posted on 11/24/2008

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I was lucky and have 2 children who are not very picky. My brothers kids would only eat the same kinds of foods as your child. At family gatherings there were always 4 little plates with only peanut butter sandwiches and tiny bits of other foods just in case they might try it. You never know when they'll catch on to something so always offer something new but don't force it! Make sure she takes vitamins to even out her nutrition and she'll be fine. Her doctor can let you know if she's unbalanced nutritionally. By the way, of those 4 little plates on our family table, only 1 is still pb sandwich, and he's only 5. The other 3 kids are eating quite normally! Just ride it out and good luck!

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PS-The most important thing about sitting down to eat with the family is talking and having fun conversations!

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If she is starving to death, then take her to the hospital. If not feed her what she likes, give her her vitamins and get over it! Moms are too anal about eating. My kids were all picky and now are very healthy thin adults. The more you focus on food, the more problems they will have! Don't stick to a schedule. Let her ear when SHE is hungry.

Maureen - posted on 11/24/2008

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i make one thing (i understand kids don't like somethings) if they don't want to eat that then they don't eat, however they won't eat again until the next meal. we (3 kids-4 yrs, 3yrs and 8months) have that problem the most at dinner. i say fine, then you can get ready for bed. come bedtime no more food they have to wait for breakfast. when she is hungry she will eat. maybe give her 2 choices of something before you cook. and then what you cook is what is for dinner. good luck

User - posted on 11/24/2008

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Hello, what I have alway done is have them eat at the dinner table with us and eat at the same times as us so they feel apart of the family and just as important as children tend to like to do things we do. Make food time fun get them to help out and maybe get them to choose something from a cookbook they would like to eat and help you prepare. I'd try making fruit kebabs and having yogurt for dipping and maybe mini pizza's. you can always try mashing other vegies into potato. I hope it gets a little easier for you. Also there is some great DVD out there from the wiggles and Elmo which encourage good eating..... good luck...

Deanna - posted on 11/24/2008

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hi there...my best suggestion for you is a) to a lways offer her a full range of things to eat ..healthy balanced things...and b) you can sneak things in by pureeing them like adding cauliflour to mashed potatoes....try and put add in to the things she loves...

hope your journey gets a little easier with time.....

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