I have a 5-year-old that only weighs 33 pounds. No medical reason for it, and many tests have been run. Lunch and dinner are often constant battles to get him to eat enough. We have been to a nutrionist who gave us high-caloric recipes and drinks, but he won't eat them! My husband and I are tired of mealtimes being a battle. Any suggestions?

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Tammy - posted on 02/06/2009

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Stop the battle, you won't win. My son ate nothing but Cherrios and Bagels for the longest time. I hated it, but he's 18 now and eats whatever you put in front of him. As long as he is healthy, don't let yourself worry about it, kids know and it will become a power struggle if he knows it bothers you.

Erica - posted on 02/08/2009

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I have tried playing games with the food....like nameing it after his fav toy.  My 4 yr old is (33 lbs) the same way if we would let him he would take 2 hrs to eat 2 chicken nuggets and some grapes he rather play then eat..  We now set a timer and he has to finish or he will be in time out and that is the worse b/c he loves to play.  Is the doctor concerned about is weight??

Beth - posted on 02/06/2009

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Thank you, everyone, for your advice/suggestions/stories. Sounds like maybe I need to back off the pressure and battles. We had tried Pediasure and Ensure, but some of the yogurts and other things might work, as he does like yogurt. The doctor does say he is growing, so I will encourage my husband and I to "back off" and just let it be. On the bright side, he ate really well tonight!! Thanks again!

Joanne - posted on 02/06/2009

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Hi, my son is 14 now, but was exactly the same as your son when he was 5. He only weighed 28lbs!! I went through all the doctors tests etc, nothing was ever diagnosed, not even coeliac disease! So what I did, was sit back, relax, and let him develop, and don't worry. I didn't and still don't beleive in offering food choices, I just made dinner, and if he didn't want it, fine. If he was starving, he would eat it. There is absolutley no point in battling with kids over food. It just stresses everyone out. If he did eat dinner, he would be rewarded. Don't always expect them to clear their plates too. As long as they have eaten something, then thats fine. My son is now a strapping 14 year old, who eats like a horse now!! So please don't worry!! Hope I have helped x

Jennifer - posted on 02/05/2009

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My son, who's now 11, and still slightly on the "thin" side, but perfectly healthy, went through the same "eating issues" during his preschool years.  His pedicatrician told me to lay out healthy snacks, so that he could "at least" graze during the day, and that when he got hungry, he would eat.  I would make a "sample" plate for him w/cheese, fruit, different types of crackers(definitely no candy or sweets, b/c those were held back for rewards only).  At dinner, he had to sit at the table, whether he chose to eat or not, and could not get up to "wonder around" until we had all finished eating.  He learned, very quickly, that all "fun" snacks became obsolete, as long as he was choosing not to eat healthy foods.  I promise, it wasn't long before he began eating during meal-times.  Hope this helps.  By the way, he now has two sisters, ages 5 & 2, with whom I never had eating issues.  They even eat green beans and lots of other vegetables.  The old saying, "This too shall pass", will prove to hold true for your son.... I promise..... Look on the bright side, at least he's not obese and sneaking Orea cookies into his bedroom... parents of those types of children have a long battle ahead of them.  

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Heidi - posted on 03/09/2014

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my 5 year old is over weight and weighs 60 pound because he has cancer and cant exersize

Julie - posted on 02/08/2009

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I'd say don't try so hard.. make it fun .. feed him snacks all day... make sure hes drinking homo milk even add a bit of choc. syrup to it , it won't hurt!  My son eats only grill cheese, toast, banana bread, granola bars.. i figure when hes older he'll start eating more foods.. actually 2 days ago he had yoguart and liked it... he'll be 5 soon.



Also there is PediaSure drinks in cans which he may get a kick out of and there really good for kids!

Beth - posted on 02/08/2009

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Hey Vanessa-



I'd love to have some of those recipes. Especially the ones with peanut butter in them, as he loves peanut butter! Thanks!

[deleted account]

hi, my heart goes out to you, my eldest ,5, had time where food was the antichrist, and now shes past that my youngest is battling with it,it wears you out. everyone advices 'they'll eat when they're hungry 'etc etc,but as a parent it drives you to distraction. all l can say is try and not make an issue out of it,give them a set time to eat,say 25mins,then take plates away. no snacks, which is really hard,cos you think ,yippee they want to eat,but try and stick with it. one older lady advised me to get tonic mixture and if they refuse to eat say 'ok, spoon of medicine then' hoping that the foul taste would encourage, unfortunatley times have changed and the tonic is a lovely orange flavour,so my kids love it. good luck,try and not let it get to you,most parents have been through it, when your child has a growing spurt, lm sure they'll eat better,thats what happened with my eldest. the second ,well still waiting.she eats with her peers at pre-school,but plays up at home. good luck again.

[deleted account]

I know you've been showered with helpful suggestions, but I'd like to chime in with one or two more.  I have had four picky eaters of varying ages at different stages of my "mothering career".  My nine-year-old has only recently reach the 35th percentile in weight, so she can finally find pants that fit in waist and length.  My eleven-year-old is diabetic and has had a lot of trouble regaining the weight he dropped before he was diagnosed- for a while, he used to walk around holding his pants up with one hand, even with a belt.  Both of them have been picky about different things, so mealtimes are often a challenge.  No one wants to load the table with high-calorie content foods, but these kids sometimes just need to have a variety of choices to ensure they get enough calories. 



We discovered that both of them would eat almost anything of we covered it in cream sauce, while the rest of the family chose marinara sauce, a lower-fat option.  Making it is simple, and it's delicious on bread, pasta, vegetables, etc.  Simply melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add heavy whipping cream, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook until it is thickened (roughly ten minutes), stirring frequently.  You can add cheese (grated parmesan is our favorite, though cheddar is a close second) or herbs, a little salt, or white pepper for flavor with no visible "specks".



Also, we make muffins using wheat germ, evaporated milk, Ovaltine powder, coconut-- pretty much anything we have in our pantry that has a high calorie content and some nutritional value.   As long as the kids get to help make them, they will eat them.  We use a mini muffin pan and top them with cream cheese frosting made with evaporated milk.  You can use almost any recipe, but I have some that I invented and ran through NutritionData.com to get the nutrition information.  I would be happy to share them with you-- just let me know and I will post them.



One last thing that I used for my now-seventeen-year-old when she was little:  Peanut butter balls.  These little nuggets of deliciousness are made with peanut butter, honey, wheat germ, powdered milk, and rice crispies.  One cup each of peanut butter, honey, and powdered milk, then add the other ingredients until the texture is like chunky playdough.  Roll into balls and then roll the balls in rice crispies or Ovaltine powder to coat.  My kids still love these- even the big ones- and they make a handy leave-a-plate-on-the-counter snack to pop into his mouth when he cruises through the kitchen.



Good luck!  Your son is lucky to have such a caring and concerned mom!



**I have other recipes and ideas for picky and/or diabetic kids, complete with nutrition info.  If anyone would like to have them, please shoot me a note.

Christine - posted on 02/06/2009

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Hiya, I would stop the battle with him and let him eat what he wants.. I have similar problems with my 8 yr old daughter, she has always had food issues.. I tried dieticians but found their methods cruel, so for me, it's all about calories. I just sit it down in front of her and walk away as the more you try to persuade them the less inclined they are to eat.. She refuses almost all dairy products and meat, but will drink those yoghurt type drinks..so I buy lots and let her drink as many as she wants. she eats dry bread, dry cereals, plain rice and apples mainly... School nurse says her weight and height are in proportion, so I dont worry anymore.. I just hope she'll sort it out herself eventually... Just dont pressure them would be my advice. They WILL eat something if they're hungry enough.

Sara - posted on 02/06/2009

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My daughter is almost 3, and still remains on the "tall and skinny" side. Mealtimes are a CONSTANT battle. Some of the things that we have tried that work off and on (more often as we stick with it) are giving her choices, limiting snacking, including milk and juice, increasing physical activity, so she doesn't have so much pent up energy and works up an appetite. Her great-grandma also recently suggested sitting her at the table with an empty plate while all the rest of us served ourselves and started eating and left her alone, no coaxing, no prodding. It took about 5 minutes for her to ask for something to eat, and she ate everything on her plate. It was a beautiful thing!! Good luck!

User - posted on 02/06/2009

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I have a down syndrome 8 year old who will happily only eat vegemite sandwiches. At meal times we have a sandwich on the table and tell him he is working for the sandwich ... most times he reluctantly eats the meal to get the sandwich

Jennifer - posted on 02/05/2009

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I found myself in the similar situation with my daughter who loves food.  She got a burn and we had to take her to the hospital and when children have this injury they don't want to eat. I was skeptical and sure enough, my daughter who loves food would not eat and they would not release her until she would eat. She had to take in so much protein and calories a day. The gave her what they called a "burn shake" and she loved it. She could add anything to it, even oreos. You might call a children's hospital and ask them. Any would know. You caoul also ask your ped. if they could recommenf a shake and the dosage. You don't want them to get too much vitamins. That way you coud add what you wanted. But if your child is growing weight as he/she grows you need not worry. 

Rebecca - posted on 02/05/2009

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Our son is 5. 42 inches and 36 lbs.

He is a picky eater as he has suspected reflux and won't touch red food due to the acid.

We gave in with some of it and made him make decisions with others. He is only allowed 3 servings of dairy a day. So if he wants grilled cheese for lunch and he had cereal for breakfast that day then he knows he only has 1 more choice for the day.

We also have a "you have to try" rule. If we are all sitting down to eat dinner and he says he doesn't like it, he at least has to try one mouthful. Then he can have something else when we are done or he can help himself whilst we are eating.

He is really starting to get into trying new foods.

He and his sister used to eat Trader Joes yoghurt and cream it is high in calories and they liked it. She still has it to help her gain weight. She will be 4 in May and is only 28 lbs.

User - posted on 02/05/2009

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Hi Beth! I have two boys 4 and 5 who both has the same weight and issues. It is really hard when any of them get sick  because they can lose weight so fast. I am always trying to get them to eat more. I found that giving them really high calorie diets really didnt get them to gain weight, but when I started taking out all the junk out of their diets they started gaining more weight. I also give them pediasure whenever they just got over being sick or whenever I think they need a little fat boost:) I also realized that I let them snack throughout the day because I was always trying to get them to gain weight, in result dinnertime was a battle. You know the reason why I would worry about their weight is mainly because of doctors, so now I dont worry about it much anymore, they will eat when they are hungry.

Patty - posted on 02/05/2009

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Take him to a kidney specialist to rule out a kidney disorder. Rare, but it happens.

[deleted account]

I am going to agree with PP.  I also have a 5.5  year old who vias for control.  She weighs only 34 lbs.  I stopped hounding and she started eating. It's stressful. 

[deleted account]

I am going to agree with PP.  I also have a 5.5  year old who vias for control.  She weighs only 34 lbs.  I stopped hounding and she started eating. It's stressful. 

Beth - posted on 02/05/2009

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Well my little guy will be 5 in May and his last check up in Oct. he was 32lbs. 41 1/2 inches.  He is a picky eater...mac n cheese is his main food group, no fruit no veggies and a little chicken.   I asked the Dr. and he didn't seem concerned as he is growing.  He also said that I shouldn't force him to eat as it won't make anyone happy!  He will grow out of this stage!  So what I do now is give him a choice ex.  if i make a beef roast he has  choice of beef, potatoes or carrots....he picked the beef and guess what he liked it!  So I got him to try something new and he didn't fight me on it!  Had I made him try all 3 we would have had a fight!  Just  a note my twin 18 month old girls eat EVERYTHING under the sun!  Don't ask me why he is like that but he always was.  I guess I pick which battles I want to fight & breakfast, lunch and dinner I chose not to fight! 

Cindy - posted on 02/05/2009

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Start with Pediasure & follow up with Carnation Instant Breakfast Milk Chocolate flavor!  My pediatrician recommended it for my daughter when all she ate was rice. chicken noodle soup and cheerios.  Now she drinks it when running late in the AM (HS Sophomore) plus loves Ramen, Ravioli, Pizza, Scrambled eggs, pancakes, etc.  I also used to buy the Hershey's milk chocolate in a box for the ride to school..  It will work itself out.  Oh, I just bought the new Kix Honey flavored cereal last weekend.  We all love it!

Tiffany - posted on 02/05/2009

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I have had a similar experience with my 5 year old daughter, similar but a different subject.  It came down to that it was a battle of the wills and a control issue with her.  She knew she could choose not to do what I told her, such as eat her food, our issue was going to the bathroom.  She had control.  My advice is to let it all go.  No longer make it an issue and see what happens.  Children will eat what their bodies need to eat.  Offer choices at meal time if he chooses not to eat Ok.  However limit the snacks and stick to meal times where everyone sits together. I also noticed my 2 year old son who rarely eats that I have been giving him too much milk so he is always full to start with.  Good luck.



A supportive mom and EMT

Randi - posted on 02/05/2009

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My three year old often goes through phases where he doesn't want to eat. The only thing that has seemed to work is to give him insentives and reasons to eat. When the weather is warm, we go outside to eat. He has to take a bit before he can play. Then we play for a few minutes and then he must take another bite to return to playing. Same goes for Burger king, McDonalds, and Chuck E Cheese. We have also started telling him once a week when he finishes his dinner, he and I will have a movie night! That way we can actually have a sit down dinner with the family. Our youngest goes to bed early and my husband goes to a friends house for a few hours. Plus he gets to stay up a little later.  He really looks forward to "mommy movie nights!"  Good luck! I know children have a mind of their own and it's hard to convince them you know best!

Jamie - posted on 02/05/2009

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Try giving you son choices so he can have some level of control over what he eats.  That will help cut down on the batlles, but you provide the choices.  FYI - my DD is 9 years old and she only weighs 55 pounds.  She is tall, lean and built just like her grandpa was.

Nikke - posted on 02/05/2009

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Hello, I have an 11 year old like that. I usually gave her two choices, both healthy but things I knew she would eat if given the chance. That option has helped a bunch. Plus we also supplemented with Pedisure. She thinks its some kind of milkshake but we know its good for her.

Susie - posted on 02/05/2009

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Hi there have you try giving ensure for children.



Its a liquid drink with all the nutrition in it.

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