How do you get a 4 year old to not be such a picky eater?

Amber - posted on 10/02/2012 ( 8 moms have responded )




I have a 4 year old who is a SUPER picky eater. Does anyone have any advice on how to get him to even TRY new foods??

We try and make it as fun as possible, but he just won't go for it! He won't even try to eat new things!

Looking to see if anyone has any suggestions to maybe combat this! Thanks!


FoxyMom - posted on 11/01/2012




I guess I was more of a mean mom. My son tried to be picky and I didn't allow it. I fixed one meal and I knew there was no way he could dislike everything on the plate. The rule in the house was you had to try one bite of everything because you can not say you don' t like it until you actually try it. If he tried it and didn't like it then maybe a few weeks go by and I'll fix it a bit different and offer it to him again. If he refused to eat I didn't give him snacks. I wrapped his plate up and warmed it up later when he said he was hungary. I also made him stay at the dinner table until everyone else was finished eating. No not eating and then getting up to do something fun. I was very careful not to feed him a lot of sweet things early on so he didn't crave it. Some moms may not agree with what I did but it resulted in a 4 year old wanting bussel sprouts, Asparagus, green beans, etc. I did not add cheese, katchup, or sause to any food to get him to eat because I didn't want it to become a crunch and him not eat anything without it on it. What the dr told me is he will eat when he is hungary.

Some children learn to train their parents to get what they want to eat.


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Kate - posted on 12/09/2012




My five year old is also super picky. I don't stress it. She has breakfast that she chooses (cereal almost always). A snack at school, that she chooses in the grocery store- usually grapes or a clementine. That way I know she's not starving and unable to focus at school. The rest of the day she has a meal prepared for her, whatever the rest of the family is eating and she can choose to eat or not eat. My only rule is that you do not leave the table until everyone is finished. Somedays she eats three meals, other days she eats nothing. Very few kids will actually starve themselves, and eating is one of those things you cannot force them to do. Unless you or his dr are seriously concerned about weight or growth I wouldn't worry too much about it- some adults are super picky eaters too.

Trina - posted on 11/18/2012




I have a 3 year old that use to be that way with meat.My son has texture and sensory issues that have made things difficult. His nutritionist and his other doctors told us to give him something to dip his foods in. He now eats all meat but roast. He loves raw veggies but don't eat cooked very well. He typically still goes for the veggies and fruits before anything else, just give your child time. They don't eat as fast as we do.

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I agree with Ariana that mixing in good veggies inside of what they will eat may help your little girl to want to eat. Like she said nobody wants to be forced to eat. At 4 years old mix in cheese can be helpful and later on she will begin to like to the veggies without the cheese. Have your daughter help you make some of the meals like on the weekends when you have time this may want her to eat some of it. I think if you give her a plate with just a small portion of each meal group it may not look that overwhelming to her. When we were little think back the plate always seemed like too much food and we did not want to stop to eat we just wanted to play so if the food is in small amounts at least you know they are eating and graudally add some good fruit and veggies during the day can help.

Sabrina - posted on 11/01/2012




I am in the same boat!!! That's why we are going to a pediatric dietian to get a fresh view on what works with our 4 year old and what doesn't. It's hard nowadays cause some doctors say to let them eat what they want and others say starve them.

Michelle1544 - posted on 11/01/2012




All over the big world , Kids eat what their parents eat . The mothers don't run diners !! I think it's such a disservice to our children to allow them to eat the same old food all the time. Make your child a plate of balanced foods and that's , that.

Good article on this topic -

Laurie - posted on 10/31/2012




My oldest used to be very picky and what I did was limit snacks, so he was really hungry at meal times. I gave him a little of everything that I made and the rule was that he had to try one bite of everything. He then could go back and eat what he liked. If he did not eat everything, there would be nothing else to eat until the next meal.

I would give him the same foods over and over. He had probably taken 20 bites of a strawberry (on 20 different days) When one day he ate them all and exclaimed " I really like strawberries."

He had a great kindergarten teacher who told him that just as he was getting older, so was his tastebuds. So he had to keep trying new foods because his 6 year old tastebuds might like things that his 5 year old tastebuds didn't.

he is now 14 and eats anything.


Ariana - posted on 10/02/2012




A good way to get kids to eat new things is to give them lots of options when they eat. So instead of just having, spaghetti (or whatever it is you want him to eat) have some spaghetti and strawberries, and etc. etc. So put 5 things on his plate instead of one or two.

Mixing food in with food he likes can help. My son for a while refused to eat most vegetables so I mixed his pees in with potatoes and now his favourite vegetable are pees and he'll eat it on it's own. Doesn't always work but if you can introduce a new food mixed in with or brought together with a food you know he already likes it can help.

Another good thing to do when you introduce foods is to not have foods he really likes with it. Not to say don't give him anything good but if you give him a food he's never had beside his favourite food ever, he's just going to want more of the food he loves already.

Don't make a big deal out of it. Sometimes the more you push the more they resist and eating it becomes about them giving in and trying. Keep exposing them to the new foods. They might not try it the first 3 times but take a bite the 4th time.

Also, I don't know if this would work with a child at 4, but my almost three year old will sometimes try new things if I promise to let him eat more of something he likes, so he really likes hot dogs, and I'd let him eat his regular food and then tell him, if he tries one bite of the new stuff I'll get him another hot dog. If he does he gets a hotdog and if he doesn't then I just say ok, maybe next time. I wouldn't give him super sugary cookies or anything but just something he likes. Don't know if that will work at 4.

We also give him lots of praise when he does try something and even if he says it was 'yucky' I tell him that it was a great job that he tried some.

Whatever you do do not make this into a battle. Make your food and if he doesn't want to eat it, don't make him, don't get really frustrated, don't beg him to eat. Either he eats it, or he doesn't. Also if he refuses to eat a whole meal don't give him snacks right afterwards or anything. Otherwise he learns if he puts off his meal he can still get full off of sugary/snacky food. Plus don't make him eat foods if he has tried it and doesn't like it. You can still put it out there in case he just hasn't had it enough to know if he likes it; but nobody wants to be forced to eat food they just don't like.

If all else fails put cheese ontop :)

Good luck!

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