Please help. My girlfriend's 4 yr. old -- My son! -- only eats McDs. french fries, Oodles of Noodles. Various potato chips. Gogurts. Chocolate milk. Of course all types of candy. Greens & fake mashed potatoes (from the box) a couple times a month. Nothing else!!! When we introduce new foods or tell him to try new foods, he gags & throws up. It doesn't matter if it's sweet or not. Please help?
From: Justin, Hyattsville, MD
I don't want to be difficult, but this eating doesn't sound all that bad to me. Gogurt? Chocolate milk? Greens? Noodles? Like I said, not all that bad. He doesn't like it when you introduce new foods because -- surprise! -- he's a kid! Kids are very picky about the way food smells, what it looks like and the texture it has. In fact, it can take a kid up to 70 times of seeing a "new" food on the plate before it stops registering as "new." Which means a parent's job is to be patient.
That said, I can understand your concern, especially with the gagging and vomiting.
If you haven't done so, you certainly need to check with the doc to make sure there is not a medical issue that's causing these problems. I'm guessing there isn't. It sounds more to me like there's a fair amount of fuss and drama that surrounds meal time, as well, perhaps, as animated- to-angry discussion between you and his mom about his eating habits. In other words, what he does and doesn't eat gets him a bunch of attention. He enjoys that attention even though it's the result of negative behavior.
If there's friction between you and his mom about his eating, especially if he hears you arguing about it, that alone can be a motivation for him to continue to be picky. If you live in separate homes, you don't have to serve the same food in each. But if you offer food that is different from what his mom offers, do it without editorial comment: no bad mouthing of the food she serves, no pleading with him to eat what you've prepared. Put the food you'd like to see him eat in front of him, make sure you include at least one food you know he will like, and then don't talk about it. If he doesn't eat, he doesn't eat. Nutritionists typically tell parents to look at what a child eats in the course of a week, not meal by meal. If and when he's hungry, he'll eat. Children do not starve themselves.
Bottom line: The more matter of fact you can be about his eating, the better. The less attention he gets for what he does or doesn't eat, the sooner his eating patterns will change. I'm not saying it will happen quickly; this is a process and a slow one at that. In the meantime, find other ways to give him the attention he craves so that he doesn't have the need to act out through his eating.
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