I have a picky three year old that has a very limited diet. He refuses to try any new foods, it has been exactly a year since he has tried something new. I can remember exactly what it was and he mistook it for something else because it was dark.
His overall diet is actually quite good and likes most fruits, yogurt, cereal that is high in fiber and low in sugar, crackers, etc. He will eat a variety of healthy foods, but the are generally very light and only snack type foods. My problem is that he eats no meals with the exception of pizza and chicken nuggets (only certain brand made at home). I try to give him more of a variety serving other things for lunch and dinner, which ultimately always go to waste.
My question is, how much should I worry about this? Should I continue to serve food I know he won't eat, or make him chicken nuggets all the time? I get so frustrated and now it is causing my two year old daughter to model the same eating habits. I also do not exaggerate when I say he sometimes goes days with only yogurt, fruit and dry cereal......so then I cave in and make nuggets or order pizza because I feel he has got to be starving!
Any help would be appreciated as well as suggestions on how to get three year old to try new foods???!!!!
From: Stephanie, Norfolk (MA or VA?)
Picky eaters are mostly made, not born, meaning that even though some kids have idiosyncratic tendencies (to texture, taste, color, smell) they turn into pickiness because we enable them. And frankly, he doesn't sound all that picky to me.
Assuming your doc says he's healthy, stop worrying and back off. The more of a fuss you make -- wringing your hands literally or figuratively -- the pickier (for real!) he'll get. Don't cater to him, but don't deprive him, either. Don't talk about every mouthful he does or doesn't eat. When you put a meal in front of him, it should be nutritious, pleasing to look at, and it should always include at least one food you know he will eat, even if it's nuggets or pizza. (Experiment with some ways to make nuggets more healthy, or to add toppings on pizza.) If you need to say anything, say this: "My job is to make our food healthy and tasty. It's your job to decide which food you eat." Once you make that distinction clear to him, he will feel in control and be less likely to use food as a source of control. But don't make these statements unless you're prepared to follow through.
Children are creatures of habit, and sometimes those habits can be, well, odd. It takes 10 to 35 times seeing the same new food on the plate before it's no longer "new." That takes a lot of patience for parents. For some kids, the texture of a food is more of an issue than taste, while for others, it's color. Present a variety of each, but don't push anything. Eat meals as a family as often as possible and make it as pleasant as possible, not expecting him to stay longer than he is able.
For more ideas, and an interview with eating specialist "Ellyn Sater,read here.