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Old 10-14-2004, 12:25 PM   #1
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4-year-old's eating habits

My 4-year-old is a picky eater, to say the least. He doesn't like fruit or vegetables much, and would probably eat Cheerios with milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner if we let him.

My question is, should we force him to eat real meals, or just let him eat what he wants? I've read that it can be counter-productive to nag a child this age about food, and I'm sick of nagging him as it is. Should my wife and I just lay off, and if he wants cereal for dinner, let him have it? (He seems quite healthy, by the way, but he refuses to take vitamins, which is one reason we want him to eat a variety of foods)

Thanks.

 
Old 10-14-2004, 12:35 PM   #2
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

Such an age-old question. I have two boys 12 and 15. My sister has two girls 13 and 18. She never made her girls eat foods they gave her a tough time about. I made my boys eat what was on their plate. Fast forward to today. My sons eat all kinds of fruit and vegetables and are very willing to try new things - like Ostrich meat (oh boy!). My sister's girls have a limited menu and she still has to make them a separate meal from her and her husband's. Was it easy for me and my husband to get my sons to eat their food? NO...... You would think they'd want to get done and watch tv or play but many nights they sat at the dinner table. We gave them as long as it took to eat.

Here is a list of some of the stuff my boys will eat, brocoli, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, collard greens (yes!), brussel sprouts, asparagus, squash (many kinds), peas, green beans, chic peas, hominy, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, butter beans, corn, sweet potatoes, wild rice, brown rice, all kinds of pasta, pork, chicken, veal, steak, beef, venison (not me! though I did try it), mangos, oranges, melons (all kinds), apples, bananas, grapes, blueberries-------okay i'll shut up.

It is up to you. My sister's husband has been going to college for the last few years to become a chef. He works as a food coach in a major grocery chain so when he has a great dish at work, he wants to make it at home. Can you imagine his frustration when his daughters will not eat it?!? When my sister comes to eat at holiday time, she has to bring her youngest daughter a bowl of macaroni! I have a co-worker who is a 'picky' eater. She will only eat foods with no color basically. Oh, you can consider the sauce for spaghetti a color.

So my answer is no. You should not let him have cereal for dinner. Doctors and others say that ultimately children get the nutrition they need over time. It's not just about nutrition. As you can see how my niece's are today, they are not adventerous with food - stick to a handful of stuff they'll eat. Oh, but don't worry, they'll eat cereal, cookies, and tons of snack food. Where is the balance? It takes work, but in the long run it is well worth the effort.
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Last edited by sawbuck44; 10-14-2004 at 12:40 PM.

 
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Old 10-14-2004, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

Sawbuck44:

Thanks for the observations. That's scary about your nieces. It's so obvious the same could happen with our boy. You're making me think maybe we should keep pushing food on him.

Dan

 
Old 10-14-2004, 02:34 PM   #4
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

well, I was a picky eater!, boy.... Ive turned out..... ok..... My mom wont make seperate meals (unless its something quick, or somethiong, or she know NONE of her kids will eat what shes makin).. lol

What she did to all of us when we were little, was that we had to eat everything on our plate... BUT... we were allowed leaving one thing of food on the plate... but we did at least have to try the food.


HEH, u knw your picky, when it takes u 1/2 an hour to eat half of sandwich
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Old 10-14-2004, 09:57 PM   #5
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

I have 2 children. I have a daughter who is 10 and a son who is 5. I have learned a few things about their eating habits. For a while I gave in and let them run the house, so to speak, and made 3 seperate meals for dinner. One for me and my husband, one for my daughter and one for my son. Well, that got old quick. My children were constantly telling me that they don't like what I make.....but I forced them to try it. They weren't crazy about it, but they didn't hate it.......so now I force them to at least take a good bite before they decide that they absolutely cannot stomach the taste.

I have also found that, with my children at least, that most of the time, it isn't that they actually don't like the food, they just prefer something else. So, to get what they want, they'll just tell me that they don't like what I am making for dinner. Another thing with children is texture. They tend to dislike a food just because of the texture. My son, for example, would not eat any meat that required a lot of chewing, like steak, pork chops, etc. If it isn't soft, he says he doesn't like it. He would take a piece of meat and suck on it for about 10 minutes til the flavor was out of it, then he would spit it out. He would not actually chew the meat and swallow it.

Well, a few months back I had to take my children for school physicals, and we discovered that my son is anemic..........and the doctor specifically told me that I have to force him to eat good. So, now whether he likes it or not, he is eating healthy and so is my daughter.......and they have become accustomed to it in a few months time. The only way I let them get away with not eating something is if I know for certain that they absolutely dislike something because of taste, not for any other reason.

I don't know for certain if my sons poor eating habits led to his anemia or not, but one thing we all know for certain is that illnesses such as diabetes are at an all time high. More and more people are developing it because of poor eating habits. We as parents need to make sure that we are keeping our kids healthy. Our kids may not like what we are doing, but one day they will appreciate it.

 
Old 10-15-2004, 06:03 AM   #6
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

Barton brings up a good point, they will tell you they don't like it because they would rather eat something else. Many times my boys sit down and usually it's the younger one, will complain about the dinner. Most times it's 'why do we always have to eat a big dinner?' I remind them that we eat pizza, fast food, once in a while but we have to balance our nutrition. So we don't ALWAYS eat a big dinner, but they would PREFER that we ate something simple and just think we eat big meals all the time. Just like your son may indeed find he does like a lot of food if he took the time to try it, he just PREFERS to eat Cheerios because it is familiar to him. Good luck!
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Last edited by sawbuck44; 10-15-2004 at 06:10 AM.

 
Old 10-15-2004, 06:36 AM   #7
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

do you give in and give him what he wants to eat? My suggestion is to give him the same meal everybody else is eating, you can try sauces and things to try and make it more appealing (serving raw veggies with some dip may get a better responce than cooked). If you give him what he wants now he'll expect to always get what he wants when it comes to meals, he'll never have to try anything new. The only thing i caution is if there is something he truly doesn't like than i wouldn't force him to eat it. I would also cut out extra's untill he is eating properly...no treats at the store, give him his 3 meals, plus a healthy snack inbetween, fruits, veggies with dip, you can even get some great fruit dips. Stay away from sugary, junky foods. Eventually he will get the idea and start eating. It will be a battle in the begining, he will not like it, but let him know that he has to eat his meals...my kids know that if they don't eat one of their meals than no extra's......so they eat. Also, don't give him more than he can eat, if he seems to take forever and cannot finish than give him a little less next time, if he eats in a few minutes and is hungry shortly after than give him a little more. i got into a bad habbit of putting too much on my daughters plate and expecting her to finish...i don't do that anymore, you can always put a little aside for him in case he is still hungry. Also something we have tries is that if one of the kids doesn't finish a meal it gets put into the fridge and they can eat it later....we only had to do that once i think. there are little tricks you can try....but the key (as was already said) is to not make it a battle. Let him know he has to eat and you expect him to sit at the table and behave,ask him to leave the table if he cannot do this, tell him to sit quietly somewhere else while everybody else finishes eating. Don't ask him to eat, don't punish...just let him know that if he complains, wines etc he will be asked to leave the table, do not let him play if you do this, he is either to sit quietly in his room or somewhere else you decide or is to sit at the table with everybody else.
Some kids are just picky eaters, and they never outgrow it...the key is to work with his pickyness without bending the rules too much, like i mentioned, some kids enjoy raw veggies, so you can serve him raw baby carrots, raw broccoli with some salad dressing instead of cooked veggies that everybody else is eating. See if he likes things with less spice or flavor than what you normaly cook....just don't get into the habit of feeding him whatever he wants because your scared he'll starve....he won't starve himself, it's just a battle of wills right now.

 
Old 10-22-2004, 06:02 AM   #8
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

If you give him something he says he doesn't like (that means he must have eaten a small bite and swallowed it!), then take it off his plate and try it again in a couple weeks. Never give up on a food. The more variety they have now the better eating habits they will have on their own.

I worked with someone whose family was never allowed to eat junk food. Once on his own he went on a rampage. Finally, although it took him a few years, he was tired of being tired and sick all the time so he reverted back to healthy eating. So it works both ways. And the answer is... variety! No food should be taboo yet no food should be eliminated because a child says he doesn't like it. My youngest son does not like brussel sprouts but he will eat them. Keep it in perspective and try not to make it too much of a struggle. I am glad we are past that stage but that's exactly what it is and if you let your child win that one - you'll both end up the loser.
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Last edited by sawbuck44; 10-22-2004 at 06:03 AM.

 
Old 10-22-2004, 07:17 AM   #9
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

I lucked out when I got 3 kids that are not picky eaters....They will eat whatever I make them and not say a word. They are 8 (alomst 9) 5 and 3 1/2....There are small things like my 5 year old won't eat the crust on bread and my 8 year old hates tomoatoes, but besides picking one little thing, they eat well! They love to take their vitamins. I give them one at breakfast time every morning. My 5 year olf tried getting me to let him eat cereal for breakfast & dinner, butI told him it is a breakfast food, he can have all he wants at breakfast-dinner, he eats what I make, and if he doesn't like it, he can stay hungry until he eats it....it always works! Yea it might sound mean, but he is understanding that I am the boss, not him-If they dont try new things, how will they know what is good?

Good luck!
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Old 10-22-2004, 08:28 AM   #10
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

Just to let you know..if you want him to take vitamins...they have them in gumball and gummy bear form. kids will eat those. I don't know if it's setting a bad example by giving him a gumball everyday (maybe it could be a dessert) but it will get those vitamins in his system.

 
Old 10-22-2004, 08:55 AM   #11
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Re: 4-year-old's eating habits

Thanks for the vitamin advice. I'll try it.

Thanks also to the person who suggested a dip for veggies. That makes lots of sense - for most people. But my son refuses to have sauce on anything, and his reaction to vegetable dip would be: "YUCK!"

 
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