My 3 year old son is a very picky eater, with an emphasis on “very.”
It’s obviously a common problem amongst kids his age, but I feel like it’s getting increasingly worse. He refuses to try new foods and often pushes his plate away, complete with a look a disgust and “blech” sound effects.
The Monkey was great with food until he was about 2 years old. At 2, he stopped drinking from a bottle, which was primarily used for milk. Since he associated milk with a bottle, he stopped drinking milk altogether. He started to push meals away, especially if vegetables were seen on his plate, and started to ask for specific foods. My child, who once devoured my roasted Brussels sprouts, scrambled eggs with veggies, and beet salads, now wants to live on chicken fingers, pizza, and pancakes.
We established a rewards system that is very hit or miss. We would reward him with a small soy ice cream sandwich or a few organic chocolate covered pretzels as a treat after he ate his dinner. However, as for trying new foods, the reward system doesn’t even work. He would rather skip a treat than try something new. He has been known to throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get what he wants or simply refuses to eat.
Although he’s pretty good with certain fruits, like apples and bananas, it’s a struggle to get him to eat any veggies. I often put veggies on his plate, which he immediately removes. I even tried the whole hiding-pureed-veggies-in-food thing for a while. But not only have I grown to believe that it’s a disservice in the long-run, the Monkey also knows better.
I now dread mealtime.
Where did we go wrong? I did my research when it came time for the Monkey to start eating. At 6 months old, while being exclusively breastfed, the Monkey only ate pureed green vegetables, followed by an introduction to orange and yellow vegetables. He didn’t even have fruit until he was about 9 months old. As for refined sugars, the Monkey didn’t have any until his first taste of cake on his 1st birthday. He didn’t have it again until his 2nd birthday. The Monkey has never had fast food and doesn’t even know what McDonald’s is.
But, at some point during his 2nd year, I lost some of the control I had with the Monkey’s food intake. He was introduced to more types of “kid-friendly” food. He went to birthday parties where they served treats and cakes. He had pizza, french fries, and chicken fingers for the first time. He started to crave those foods. The Monkey also started to eat more snack foods like crackers and chips. Carbs and sugars – it’s all he wants and demands.
This could all be a phase or we may simply have a very picky eater on our hands. It’s hard to say at this point. I like to say that if this is the worst issue with our child, than we’re very fortunate parents. But it does make me nervous. I want my child to be as healthy as possible, which can only be accomplished with a diet filled with nutritious and healthy food. I worry about the lack of calcium, magnesium, and omega 3′s in his diet. I worry that his weight is on the low side of normal for his height and age. And I worry that he will grow up to have a negative relationship with food. Or, maybe, all this worrying is for nothing – that his eating habits are fine for his age and that he will choose better food options down the road. Guess time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll keep serving him veggies and wholesome foods and hope that, one day, he won’t push the plate away.
If you have any ideas, suggestions, stories, or words of encouragement, please share!