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My 5 year old so fussy with food - any advice please?

(5 Posts)
longingforsleep Tue 28-Jul-09 12:47:10

Hi there

Can anyone out there give me some advice about this? My DS has just turned 5 and has always been a fussy eater. I mean really bad. Between the ages of 18 months and 3 I think he survived on milk, yoghurts, fruit and toast, pretty much.

Eventually, after a great deal of effort on my part, and well, let's face it, bribery (i.e. no yoghurt unless you try this), he now has a limited repertoire of things he'll eat, mostly involving pasta. These are healthy things, so I'm much happier about that, but about 6 months ago he went off chicken, and would chew and chew it in his mouth for ages before finally swilling it down with water. Same with beef, so we've stuck with mince which seems to be acceptable.

Not sure why he suddenly went off the texture - anyway, I digress. I decided recently (having witnessed a party where he ate hardly anything as they had no peanut butter sandwiches (only ones he'll eat), that it was time to increase his repertoire, so I devised a 'New Food Chart' and said that he needed to try 5 new things to get 5 stars and then a treat (not too tricky then).

So, he'll start trying something, grimace, chew it over and over and then swill it down with water, which pretty much defeats the object of the exercise. He's desperate to get the stars (and the treat), but doesn't seem to realize I want him to like these new foods enough to eat them again, voluntarily.

So, the burning question is, should I give in for now or carry on? I don't think the food swilling thing is really achieving anything...

Thanks, in advance. Sorry this has ended up so long.

notsoteenagemum Tue 28-Jul-09 13:09:29

My DS is similar with meat he eats mince, shredded chicken or beef/lamb/pork chopped into really tiny pieces. He seems to get fed up of chewing it. He also won't eat sandwiches unless they have Jam and no butter.
I find the best ways to get my ds to try foods are,
get him involved in the cooking, even if you are not serving the food to him chances are he will ask for some,
Eat the food yourself when your ds is not having anything to eat. I have early tea on the days I go to night class and my dc eat later with dh, but ds will always ask for some of what I'm having.
I also remind him of the fact that until recently he would never try Kiwi Fruit but he did and he loved it, so this food could be the 'new Kiwi'.

poshtottie Tue 28-Jul-09 13:14:56

I have a three year ds who is the exactly the same. We were down to about 5 foods, milk, toast, yogurt, beans, spag hoops.

It has got slightly better as I stopped stressing about it. He ate an apple in the car the other day without any prompting and I was overjoyed.

Do you eat as a family? We don't yet but am hoping too when dh gets home later in the year. I let ds watch tv (said I never would) but he does seem to eat more than sitting at the table on his own.

Ds won't eat chicken and only eats mince aswell.

Sorry no real advice but wanted you to know that you are not alone. However I do supplement him with a multivitamin and a probiotic. I also give him an innocent smoothie with meals only. Makes me feel a bit better.

longingforsleep Tue 28-Jul-09 13:21:18

Thanks for your messages. It is nice to know I'm not the only one.

Nstm, I have tried offering my DS some of my food when I eat with him (if it's different from his meal), and he always looks shocked, and says 'No thank you Mummy!'
Got the long summer holidays ahead so will try to get him to do some more cooking with me - good idea.

Poshtottie, we do try to eat together as a family as much as we can, but it does feel like a bit of an uphill struggle. Also have 15 month old (much more interested in food) who enjoys slinging it around!

Any more thoughts? Thanks.

Sidge Tue 28-Jul-09 13:53:55

I sympathise as my now nearly 11 year old was like this. It drives you bananas! If it's any consolation she now eats really well and will try most new foods but still has likes and dislikes (don't we all).

Personally I don't think rewards eg star charts stickers and treats for eating are a good idea. I would reward the behaviour eg trying a tiny taste of a new food with lots of praise and a cuddle, but IMO using charts and rewards makes the whole issue even bigger than it is. And if he really doesn't like a food then rewarding him for eating it reinforces the message that eating that food is something so yucky that it needs a bribe! A bit like "eat your veg and then you can have pudding" sends the message that veg is horrid and to be tolerated with the 'better' prize of something sweet and sugary later (which can potentially cause food discrimination).

I would back off - offer foods on his plate in tiny tiny portions (large servings can in itself be offputting) and ignore ignore ignore. Sooner or later he may be tempted to try it, especially if you're not on his back about eating it. If he even licks it, give him a beaming smile and say "Well done! What did you think of that?" And then push no further. If he refuses it make no comment and clear away as you usually would. Sometimes relieving the pressure of eating makes them more adventurous.

Also inviting friends to tea (who you know are good eaters) can help - especially if you do a floor picnic or something fun like kebabs of veg and small chunks of meat (they like sliding the chunks off!).

Keep smiling, it does get better!

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