Picky eater

by patrricia silverman
(clifton, new jersey)

My grandson refuses to eat anything he has horrible tantrums at almost every meal. he is going to b 5 sept 8


He will only eat chicken nuggets and potato tots.hot dogs and pizza. macaroni and cheese. out of these few items that he will eat, there are times that he wont even eat these. It is a constant battle to get him to eat.

The doctor is becoming concerned because he has lost four pounds in two months. He weighs 38 lbs after losing the four lbs.

My son and daughter in law are at there wits end because they dont know how to get him to eat any thing

We have tried to have him prepare the meals himself and sometimes it works but for the most part it is always a battle.

Please can u give us some suggestions on what to do.

I have tried making a shake of bananas and pediasure and had him help with it but it didn't work

Any advice would be greatly appreciated


concerned grandma

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Aug 18, 2009
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Picture Cards
by: Alisa

Does he have cards with pictures that he can use to talk to you with. I had a friend with a child that could not speak properly and they had a book with little pictures of his favorite items and each picture had a velcro dot on the back and he was able to take the take the picture place it on a velcro strip and then show it to his mum or dad to communicate with them. It reduced his frustration level and behaviour problems dramatically.

I tried a similar thing with my children and it a very dramatic positive change for my children as well. My children could speck very early on but for some reason they still had trouble remembering to do simple task like wash hand after using the toilet or washing them selves with soap. I made posters up with pictures on them and the order in which they do things and placed it in room it belonged to like the toilet or bathroom. My mum and sister said I was stupid but I no longer find the toilet unflushed everytime and have had many other positive effects from using pictures and word chart as reminders/help for my children.

Aug 18, 2009
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picky eater
by: Anonymous

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. i failed to mention that he has limited speech and it is sometimes difficult for him to express his feelings, which no doubt causes more frustration on him and us. i like to think that if he could communicate better it would not be so difficult. but he just wont eat and yes it does at times seem like a strong power struggle. but then there are times when i am certain that there is something wrong. being his grandmother i might be a little sensitive, however i cant help but be somewhat concerned because whereas his father was not always a good eater, however i NEVER had this problem with him.

again thanks to all we will try them

Aug 18, 2009
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Food
by: Alisa

I too started just asking my kids to put a a little of every thing on their plates and asked them to try the food regularly as they may one day find they start liking the food. The other thing I started doing years ago now was serve salad's and veg's up in separate bowls on the table and let them pick the food they like. This stop may arguments being directed at me the 'COOK'. I got sick of being the focus of the anger about meal times. I also tried to create meals that could allow for each child to vary the meal to there taste's, I never liked the theory that you make your kids eat what you want them to eat.

Don't let any one tell you your a lazy or bad parent, when I started letting my kids have some Independence/choice at meal I was forever being told i was just lazy and bad parent because I should be telling my kids what to eat and how much or everything. People seem to have nothing better to do than try to blame me for my kids negative behaviours but I prefer to call them eccentric behaviours.

My children also make their own lunch for school. They know what foods are for school as they have a school food shelf. We keep cup cakes in freezer bags ready to be packed for lunch with little effort. It gave my kids some thing to focus of instead of arguing with me. It also meant they had to get dressed faster in order to have time to make lunch which can still be a challenge for my kids due to attention span, I still have to verbally remind my kids what part of the routine is next and to focus on each task.

When I was making their lunch they spent more time monitoring and arguing with me about what i was putting in their lunch box's then on getting ready for school. When asked to make choices they had to look at the choice's to make a decision anyway and they seemed to be delaying choice for what ever reason's, you could have two choices and they would take forever to decide and then still come home from school and get angry at me for what they choose for lunch.

As a mum I want to do things for my kids and will help them when they are nice to me, but by allowing them focus there anger on me would do them harm they would never learn to respect people's feeling.

Aug 17, 2009
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picky eater
by: Anonymous

I really could have written the same post about my son. He is almost 4.

~We certainly know what its like to be at our wits end with feeding issues. We attempt so many different foods during the day and he rejects almost all of them. Part of our son's reason for rejecting is smell. He says the food doesn't smell right to him. Our new OT told us that smell issues is one of the hardest to fix. I try to put myself in his place. IF something smelled really bad to me i wouldn't eat it either! OT says if we give him what he needs (heavywork) it helps these issues as well.

Does anyone know the reason behind the food rejections? Can he communicate what it is he is against?

We don't try to force our son to eat anything that he is rejecting.
We also have weight concerns. We STRUGGLE to keep his weight up (31 lbs).

Tips that work for us:
1. We let him eat anything he wants IN the supermarket. I know it sounds crazy but some of his best meals have been eaten in the shopping cart!

2. We found a restaurant he loves and when nothing seems to work we bring him there for macaroni/breadsticks. He leaves FULL!

3. Let him be at the counter preparing the food as often as possible.

4. If it has to do with smell, let him smell pleasant smells, such as candles.. before/during a meal.

5. BRIBERY! Every 4 bites of fruit gets him a chocolate chip!

6. If its a 'crunch' issue (our son tries/eats almost anything crunchy), get a dehydrator or visit 'just tomatoes' online.

7. If he likes spices add them to everything. My son wants salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder on his dish to drag his bites of hot dog through!

8. If you are trying to get him to eat meat and he doesn't like the texture, add something crunchy! We serve taco meat in one bowl and tostitos in another. He does one bite of each. Needs crunchy in there.

9. I don't think i can stress this enough, its ALL about that FIRST BITE. Getting them to take that FIRST BITE. Its the bite that lets them know how much they enjoy something. Its also the most difficult bite to get them to take! The one thing that has worked for us the BEST is telling them NOT to take a bite! We always pull one piece out when first serving and say "ABSOLUTELY DO NOT EAT THIS BITE, it is daddys bite!" And we set it aside on the plate. We tell him we're watching THAT bite (in a very playful way). Of course the fun of eating daddy's bite, poppy's bite, nana's bite is just so enjoyable they forget ALL about their issue. Which brings me to my last tip!

10. DISTRACTION, it really helps!

You have to get creative! Do whatever you can to change things up often. Let him pick the weirdest looking fruit in the store or chose the restaurant. Use cookie cutters for sandwiches and fruits. Its all about getting their mind off things!

*** Oh, to the mom visiting the eating clinic, thanks for the ideas, pleeeeaaasse keep them coming!!!!

Aug 17, 2009
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feeding clinic
by: mo2g

My 6yo daughter is a very picky eater, too. We recently started a feeding clinic where we also have physical occupational therapy for SI issues. The feeding clinic is REALLY helping after only 3 visits. I recommend this to anyone struggling to get their kid to eat.

Some tips we have picked up at the feeding clinic are to serve the meal "family style"--that is, sit down at the table and have the kid put some of each dish on her own plate. The #1 rule at the feeding clinic is "You don't have to eat it." They try to get the kids to touch the food, put it on their plates, sniff it, lick it, taste it, chew it and spit out, and then finally chew and swallow.

So, I have my daughter put a bite of everything on her plate and tell her she doesn't have to eat it but can sniff it, play w/ it, whatever. It IS working. This weekend she ate several foods that she wouldn't eat before or hasn't eaten in a while. I am thrilled.

Of course, you have to give them a break sometimes. If she's tired, sometimes I just let her have what she wants. Today, after 2 hours of OT and feeding clinic and a full day of first grade, I let her have McD's in front of the tv. She ate it, it's full of calories, so ok, you know?

Aug 17, 2009
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keeping note
by: Alisa

The best thing I can suggest is maybe rewarding with stickers or a game or movie or something that he REALLY loves and make sure he understands that he has to eat his tea meal. If it's an aspergers behaviour he may need his food separated, if he's having sensory issues try to make meal time with less sensory input, quiet and try to create a routine that lowers his sensory input before meals are served.

I have a 9y with food refusal issues since she was a baby. I never knew about sensory disorders back then and made her issues worse not better by forcing the issues and not making meal time calms and happy. She still has an argument before every meal but we just tell her she has to eat it or go hungry and if she tries what we put on the table and really does not like it or has trouble eating due to a sensory issues she can make her self some thing. If she throws a huge tantrum she loses the option to make her self a meal.

My 4 year was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder when he was about 1y. He's no where near as bad as his sister at meal time but he does go hungry lot due to slow eating and giving up when everyone else is finished eating and or because he just says he does not like it and refuses to try it. I let him watch TV before meal times because it one of the few things that her can do on his own while I cook tea and it has a soothing effect on him. He more co-operative at meal times if he has not been over stimulated before a meal. If he argues about eating he is told he wont get TV after a meal he does not calm down and eat some food. He loves certain shows more than just TV in general so I talk about the show he loves to watch when hes getting frustrated because he cant seem to connect the information when he gets worked up about things.

The other things you can do if your struggling to figure what it is that makes him refuse to eat is keep a diary and make notes about behaviour during the day and what set them off. By doing this you may be able to make some connection as to what is causing the problems. Some times we are so busy dealing with each melt down that we are self cant remember that a texture or event or change in routine cause a similar behaviour or melt down 4 day or 2 weeks ago.

Just be open minded about the possible reasons and try different things, but in the long run a ridged routine often calms a child specially if they have aspergers syndrome. I have 1 child with aspergers, and that was my savior when it came to melt downs, and getting his to do more like sit and eat all his meal with out looking like he was about to run if a minor noise caught his attention. He was not scared, he was always in a hyper state of alert and would run from front door to back door repeatedly especially if we had a visitor.

Aug 17, 2009
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don't struggle
by: Ericka Morgan

Your grandson's diet sounds very similar to my son's. However, my son is in t he average weight range. My son is dx with SPD, ADHD, and Aspergers. I asked the dev. ped. if I should put my son on a feeding program, and he said no. His advice was that since my son is growing and not showing signs of malnutrition, I shouldn't worry about it.

Often kids with SPD and these other issues, there are more serious sensory needs.

I have never made food an issue with my son. I offer him fruits and vegetables, make sure he gets vitamins (he won't take vitamins but he loves V8 splash). I think since he has so much to deal with, food just isn't the most important thing. But if your grandson's doctor is concerned, there are feeding programs you can try. The biggest thing is DON'T get caught in a power struggle about food!

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