Food aversions in a 4 year old, need ideas how to get him to try new foods? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 10-20-2011, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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This is my first post here, I have been reading for awhile but decided that I need help! I'm sorry in advance if this question was posted already... couldn't find anything more recent than 2006 on this topic... My 4 year old DS has food aversions since birth. We did try some OT when he was 2, but at the time he was super resitant and after few months, did not see any improvement, so I stopped taking him. He only eats chicken nuggets, fish sticks, dry waffles, dry bread, grilled cheese (on one kind of bread only), cheese pizza (if he can't see the sauce, so certain kids only), fries, crackers, icing (like cake icing or cookie icing), certain chocolate bars, vanilla pudding, vanilla ice cream, dry plain cheerios,  only drinks juice and water. I do give him liquid vitamins because he will not take gummies or pills of any kind.  He will not mix textures and he gets anxiety even touching foods like mashed potatoes, sauce, ketchup etc.  He was breastfed until he was 2 years and 4 months, after that he took formula (but only from a bottle, never from a cup), but now he won't drink any milk product. My problem is that he won't even try anything, so I can't expand his menu! I was dealing with that just fine, but now he started preschool and lost weight. He is very busy these days writing, reading, spelling, he does not want to slow down and eat, his intake definitely dropped off in the last month. He only goes to preschool for 2 hours but he does not eat anything there  (maybe some crackers). I don't know how to persuade him to even just try something? He might like it? For example, I would love for him to drink milk of some kind, he eats ice cream, but won't try milkshake or chocolate milk or nothing. If he drank something I could hide some nutrition in there.... He did try a bite of a cheese stick  for $1, and a bite of fried chicken for $1, but is that really the best way? I am worried that he is not eating enough these days, and loosing weight. So my question for any moms experienced with this, is there anything I should be doing to encourage my DS to even try some new foods? Or is there no hope...Any help is greatly appreciated! 

i , , mom to DS 7 and DD 4 and a wife to DH for 13 years vegan,
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#2 of 3 Old 10-20-2011, 04:34 PM
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You might try feeding therapy again...with another place or person. There's quite a difference between a 2 year old and a 4 year old. If the therapist is forcing him to eat and pushing food into his mouth, I would leave that therapist immediately. Look for a play-based therapist - the idea is to make eating fun. At 4 years old, that still might work. And give it time to get started. It took my DS a month from first starting therapy to even show any minor changes. And another month or two to even start wanting to take a lick or bite of something. My DS was almost 2 when he started feeding therapy. It may take longer for a 4 year old.

Also, try working off what he likes, and try things similar to what he's already eating. You might have to make very small changes, like just cutting those waffles differently than the way he usually gets them. Change just the presentation at first. He needs to get used to minor changes before he will accept bigger changes.

If he's gagging and spitting out a particular food, then stop trying that food and move on to something else. We have some foods that are that way for DS, so I just don't go there. Maybe in a few years.

If your DS won't actually bite into something new, try asking him to just lick it. Sometimes I've gotten my DS to start eating a new food because he liked the taste of the lick, then he took some bites.

Try getting him to dip something he likes into a dipping sauce, something you think will eventually succeed. Even if the thing you're dipping just brushes the very top of the dipping sauce and doesn't get much if any sauce on it. Maybe even try dipping something he likes into something else he already likes but never has put together. Like, waffles and pudding. Seriously. Get him used to the idea of dipping. Then if he likes that and gets used to it, change the dipping sauce to something else he might like. It's all about him getting comfortable with change. And it will take a long time - way longer than you think. But you have to start somewhere. But eventually one thing will build upon another.

For us it took a long time, and still I have to keep a constant but gentle pressure on my DS to try something new. But now he will sometimes try something new - he doesn't always like it, but he knows that he can trust me. I only offer him things that I think have a real chance of succeeding. I never try to trick him, and if he doesn't like it, he knows I won't try to make him eat it or pressure him to try it again. I always announce up front what it is, but not too soon before he tries it, so he doesn't have too much time to think about it. Also, if he's sick or having any kind of allergic reaction (like seasonal allergies or other food sensitivities), I just don't try to change anything. He always pulls back his eating during those times, so I lower my expectations until he's feeling better.

Here's an example of how it's gone with us. My DS would eat crackers, so at some point, I started trying to get him to accept a bit of nut butter with the cracker. First, the nut butter was put on a plate, then we showed him how to dip the cracker into it - just a shallow, grazing dip. At first I had to dip the cracker, then offer it to him. Eventually we worked up to having nut butter on the cracker. From there, we worked toward nut butter on a piece of bread. Then I just added some jam to make a sandwich. All that may have taken 6 months to a year, but finally we had a sandwich. From there, I've worked into a cheese sandwich. More recently, I started trying a little melted cheese on a piece of flat bread (like Lavash or Naan) and folding it in half. Once he liked that for awhile, I tried adding a little honey on top of the cheese and a slice of deli meat (quite a strech for him). But he will actually eat it. The first few times he took only one or two bites. With more exposure to it, he's decided that he really likes that sandwich, so he now asks me to make it!

Anyway, I wouldn't offer cash rewards for eating or he will always expect it, and it won't work long term anyway.

At 4, he might even be open to you using a little logic and reason with him. We use something like..."You might like it, and the only way you'll know that you like it is if you try it. If you don't like it, that's okay, but if you do, great, you have a new, tasty food to eat!"

I hope something I've said here helps. You've got to have lots of patience - I've certainly been working on developing mine! Good luck to you! Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Kim mama to DS 12/2005, Pepper kitty , and 10/03, 1/05;
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#3 of 3 Old 10-21-2011, 06:48 AM
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I could have written your post myself.  My 4 year old also has severe food aversions.  I recently found the book "Just Take A Bite" by Lori Ernsperger, and it is super helpful.  It really zooms in on the exact problems that you're dealing with and has some effective strategies.  My 4 year old has added 2 new foods to his diet since we started working through the book.

"Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?" - Andy Warhol
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