What does your 3 year old eat? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 10-13-2011, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I feel like my son only eats pasta, peanut butter, bread, yogurt, cheese and a ton of fruit! No meat, no eggs, no beans. He'll eat some broccolli and carrots, but the veggies are taking a hit. I buy bagels that are sprouted wheat so he'll get some iron. He still breastfeeds a lot. I would say in a 24 hr period 6-8 times, including during the night. Some are long sessions.
I worry that he will never eat a variety of food. He's 40 inches tall and 34.5lbs, so I'm not worried about his growth. Just about him eating a full spectrum of food and his iron.

PS. I posted this on another board and i keep getting responses about how their child eats whatever they eat. My son won't try a lot of the stuff we eat. We eat salads, meat, rice. My husband and I don't cook very much. Neither if us know how and we both are prone to weight gain. We eat out a lot and try to get our son to try stuff, but he defaults to pasta and grilled cheese. I guess We cater to his pickiness, but if I don't offer food I know he'll eat, he'll just nurse more! I don't want food to be a power struggle and I can't get him to try any different food. He used to eat eggs and beans and more veggies, but when he hit 2, they all left his diet!! Tell me it will change!
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#2 of 4 Old 10-14-2011, 07:16 PM
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I have an extremely picky eater.  We joke that he only eats about a dozen foods and only eats a "blonde food" diet (whole wheat toast and tortillas, eggs, carrots, milk, cheese but only one brand of sharp white cheddar, rice. . . things on the white - orange spectrum, basically).  I almost died of shock one day when I saw him sitting in front of the TV for family movie night, peeling the snap peas I'd set out and EATING THE PEAS.  They're green!!  He's eating something green!  Woohoo! Only in the last year or so has he also decided he'll eat cucumbers and lettuce.  He'll be 10 next month.


At 3, you could have been describing my DS's diet.  He was much more willing to try new foods for about the first year he was eating, then his diet gradually got more and more restrictive.  He still nursed a ton.  I was always thankful that my son was still nursing, and continued to nurse for a long time.  It was reassuring to know that he was still getting high-quality protein and fats, plus the vitamins and minerals in my milk. However, he is and has always been small, "off the charts" for weight for most of his life.  His pediatrician (we are lucky to have a cosleeping, homeschooling, extended breastfeeding children's Dad as our ped ;-) laughs whenever I express concern and calls them "breath-ivores."  We've tested his iron, it's always been fine, and our ped discouraged me from testing the last time we went it, saying he really didn't think it necessary.  He tells us about his own son who they said ate a white food diet.  I've met the kid; he's a huge teenager now who clearly didn't suffer any growth harm from his limited diet.


We eat a varied diet, lots of different spices and flavors.  We belong to a CSA so get a big basket of fresh, organic produce every week.  Most of our other foods come from our local grocery co-op.  I'm not a particularly creative or interested cook, so we do tend to eat the same thing frequently, but there's enough variety that he could be eating a lot more foods than he does.  His twin sister loves trying new foods.  She adores sushi (it's her most-requested food treat).  She likes salsa and other spicy foods.  I don't think it's anything you're doing or not doing, I think it's just normal for some kids.


From the reading I've done on picky eaters, it does appear to be at least somewhat genetic (my husband, as I learned, was also an extremely picky eater as a kid).  It also appears to be personality.  Most of the picky eaters I know are pretty "high needs" kids in other respects as well.  Textures bother my DS.  He's extremely sensitive to smells and tastes.  He is slow to adapt to change. All affect a child's willingness to try anything new, not just food.


Your DS will probably more adventurous about food as he gets older, but I hate to say it will probably get worse before it gets better.  Don't be surprised if he goes through food jags where he'll only eat one food for a time.  We do also cater to our DS's food choices, to some extent, because if he doesn't eat he's impossible to live with.  I try to serve something he'll eat at every meal (for example, if I make curry, then he'll eat the rice and some of the "toppings").  As he's gotten older, we've set some other rules.  He's not allowed to call foods "yucky" or "gross".  He does have to try new foods, but due to his taste and texture sensitivities, he doesn't have to swallow them.  So basically that means touch his tongue to a fork-full of the food.  My DH, somewhat jokingly but we've made it stick, created the rule that he can't remove a food from his diet without adding two more.  And at his age, he can get himself something to eat if he won't share our meal (so that means often dinners are cereal or scrambled eggs, because he can do those himself).  He has to EAT something at every meal.


Other things that have helped are to involve him as much as possible in choosing and preparing meals.  He's been more willing to try things that he's had a hand in making.  That doesn't necessarily mean he'll love them or eat them, but he does try.  Also, visiting farms where he can pick his own food has led him to try and actually enjoy several new fruits and vegetables.  Suggestions for feeding children usually recommend looking at your child's food comsumption over a week, not just meal to meal or day to day, and if he's getting a decent variety each week than he's probably perfectly fine.  From what I've heard about teenage boys, once they start growing they will eat anything that doesn't sit still, so I figure what I save in grocerys today will be spent in another five years or so!

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#3 of 4 Old 10-27-2011, 09:12 AM
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When my son went for his 2yo well-baby check up our ped said "Don't be surprised if he doesn't eat anything until he goes to school!" Basically his explanation is that they are done with the early growth spurt and don't need as much food as previously. For years my son would not eat anything green. I will say the appetite of a teenage boy is mind-boggling. My son and nephew used to have eating contests. About the time he started college he became a vegetarian and periodically vegan. Although he started eating meat again a few years ago, mainly because he wanted to learn to cook meats. Any way he is now sou-chef in a vegan restaurant and there are very few things he doesn't like as long as they are prepared well (ok, I raised a foody snob) I was a single parent. I cooked what I wanted to eat, let him have what he wanted of it and ate the rest myself. I couln't see making a big production out of it just to waste  what nobody would eat. From about 2.5 to 3.5 yo every day he would say "hotdogs and peas" when asked what he wanted. I didn't particularly like either one, but ate them anyway.  On pay day (every 2 weeks) we did a lot of running around-bank, shopping, etc.and I'd ask him where he wanted to go for supper. It was usually pizza hut or mcdonalds. My suggestion is to keep offering him whatever you are eating so he has options, but don't sweat it as long as he isn't starving. After the hotdogs and peas binge ended he wouldn't eat either one for many years. Kids' tastes are really strange. I occasionally find myself craving things my mother made that I didn't like at all when I was a kid.

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#4 of 4 Old 11-10-2011, 06:26 PM
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I know this isn't exactly what you're asking but I would recommend the Mark Bittman cookbook "How to Cook Everything"--it's easy to follow, instructions are clear, most of the recipes are very straightforward and many are very simple (the roasted chickpeas are super yummy!)  


I say this because I find that our little guy (who nurses 4-8 times a day AND is a fairly adventurous eater, so far!) LOVES to try things if he has had a hand in preparing the food.  For example, when I make veggies I let him put in "the sprinkles" which is usually a seasoning of some sort (thyme on peas, nutritional yeast on broccoli); when we have noodles he "sniffs" and tastes the sauce and I let him decide if we need a pinch of salt or a small swirl of honey to cut the tomato's acid.  


We also love eating out...but we are now reserving that for treats--largely because we find that we all have a hard time regulating or monitoring our "full" sensations when we are looking at a menu and trying to decide if we want dessert ;)


Of course...this could all change tomorrow and we could have picky mcpickypants on our hands!  That said, I did read somewhere that there was a study of the nutrition of picky versus non-picky children--and the conclusion was, that apart from fiber, both the picky and non-picky children were getting very similar nutrients from their diets.

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