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<p>My 3.5yo DS is a slow-to-warm child - takes awhile to feel comfortable in new situations, doesn't like to try new things, would rather stand back and watch than get involved.  For the most part, we have no trouble working with his comfort level and making sure that he is content in whatever situation we're in.  However, DH and I (particularly DH) don't really know how to handle his reluctance to try any new foods.  We're a vegetarian family, which means our diet is already somewhat restricted (although to be honest, I doubt he'd eat anything meat-based anyways, since I don't think it's taste that bothers him, just the newness).  He likes some breads, some cereals, some crackers, some granola bars.  He'll always drink chocolate milk and usually is happy to eat yogurt.  He sometimes likes peanut butter or sunbutter.  He usually will eat apples and grapes, sometimes bananas or oranges.  In terms of veggies, sweet potato is usually okay, avocado sometimes.  And he'll always eat sweets or chocolate.  He rarely eats cheese (usually a few nibbles), refuses to try any other veggies, no longer likes meat substitutes like veggie dogs or veggie chicken nuggets, doesn't eat beans or lentils (which I cook with a lot), doesn't like pasta or rice, and therefore doesn't like any of the meals I usually prepare for dinner.  Even pizza, spaghetti, corndogs, etc barely get a nibble if we're lucky.  I make a variety of well-rounded meals for DH and I, that are tasty and healthy, yet I feel like DS is eating the same thing every day, and it's low in vitamins, minerals, and protein.  But I really don't think it's a taste thing, it's just a he doesn't want to try something new thing.  Because in most cases, he's never even tried a taste.  One other funny thing he does lately - he'll take a little nibble of something, even something he likes, and then quickly wash it down with whatever he's drinking (water, diluted juice, or chocolate milk).  It's like he can barely tolerate eating the food and has to wash it down. </p>
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<p>So anyways, I'm not sure how to handle it.  Part of me says to handle it the same way we handle any other issue that he's reluctant to try - gently encourage it, but follow his lead and not push it, and assume he'll try it when he's ready.  The other side of me says that he's not getting a healthy diet, that I should prepare him our meals and give him the choice to eat that or nothing (not in a harsh way, and maybe offer a healthy alternative he likes, such as yogurt or fruit), but not make him his own meal (usually a peanut butter and fruit spread sandwich or sweet potato and veggie chicken nuggets (which he's recently refusing to eat too)).  And if he's hungry later, he can have what he didn't eat at the last meal, not crackers or a granola bar.  I mean, he'd eventually be hungry enough to try something new, right?  It just feels so out of line with my parenting philosophy, but then I wonder how he'll ever try new foods if we're constantly letting him eat only the foods that he likes.</p>
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<p>I should note that he is a healthy weight, albeit slim, and has regular bowel movements.  He's healthy and happy and your typical 3.5yo, just more reserved than most.  So that reassures the part of me that says we should just wait, since if he were truly malnourished, it would be evident. </p>
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Is it okay to let him have peanut butter sandwiches for dinner every.single.night, until he's ready to venture out and try something different?  Do I let him snack on crackers and granola bars to help increase his calorie intake, even though it's likely making him less hungry at dinner and therefore even less willing to try something new?  Am I just stressing needlessly? ;)</p>
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<p>I appreciate any input!  Thank you :)</p>
 

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<p>Have you invited him to help you make snacks or meals? My son loves to be in the kitchen helping me and he's always MUCH more interested in eating what he's made than what I have. <span><img alt="eat.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/eat.gif"></span></p>
 

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<p>Yes, he likes to help me, but has no interest in eating it.  Maybe I should give him more freedom in what he makes, instead of asking him to help me make what I'm planning?</p>
 

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<p>I hope it's okay to bump up this old thread of mine - we never really came to a decision about how to handle things, and tonight had a rather unpleasant dinnertime that's making me rethink how we want to handle our picky eater.</p>
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<p>Nothing has really changed from my initial post 3 months ago - he still sticks to the same familiar foods every day.  Instead of always making him his own dinner (sandwich, waffle, or cheese pizza), I've been trying to encourage him to just try a little nibble of whatever we're eating.  But it just seems to make things worse.  For example, tonight I made rice with cauliflower and chickpea curry.  I know the curry isn't going to go over, so that's fine.  I put like a tbsp of plain rice on a plate.  He said he didn't want it and pushed his plate away.  I asked him to just have a little nibble, because he'd never tried rice before and he might like it.  I said it tasted kind of like bread, and it was soft and yummy.  I put a single grain on the end of a fork and asked him to just try that little bit, and if he didn't like it, he could spit it out and we'd make him something else instead.  He resisted, and then started crying, and after some cuddles and more talking, he was finally willing to "try" it so that he could have something else for dinner.  I literally touched the rice to his lips, he didn't even open them, and he started sobbing and was very upset for 10-15 minutes.  During that time, DH made him a sandwich and cut up an apple for him.  By the time he was calmed down enough to eat, dinnertime was long over, and we could have moved on to something different.</p>
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<p>So I'm really just unsure how to proceed.  Lately, he LOVES helping us to cook - he has a chef hat and his apron, and he loves to mix and help chop.  He's actually quite hilarious - when we're grocery shopping or cooking, he goes on and on about how yummy something is (eggplant is so yummy in my tummy!), but when it comes to actually eating something, he totally balks.  Everything is yucky and he doesn't want to even try it.  I'm still torn with just letting him eat his limited diet, and hoping that as he gets older he'll be willing to try different things (and in the meantime just make meals and eating as pleasant as possible, which means no comments or pushing from us) - versus trying to be more structured and offering a variety of foods during meals and snacktimes, and that's it - if he doesn't eat it, he can wait until the next meal.  That sounds a lot more harsh than how I'd do it, but basically I'd stop making separate meals for him, and just make sure there are 1-2 things that I'm serving that he will eat, even if it's just bread and an apple, or something like that.  I just worry that will be a stressful experience, as I anticipate that he won't eat much at meals and will be hungry, and then will get upset when our current "routine" has changed and I tell him he has to wait for the next meal, or eat something that is available (but maybe not his preference). </p>
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<p>Anyways, sorry once again for rambling - tonight just really made me evaluate the routine we're in, and if we need to change it or just keep plodding along or ???</p>
 

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<p>I have an 8 year old who is very similar to what you describe - she's very sensitive, very slow to warm up to new situations, with a almost perfect memory, and an active imagination.  After years of getting MDC advice along the line of the above, at age 6, I threw up my hands and said I was going to address it.  We'd focused on appropriate table behavior long enough, and nothing was getting better.  Growth spurts had no effect.  She had gotten to the point of gagging if urged to take even the tiniest nibble of the most innocuous food.  On the advice of a couple of OTs, I read <em>Just Take a Bite</em>, which takes a sensory approach to teaching eating. </p>
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<p>The thing that now jumps out at me from your post is that you go from something new on his plate to asking him to put it in his mouth in one step.  The foods look, smell, and feel different.  All those senses kick in when you're eating, all before you put something in your mouth.</p>
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<p>What worked for us was a tier of touching a new food, picking it up, kissing it, licking it, giving it one chew (then spit out), giving it 2 chews (then spit), to chew and swallow.  Each new food would then take about 6 weeks with maybe 3-5 days at each step (though if I recall, the JTB book had us do up to 2 weeks for each stage).  It took 6 months for DD to learn to not be scared of putting something new in her mouth.  It also required that we have a target food available at every single meal.  We had cucumber slices at dinner every night for 3 months.  I can make a scrambled egg with my eyes closed... She still rejects most foods, but will try them at least tentatively, so that we can skip the first several steps. </p>
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<p>After almost two years of this, DD is just now starting to eat more or less the same meal as the rest of the family.  The quantities of what she eats of our meal are still very small - and therefore less intimidating - so she rounds out the meal with some cheese or peanut butter toast most nights.  Last night's dinner included 6 leaves of baby spinach, two slices of cucumber, a 1/2 sq inch of chicken, and a tiny piece of feta cheese.  Plus pasta and a string cheese.</p>
 
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