Food Healthy-ish Parenting Problems/Tips

Help! Three-Year-Old Picky Eating

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So, I need your help with the dominant problem in my house right now: three-year-old picky eating.

My three-year-old daughter refuses to eat most fruits and vegetables. (I feel like I wrote a very similar post about a year ago. Clearly, not much has changed!)

She also fights me about what is on her dinner/lunch plate. Breakfast is usually not a problem– she will eat cereal, waffles, eggs, etc.

But come dinnertime, I make one meal for our family. She gets what we eat. Same with my one-year-old.

Now if she flat-out refuses to eat what’s on her plate, WHAT DO I DO?!

Do I offer her an alternative? (I’m thinking that’s not the best idea…)

Or do I let her go to bed hungry if she doesn’t eat her dinner?

I have read that I’m supposed to just present her with new foods over and over again, and eventually she will try them. Does that really work?

I’ve also read that yelling and bribing are not effective methods to make a little one eat a certain food. Yet, that has been successful for me…although I do fear that as a teenager, she will have nightmares about carrots after I forced her to eat them at gunpoint. (Joking!)

So how do I win this battle of getting my child to eat the foods that I want her to eat? Or is it juts impossible at this age?

Let me know what you have done that worked (or didn’t work!).


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  • Susan
    June 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    How about letting her help with deciding dinner and preparing it? Maybe if she has some input, she’ll be more inclined to eat

    • Lindsay
      June 27, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      I guess I could try that. I’ll ask her tonight. But then that defeats the purpose of my meal plan.

  • laura
    June 26, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Phew – tough one and we are in the same boat here. The kids love breakfast for dinner (they think we are badass!). By breakfast I mean pancakes and waffles and I make them from scratch so that I can get some veggies and fruit into the mix – we usually have pouches of baby food (pureed fruit and veggie mixes) around the house so I dump them in and add a little cinnamon and the rarely know about it. Otherwise it’s pizza or grilled cheese for my 3-year old! Make a big batch of pancakes and keep them in the freezer! If I’m out of pancakes then I give my little guy fruit, yogurt melts, roasted nuts and carrot sticks.

    • Lindsay
      June 27, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      Laura, what veggies do you put in the pancakes? I tried carrots once but it didn’t go over so well.

      • laura
        June 27, 2014 at 4:12 PM

        honestly, anything i have on hand. for us, the cinnamon is the magic – they think they are fancy and the cinnamon seems to hide the veggies. start basic – sweet potato, applesauce, try carrots with the cinnamon, grated zucchini, pureed beets (they really don’t have much of a flavor) and the color instantly lends them to be worthy of princesses and princes. Depending on the veg you might need to add some maple syrup to the mix to sweeten it up a bit. good luck! this too shall pass!!!

  • Becky Conroy Elmuccio
    June 26, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Is she involved in the cooking process? Do you let her help pick the fruits and vegetables when you go to the supermarket or talk to the farmer at the farmer's market? That may help with some buy in.

    • Lindsay
      June 27, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      I have asked her to choose fruits/veggies and she will…but then when we get home, she won’t eating. I will keep trying.

  • Alison
    June 30, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Good luck with this! Peyton has just gotten better at eating what we’re eating. I’ve been trying to come up with meals that she’ll eat and that aren’t super unhealthy. Also, if we’re eating something she def. won’t eat (london broil) I’ll give her another option (nuggets). It’s not perfect, but it works for us. I’d say to do what makes your life easiest and happiest!

    • Lindsay
      June 30, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      We should brainstorm our healthy/kid-friendly meals!

      • Alison
        July 1, 2014 at 7:41 AM

        Yes! The next time we’re at the pool we’ll get a list going!

  • Jill
    October 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Lol! Just going through some of your old posts and not sure if you’re still battling this one. We make “smoothie Popsicles” out of anything that is about to turn from the produce in the house. I’ve found that I can throw just about anything into the blender in any random, often weird, combination and as long as it’s frozen, it’s begged for

    • Lindsay
      October 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Hmmm. Good idea, Jill! I think your kids are more adventurous and better eaters than mine, though.

      • Jill
        October 15, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        Ha! Well, if she doesn’t watch you do it, add blueberries to anything and it turns purple. Purple food cannot be passed up! Lol

        • Lindsay
          October 15, 2014 at 9:17 PM

          GREAT IDEA!!! She loves purple!