Picky Eaters ~ Part 1, My Story

It seems like everyone has an opinion on picky eaters. This series on Picky Eaters is not trying to change anyone’s mind or make anyone feel like less of a parent because they do things differently. This my story and what worked for our family. If you are struggling in this area, feel free to try some of my ideas. If you have your own tips to share, leave a comment or join our active discussion going on over at The Blog Frog.

Here is a little background on my children and picky eating.

DD #1 was a great eater as a baby. I fed her baby food from the store and she like almost everything (if I remember correctly). When she hit 18 months she decided to eat only dairy products and cereal. I didn’t know what to do so I just fed her dairy products and cereal. For almost a year she ate nothing but cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, and cheerios. Then, as quickly as it began it ended. She started eating anything and everything, and to this day loves to try new things. She doesn’t like raw tomatoes.

DS came along and he was a very sick baby. He had failure to thrive and at 4 months still looked like a newborn. He had terrible reflux and would projectile vomit after most of his feedings. Either that or he would just stop breathing… either way it wasn’t good. He wasn’t a big fan of baby food and I am not sure what he ate his first year. He was always on the small side of the growth chart and was developmentally delayed in almost every area. At some point he during his toddler stage he decided that he did like nuggets and fries. We were so excited that he was eating that we fed him nuggets and fries, ALL THE TIME! Since our daughter had gone through a similar phase two years earlier we figured this would pass and he would start eating other foods soon enough. Plus, our pediatrician encouraged this diet since we were finally getting him to eat something.

THREE YEARS LATER…. he was still basically living on a diet of nuggets and fries. We didn’t want to make food an issue, we didn’t want him to have weight problems later, we didn’t want him to fall off the growth chart.

But the nugget and fry diet was very inconvenient. When we would eat dinner at someone’s house my son wouldn’t it. If we went out, we had to go somewhere that had nuggets and fries.

Then I had baby #3 and all of a sudden I didn’t have time to make separate meals for my 4 year old. We had a crash course in trying different foods. There were lots of tears (especially by me) and eventually this child learned to try the food we put in front of him each night.

Nine years later he is my pickiest eater. But he eats. And he doesn’t complain…. much.

After all my struggles with my first son, I was determined not to a have a picky eater ruin dinners in our family anymore. I did not want fighting, tears, and struggles over food. As our family grew in size I realized that there was absolutely no way I could be a short order cook.

Coming up next…. A question from a reader

Do all of your 7 kids eat everything you make?? no sneaky eaters?? kudos to you..7 kids!
please let me know your secret to keeping them all happy!!


  1. This is just my guess, but I’d say that the secret to keeping 7 kids happy at meal time is not worry about keeping all 7 kids happy all of the time!

  2. I can so relate to the tears and fighting! My oldest was a wonderful eater – seriously he ate 3 times the amount of what was normally recommended for his age as an infant! Then one day(around 18m) he was picky – he’s actually thrown up (more than once) right there @ the table!( a wonderful scene for my ever so critical MNL)

    Finally after 2 yrs of trying diff. things and tons of gagging and yelling we bought a blendtec blender. Every day the boys have smoothies that have 1 cup of raw greens (kale, chard,spinach,etc) and 1 cup of mixed berries each. Then for dinner my oldest is required to at least take 4 big bites (how old he is) and then he is free … to sit @ the table until the meal is over. 😉 Sometimes he eats more and sometimes only the required but there is no more tears and I’m not worried about if he’s getting enough veggies.

    My youngest is 2 and he is a wonderful eater & experimenter!

    I’m interested in seeing the rest of your posts on picky eaters.

  3. I posted on my blog today about Picky Eaters too. I guess great minds think alike : )

    I noticed the more children I had the less I gave into picky eaters—-who has the time!

  4. I could totally relate to the food battle with your oldest son. It is so difficult to “draw a line in the sand” so to speak.
    My son has gotten a lot better about eating but he still has tons of preferences 🙂 Thankfully, the stuff he hates the most are actually bad for you. He won’t touch anything that has cream of chicken or muchroom but he will eat broccoli by the plateful 🙂 Not a lot of casseroles in our house… He did finally start eating lasagna after he started reading Garfield. Who knew Garfield could be a positive influence 🙂

  5. I struggle every day with my picky eaters. My ten year old is getting better as in she will at least try the food. My four year old has actually fallen asleep at the table waiting for her to try her food.
    I will say one thing, I have to be carefull with what I say in attempt to get them to eat. In the heat of the moment I have threatened that if they don’t eat they can just go to bed and she was more than happy to walk herself upstairs and go to bed at 5:30 pm like she won the battle.
    I dont want food to be an issue as they grow up. I don’t want them to starve. Both of my kids have also been “failure to thrive” as infants so i feel like this struggle has been never ending. I don’t want them to starve themselves but I don’t make unrealistic food (I am not asking them to eat sushi ya know!) and I don’t want to be a short order cook.
    I look forward to reading how everyone deals with this. Different strokes for different folks and thats how we learn from each other!

  6. I firmly believe that picky eaters happen when parents cater to their kids. We require our kids to eat what is served without complaint. And they do.

  7. Somebody's Mimi says:

    If they don’t eat (or taste) what is served at meal time they don’t eat again til the next meal. Tears, screams, or whatever. They will eat what is served to them WHEN they get hungry. Believe me kids will NOT starve… hang in there, don’t give up, they will eat.

  8. This post reminds my of my older daughter; she lived on french toast sticks for months! I don’t remember why I even gave them to her in the first place, but it got to the point where that’s almost all she would eat for any meal. Thankfully she is now a good, healthy eater, hopefully undoing the damage of those early months!!

  9. My oldest son is the pickiest as well. But we decided a long while back that we wouldn’t (and couldn’t) cater to him. He can learn to eat these foods. And he is slowly getting better. The next big step: beans. He won’t touch them, no matter the flavor, color, etc.

    Tip for everyone: make sure there is something on the table that they will eat. Ask them to try a bite of everything. With this, my 10 year old has “forgotten” that he doesn’t like something!

  10. I have 6 kids and the kids are pretty much stuck with what is served. If they don’t like it they will wait until the next meal. I don’t bring out the old plate of food. I try to make meals where there is a main course, a couple veggies, and a fruit. Usually it is the main course the child won’t like so they can fill up on fruit and veggies instead.

    My pickiest is my second child by far. But I also let my oldest 2 kids have a lot more junk food as toddlers than I allow now. My younger kids are way less picky but they haven’t had much junk food either. All 4 of them will drink smoothies with greens in them, eat a bowl of oatmeal, and eat lots of different veggies.

    I find the best way for kids to try new things is to see me and dh eating them. My 2 year old loves salad which we discovered after she started grabbing it off other peoples plates. But it hasn’t worked as well with my 9 year old. She still won’t eat salad even though it is served with almost every dinner and everyone else around her is eating it.

  11. I understand what happened with your son. I too had a tiny little girl that we were constantly worried about her eating enough and not being underweight. It lead to her being a very picky eater. After a number of years I decided that she needed a healthier diet and just lay down the law that supper was supper and that if she didn’t want it, she didn’t have to eat it, but if she got hungry later, she would have to eat supper. It worked. Sometimes she walks away from supper, but she always comes back and eats it when she is hungry.

  12. Toni-

    Boy can I relate to this. Our 6th baby had GERDS! not fun.

    It was then that I knew making a bunch of different meals was not gonna work.

    This may sound bad but I make it, dish it out and they have to try it. If they don’t like it, move on to what else is on the plate.

    I have two that are very picky, fuss over all the meals! My motto now is ” see me at the next meal !!”, they now will eat some of what is on the plate!!

    With ten children , I don’t have time to make them all happy with every meal.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do try to make meals that they will like! It’s just hard to please all of them.

    I do let them pick some of the meals 😉 and I had them pick what we should plant in the garden.

    They planted and I hoped my picky eaters would try what we planted ! No such luck.

    Looking forward to your posts about this and what you do !!

    Have a great night.

  13. My son (now almost three) was a great eater for awhile, but then slowly narrowed down his list of acceptable foods. I’m working with him to try new foods, and I’m happy to say that we’ve made some progress.

  14. It’s always interesting reading what other people do. I just never made a deal out of it. There was no screaming, no crying, no yelling, this was the meal, full stop end of story. No making everyone sit at the table while the picky eater was the star slowly drawing out the meal. The meal finished when the 2nd last person finished eating. I have never had junk food laying around for them to snack on and fillup between meals (don’t get me wrong they had access to junk food it just wasn’t kept in the house to be had all the time)
    I didn’t let the picky eater become a star of their own production as I just wasn’t interested in that.
    I can understand how when you have a child who is having issues that when they finally eat something you are so happy and the Dr’s are so happy that you get stuck on that thing, many people have ended up in that situation.
    Oh I will mention there was always fruit available at all times in our house (just not eaten as a substitute at meal times) and bread was always on the table (limited to 2 pieces for 1 person though)

  15. Katena Dyser says:

    I have to admit when hubby is gone we cook very simple. Breakfast a lot. oven a lot. i will ask the kids they prefer breakfast a lot. With a new baby whatever makes my life easier I do. I try and cook what they all like. I have to say they will pretty much eat what I put in front of them and if they won’t try it. I will not send them to bed hungry so there option is cereal and not always. They will try and say they don’t eat. Breakfast is a favorite eggs, bacon/sausage,grits and toast/biscuits with fruit. So that is a hit and everyione loves it and with daddy gone we will cook it several times a week until school starts which is next week and than we go to real food or hearty meals. so that my story. i cna remember as a child to sit at a table several days because of livers and onions I have and will not do that to my children.

  16. This post gives me hope! My daughter is 2 1/2 and has never been a good eater. She also only eats cheese, mac & cheese, ravioli, egg whites & sometimes cottage cheese and yogurt. Frustrating! We give her Pediasure twice a day just to be sure she gets her nutrition. Expensive! I’ve been hoping it’s just a phase because I also don’t want to be a short order cook. Can’t wait for the shift to happen!

  17. My son is a picky eater and it drives me up the wall. He has a rotating list of things that he will eat, some of them healthy, some of them not. He almost refuses to try new things and I’m hoping that he will soon grow out of this stage!

  18. Both of mine have been picky at one time or another, but I learned not to cater to that. I didn’t want to be a short order cook either.

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