Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

Battle of the Bites

on August 22, 2012


My son comes by picky eating naturally. I tease my husband that he didn’t start eating real food until college. Consequently, we started dating in college and I wouldn’t let him eat like a man child anymore. Andy now gladly eats a varied and balanced diet but our son inherited the picky eating tendencies.

We have tried everything to get K to eat. I mean everything; bribes, threats, trying to make him open his mouth, begging, pleading, yelling, sneaking foods into things he likes…. Last summer I made a lot of green smoothies.

I’m not always the mom I want to be. It is hard to have that kid at family functions that won’t eat anything. I was tired of mealtime battles.

The past few weeks have been our first big break through with K’s eating habits. He has been a totally new kid at meal time and family dinners are running smoothly.

Here are a few things that worked for us:

• Stop making special foods or meal substitutes for your child. K usually gets to choose his breakfast and parts of his lunch. Dinner has become nonnegotiable. Get grandparents on board too.

• Aim for new foods to be introduced at dinner instead of the middle of the day. It is much easier to get him to try new things at night because of bedtime leverage.

• Have a good evening routine in place. It helps that he knows what happens after dinner. If he eats well, he gets more time to play and read stories.

• We have a “bite or bed” policy. There is no begging, pleading, or crying. He can choose to eat or choose to go to bed and miss out on story and play time after supper.

• I don’t make all new foods in one meal. I have one or two familiar foods to each one I am getting him to try.

• Praise good eating and trying new foods without fuss. We stopped making a big deal about not eating and started quietly reminding him of “bite or bed”. He gets more attention for eating well. We’ll even let him call his Nana or Nonna to tell them about what he ate if he wants.

• He is three, so we make him try three bites of new foods. It cracks me up when he tries something and tells me, “That wasn’t too bad mom!”

• We let him help with making dinner, setting the table, and clean-up when we can. Kids love helping and they need to learn their way around the kitchen as a life skill anyway; why not start young?

So far these new rules have been working well for us. He is eating so much more than he was a few weeks ago. He still has a long way to go but I’m a proud mama.

Any tips that have worked well in your home?

4 responses to “Battle of the Bites

  1. Sara says:

    I still don’t think my husband has started eating ‘real food’ – my son is picky as well, but not as picky as my hubby!

  2. My son was the same way! The only thing I truly enforced was “no snacks.” If he didn’t eat anything at a meal time there was no food until the next meal. For example if he didn’t eat his breakfast he always ate a good lunch even if it was foods he didn’t necessarily like just because he was really hungry! He’s five now and we don’t have any problems! It all takes time!!! Keep at it!

    • The no snacks rule is a great one. We’ve also done “if you don’t eat it now, you can have it for lunch tomorrow”. It has been a long road but he has been so proud of himself when he tries things and gets praise.

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