How to encourage a 4 year old girl eat more type of food?

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How to encourage a 4 year old girl eat more type of food?

Postby tanlengkoon » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:23 pm


My 4 year old girl eats very limited type of food i.e. porridge, rice, tofu, fish, beancurd, bread, papaya, apple, banana and some tibits e.g. potato chips, ice-cream.

She refuses to try other type of food like noodle, grapes, small pieces of meat, chicken wings etc.

Sometimes, we manage to put some into her mouth but when she realises that it is something which she is not familar with, she will split it out. Sometimes, she will vomit.

We will bring her to foodcourts, resturants and showing her that other children e.g. cousins are also eating the same food. But she shows no interest in the food at all and will cry if we ask her to try the food.

To improve her food intake, we have started putting her in an extended enrichment class in school which comes with lunch (hoping her teachers and friends can encourage her to eat). But her teachers feedback that she vomitted after she eats 2-3 spoonful of her lunch for the last few days. And she cried a lot and did not want to go to school as she didn't want to have lunch in school.

We have just decided to withdraw her from the enrichment class so that she does not need to have lunch in school.

Can anyone suggest how I can help my girl improve her intake of different type of food?

Thanks & regards

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Postby 3Boys » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:56 pm

Oh boy! Why does it seem so familiar!

No tips to offer here, just my sympathies.....

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Postby Chenonceau » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:16 pm

I am not sure but here goes...

Between 2.5 to 5, kids are at the Terrible Twos, Threes and Fours. They are trying to assert themselves as individuals. They are programmed to do the contrary of what you want them to do so that they can feel themselves different from you. We called The Daughter Miss Contrary at that age. If I say "Put on the table". She will say "Put on chair?" and give me this look. I say "Ok!". Then nothing to fight about. I give in as often as I can and on occasions when I say "No!", she doesn't fight me that hard.

I think a child's will hardens the more you test it.

This happens again in adolescence. Choose your battles.

Mealtimes for parents is nutrition. Mealtimes for 2, 3, 4 year olds is a battle for control over the self's body.

I suggest the following steps since I note that she likes fish and fruits etc... and therefore does get enough variety for a balanced diet (am I right?):
1) Provide a plate with everything she likes and ONE thing she won't like. Ask her to choose what she wants to eat. Take out everything she chooses and place on her plate. Be very very obvious about leaving the thing she did not want ON the other plate. For example, say loudly "You are a big girl now and it's ok not to eat this."

2) Do this over multiple meals so that she gets the idea that you do respect her ownership of her own mouth. Then, introduce another type of food that she has never seen... or chicken wings in an unfamiliar form (e.g., shredded) and then ask her if she wants. If not, back off.

3) Keep doing Step 2 with a new food each time. One day, she might agree to try. Make BIG deal outta that. Praise. Kiss. Call your mom and announce the news in the most flattering terms. Tell each person round the table in turn.

4) Keep doing Step 3 whenever possible.

The trick is to not allow mealtimes become a battle for control. By putting food forcibly in her mouth even once, you will exacerbate the tussle.

Stop the tussle for control first and then she may be willing to dialogue on the merits of each food instead of being intent on refusing all food.

Dunno if it'll work though... Try only if it makes sense to you eh?

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Postby Alex001 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:11 pm

My sister has the same problem. She doesn't like to eat anything else other than chicken.

Here's a bit of a 'last resort' method that is not really advisable. Try giving her some entertainment while she is eating new types of food. Do some funny acts or let her watch TV. Children would be so engrossed in such programs that they don't actually focus their mind on food.

The main thing to deal with is focus. Shift your child's focus from food to something else. Children may not like certain foods as they pay attention to it and realize it is yucky or something. But if you are able to shift her focus, it may work. Over time, she will get used to the tastes.

I am unsure if this is advisable. But there is a possibility.

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Postby sall » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:07 am

Since your girl is eating fish, tofu, fruits , bread, etc,she is having a balanced diet. There is no need for you to try to force her to eat other meat or noodle etc. When she grows up, she'll probably joins her friends at KFC or other fastfood, then she'll be eating all other types of meat. Why put unnecessary pressure on your girl and yourself?

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Postby Mrsbongz » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:16 am

my suggestion is to add some to her usual food, like small pieces of meat to the porridge or tofu. that's what I did for my kids who are picky too.

You can also let her choose.. like 'would you like to have porridge or noodles tonight?' then give her the item she wants, but add some of meat.. then slowly increase to add more in future. Or let her go marketing with you to choose the products, or help to wash the grapes for the family. Exposure to the food slowly will help her familiarize herself, and also give u the opportunity to find out why she dislikes them.

Be patient, every parent goes through different struggles. :) it's not the end of the world if she doesn't eat certain food too. for nutrition, you can always supplement with food types that she eats, eg reject chicken wing, but can use chicken soup to make porridge instead? if u have younger kids, better start giving varied foods early to prevent same problem.

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Postby Funz » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:03 am

DD was also very picky with food previously. She will only drink soup and refuses any meat or vege and even rice up to when she was about 2yrs old. We had to sneak in small bits of rice and fish with the soup for her. Then came a period where she will eat only fish, eggs and tofu and refuses to eat any other meat of vege. That lasted till she was about 5yrs old. These days, she eats practically anything and is game to try all sorts of food.

DS is even pickier then DD. He is 6 this year and still pretty picky. He eats only chicken, selected types of fish and only spinach and watercress and it has to be cooked a certain way.

Through it all, we didn't bother forcing. DH and I eat almost anything and we will always ask them if they want to try what we are eating. I keep telling DS that it is ok if he doesn't like it after he has tried it. But if he has not tried then he will never know what it tastes like. Sometimes he buys it sometimes he will stubbornly refuse to try and we let it be.

I believe that children will model their parents' eating habits. So if we eat as per normal and not modify our eating habits to cater to our children, they will eventually pick up our habits.

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Thank you for all your replies

Postby tanlengkoon » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:20 pm

Hi all

Thank you for all your replies and encouragement.

TV programmes do not seem to help as she will know if I put unfamiliar food into her mouth.

I will try out some of the other suggested methods with her.

Thank you again.... :D

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My son eat only hotdog

Postby EJ » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:54 pm

Hi All,

need your advise. my son only eats hotdogs. he goes to child care and as wat the teacher mention, he ate everything. but when he came back home. i can only cook hotdog for him (i mean rice with ikan bills soup or chicken soup and with the hotdog)... he don eat other food....

is it ok???

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Postby gerberadaisy » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:08 pm


Try to limit the amount of hotdog as too much is bad for health because of the sodium nitrate which is carcinogenic.

My kids have the same problem - they eat whatever is given in the childcare centre, but at home, they've very picky. So, it's always a struggle for dinner, but at least they eat chicken, char siew, eggs and watercress. So, it's almost always the same kind of food for dinner.

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