Picky eater

What do you suggest for a 4-year-old child who refuses to eat? I have let her sit as long as 1 hour waiting for her to eat. What should I do?

Keep in mind that eating is something that takes place at least formally, three times a day. So, you may want to think twice about choosing it as a battleground. The key question to ask, "Is my child getting the proper nourishment to promote a healthy growing body?" Take the worry off your shoulders and give the responsibility of determining that answer to your pediatrician. If the doctor says she does need to increase the intake of her food, then you must get down to business to make it a priority that you try to see to it that she does eat more.

I have a 17-year-old who doesn't eat anything green except lettuce and it must be with Caesar dressing and croutons. (It must be a particular brand of dressing, and would you believe a certain kind of crouton as well?) The doctor says he's healthy, and he hasn't eaten any veggies except potatoes and raw carrots since he was on baby food.

Are you sitting down with your daughter and eating preferable the same food? Have you tried to get creative with the presentation of the foods? If she has a problem eating "green stuff'', please take a look at the answer already on the Pocket Parent website in regard to not wanting to eat "veggies". (You can read that answer by clicking here). There is quite a bit of info in there that relates to your concern.

Try to get her involved in the preparation and cooking of them. I taught preschool and mom-and-tots classes for almost 30 years. We tried at least once a month to cook with the kids. The parents were amazed at what their kids would at least taste at school. (Some even asked for seconds!)

When young children see how applesauce is made, or how the peas come out of a peapod and go into the pot of boiling water and change color and texture as they become ready to eat, they get an urge to try the food. Of course at school, peer pressure also helps when some of the kids say it's good. I was also amazed how the students would eat the string beans and cherry tomatoes that we planted and watch grow from little plants. If a child really needs food of course they can drink certain kinds of protein drinks (appropriate for kids) that have everything they need nutritionally. Some really like the thick milkshake, others turn up their noses.

My neighbor is from Romania, she has four children ranging in age from 10 months to 12 years old and they all eat everything. I can't figure it out! What has she done differently to deserve four good eaters? Other than offer everything to the children at an early age (pureed for the young ones) she says there is no secret, she's just lucky!

Oh well, I'm sure there is something your daughter does really well, too...it just isn't eating!

- Gail Reichlin