What can I do for a picky 4 year old?

I hate the idea of sending my baby to bed hungry. She’s also 4 and so picky! We make her try a bite and if she truly doesn’t like it, I will have something simple available for her. Usually chicken nuggets or a cheesy rollup. I try to make some kind of mac and cheese or pasta as a side for our meals bc she likes those. Luckily I can always count on her loving spaghetti and tonights tater tot casserole was a win. I just keep pushing her to try and hope she’ll grow out of it eventually.


My son was like that he would actually get sick watching people eat, so I just let him eat what he would and gave him vitamins to make up for what he wasn’t getting in food he is several years older now and eats like a normal person it did make it hard at times but in the long run it worked out


Just keep presenting it. Had the pickiest little kids and now they eat stuff I would never imagined at age 4. Also dip. Put the dip in little Costco type cups. Eventually they get curious


From personal experience don’t punish for it and don’t force it. Put small amounts of new or unliked foods tell them they should try it and try to make sure each meal has one thing they will eat. I don’t eat vegetables to this day because my parents pushed it so much I started gagging on them as a kid and it’s become reflex if I don’t like the texture or taste I start to gag. I’ve tried hard to stop it in mid30’s now doing better but still eat very few vegetables.


My grandsons pediatrician said…he will eat when he’s hungry…nothing wrong with sandwich and maybe a side of green beans…always get him to drink milk…if not allergic.
He actually drank pedisure vanilla flavored shakes for about 2 years…full of protein and vitamins…taste like a milkshake.


My grandmother made dinner and had made peas. She seen me not get any she made me put some on my plate. I told her I don’t like them. My mom even told her. She made me eat them anyways. I took a bite and threw it up. I didn’t eat dinner that night. My grandmother felt so bad that she made me a grilled cheese. She never made anything different. Ever since if I told her I didn’t like something she would not make me eat it. I ate pretty much everything but peas. So she would make me corn when she made peas

1 Like

While I don’t make separate meals, I always Plan, within reason, for various kids likes and dislikes. My oldest for the longest time didn’t like taco seasoning, so on taco nights I’d set aside plain beef and he’d have a cheeseburger taco (thankfully he woke up and now understands the error of his ways) If I’m making something I know someone won’t like (i.e. tuna casserole), there’s usually leftoverds or something in the freezer. I have four, from 16 - 2, and food issues have run the gambit. I firmly believe in choosing my battles, and try to steer them kids towards healthy options while accepting my 2 yr old will survive off of milk and chicken nuggets until eventually moving onto the next phase of Mac n cheese and juice.

In all seriousness, my oldest was super picky and a youngster, and is still picky but will try things.


We always did “no thank you” bites. They were required to try a bite of everything and then if they wouldn’t/couldn’t eat it, they got Mac & cheese or pb&j.


My grandson was very picky…he ate NOTHING but chicken nuggets…i got him an apron and a stepstool and let him help me ‘cook’ dinner…adding ingredients, stirring, adding the ‘love’ ( he would blow kisses in)…the deal was he could help me IF he ate it ( if you cook it you gotta eat it )…when it was served I said Brandon made it…we raved about how good it was and he ate it and was very pleased with himself. I’m not saying he eats everything, even now at 18, but he started to eat a wider variety of things.


Make him what he likes. He will most likely eat more variety as he gets older. My son was the same way… he’s 15 now, still picky but 150 times better and eating many more different foods.


When my kids were little, I had this issue. Their pediatrician told me not to worry about it. They would eat when they got hungry.
I made a point of having fruit in the house all the time. That seemed to help a lot.

1 Like

I had the one bite rule. I made them eat one bite. They won’t know if they like it if they don’t try it. But if they didn’t like it after their one bite, I would never make them eat it. I don’t eat what I don’t like and would never make them eat what they don’t like. As the years went on, they were all willing to try different things.

1 Like

Um first off he shouldn’t have went to bed hungry i understand that you want him to eat what you cook but let me ask you this if you don’t like something you gonna let someone force you to eat it most likely not kids taste buds keep changing and if he doesn’t like the taste of something please don’t force him to eat it or go to bed hungry he is a growing child and needs all the food he can get yes it might be something he likes but at least he is eating

1 Like

My son is a very picky eater as well. We tried everything including taking him to a nutritionist. Nothing worked. His pediatrician just said to make sure he takes his vitamin every day. Luckily he does. He is almost 6 years old now and just starting to willingly try new foods.

With 3 kids, they had a variety of likes and dislikes…along with pickiness. My middle child was probably my pickiest eater. I would have each child take at least one bite of each food on their plate. If they truly didn’t like something, I didn’t force them to finish it. With that said, if I knew i was making an entre that one of them didn’t like, then I would make a side that they did. One dinner all my middle child ate was green beans. He is now 25 and eats the majority of the dinners he didn’t like as a child.

My daughter only ate chicken nuggets for a straight 6 months. Now she will eat just about anything. Give it time.


I’ve got 2 girls that are picky eaters so what I do is I cook them what they like and something different I always put in a little bowl next to it with the different food in and get them to try it if they don’t like it at least they have the food there they do eat x

1 Like

We had a saying in our family “eat or go away” and it worked whatever was cooked we had to eat i also apply this now and it does work and i just simply say i am.not cooking any other thing thank you!

1 Like

Dont let him go to bed hungry! How awful!!
No.My son who is also 4, only eats a few things but before forcing him to eat something or letting him go to bed hungry I’d rather give him what he prefer.I believe it will change.

1 Like

My daughter was very fussy … she was also extremely strong willed…I would give her choices for dinner, someway part of our entire dinner… but MUST try something new & she is 15, she eats well, try’s new food ,
HATES: PB & J , Mac & Chz, mashed potatoes :woman_shrugging:t3:

Nope never send a kid to bed hungry. Food should never be used as a punishment. A picky eater will eat things in time, forcing food will ONLY cause problems.


We went to a family certified dietitian. She told us “if [ ] doesn’t want to eat what is on her plate, don’t force her; take the plate, set it on the counter and when she asks for a snack or says she’s hungry, tell her she can finish dinner. Kids will not starve themselves, but they will manipulate adults so they eat what they want.

I would find out if he is a picky eater or does the texture of some foods bother him. We thought my daughter was picky but it turned out she just didn’t like the texture of certain foods. We could cut them real small or sometimes mash them or mix them. In doing that she eats everything!!!

My teens 13 and 16 now are starting to try and eat different things. For years they ate the same few things, the pediatrician told me when they were small that as long as they eat what they like that I shouldn’t worry too much, she said when they are oder they will try new foods and she was right!

As kids my mom made my brother and I different things than what her and my dad ate, I decided not to be that kind of mom. Even though my 11 year old daughter is intellectually disabled and thriving (she was born small and has a hard time gaining weight), its you eat what we eat, I don’t make anything different. If she doesn’t want it then she goes hungry and gets nothing else until she eats it, and its rare that happens. I have her eat it all and I don’t like her sharing with the dogs or anybody else. If its something we don’t have often at least 2 bites and that’s it. I don’t put much on her plate also and she does not get more of something until the plate is bare and 99% of the time she doesn’t ask for more when it is gone. Its always a fight though to get her to eat even though she likes it, she is easily distracted. Good luck though.

Mom, My now 18 year old is like that. When she was little the only things she wanted was raw vegetables and steak. I didnt make her eat what I was having, if she didnt like what I made I would make her what she wanted.
I wish I would have made her try more things…
When we cook now she eats raw vegetables, and almost raw steak, her meat choices are very bland.

One greenbean on the plate is much less threatening than a whole serving.


My mom said one of her little brothers ate wieners and drank apple juice for almost 4 years. He is now in his 50s. Over 6 foot and almost 200lbs. If he’s seemingly healthy he’ll be fine

He might need to be assessed for sensory issues and might benefit from occupational therapy. I wish I had known when my daughter was little. Some kids can’t tolerate certain flavors or textures

Lol… starve him out. Sounds cruel but I had a real picky eater and I was on a budget.
I bet your child will eat just about anything in the morning :joy: and he will be shocked he likes it

1 Like

My oldest always been a picky since 2 years old. He’s 9 now but he’s slowly trying different foods. I always have him to try it first and if he doesn’t like it then I’ll make something he likes. I’m praying my 1 year old won’t be like his older brother being picky lol. Plus I always tell my oldest don’t you want to show your baby brother it taste good. Sometimes it works :sweat_smile:

My 11 yr old is the same. I’ve tried everything yo get her to try new things. I even told her that if she tried some steak or a burger I would take her on a shopping spree to get whatever she wanted no limit. She did not try it so I saved my money!!!

A Dr told me if he won’t eat whatever was served to give him a peanut butter sandwich. He’s a father now and won’t eat them but he had so many growing up. Recently found out that he was autistic and certain foods actually gagged him

When i have my grand daughter. I usually give her a choice of 2 dinners and that gives her some control on what she wants. She is not a big eater. If they are healthy dont fight. If she chooses not to eat she will usually drink a cup of milk and fruit. No junk. I feel like forcing kids to eat is teaching them to eat when they are not hungry. Thats why we have so many over weight people in the world.

For 13 years solid I have never forced my kids to eat one dish that was made… Nor have I ever sent them to bed hungry… If I made something that they may not like I would make 2-3 different dinners just so everyone was happy… Let me add that this wasn’t a huge deal as I love to cook and it certainly saved many tears from happening on their end and mine… Now more times than not I don’t have to make the extra dishes as they will eat just about anything

Our pediatrician told us not to force our kids to eat something they dont like and that as long as they ate something whether it was just graham crackers it would be ok. That kids around that age tend to have spells where they dont want to eat at all so try to find them 100% fruit snacks, graham crackers, along with making sure they drink water, milk, and some juice.

Listen… I have picky children to the point where I thought they were going to starve! But I promise you that if you keep offering they will eventually eat. They won’t starve themselves to death. They will eat when they’re hungry. Be consistent and it will happen!

Please do not let your child go to bed hungry. Its hard to sleep when your tummy is growling. And as long as your child is eating something, that’s just fine. My oldest child ate Mac and cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 18 months because that was the only thing I could get her to eat… she is 20 now and actually eats vegetables and meat and all kinds of stuff that she hated as a kid. Don’t force your child to eat foods they don’t like… I mean…do you eat foods you don’t like? I still hate broccoli and I don’t eat it. If you’re worried about vitamins, get the poly vi sol and put it in his juice or something. Or get a gummy multivitamin for children.

we had our 4yr grandson try one bite if he didn’t like it say no thank you. then we would touch his arm for example and told him he had a hole in there and needed to fill it up so it would go away. He likes the game now that he will raise up his arms and ask how many holes he has. He usually eats most or all of his food now. It used to be donuts chix nuggets and French frogs only but not now. Good luck

Maybe get him involved in cooking. Initially the meal he likes then try new recipes where he can taste what he’s made? Also ensure your food looks and tastes far more appealing than the food he chooses. Let him chose 1 meal per week ( maybe have nutritional sides also) but get him using familiar foods in new recipes. He can be proud of his creation and it’s less of a battle field ?

My son only ate peanut butter, nutella, grilled cheese, pancakes, popcorn and apples sauce for about 2 years… now hes 6 and even eats Brussel sprouts. I felt like a terrible parent. But we kept offering options and one day he started trying it. We tried that eat this or eat nothing… they boy went almost 2 full days on water and I broke. We bribed, we begged, we took away toys… nothing. So we just offered him a grilled cheese with a bite of chicken or pancakes with a bite of eggs… one day he ate the bite and we never looked back. Now he will try anything he sees you eating and then run off with your plate… lol

1 Like

I’m sorry but it is ridiculous to make a kid go to bed hungry. I’m 55 years old and there are some things you could not pay me to eat. I have 4 grown daughters and 3 granddaughters and I just make sure to have cereal or something on hand if they do not like what I made. Two of my daughters were very picky when they were little and now they eat just about everything. My advice…don’t sweat the small stuff because it’s just not worth it.

Many children have sensory processing disorders, that can cause them to not eat many foods due to taste, texture and smell. You should never make your child eat something or they have to go to bed hungry. If they truly do not like something you can not force it. Find another healthy option for them to eat. There’s many MANY dinner options for a child that’s healthy and good for them. He’s got to like something. My son was always picky also. He was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and now almost 6 and finally trying more foods. If you force it they will never want to try new foods either.

My now 5 year old went thru a long phase where he would only eat cottage cheese. I’d say it lasted a good 6 months. Then one day he just started eating everything. Now he still eats quite a bit but somedays will only eat mac and cheese. I always keep stuff i can make him quick if he wont eat what we have. But i make sure to make mac and cheese with most dinners.

Anything is better than nothing. My son was picky only ate like 4 things. He is 16 now and outgrew most of hispickiness. Let him eat what he will eat and mix in some new things here and there ALONG WITH what you know he will eat. My nephew is the same. He is 4 and only eats a handful of things. My brother and sister in law let him eat what he will eat and periodically introduce him to something new. He has added a few more items to his will eat list. Like I said anything is better than nothing.

Sometimes we as parents have to pick and choose our battles with the little one. I guess as long as the child is healthy and happy just work with it so they dont go to bed hungry

1 Like

Let him help make the menu and have it a rule to try one new thing of his choice.

1 Like

My lifesaver was cheese sauce when my kids were growing up. They ate broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage–you know, all those things kids say they don’t like–if it had some cheese sauce on it. I made them taste anything new before I allowed them to refuse it but I always made sure we had something on the menu that they did like and had eaten before. Of course, some kids, if they know you will fix them something else will take advantage of that and not like anything except what they want.

I don’t make my daughter eat what she doesn’t want. Doesn’t sound fair to force children. Makes them believe their voice isn’t heard and preference isn’t taken into account. As an adult there’s certain foods I absolutely hate and if I were to be forced to eat them, I’d be pretty upset / hurt. As long as my daughter is fed and has a full tummy, I’m fine :slightly_smiling_face: she’ll develop new tastes as she gets older. Their palate is still underdeveloped

My youngest nephew was a picky eater only eating certain things and now at 10 he is starting to try new things. My son is special Ed and I have since 2010 making him something else.
My son had a behavior therapist come out when he was about your sons age and told me he will not starve if he does not eat dinner.
My stepmother when I was growing up let us each pick a certain food we did not like. So on nights it was served such as green bean casserole we did not have to eat it. Just an idea ??

I always told my kids, “you have to try it before you can say you don’t like it.” If they truly didn’t like it, move on. Sometimes they forgot they were “just trying” something, or they ended up liking it, and kept eating. And sometimes they still didn’t like it, then they got something they would like, but I wasn’t going outta my way to make them a whole new meal, they got like some fruit, veg, maybe a sandwich or some meat & a string cheese. Eventually they came around and ate what I made. They turned it back around on me though, we were at an Asian place, they had sushi on the buffet, and I was like ew no, I don’t eat sushi. But mom, have you TRIED it? You HAVE TO try it before you can say you don’t like it! :joy: I tried it, still gross. :woman_shrugging::grin:

I wrap their dinner and they can eat it later if they get hungry. Sometimes my eldest will make herself a sandwich. But, I am not a servant I make one meal.

1 Like

I had to tell my kids that all meat was chicken to get them to eat it… My youngest hates vegetables PERIOD… I just don’t give them to her… if she refuses to eat what I make for dinner she can eat cereal or tuna sandwich or pb&j but that’s a loosing battle tryna force your kid to eat something they don’t like or don’t want to eat…

My moms rule was and is, try it at least once. Then you can say you don’t like it. Then if we didn’t like it, she’d maybeeee make us something quick (it depended on how we acted about it we weren’t gonna be throwing a fit over food when kids all over the world are starving.) What I’d recommend. Is the the bite rule. And then if they don’t like it. Give them no more then 2 or so choices for them to eat something else. If you let them pick ANYTHING they’re gonna figure out that if they say no. You’ll let em eat what they want. The 2 choice rule gives you the power as a parent and let’s them feel like they still have a choice

I have them try two bites if they dont like it I move on and just be glad they tried it and give them something easy they do like

My 4 YO daughter won’t even try new things. So frustrating because she only eats about 20 things and most aren’t very good. :pensive:

My son had similar issues… His nutritionists had us put what we were eating on his plate with something we knew he would eat… We also started watching cooking shows and pointed out that chefs had to taste everything they cook, then we had him help us cook. He discovered something’s that he liked and something’s that he hated, but he tries it now. Don’t push too hard you can even simply encourage him to try smelling new foods.

We all don’t like the same foods and kids’ palates aren’t sophisticated. One bite and if they really don’t like something give cereal as an option(not sugary cereal)

We say take one taste to try ,then eat it or not,give him the food he likes. If not pressure they usually expand their pilot. Force will accomplish nothing.

I have a 3 yr old great grand son he is a very picky eater it’s hard to feed him sometimes

That won’t work if your child has sensory processing disorder that he avoids certain foods due to the texture of the food. If your child does have this problem, it’s got to be diagnosed by a OT.

Coming from a poor family if you don’t like it then don’t eat it. But don’t cry about it either. If you are really hungry the food is there

1 Like

I never make my kiddos eat what they don’t want it could be a serious problem with textures or something so I wouldn’t do it. Try smoothies to get all his essentials in. Soy milk, spinach, kale, carrot juice, ground oats to make it filling, frozen berries, Greek yogurt etc. It worked for my son the berries and fruit hide all the veggies and you know he at least had sone good stuff.

But I would never tell my kids to go to bed if they dindnt eat there food

1 Like

My 4 year old is constantly saying things are yucky- even if she ate them the day before just fine. It’s the age. Just keep offering. Occasional going to bed hungry is fine,especially if he’s eating during the day.

Almost all little kids go through a picky phase. IMO the best thing to do is ignore it. Don’t focus on food - we have so many people in this country with unhealthy attitudes towards eating. Some find comfort in food and others find it a challenge to abstain or purge. Make sure the drink water and get daily vitamins. He’ll be fine.

When my son was little we put new foods on popsicle sticks. They think it’s cool and it gets them to try new things

I couldn’t imagine doing that to my kids. :pleading_face: I make sure my babies are fed before bed along with a snack if they want. So sad poor little guy. :broken_heart:

I couldn’t do that with my son I tried but then he would go too long without eating anything and It worried me so now I just sacrificed eating what I wanted…for him… its what we do as parents

1 Like

I always make my kids truly try it with no judgement. If they don’t like it, they can make themselves a pbj or meat sandwich or veggies and fruit.

My kids were required to have a no thank you bite of all food, then we would get them something different. Both grown now, one of them will pretty much eat anything now, the other is still picky

My doctor said it wasn’t worth the fight. He was 16 before he finally tried stuff. Now he eats lots.

My rule is if you don’t want what I cook, you can make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That’s the option.

1 Like

Never fear they want starve self keep cooking and putting on plate they will eat soon Do hot dog , maccorini cheese hide veggie under it , lasagna with crated carrot ,spinach. In it good luck

I have twin brothers who ate 1 brussel sprout each during their entire lifetime. Then they threw up in Dad’s car. No one ever made them eat another.

I tell my kids 11 and 5 that they have to at least try everything once and if they truly dont like it thats fine but they have to at least try it

I would give my stepson a peanut butter sandwich if he hated dinner. Of course he always hated dinner he was use to McDonald’s daily. That just wasn’t going to happen every weekend when he came over. Eventually he tried other things and became a pretty good eater. He probably got real sick of peanut butter sandwich.

Oh my son is the same! He is healthy and he gets all the food groups so I’m mostly ok with it. He loves tombstone Pepperoni pizza and now doesnt want it if there is any cheese on top of the pepperoni! I feel ya!

1 Like

I only cook things I know my kids will eat. I don’t cater to myself or my tastes …no no no. If i don’t like what they’re eating for dinner I’ll just eat a sandwich. You should never starve your child just because their taste buds are different than yours. As they get older their taste buds will change and they’ll like more things.
I couldn’t stand the taste of meatloaf growing up…now I make it once a month and love it and so do my kids. I also couldn’t stand mustard when I was a kid…now I never eat a sandwich without it.

I would have my kids take one bite of something new. then let them have something else. most of the time after one bite, they would eat what was made.

Ur child should develop liking for food he doesn’t eat… U can do trick that i do… firstly u can make food that he likes and other food alternate days… Make him sure that he will get favourite food but only if he tries new food… eventually they get used to normal food… My daughter is 6 and eat all that we eat…

We have a rule in our house, you have to try at least a little bite of it. I have 2 children on the spectrum who refuse to eat certain things, I’ve made the same thing but in a different way (roasted whole chicken they didn’t like but like the chicken breasts I did the the exact same way) and they would eat it. Sometime it can come down to how you prepare the food also. My oldest daughter wasn’t a picky eater at first and enjoyed most foods as. Baby/toddler and she’s 12 now and doesn’t like certain foods she loved eggs as a toddler now she hated them but loves sashimi and sushi. Our likes and dislike change over time.

I have a 2 yr old who is NOT picky but currently only wants to eat salad… so he eats salad. Honestly, as long as he eats i don’t even care.

But my son is 2 and barely 24 pounds… developmentally he is fine hes just small but bc he’s so small he doesn’t have the extra to not eat at all… we also give him pediasure when he won’t eat anything at all. I refuse to let him go to bed hungry. But thats just me.

They Grow out of it! To this day I can not eat green beans we had to finish our plate and i swallowed them whole with milk when I was little

I always made my kid what she liked to eat even if I made 2 separate meals. She eats a wide range of food and alot of healthy food.

I’m in the same boat my 3 year old will only eat chips and sometimes cookies she used to eat other things too but now she won’t eat nothing else, trust me we’ve tried everything…anyways I’d like some advice on this too

Keep trying but instead of sending them to bed hungry we give them cereal. A Non fun no sugar cereal!

We gave our son chopsticks when he was about four, and he would eat anything with them!
So we got him a nice pottery rice bowl and good chopsticks, and always put his dinner in that bowl. It was very special for him . :ramen:

My 4 year old eats hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets, and pb&j. There’s far more important things to worry about.


I had one rule you had to eat three bites small or large then the next time we had it also eat three bites. The third time the same but after that if the still didn’t like it they no longer had to eat it. My sons altime didn’t like was applesauce and daughters was liver. Never ate it again. But they at least tried it.

My 2nd son ate and still eat whatever doesn’t eat him 1st, but my 1st son was and still is a picky eater, so he eats whatever he likes

Watch SuperNanny, that women has success with all picky eaters. Take your child some where we he can sample foods

Our 2 year old would only eat hot dogs or cereal… go to the point of a drs visit.
Doc: so whats going on?
Me: He won’t eat anything except for Hotdogs and Cereal! We’ve tried everything.
Doc: So feed him hotdogs or cereal. Anything else?
Me:… ah no

My 4 year old will put his plate in the fridge if he is given something he doesnt want. He wont ask for anything else and I wont force anything at him. Dr said hes healthy and I’m doing the right thing for him.

My 4 year old ate a piece of bread for dinner. I pick my battles lol

1 Like

Make dinners fun by making “picky” food. (Finger foods) make images with the lunchmeat, cheese, crackers and veggies or fruit. Small bites and just let him eat at his pace. My daughter is picky but loves weird things like sushi and fried cornmeal mush. But she hates mashed potatoes. We do picky dinner about once a week. She gets to pick out what she wants on her plate.

He won’t be 4 forever and will probably make better choices when he goes to college.

No way should you cook different dinners. I also don’t believe in making kids eat things that they really don’t like, however they should be made to at least try.

Make them eat what you are go to bed hungry they will eat. If still not you need to adapt. Period. My 7 year old won’t eat anything fast food besides McDonald’s. I literally get what I want qnd get her hers. Qnd its solved. Unless a sit down and she chooses. Dont let your child have an opinion of food till they can change their own underwater and shower daily brush teeth daily without being told. Period. Your thier parent. Not q friend.

Food was not a battle I wanted to fight. He only ate about 5 foods until he was 9.