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What to Feed my Finicky Five-year Old?

I will be spending two weeks in August with my five-year old grandboy and while I am looking forward to one-on-one time, I am dreading meal times. He does not like meals and food. Sure, he gets hungry but all he wants is a snack which could be cheese stick or maybe some apple or chips. Super finicky and unpredictable in what he would be remotely interested in putting into his mouth. One of my ideas to try is to involve Jack in planning, shopping and cooking. Not sure if he will eat the food though...

Do any of you have similar experience? Any solutions, suggestions out there?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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  1. fear not, you've got plenty of company ;) hopefully you'll find some inspiration here:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/652509
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/355545
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/563910
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/623207
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678020

    but you're definitely on the right track with involving him - it's always been my experience that they're more interested in trying something in which they've had a hand preparing. you just have to find the right balance - kids don't like to be told they *have* to eat a specific food, but too many choices can be overwhelming...so a good compromise might be homemade pizza, tacos or sandwiches where he gets to choose his own toppings and assemble them himself.

        1. re: Jay F

          I agree. Grandparents feeding anything and everything they eat is one of the rewards of becoming a grandparent. You don't wantthat precious child to have anything other than great experiences with his grandparents. have great fun.

          1. re: bobcam90

            The problem is that he is not interested in eating and food and I would very much like to get Jack excited about food, maybe just cooking at first and eating later.

            1. re: herby

              Not your job :) Costco has dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. Never saw those to fail. With ranch dressing.

              1. re: bobcam90

                Depending on what the parents are or aren't doing to get this kid off on the right start... then you couldn't be more wrong.

                There's the chance that this grandmother may be the only one trying to influence this child about healthy eating and excitement about food. I'm the /godmother/ of a kid whose parents are raising him on a crappy diet - and I do everything I can to influence him. And the kid ain't even blood related to me!

                Herby - if you have any farmers' markets nearby, take advantage of them! Give yer grandkid a few dollars, and tell him to buy anything he wants (though I add the rule of 'as long as it grows in the dirt or on a tree'). And walk around sampling everything you can! Make a big show about how much you like the stuff you're sampling.

                1. re: ltdead

                  We're talking two weeks. If this were a situation where the grandparent was going to be a regular caregiver my answer would have been different. I stand behind my original advice. I remember nothing that my grandmothers fed us. I only remember really great times.

                  1. re: bobcam90

                    And if she's able to show him a /really great time/ with healthy food... that would be a really good thing.

                    1. re: ltdead

                      Agree. But if she has to choose, go for the good time :)

                    2. re: bobcam90

                      i only remember the pb&j sandwiches with chocolate chip smiley faces from my grandmother..
                      i agree just feed him whatever and have a good time together..lifes too short

                      i didnt ask about what she cooked and the ways and recipes until much later in life...
                      now that shes gone...i am the one that makes the "stuff like grandma used to"

                      1. re: bobcam90

                        I remember everything my grandmother fed me. Real wholesome food, grown with care, and cooked with love. It was and is the backbone of my culinary experience.

                        Don't just feed him whatever. For one, my kids don't eat junk regardless of the source so grandparents don't get a pass on the processed chicken nuggets. And too, you have the power to make a positive impression on his eating habits. Don't waste it.

                        1. re: JudiAU

                          I remember my times with my great aunt--we moved away from her when I was 6--as times for no rules. She couldn't have kids and she and her husband were quite wealthy, they smoked, they drank, they took us to steak houses where we got lots of Shirley Temples with extra cherries, they let us stay up for the late, late movie with popcorn and extra butter, and for breakfast she served us plum baby food--which my sister and I loved--fried Taylor pork roll with catsup and toast with lots of butter and jam. I have no memories of what I was served as a young kid at any other relatives house.

                2. re: bobcam90

                  What if those grandparents live with you, though? Does that mean that every day should be a free-for-all with junk food because they don't want anything "other than great experiences with grandparent"? What happened to intergenerational rearing where the grandparents didn't indulge, they taught. It used to be that grandparents helped rear the children, not cater to their every unhealthy whim.

                  I'm sorry, but I think this excuse is just justification for letting kids pig out on junk. Letting kids eat crappy, junky, fatty, processed food doesn't show grandparently love. Enjoying the time doing things like playing on the swings, or having a hand or cards, or doing a craft, or participating in a common interest does. Food (especially junk food) does not equal love.

              2. My son, too, was a finicky eater. He would eat like a bird for weeks on end, then suddenly he'd start eating in a regular fashion and then two weeks later, he'd shoot up two inches. Our pediatrician told us not to worry, that he would eat when his body told him to eat. He turned out fine.....a healthy, fit U.S. Marine :=) When I tried to get him interested in food, I started with homemade pizza. He got to put on his favorite toppings. Now he does the same thing, but during the summer he makes pizza on the outdoor grill. Good luck and enjoy your grandbaby's visit!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: pilotgirl210

                  I was also going to suggest homemade pizza. make the dough and let him help knead and punch it, spread the sauce, sprinkle the cheese and pick the toppings to add. Very interactive food will help the pickiness, i think. I have a 2.5 year old who's a great eater. I involve her in chopping veggies, tasting ingredients, smelling spices, etc. and she loves it. Her palate is more varied and adventurous than most of her friends and I don't believe in her eating processed crap at all. instead she eats most of what we eat. She loves fish, asapargus, broccoli and all manner of other veggies. tonight she passed up the homemade mac & cheese i served her as a side for more roasted asparagus and steamed broccoli tossed with curry shallot butter.

                  make smoothies or popsicles with yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit. have him help prep the veggies -- snipping sugar snap peas or green beans can make them more fun. and both are great to eat with little fingers.

                  prosciutto and fresh mozzarella; orichiette pasta with whatever you think he'll tolerate -- crumbled sausage, peas, parmesan, etc. My little one doesn't like tomato sauce, but maybe your little guy does? make baby meatballs to add in or eat plain. make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch cut into fun shapes? make "homemade" pigs in blankets with mini chicken or andouille sausages and pizza dough or crescent roll dough.

                  breakfast foods are also popular here. i make pumpkin waffles, lemon ricotta pancakes, applesauce pancakes, etc.

                2. My 10 year old daughter is similar. I have success when I get her involved. She made her own pizza with sauce, shredded carrots and honey. Not something I will ever eat but she liked it. I also do well when I put anything on a stick. I dont know why but food on a toothpick all the way up to a pointy chop stick works for both my kids. I also tell them that I want them to eat a lot of colors. They get to pick the (healthy) foods and they have to get it to look like a rainbow. Works well with friut, sometimes with veggies. They get extra points if they can shape it like a rainbow on the plate. Stay away from foods that are bitter and foods that are hard to identify quickly. Casaroles never work in my house. If they dont want to help cook, I have them help assemble at the table with tacos or pita pockets.
                  Good luck.

                  1. I'm going to agree w/ silverstarfish. My 3 yr old is picky, and eats "well" every few days like a camel. Homemade pizza has been a success lately as she likes to help put the sauce and cheese on. I made it in my cast-iron skillet and it worked out very well. ( I ate it for dinner that night, too b/c The Husband was out) She is very into breakfast for dinner ( eggs and pancakes) and likes to help mix and stir. Then she plays while I finish getting things cooked and ready. She lives on baby carrots and slices persian cukes. I offer "dips" to try to expand her palate. Sometimes I win, sometimes no. I try different mild sauces in pastas, too. Not always tomato. I make homemade chick parm and she can choose between plain cutlet or with sauce. Meatballs are a hit- sometimes. If he's into "helping" quesadillas could work b/c he could choose what else besides cheese to put in.