Our three-year-old son is quite picky when it comes to food. He has not been interested in eating fruits and vegetables, but recently he started to dislike certain meats as well. He would munch the food in his mouth, but not swallow it.

Is there anything we can do to encourage him to swallow his food? Or is it something that will pass after some time?

His daily food consumption is something like the following:

  • 07:30 chocolate bread, cheese, 1 milk
  • 10:30 1 yoghurt, 2 biscuits
  • 12:30 rice, pork or chicken soup, eats a lot
  • 16:00 1 milk, 2 biscuits
  • 18:00 rice, pork or chicken soup, eats a little

We have been following the above routine for some time, but I wonder why only recently did he develop this habit of not swallowing his food.

  • 1
    What happens if he doesn't swallow (let's just translate that to, what happens if he doesn't eat very much)? What are his other options - does he have regular snacks, does he have other meal options, etc.? Map out a day's food consumption for us. 8am, cereal, eats most of it. 11am, fruit snack, eats a banana. 1pm, lunch, turkey sandwich, eats very little. 3pm, snack, cheez-its, eats most of them. 6pm, dinner, broccoli and hamburger, eats little of either. 7pm, dessert, one slice of apple pie, eats it. Something like that.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:12
  • @Joe, I have added his daily food consumption.
    – adipro
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Based on your edit, it sounds to me like he's just not hungry at 1800. Having a large snack at 1600 might be too close to dinner to be hungry. Try either moving the 1600 snack up to 1500, or the 1800 dinner to 1900. My almost-three year old occasionally eats poorly at dinner but is hungry an hour or so later, and will eat his dinner then (we have a rule, he may not eat anything other than his dinner if he didn't eat well, but if he didn't eat well we save the dinner in the fridge for the night.)

I'd also add that it seems like he's eating enough, so perhaps he just never will want much dinner. Some people have schedules like that - their bigger meal is lunch, not dinner. That's not terrible, and as long as the nutrition is balanced across ALL meals, they grow perfectly fine. That's been a challenge for me to remember; my children are both very tall for their ages (especially considering my wife and I are not tall) and of appropriate weight for their height, but sometimes just don't want dinner. I struggle with remembering not to give them too much trouble for that, since clearly they're eating enough on balance, and all I'll do by urging them to eat when they're not hungry is cause them to have weight troubles later in life.

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