12 answers

3 Year Old Not Eating

I have a 3 year old daughter and she never wants to eat when we are eating. It doesn't matter what I fix for dinner its a battle to get her to eat at all. I don't want to have to fix her special meals, I want her develop her taste and not be scared to try new foods but she is so stubborn, I could take away everything, put her in time-out, and make her sit at the table all night long and she still wouldn't eat. I feel like everything is a fight with her, is this a stage or am I doing something wrong? Help me please...

What can I do next?

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My daughter is also 3. It seems like the more I battle, the less she eats. I definitely make no threats except to say in a pleasant voice, "I hope you will enjoy this. It's one of my favorites." When she doesn't eat I remind her that there isn't anything else before bed. I also try to include one thing she loves when I'm trying new things. (usually strawberries or cut up bananas) I also am not playing short order cook. I think you hit it on the head when you said "this new phase". She needs to assert herself as an individual and this is a classic way to do it. My husband is the master at making eating her idea. She always eats more for him than for me. ;+(
Good luck and never let her see you sweat!

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This is normal for her age. My son is 3 and his power issue is clothing, which I am sure is less frustrating than food. Anyway, I would suggest offering something you know she likes with every meal, so she gets something and if she outright refuses, ignore it. She will not starve herself. Also, make sure she is not getting too much juice and milk throughout the day because she may not be hungry if this is the case. Three year olds need to feel like they have control over some part of thier life, so this is just how it goes.

1 mom found this helpful

When I took my oldest to the doctor for the same thing, he said that as long as she doesn't stop drinking fluids, she is alright. Also, not to teach her to eat by the clock, because that is part of what causes obesity, but to teach her to eat only when she is hungry. In other words, if she acts like she is hungry at some odd hour, go ahead and feed her, and don't worry about making her eat at mealtime, because she already ate. My daughter was very thin, but her bloodwork would always test out normal, so it worked. Now, she is a beautiful, healthy tween with a body that any grown up would wish to have. Even though she eats more now, she still pretty much eats when she needs to, and she's doing very well.

Do you give he snacks in the afternoon? Mine used to wolf food constantly and wasn't hungry for dinner - so we cut those down alot and tried to get them involved in making the meal, so there was more interest in dinner. What we would tell them when they said 'yuck' was that they couldn't say they didn't like a food unless they tried it first. When is was something they did eat before, try saying 'but you had this {last week, or whenever) and you ate it then - you really liked it!

First things first- DON'T fix her special meals!!! That will just make life harder for you and won't be great for her because she will be eating PB&J or Chicken nuggets or whatever EVERY night!:)

I have a 3 and a 5 year old who are both very picky eaters- they complain all the time "I don't like this" "This is icky" "Can I have grilled cheese instead?" It is pretty typical of kids this age, but some are more extreme than others! Here is my approach- I don't completely cater to it. When I am making up my weekly menu and grocery list, I let the kids each pick the dinner entree for one night (so two nights a week are guaranteed kid friendly) On the other nights I make sure at least one item on the table is something they like (even if it is a side dish and not the main dish)- sometimes it is as simple as applesauce or yogurt. Also, I try to let them help me make dinner whenever possible (you can imagine with 3 and 5 it is simple prep. work or assembling that they help with.) But just being involved sometimes makes them want to try what they made (not always, but sometimes:)

My main thing is !!Don't make yourself a short-order cook!!! They can and should eat the family meal! Finally, if they refuse to eat anything on the table and either throw a fit, complain or leave the table- then it won't hurt them to go to bed a little hungry.

Hope that helps! P.

Sounds like a control issue...who's in control at meal time isn't you right now. Kids don't let themselves starve. Ignore the fact that she won't eat, completely ignore it. Keep her at the table, put food in front of her, and then continue your meal without once commenting on her eating - even if she DOES start to eat, just treat how she's acting as if it's the most normal and natural thing in the world. Also don't feed her unless it is meal time - no matter how she acts - don't give in to temper tantrums (EVER) and when meal time comes - she'll learn that is the only time she's allowed to eat.

when u cook put her plate seperate when she feels like eating give her the plate don't give her noting different. Are put her to bed without food. She will eat sooner are later them stomach cramp make you eat even at 3 yrs old.:)) S.

i completely agree with what laurel said! my 3 yr old daughter is extremely stubborn about EVERYTHING and food is no different. the good part with her is i know she likes almost everything. i think you should definitely feed your daughter when she's hungry but if she's not hungry at dinner to make sure it's not just a control issue just save her dinner in the fridge and say whenever she's hungry she can eat it. we do that with my daughter and she will keep asking for other foods but whether what she asks for is healthy or not i tell her she can't have anything except water until she eats her dinner. once she realizes i'm not giving it she'll eat it. if she doesn't i know she isn't really hungry

I really like what Love & Logic has to say on this. My son didn't want to eat anything and I knew it more of him trying to have control than anything. I just told him not a problem that he didn't have to eat his food but that there would be nothing to eat until breakfast. You know it was pretty awesome to watch him sit there for a minute to think about it. He ate his food. When he does choose to not eat dinner then I just make sure he has a good breakfast the next morning. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I don't think it's going to hurt any of us to miss a meal every once in awhile.

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