13 answers

3 Year Old Will Not Eat Dinner

I have a 3yr who absolutely refuses to eat dinner. Can't even get him to sit at the table. His best meal is breakfast and sometimes lunch. Any suggestions?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi C.,

What does he eat for breakfast and lunch? Does he have snacks in between? Do you sit at dinner together as a family or does he eat at a different time? Whatever you do don't beg him to eat! Sometimes little ones like the control and enjoy seeing YOU squirm. Be patient and never let him see you sweat. If you do have dinner as a family, tell him that he should sit with the rest of the family but he does not have to eat. I'd be more than happy to help. You can email me at ____@____.com't worry he will come around!

More Answers

Maybe dinner is too late or too close to lunch? Maybe offer breakfast food for dinner a few times (waffles?).
Seems like a battle of wills so u can find a way around this strange stance. 3 yp can helpmake dinner!

1 mom found this helpful

Preschoolers are so up and down with their activity levels and growth spurts that they are going to have pretty big swings in appetite. He is probably getting all the calories he needs during the day (if you are concerned about weight gain/loss, that would be a different issue). I would continue to reinforce dinner as a routine and family time by calling him to the table when it is ready, offering him small portions of what everyone else is eating, and letting him eat as much or as little as he wants. At this age, it is more important that he learn to sit politely at the table with the family. Children also have very short attention spans at his age, so don't force him to stay too long if he is "finished" eating, but do start teaching him to be excused when he is finished or to start staying longer and talking with the family. Right now, my 14-month-old seems to eat back-to-back meals all day (at least 3-4 full meals and several snacks) while my almost 3-year-old grazes at several meals and then at the end of the day is "sooooooooooooo hungry" he has a mini-meal for a post-dinner snack. Keep encouraging him to eat when he is hungry and to eat a variety. :) Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Just read an article about this in Parents magazine (Oct issue) - they say that many toddlers eat most of their food early in the day, so it's no surprise that dinnertime is the meal they fight the most. They suggest making sure to directly engaging the child during the meal - that means having conversations with him rather than reading the mail or paper, watching TV, etc. Also allow him to bring a small toy with him that he can play with while he eats (but he must eat if he wants to play). Also, in terms of what to make, they suggest separating ingredients for him so he can choose what he wants rather than combining it all (i.e. for pasta, keep the sauce, toppings, cheese, etc. separate, and let him choose what he wants to put in it). If he refuses, then offer him leftovers, but don't make him anything else. If he still refuses, don't worry - he won't starve. Just give him a big breakfast.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, our 3.5 will not eat dinner, so I give him
multi-vitamins mixed with his juice. Also, he loves franks, so I give him that and anything that he likes: pancakes, and pasta mixed with baby greens. It's very hard, but we do what we can.

I was about to post a similar question to yours 2 days ago, but my 2 yr old son ate huge dinners the last 2 nights, so I'm going to keep experimenting with schedules.
My son eats a good breakfast, goes to daycare where he has fruit/cheerios for snack around 9:30. Then he eats a huge lunch. And yogurt snack at 3. I have been unable to get him interested in dinner at all for the longest time. I figured he just was hungrier during the day.
2 days ago he refused the dinner I served at 6, but then was asking for cookies at 7. So I reheated the dinner, and we got him to eat. We tried the same schedule last night - dinner really late, and he ate a ton.
So I'm going to change our schedule to have a little snack when we come in from playing at 5:30 and hold off dinner until late.

The bigger the fuss you make over this the bigger the problem may become. He is asserting his independance. Ignore the behavior. If he doesn't want to sit, don't force him to. However, explain that "we are sitting having dinner. Please, don't talk to us or ask us to play with you". When he gets hungry, give him his plate with dinner that was served and leave him alone to eat it...in the other room, not too far. This is a behavior issue not a food issue. 3 yro. figure out that they have control over a few things and food is one of them. I guarentee if you ignore the behavior it will stop more quickly than trying to make him do something.

Good luck.

first he must sit with you.. put a few things on his plate... just do it.. if he eats only one pea.. so be it.. maybe a slice of an orange.. but he must sit for at least 10 minutes.. then no snacks later on... dinner is dinner.. eat it or go to sleep without.. it will catch on.. good luck

Hi C.,

What does he eat for breakfast and lunch? Does he have snacks in between? Do you sit at dinner together as a family or does he eat at a different time? Whatever you do don't beg him to eat! Sometimes little ones like the control and enjoy seeing YOU squirm. Be patient and never let him see you sweat. If you do have dinner as a family, tell him that he should sit with the rest of the family but he does not have to eat. I'd be more than happy to help. You can email me at ____@____.com't worry he will come around!

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