25 answers

5 Year Old Eating Habits

How do you handle it when your child refuses to eat the dinner fixed for the evening? He picks at his food for 15-20 minutes then says he's full, then 10 minutes later says he's hungry and wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He is very tiny and needs all the food he can get (his bllod sugar drops when he goes to long without food) and I hate to tell him he can't eat. Do we allow him to make his own dinner everynight? Do we make him something besides what we are eating?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Haven't yet been able to try the advice but wanted to thank EVERYONE! What wonderful advice you each gave......I appreciate the concern and the advice! I will think it all through! Have a wonderful day!

Featured Answers

M. - My five year old was the same way, She is on the thin side as well and very picky. About a year ago we decided we had had enough. So her choices are She can eat with us now as a family, or if she decided not to eat then she can wait. When and if she says she is hungry again, she is once again offered the same dinner that was served to her earlier. It takes a while for this to work great. We no longer have a struggle. She eats with the family now and knows that if she doesn't eat what is served then no desert and she will have to eat her other dinner if she gets hungry.

With this as with so many other issues I would highly reccomend love and logic. www.loveandlogic.com It is a great parenting method and we have tried many. Good Luck!

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I know it may sound harsh. My son has the same problem. You don't have to tell him he can't eat, or give him a diferent kind of food. In my case I just save the plate and when my son tells me he is hungry again, I offer him the same. Only on rare occasions I let him eat something else, when I know what I made he cannot eat. There are foods like liver that I just won't touch, and I'd rather go hungry. But if you are offering a variety of foods and he still decides he doesn't like any of it, I wouldn't offer anything else. Some times kids aren't as hungry, they are just craving. But when my son is really hungry, he'll eat anything. Some other times kids will tell you they are hungry even after they've eaten a good, balanced and even large meal. In that case they may just be craving dessert and after having something sweet they'll be fine.
Good luck.

I have several friends who only offer dinner and 1 alternative (the pb&j). And there is nothing wrong with that. At least he is still getting some nutrition. As for me, I have a picky eater too who will eat a few bites then 20 mins later wants a snack. So I started keeping his plate at the counter and if he says he wants a snack then I'll offer him more of his dinner. He has always been off the charts small but they will eat if they are hungry.

I would save the dinner and if he's hungry later just reheat whatever it was the family ate for dinner. Is he involved with cooking dinner in some way? Maybe if he helps around the kitchen he would be more likely to eat a meal. He could choose the side dish for dinner every night or be in charge of pouring ingredients. My son is only 2 and I have the same problems. I have stopped giving him a drink with dinner and that helped. I also encourage him for every bite he takes (but then again, he's 2). Good luck.

Hi my name is Christina , I have a 6yr old little girl that is doing kind of the same thing , except she only eats all of her food when it is something she likes, she also snacks a lot during the day, and she also asks 10 minutes or less after each meal if she does not eat for something else, so I am having the same bit of trouble with her eating habits , I know that probably does not help you with your son, but I just want to let you know that you are not alone.

My oldest daughter was and is extremley small. We took her to a nutritionist at Children's hospital. We had three sessions with her. She had some great advice, at the time my duaghter was the same as your son. She said make sure you always have something that they like at the meal, and that there is variety. Then she said allow 20 minutes for eating and let them know that when that time is up, dinner is over and there will be no more food. We did this and we had a couple of nights of her going to bed crying, but she quickly realized she needed to eat what was at the table. Another thing is we made a rule that the kids have to try everything that is new. If they don't like it they can spit it out, but they need to at least try it. This has really helped with the automatic "ew I don't want this. It looks gross" And my oldest is much more apt to try new things without being asked. I also have her help me cook because then she wants to eat what she made. I originally made a big deal, by having her wear a chefs hat and apron and helping me pick out recipes. Now at 5 she is a whiz in the kitchen. Also find something he likes and offer it as a side. My sister always offered either yogurt or cottage cheese as a side because at least you know they'll eat something. My daughter loves sunflower seeds so I make a green salad with sunflower seeds ranch dressing, and hard boiled eggs and she gobbles it up because of the sunflower seeds. Good luck!

I know the popular school of thought is to: make a family dinner and if they don't eat, too bad. However, I found I was getting so frustrated with my daughter that it was ruining what little time I have with her each night. So, I figured out the few things she would eat and just rotated them. I'm not her personal chef on demand, but I know she'll eat mini-pizzas, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, snack plate (which is string cheese, crackers, and apple chunks), purple yogurt, pb and j, hot dogs, and 'krabby patties' (mini-hamburgers) with sides of peas, corn, carrots, or green beans. Then if she chooses not to eat (almost never) it's too bad so sad--no snacks later. It works for us and the peaceful mealtime is worth it for me.

Make sure he's not getting filled up by snacks during the day. It's good for him to be hungry at mealtimes, so he'll eat. What I would do is when he won't eat, take the food and put it in the refrigerator. Then when he comes back 10 minutes later and says he's hungry, give him the same plate of food. If he's actually hungry, eventually he'll eat it. But at the same time, you're not sending him the message that he doesn't have to eat what you give him, he can eat whatever he wants. He'll understand that, if he's not hungry at the moment, that's fine, but when he is hungry, he needs to eat what everyone else eats.

I wanted to respond to this and just say that when I was little, around 4 and 5 I did the same thing and my parents ended up letting me have cereal almost every meal for dinner while i was growing up. i really wish they would have followed through and encouraged me to eat more foods as now in my adult life I am a really picky eater and have food issues and tend to struggle with my weight. I don't blame my parents, but I just wish I would have been less indulgent with me as now I have extra stuff to work though.

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