M.B. asks from Tucson, AZ on January 15, 2008
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?
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!
B.R. answers from Tucson on January 16, 2008
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.
J.M. answers from Tucson on January 16, 2008
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!
C.W. answers from Tucson on January 16, 2008
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.
J.S. answers from Phoenix on January 16, 2008
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.
S.W. answers from Phoenix on January 16, 2008
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.
C.P. answers from Santa Fe on December 28, 2008
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.
S.D. answers from Tucson on January 16, 2008
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.
A.B. answers from Phoenix on January 18, 2008
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.
A.M. answers from Phoenix on January 23, 2008
My 6 year old went throught that faze a year ago. she was underweight for her age. What I did was I gave her two options and she had to make the choice first was she eat 4 bites of everything to try it and she if she likes it her second choice was to put her food in the fridge until she got hungry then i would heat it up and she woul then have to eat what was put in front of her. Most of the time you can tell if your child doesn't like what u made but other times they are trying to figure out how to get there way which my daughter did prior to my husband and I getting married. He father and real mother allowed her to eat plan bread all the time and nothing else except what she wanted. Very picky eater and yes there were so long nights at the table and food thrown at the table. But after her realizing she couldn't get away with it she started eating with us and not being picky or faking full. My daughter would get the shakes but we found out that her mom reached the first time to her shaking being mad and she got whatever she wanted so she would do it to get away with not eating what is put in front of her. I also removed the food that she would have a fit over until she started eating properly. I took her to the doctor about the shaking and they told me it takes along time for a child to be to hungry. That she was seeing what she could get away with. If they have the shakes talk to your pediatician about it missing a meal by an hour shouldn't cause a huge effect on the child. But try these and see if they work but if not talk to your doctor that is who gave me the advise on our daughter.
T.G. answers from Reno on January 17, 2008
This is a really tough one. Part of it, I've read, is that kids' taste sensors are not fully developed, but our son was very small, too, and needed to eat.
I think the first step is to make sure he's coming to table hungry. In our case, that meant putting the brakes on the junk that was around the house. He was storing up on the bad stuff and coming to the table feeling choosy. Getting the junk food out of the house was probably the hardest part!
So it took a lot of vigilance and patience. We insisted on sitting down to a balanced meal at dinnertime. We presented a large variety of foods and expected/required him to eat a very small portion (in the case of the stuff he didn't like). We allowed him "seconds" of the foods he liked, as long as he'd tried a small portion of everything on the plate.
When he adopted a new food (at first he would eat nothing green), we kept track of it on a white board. When I say "adopted," I mean he would not need to be prodded to eat it; he ate it without much/any resistance. At a certain point (2 new foods? 3?) we rewarded him with a toy, a book, something small, but his choice. We kept the white board in the kitchen, so he could see it as he ate. He began to feel some sense of pride at seeing the list grow, and now at 14? He eats everything: all vegetables, all fish, everything.
Hope you have some success with this.