18 answers

6 1/2 Year Old Doesn't Want to eat....help!

My daughter is 6 1/2, weighs around 40 pounds, going into 1st grade.
She gives me fits at every meal about not eating. Says she isn't hungry, stalls eating by going to the bathroom, etc...is it possible that she just doesn't want to eat or should I seek medical advice?
Any POSITIVE, HELPFUL feedback would be appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

hi M., you didn't state if yer lil girl snacks much between meals..even alil bit or drinking a glass of water can have a big effect on their eating. Has she always been this way? Is school just starting for her? just the new routine with school and all can maybe throw her schedule off too. I have a lil boy,5, and i noticed over the summer that i had to stop letting him eat and drink (cept for a sip of water when actually thirsty) by 2 pm, so he would actually be hungry for dinner by 5. GL :)

1 mom found this helpful

I was a very picky eater(one thing on my plate at a time etc.)as a child ,only liked velveeta cheese, no other kind etc., was VERY skinny- Boy! WERE THOSE THE GOOD OLD DAYS!!! She will not starve, just present her with healthy choices and let her eat what she needs. Too many kids today are overweight. My Mom used to have a fit about me not eating too. Hope this helps

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More Answers

I wonder if it's gotten to a control issue for her. Maybe instead of fighting with her or making a big deal out of eating, just say "okay, you can have your dinner when you are hungry." Then just have her sit while the family eats. If you stop the cycle, I wonder if she will stop fighting you.

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Hmmm....sounds like my little one. He is right about that weight and is 7 1/2. He eats like a bird most days, but then will hit a spurt of being hubgry al the time. Honestly, I know the concern, as I've had the same thing. For a while I gave in and would allow pudding for breakfast and stuff like that just because he wouldn't eat anything else. Now it doesn't matter WHAT I make, he whines...I don't like that. So now he eats what we eat or his only options are cold meat or peanut butter. If you offer other things constantly, you'll end up making different meals all the time!!! lol One thing I do is to get Carnation instant breakfast....I used to work in a nursing home, and they'd make the residents these drinks to add calories. Does your daughter drink strawberry or chocolate milk? Both these flavors are available. Also you can get Ensure (or as I do, get the off brand) This at the bursing home was frequently used for meal replacement. My daughter is 2 and is only in about the 25-30th percentile for her weight. I occasionally get some Ensure or pediasure and give her a bottle once a day. Adds some calories. Other than that, relax. Is your daughter sick? My kiddo is a skinny britches, but he is otherwise healthy and active (for a kid who have far too many video game systems). He play soccer, football, and baseball. He is very smart and really....other than being skinny, I don't worry about him. I was that way when I was little, and now, well, let's just say I'm not so much that way. I hope she begins to eat better for you. I wouldn't worry too much. Oh...if it makes you feel any better, my niece is 3 1/2 and isn't much bigger than my 2 year old who is tiny. My niece isn't even ON the growth chart!! lol And she is healthy and happy. Offer frequent healthy snacks...grapes, raisins, the instant breakfast or Ensure. Even if it means grazing all day. That's all my doctor told me. Don't waste your money to go hear the same thing, unless your daughter is sick. Feel free to email me. I'm no doctor, but I do have a picky eater too! Have a great week
L.

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If you are worried, I would probably ask the doctor for advice. It may just be that your daughter is going to be little. Since she is six, I would think she would definitely know if she is or is not hungry. I would talk to the doctor so they can make you feel better about whatever is going on.

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She is testing the limits here to see what she can get away with. Give her set meal and snack times and don't let her "graze" throughout the day. She is old enough to understand that if she doesn't eat her breakfast, there will be no food until lunch time. Fix her plate at the table along with everyone else and make her sit there with the family until everyone is finished. If she chooses not to eat, fine, but she still needs to sit and be respectful toward the rest of the family. Also, do not give her options when it comes to meals. Whatever you're fixing for dinner is what she has to eat and if she doesn't like it...tough. It is very hard to do this "to" your own child (I know, I've been there) but after a week or so of no options and no choices and not just eating whenever she feels like it, she will realize that you're not budging and she'll start to come around.

Another thing you don't want to do is bargain with her...as in..."if you eat 3 bits of your chicken you can be done." She should be expected to eat until her belly tells her it is full and then sit and rest while everyone else finishes.

She will not starve herself...human instinct will take over and she will eat when she is hungry enough...and she will eat what is available to her, so make sure it is worth eating.

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Hi, M.,

My daughter is M., also, but we shorten it to Jorie. :)

Anyway, she will be 7 the beginning of October, and weighs 37 lbs. She is the worst when it comes to eating! She's usually "not hungry" and is so darn SLOW when she does eat. Drives me nuts.

However, since this has been going on most of her life, I have resigned myself to just keeping the snack shelves in the fridge filled with healthy snacks and whenever the kiddos (my 10 yo son is 53 lbs) are hungry, they are allowed to help themselves. If it's healthy, I don't care how close to dinner time it is. I mean, seriously, what's the difference?? They're eating and it's good for them.

Then I just give them a little to eat at meals, and if they don't eat it, I don't have to stress because I know they've eaten something, at least. We just make meal times more about the family being together rather than the eating part.

Children won't starve themselves, so you need not worry about that. And she's too young for it to be anything mental (anorexia or the like)

So, keep providing those healthy snacks, and let her eat however much she wants at meals (but she should still have to sit with the family at the table until you're done). And the suggestion about the smoothies was great. It's a good way to get calories into her, if you're worried about the nutrition end of it.

Take a deep breath - :) - this too shall pass. (Personally, I wish I could be like our daughters! Then I wouldn't weigh 180 lbs!)

Blessings,
J.

1 mom found this helpful

My best friend has a five yr old who has done the same thing. One day he likes green beans and two days later he doesn't. It got to the point were he would make heself throw up and say he was sick so he woundn't have to eat. he's a little better now. So my friend would let the kids choose once a week or so something they wanted to eat and that help. Its seens that the more simple the meal is the more the kids liked it. With the five yr old, he likes kectup, so they let him put kectup on things that he didn't like very much. Sometimes they would give him a choice eat or go to bed. One evening i was over there and he woundn't eat and his brother and sister got to have marshmallows and he missed out. By the way, she makes foods that they like and only gives each kid the amount they can eat and can have seconds if wanted. Hope this helps.

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I agree someone who suggested she's testing her boundaries, and I also agree with someone else who said that if she's hungry enough, she'll eat.

My mother would tell us, "This is what's for dinner. You can either eat dinner with the family or go hungry." I always hated that, but it's worked for many, and probably worth a try. If it is that she's testing her boundaries - like Dr. Phil says, "Pick your battles wisely. If you do chose to pick a battle, make sure you win." So, I guess in a way, I'm saying proceed with caution.

I have a 6 year old who is sometimes fickle like that. We have typically given her a choice. Do you want PB&J or chicken nuggets? If she asks for something different, and it isn't too much trouble, we'll usually "entertain it". But there are times when we say, "That isn't on the menu...it's PB&J or chicken nuggets." Sometimes she says she doens't want anything, only to ask for a pop-tart later. We'll tell her she can have the pop-tart, as long as she has a PB&J or chicken nuggets FIRST.

But as other said, you might want to keep an eye on the grazing...it could be that she really isn't hungry because of the grazing, or it could be that she just got done going through a growth spurt and really isn't hungry. (I can tell when my oldest is going through one because she's ALWAYS hungry during the growth spurts.)

For what it's worth...and good luck!

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Hi,

I had this problem with my daugther and my ped doc said to give her a carnation instant breakfast once a day. My doc said it has all the nutrients she needs.

Hope this helps, best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,
I am a 38 year old SAHM of 4 daughters 7 months, 3, 6 and 7. My 6 and 7 year old girls are both 42 pounds. My 6 year old eats pretty good, but my 7 year old will tell me she is not hungry. I asked her Dr a long time ago about this. He said she will eat when she is hungry. My girls like to snack. My 7 year old tells me she is not hungry and almost always goes to the bathroom at dinner time. She will sometimes tell me that she is not hungry because she doesn't like what we are having for dinner. Your daughter is old enough know if she is hungry or not. Has she always been a lit eater? or is this new. If it is a new thing I would just call and ask your Dr if you need to be concerned. I hope this helps.

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My son was almost 6, end of kindergarten, when he decided he wasn't going to each much, no more than 2 times a day. (apparently kids were making fun of heavy kids)I did take him to doctor, his weight was low also. If the kids body mass index fall below 12% they can stop growing. My son was very close to that. With doctors help and my reinforcement we did get him to a healthy weight. I think it would be good to make sure her body mass index is in healthy range and the doctor will go over healthy habits, and give you ideas to keep her healthy weight.

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she's to young to starve herself, if she's hungry she'll eat. you can try to limit in between meal snacks, but as long as she's getting lots of healthy choices and not losing weight don't worry, she'll get another growth spurt soon enough and eat like there's no tomorrow.

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Hi M., My kids doc always told me to relax! He said as long as I wasn't allowing them to fill up on junk and I offered them a variety of healthy choices at meal time they would eat when they were hungry. I have 3 boys and they are all on the low end of the weight scale but they are also very healthy and active. My oldest who will turn 9 on Sunday and weighs about 55lbs has finally found his appetite and does a great job at meals making healthy choices. My youngest who turned 5 today is weighing in at 38lbs. still doesn't eat much for dinner but I do have him sit at the table with us and he picks and then gets board and gets down. As long as your daughter has no health issues and you don't think it has anything to do with body image I say relax about it. Making a big fuss about how much she eats now may just make matters worse. Good luck!

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I noticed you didn't mention whether there is any snacking between meals. It may be the portions you are serving are beyond her and she is worried about not being able to eat the amount of food on her plate. Do you complain at her about not eatting? If so don't do it.
I would suggest a half a hot dog, quarter of a hamburger, one or two chicken nuggets, the drumstick portion of a chicken wing, etc., with just a tablespoon of veggies and fruit. It is a well known fact that 6 small meals a day are better for you than 3. Try that method with a tablespoon of cottage cheese, a small yogurt, etc., between meals, veggie sticks, cheese slices, pickles, etc.
If this doesn't work over the next month or so then I would definitely seek medical advise.

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M.,

This nation is full of obese people who force themselves to eat when they are not hungry. Such is the legacy of ample food and "clean your plate" mentality. If she says she is not hungry, do not force the issue. Keep healthy food available, and just let her "graze" for a while to see what happens. Yes, ask the doctor, too. Just as children go through growth spurts where they eat everything in sight and then sleep extra, they also have pauses in the pattern when they truly are not hungry.

Best wishes,
K.

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I can't tell by your post if you are worried about her getting enough nutrition but if you are you may try making her smoothies and even freezing them into popsicles. Frozen (organic) fruit (berries and bananas work well, 100% juice, water, yogurt or milk (we use non-dairy). You can even sneak greens and/or supplements (or protein powder) in there if you want to boost their nutrition. I don't like forcing kids to eat when they aren't hungry or using food for reward or punishment. I encourage you to be ready with nutrient rich whole foods when she is hungry. If she doesn't eat much and when she does it's processed, refined flour and sugar filled foods then it could cause nutrient deficiency along with other health problems down the road.

1 mom found this helpful

I was a very picky eater(one thing on my plate at a time etc.)as a child ,only liked velveeta cheese, no other kind etc., was VERY skinny- Boy! WERE THOSE THE GOOD OLD DAYS!!! She will not starve, just present her with healthy choices and let her eat what she needs. Too many kids today are overweight. My Mom used to have a fit about me not eating too. Hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

Abbie went into first grade at 43 pounds. She's ALSO not a big eater except on rare occasion. Remember that the stomach of an adult human can hold 4 cups. Children "graze" for obvious reasons. Adults should do more of that for metabolism and energy purposes.

Regardless, my rules are "You have to eat SOMETHING", and I give her choices....always protein and/or fruit or vegetable. If she wants something else, she knows she has to eat the other FIRST. Sometimes, I compromise the amount, but NEVER give in to just what she wants or not eating.

I try to educate her and remind her that her body NEEDS good food to stay healthy and help her body function. Not eating will only weaken her body. Tell her she doesn't have to eat alot, but has to eat something.

Many times, I've noticed if I put a small bowl of strawberries or blueberries in front of her, she'll end up eating all of them anyway, even if she says she won't be able to eat them all.

1 mom found this helpful

hi M., you didn't state if yer lil girl snacks much between meals..even alil bit or drinking a glass of water can have a big effect on their eating. Has she always been this way? Is school just starting for her? just the new routine with school and all can maybe throw her schedule off too. I have a lil boy,5, and i noticed over the summer that i had to stop letting him eat and drink (cept for a sip of water when actually thirsty) by 2 pm, so he would actually be hungry for dinner by 5. GL :)

1 mom found this helpful

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