24 answers

Help My Three Year Old Is Eating Us Out of House and Home

i have a three year old son that loves to eat. he does not eat unhealthy just eats a lot. he wakes up and can eat three bowls of cereal a waffle and some of my breakfast, and stills ask for more food. he eats pretty well for a young child, not a lot of junk loves fruits and vegetables. three good meals and snacks during the day lots of water and milk little on the juices. i am wondering if there is something i could try to fill him up more or hold him over longer. if he does not get to eat he is soooo crankie and irritable. please help

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So What Happened?™

i would like to thank everyone on the advice that was given. to answer a few questions he just went to the ped a couple of days ago and he is about 33 pounds and taller then 7 out of 10 kids. healthy other whys, and does urinate a lot but does drink a lot of water. he goes to school around eight and gets home around 1230. right after lunch and comes home wanting more food. he does eat alot of oatmeal for breakfast and wheaties and oatmeal squares, so i do try to stay away from kids favorite cereals. he get waffles with little syrup, and drink a lot of milk. i am going to write down what he eats for a few days and see how he does with more protein, but then today he ate hardly any dinner and just had goldfish when he got home from school around 3. (stays later at school on Mondays and Fridays) if things don't change i will think about the diabetes check. thank you again.

Featured Answers

I'm not gonna say much but that does seem excessive for a three year old... Some have suggested diabetes. Could be but I have heard of a disorder called prader willi that causes excessive hunger. I'm not suggesting that is what it could be but you might just read up on that.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried adding fiber powder to his foods. These help them feel full. Also, you are allowing this , so try 3 meals, 1-2 snacks and no more. It sounds like he controls you on this food issue. If he gets what he wants all the time where will he learn restraint later when necessary? Gradually limit portions and times to eat and interest him in other things . I am glad he likes fruit and veggies, but enough is enough!

May be off the track . . . but what else is he doing? Is he playing or just eating? Could he be bored and not know what else to do? I know that I eat when I'm bored even if I'm not really hungry. Does he have so many toys out that he's overwhelmed and not know what to play with -- so he asks for food?

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I agree with Ashley, that it is probably a good idea to give him a predictable schedule with meals and snacks.

I would also suggest that you do examine your diet. For example you do not say what kind of breakfast cereal he eats, but most cereals (ESPECIALLY those aimed at kids) are really not very filling - just empty calories. Have you ever tried to sustain through a morning on a bowl (or even two or three) of cheerios or rice crispies (and those are the better cereals). I have, and I am hungry by the time I get to work 30 minutes later. The same goes for most toaster waffles or pastries... I really wanted a good shortcut, but even though they may not be "junk", they are also not really satisfying foods.

That said, if you can, try to start the day of with whole grains (for example whole grain toast - they are more filling) and protein (eggs are great, or dairy like yogurt). Oatmeal is very filling too, healthy and cheap and easy to make in the microwave. Don't bother buying the "ready to eat" kind - just get old fashioned or quick cooking oats and add applesauce or other fruits, cinnamon and maybe some brown sugar to taste. For snack we often add cheese or lunch meat as a "side" to veggies or fruit.

Other than that, if he is active and of healthy weight, he might just need the energy. I don't know if he eats as much for his other meals, buy my 2.5 year old definitely is a breakfast person as well and then it gets less during the day. She is VERY busy though and really needs that energy in the morning.

Good luck.

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I would suggest that you mention this to your pedi, excessive hunger can be a symptom of many things. One mom mentioned Prader Wili, although that is a symptom, I doubt your son has that, Prader Willi syndrome is mostly found in mentally challenged children and adults.

Another thought, You mention a lot of high carb foods which do not sustain hunger for long, try giving your son more protein and fat in the morning. We hear alot about how bad fat is but we do need some fat in our diet. An egg or hardboiled egg with his waffle or something with peanut butter (without jelly) on it might help decrease his hunger throughout the day.

His irritability is most likely from the drop in blood sugar. Not because you are feeding him alot of sugary foods, but foods high in carbs break down into sugar and cause that drop which causes irritability.

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Excessive urination is another sign in diabetes. It is triggered by hypercalcemia. Cutting down on the milk and increasing magnesium is key.

You should have his blood sugar tolerance checked. Excessive hunger is a sign of diabetes. His appetitie seems excessive. The other clue is that he is grouchy when his blood sugar drops.

Magnesium can help prevent combat blood sugar issues, so i would get him on Mg daily- right away. Mg is extrememly safe, any extra will just leave the body.
Magnesium citrate is the most readily absorbed, but it can cause loose stool.(there is a product caled kid calm online, or go to your local health food store.) Magnesium oil (aka: magnesium Chloride) rubbed on skin is another way to get it -without causing the stool issues.

Beleive it or not many cases of diabetes can be totally turned around without medicine but with proper magnesium levels and watch intake of high fructose corn syrup- which is in everything.
Hi sugar/carbs, high milk and dairy intake, high vit D intake (from food or supplements) or high phosphorus from sodas causes MG deficiency.

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My three year old can eat like yours, and he's skinny as a rail! I have found that having mostly protien instead of all carbs at breakfast helps him fill up for longer. Lately his favorite breakfast is two eggs, scrambled with a half cup of frozen spinach, some diced ham and some grated cheddar. It's our version of green eggs and ham, and it keeps him going for a long time.

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How long has this been going on? Is it about time for a growth spurt? My daughter goes through this and then she will flip and she wont eat for a while.

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Is he like this all that time or just withing the past week or so?? If it's all the time, just about every day then you should take him to the DR and discuss this. That sound like a lot of food for a 3yr old to eat and could be a sign of diabetes, or could set him up for being over weight later down the road.

If this just started then it could be a growth spurt and shall pass just as fast as it started.

Good luck!
S.

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Its probably a growth spurt.
My Mom, says this is nothing... just wait until they are teenagers. She saw her younger brother eat just like that growing up.

My daughter, since last summer... has had a ginormous appetite... she literally is hungry every 2 hours or less. Hungry hungry. Not just a little hungry. Only recently, has this slowed down. But, for the past few months she literally and visibly grew about 6 inches. She grew before our eyes. But up until then, leading up to that, her appetite just grew exponentially. And the Doc said... she's probably growing. And wow, she sure did!

He probably also gets cranky if he does not eat because it affects his blood sugar levels. If depleted, a person gets mega irked/irritated/fussy/cranky. My daughter gets like that, and I get like that too sometimes.

all the best,
Susan

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not gonna say much but that does seem excessive for a three year old... Some have suggested diabetes. Could be but I have heard of a disorder called prader willi that causes excessive hunger. I'm not suggesting that is what it could be but you might just read up on that.

1 mom found this helpful

Foods high in fiber allow you to feel full longer. Also, get him distracted to non-eating activities. Go outside and play in the park, or work on a project together. Make sure that he is just not learning to eat out of boredom.

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Try adding more protein to his diet!! And then I would go see his ped.

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My toddler sons are the same. It is difficult, They will eat half a banana, not like a soft spot, throw it away and get another. We can go through 2 bunches in just a day, same with apples, bread, yogurt... pretty much anything! So, we definitely feel the economic crunch seeing our food get trashed and running out by the end of the week.

We have to lock our fridge and pantry otherwise it would be empty in a day.

When they beg for snacks, I find it is often out of boredom, so I try and redirect them with an activity, go to the park and go home.

Also, let him know his snack schedule, so he will know when the next one is coming. Have a predictable time frame, so he knows, after this specific cartoon and color time, will be snack time.

It takes a while, and is easier said then done, but it helps. Also, he could just be going through a growth spurt and his appetite may calm in a while.

Oh, just wait till he's a teenager, ha ha!!

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like he is eating healthy foods so I wouldn't worry too much about it. He is probably storing up for a big growth spurt, get ready! :)

One thing you might try is making sure he is getting a variety of foods. He may have a taste for somethng that isn't being filled and so he keeps eating, looking to satisfy it. Does he get lots of protein? Different colors of foods? Are there things he has never tried? That may be something to consider.

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I'd have him tested for diabetes. Does he also urinate a lot? Good luck... hope it isn't that... but if it is... it is best to get his insulin under control sooner rather than later.

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I have a child with type 1 diabetes, diagnosed about this age - it wouldn't hurt to have the blood glucose levels checked. It does not require a glucose tolerance test at this age as it can only be type 1 which cannot ever be reversed with diet/supplements of any kind. Dont give any supplements without consulting your doctor, please. If this has not been going on but a few days I say growth spurt but get him checked anyway because type 1 can go downhill fast if left untreated........will be thinking of you...hmmm another thing to consider is that most commercial cereal is very high is sugar content, so, three bowls combined with waffle/syrup could be a lot of sugar....the protein and fat suggested could be very helpful even with type 1 diabetes....

1 mom found this helpful

Wow... that's a lot of food for a 3 year old to be eating. He obviously hasn't developed any self control yet so that's where YOU come in. My 6 year old could probably knock back about 10 pancakes but I wouldn't let him eat that much. If he continues you could be dealing with obesity issues later. My advise is only healthy snacks and you've got to cut him off at some point. 3 bowls of cereal, a waffle and some of your breakfast? That's just ridiculous.

Be sure to talk to your Dr. first, but I would try sprinkling his food with Benefiber powder to help add bulk to make him feel fuller.

My only thought would be to add protein with each snack/meal. Walnuts on the cereal, cheese with the crackers, yogurt with the fruit, peanut butter with the crackers or even to dip in the carrots.

May be off the track . . . but what else is he doing? Is he playing or just eating? Could he be bored and not know what else to do? I know that I eat when I'm bored even if I'm not really hungry. Does he have so many toys out that he's overwhelmed and not know what to play with -- so he asks for food?

my three year old is similar, there was one breakfast recently he ate loads more than me or dad, AND was hungry again in two hours. they go through growth spurts. i noticed too that when my son learned what "hungry" meant (he had never been hungry in his life i think, so when he had his three year old checkup he didn't know the word - so we taught it to him...*sigh*...) now all of a sudden (since he learned it) he is ALWAYS saying, "mommy, i'm hungry, my tummy is growling, i need something to eat." ALWAYS. two minutes after dinner. so i have to keep him to his three meals/two snacks a day routine. but during those times, i do let him eat as much as he wants. just not constantly, all day. that way i feel he's getting "enough", but not just stuffing his face constantly. find a balance that works for you. teach him that "no" means "no". make sure, like someone said, he is good and active so that he's not just eating out of boredom. and that way he's also burning off all those calories. he'll be fine. my son is in the 97th percentile for weight - but also for height. so he's proportionate and his pediatrician is just fine with him the way he is. good luck with your eating machine! (also. one thing since my son is such a good eater, we try to introduce different things, and he always tries at least a bite. lucky us!)

more protien probably a growth spurt. do burritoes, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, bologna, frozen pizza, etc for more protien. and this is snack stuff not meals. eggs, peanut butter(sandwiches, celery w/peanutbutter, crackers etc) Keep up the fruit and vegtables. oatmeal instead of cereal maybe.sticks to the ribs. make homemade burritioes with rice potatoes beans and meat. burritoes with eggs potatoes and sausage for breakfast. and you can throw rice in also. some salsa. ham and mac and cheese for snacks. tuna patties. keep fried chicken made for snacks. deviled eggs, and make extra hamburger patties. tuna salad sandwiches. start using wheat bread instead of white. pork and beans with hot dogs would be a good snack. high protien.

buy sausage and egg anything buscuits or tortillas. make sure the pizzas have meat the more the better. bbq beef sandwiches. grill chicken for grilled chicken salads or sandwiches. lots of cheese on what would be suitable with cheese. do all of these along with a fruit and a vegtable. ex chicken nuggets,carrots, and a apple for just a snack. it shouldn't last long. good luck sounds like your going to have a big boy.

Hi C.,

How is your son's weight? Is this a new occurance? Like many readers said he could be going through a growth spurt. I would look at changing his breakfast because cereal is loaded with sugar. There is a hormone called Leptin that is responsible for satiety and it can get turned off because of outrageous consumption of sugar. This is probably not his problem, but there is a lot of hidden sugar in processed food that most of us are not aware of. I would try and change his breakfast to eggs, fruit and whole wheat toast. If he is still wanting more try distracting him with an activity and see if that works. It would also be a good idea to write down everything he eats for a few days so that you can talk to your pediatrition about this as well. How is his overall health? Does he get a lot of colds? Our gut is in charge of immune system and he may need some help in that area that could be fixed with nutritional supplements. I would love to discuss this with you in greater detail. If you would like to know more just email me.

M.

He may have healthy choices but it is excessive. Everything has to be in moderation and having 3 bowls of cereals is a lot of carbs not to mention sugar (especially if it is a the kid cereals) Even fruit eaten in excess can be bad for teeth.

Definitely give him more protein and fibre. Starting the day with protein gives you fuel for the rest of the day. Also check with his pediatrician - if he started this recently and is not gaining weight he could have worms!

Have you tried adding fiber powder to his foods. These help them feel full. Also, you are allowing this , so try 3 meals, 1-2 snacks and no more. It sounds like he controls you on this food issue. If he gets what he wants all the time where will he learn restraint later when necessary? Gradually limit portions and times to eat and interest him in other things . I am glad he likes fruit and veggies, but enough is enough!

That is really excessive eating for a 3 year old. My hubby is a large man and he couldn't eat 3 bowls of cereal, a waffle and some of mine? This is definately more than a "growth spurt" there is something underlying going on here. I would take the others suggestions and see his doctor soon.

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