22 answers

The Fridge.. Free Access?

I'm curious how you handle the fridge in your home. My husband lets our 3 year old go to the fridge and get what she wants. I think she shouldn't be allowed. When she gets hungry she goes and grabs things which interfere with her schedule. For example, around dinner time she goes and grabs snacks and it's just hard for me to deal with that while I'm getting things ready. What do you think?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My daughter is 8 and still asks me if she can have snacks. I prefer it that way. At least she's not ruining her dinner. Try to get her in the routine of asking before helping herself. maybe try getting some really light healthy snacks she can opt for like veggies or fruit if she cannot wait for you to finish cooking.

There is a very simple solution-pre-bag carrot sticks, etc. grapes, things that will not ruin her dinner, but that are healthy, and put them in a brightly colored bin in the refrigerator, telling her that these are HER special snacks. We do that also in the pantry with non-refrigerated snacks.

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I have 2 girls, 2 & 5 that I have allowed access to the fridge from the time they were strong enough to open the door. They know what things they are allowed to have. We have lunchmeat like OM beef bologna, ham cheese slices. Also a regular supply of yogurt (vanilla is favorite). They also like to munch on carrot sticks & lettuce. If they want something they can't handle themselves, like juice, applesauce, or jelly for PB&J, they get out the "stuff" & put it on the counter, then come & get me for help. My wife & I keep limited junk food & snack items in the house, & they are kept out of reach of little hands. We have cookies, chips, lollypops that they must ask for. And we decide to give or not to give, & how much. They also snack on breakfast cereal. Most of the time, even given a choice, they will prefer the good stuff over the junk, making it easier to allow them free access.
As far as obesity fears, my 2 1/2yr old is about 30lbs & can still fit into some 18m size clothes. My 5 yr old is about 36-37lbs & still fits loosely into some 3t size & mostly 4t size clothes. They are both also very active. They could run all day if I let them.

Hi Ava, My name is N. and I can understand your frustration because my husband would undermine my good intentions as well, never on purpose of course, when our children were younger. I had to explain to him, sweetly, that although I support his efforts in being a good dad and really appreciate his willingness to distract our child and keep them occupied while I prepare our meals it is really not necessary for him to always let our child have what they want. I expressed to him the need for us to stand united in all areas of child training and that if we allow our child to see that one of us goes against the desire of the other it will become ingrained in the child and they will learn to go to one parent as opposed to the other to obtain whatever they want. It took some time but he understood and worked on ignoring the whims of the children ... sometimes by taking them outside when they felt "snacky" in between meals or reading a book or by just explaining that they must learn to be patient while mom cooks a good meal for them. Some of our children would assist in meal preparation which helped to make meal time fun and when they didnt feel like they would find other things to do until dinner was served. My husband was always around for dinner because that was our time to bond as a family so as our children aged they came to appreciate meal times and patiently waited for dinner to be served or delivered.

I always let my kids have free access, but they have to ask first to make sure what they are taking I did not need for something I was making, and to make sure it's not too close to a meal. Then I have made sure it's all healthy food they have access too...any unhealthy snacks are not in the fridge, they are out of reach in a cabinet for the occasions they can have some junk. None of my kids have weight problems. I also ensure they only have access to milk and water to drink, we have no soda and very little juice in our house.

I don't let my kids have access to the fridge. It's been a rule from day 1 and to be honest, they never really were fighting me on it. Every once in a while. My 5 year old rarely will open the refrigerator door and when he does I just ask him what he's looking for and then we deal with that issue. I liked that one idea the lady before me said that there are 2 snack times, the breakfast to lunch and lunch to dinner. I also read on the Supernanny website about having snack jars and every day the kids put the allotted snack food into the jars and they have a certain time they can eat it and when it's empty, that's it. that website sometimes has some cool things.

Anyway, hope this helped. good luck.
P.S...of course it helps when hubby is on the same page. :)

We also have a 3 year old (and a 3 week old!). We tell our daughter that if she's hungry, that's fine but you need to ask us first if you can have a snack before just going into the food pantry/fridge. Because if she pulls out something that's not snack worthy than she can't have it and we will find something else. That's how we handle it in our house and it seems to work pretty well!

There are several issues to address with this.
1) your 3 year old is at an age where she wants to be encouraged to do things on her own so it is great that she is capable of getting her own snack

2) your 3yo is not old enough to know what and when it is ok for her to get a snack or to understand what 5 minutes (or 20 minutes) of waiting for dinner means when she is hungry

and 3)she needs to have good manners and respect for your rules and to develop healthy eating habits (and your husband should respect this as well)

so, I would say, if she asks permission, she should be allowed to get a specific item out of the refrigerator (not stand there with the door open wasting electricity). She should not be able to have a snack if it will ruin her dinner (although, if you eat later than she can last, you may want to offer a snack an hour or so before dinner so that she can make it, or give her her dinner earlier than you and your husband eat). You need to discuss the reasons you don't want her running to the fridge any time she wants with your husband, and stand firm on this, you are in the right! You can always install a lock on the refrigerator door and lock them both out - of course, that leads to your waiting on them which is definitely NOT the goal ;)

I have 5 little boys and they always ask before they can have a snack...I also label everything(like their water bottles), they have a shelf in the fridge with yogurt and fruit and they have a basket in the pantry with their granola bars and other snacks...so when they do go for a snack I've already helped them with their choice and they just decide what they want. I agree that they need to make good choices so we help by providing good things to choose from and that it's okay for them to have this independance as long as they ask first. If your daughter is hungry before dinner a piece of cheese or a handful of nuts is a great option...they will hold her til dinner without ruining it and then you don't have a major meltdown...plus they are healthy, quick and mostly mess free :) You could also give her a regular time to snack(half of its allure is doing it by herself) tell her hey it's 3:30 come get a snack or wait til dinner...I am a big stickler on no kids in the kitchen while I cook...my 21month old sits or stands on the edge of the kitchen floor while I'm at it...of course for me it's crowd control...if I let in one then all 5 are underfoot and I'd never get anything done! Goodluck!

I would not allow her to grab snacks, and I would also have a talk with your husband about it. Maybe you can come to some compromise. My husband is the same way, he will let my son have snacks anytime, but mostly as a function of not thinking about it, and before you know it, he's filled up with pop tarts and potato chips. I'm the one that puts the kabash on that most of the time. After I start the lecture about how junk food is bad for you and you should not eat so much and I'm stopping him because I love him and want to grow up to be healthy and strong, my husband starts to chime in, because he does not want to be the irresponsible parent.

Maybe you can try involving you three year old with dinner somehow, so it distracts her. I used to let my son stand on a stool and play with a measuring cup and water in the sink at that age, or let him help with the salad, or let him stir things that were not hot, or hand me the spices (and let him play with the closed spice jars while he waited. He still loves to help at 5 and it's a positive way to try to address the issue of being bored and hungry while you are waiting for dinner to be cooked.

Or perhaps you can start dinner a little earlier, or feed her earlier if your husband is late and you have to eat later. We always had a sub on hand - like chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, frozen veggies can be cooked in small quantities in a coffee up in the microwaive. If we had to, we fed him dinner earlier so we could relax and have dinner when we were hungry. Often times, my son would eat again with us.

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