3 Year Old Always "Hugry"...

Updated on November 03, 2009
D.M. asks from Littleton, CO
10 answers

My daughter has started grazing constantly... seems to always be hungry or want a snack. She's always been a healthy size/weight - 50-60 weight and 100 height on the charts. She's not tiny, but not overweight. However, I do worry this constant snacking isn't hunger related, but becoming a habit. Any experience or suggestions with this behavior? thx

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answers from Grand Junction on

Hi Dena,
My 3 year old son seems like he always wants to snack. Often hunger and thirst can be confused so I always try to make sure the kids are drinking water (plain old fashioned water). Secondly snack-wise I try to keep apples, carrot sticks, pears, bananas as well as nuts on hand. Our kids love fruit so I try to take advantage of that when they do get a snack. If I were you to help her avoid setting a bad habit of constantly snacking I would set up snack times and stick to those times. My kids get snacks (if they ask) around 10-1030am and then again around 3-330p. If they don't ask I usually don't offer. But again, don't forget plenty of water. Blessings, L.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Give her healthy stuff to graze on & it's all good! She's doing what we're all supposed to do-several smaller meals throughout the day. Fruits, yogurt, proteins... How much water does she drink? Most people mistake hungry feelings for thirst. Get her to drink more & see if that doesn't help out some too... I will bribe my kids to drink water-a cup of Gatorade or juice after they drink a cup of water.



answers from Denver on

There are two approaches I have heard about this issue, and I think either one is great. First--schedule meals and snacks--breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and evening snack. If you do this, they are eating every 2-3 hours all day. Offer food at these times, and then have them wait for the next time if they chose no to eat. The second approach, is just to let them graze, but only allow healthy grazing--veggies with hummus or peanut butter to dip, deviled eggs, fruit, yogurt, etc.... Don't let them eat crackers all day or sweets. Personally, I think that as long as the food choices are healthy, it is no big deal to have them snacking.

One thing I do is make a sandwich, and cut it into shapes. When my DD is hungry, I pull out a piece of sandwich, and some carrot sticks or apple slices, and it is a quick and easy snack. If it is a meat and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread with sprouts, then I feel like that is a healthy choice, with lots of food groups involved.



answers from Denver on

Hi, I did (and do) smaller meals for kids, more like 5 small meals instead of 3 big ones. I let my daughter decorate a container and we keep healthy snack items in there that I know are healthy and filling, one for the pantry and one for the fridge.

Another big tip, that maybe someone else mentioned is to make sure she isn't becoming full just from drinking. Seems silly, but I realized my daughter never seemed hungry because she drank her milk or whatever first or most and felt full so she didn't eat much, but of course was hungry real soon. So I limit how much she can drink until AFTER she has eaten enough.

Good luck!



answers from Denver on

One of the things you want to look at is your eating habits. All three of my kids are grazers like your daughter and come to notice, I am too. I think it is just a style thing. If you look into it further, it is actually healthier for the human body to graze rather than eat huge meals. It gives your body a chance to process food and use it efficiently. Our entire family is very thin and VERY tall. I just make sure the grazing is not on junk food and always something healthy. Kids have a way of eating what they need (unless they are shoving junk food, then you do have a problem).

Good luck!



answers from Fort Collins on

Sounds like a growth spurt. My 2-1/2 year old is doing the same thing. I would disagree with limiting her. All it's going to do is make her whine and turn it into a power struggle. Just make sure that you provide her with *healthy* snacks, not processed, refined or sugar-laden foods. Avoid the typical snack foods, which are usually processed carbs - crackers, cereal, chips, etc. Offer fruits, veggies, cheese, whole wheat crackers or bread, peanut butter. If she's hungry, she'll eat them and they will nourish and strengthen her body.

Best of luck,
S. L



answers from Provo on

My 4 year old is always hungry too -- in spurts. To keep grazing from becoming a habit you need to set clear guidelines. We are just starting to do this at my house. Our guidelines are:
- set meal and snack times (well not set times, but set "meals" -- breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner)
- eat at the table
- no grazing between "meals"
- a cup where he can get a drink himself (water) for when he is thirsty

Hope this helps (it's working at my house).



answers from Denver on

Kids seem to go through all sorts of eating phases and one of them is wanting to graze all day long. I would just make sure her only options were fruits and veggies. If she is truly hungry, she will recognize that these are the only options outside of meal time.



answers from Norfolk on

I think that is pretty normal for the age. A big growth spurt is coming soon and so they do constantly eat. Just try to limit. Give her a few small meals during the day or nice healthy snacks. Try an eating schedule too. That seemed to help my son through this stage



answers from Salt Lake City on

It sounds like she's going through a growth spurt! How long has she been "constantly snacking" for? As long as they're healthy snacks and she's getting plenty of exercise, I say let her go for it!

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