Could You Please Tell Me What Your 4 Year Old (Or Around That Age) Child Eats?

Updated on November 18, 2011
A.S. asks from Lone Tree, IA
13 answers

On an average day, what does your 4 year old (or around that age) eat? My daughter says she is constantly hungry. So I'm thinking growth spurt. 20 minutes after she eats her lunch she will ask for a snack. I'm starting to think I am starving the poor thing so I'm wondering what/how much your kids eat. I don't want her to actually be hungry but I also don't want her to start snacking constantly. Thanks.

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So What Happened?

She eats breakfast which is usually cereal and juice or yogurt and fruit. Then she goes to preschool where she gets a snack which is usually unhealthy (I swear I am the only parent there who knows what carrots are....yesterday the snack was a chocolate bar and juice, the day before it was cupcakes). Then she comes home and has lunch which I try to incorporate grains, veggies and fruits and protein. She has either milk or water with lunch. She has an afternoon snack (trail mix, granola, cheese, fruit or veggies with PB) with water or milk depending on what she had for lunch. Then she has dinner which is whatever I make and is usually balanced. She has water the remainder of the day when she is thirsty. Sometimes candy or ice cream after a meal. I'm thinking of adding a small snack before bedtime because, again, she insists she is hungry...maybe a banana or a few crackers.

Her sister goes to the doctor today so maybe I will ask when I am there.

About the snacks at preschool: The snacks are parent provided. I different parent provides the snack each day. There are "nutritional" guidelines but they are simply that you have to include two food groups and the items have to be prepackaged, nothing homemade. A drink my also be provided. So, while I usually provide a fruit or veggie AND a little treat (last time it was grapes and sugar wafers) plus milk or juice, the other parents choose to bring candy, cupcakes, etc. Some parents bring crackers or cereal which I am fine with but, candy bars? Really?

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M.F.

answers from Phoenix on

Do you allow her to have seconds, thirds, etc. at meals and snacks? If she's asking for a snack right after she eats a meal, it could just be that she didn't get enough to feel full when she did eat. I would suggest serving small portions of everything at meals (protein, grain, fruit and veg) and letting her know she can have more of everything, if she wants, when she finishes that helping. I always allow my kids (my own and daycare) to have as much at mealtimes as they want, but they have to have more of everything in small portions and they have to finish everything or I save it for snacktime. If they finish their lunch at snack and want some additional snack, fine. This way they learn to eat until satisfied and control their own intake, while not feeling hungry all the time and actually eating less at snacktimes. Good luck!

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C.J.

answers from Dallas on

Hold on to your hats - this is what my son ate last SATURDAY only.
Biscuits & Bacaon
mini muffins
milk
goldfish
daddy's hamburgers w/ baked beans
water, water, water
Mac n cheese
some halloween candy (c'mon - it's the weekend!)
Granola
Yogurt
Cheese stick
Ribs
spinach salad (to by like popeye)
milk
yogurt
In that order - his 8 yo brother - had to pry hismouth open for bacon, burger and ribs ( the carnivore that he is).
My advice is to feed her nutritiously sound meals and snacks (not that I do all the tme - obviously) and not worry if she is snacking constantly as long as she is eating a well portioned meal too.
FYI - I know my kiddo is going to go into shock next year with only Bfast, Lunch ONE snack and dinner - lol!

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E.C.

answers from Boston on

This is what my 5yr old and the 1 and 2yr old that I watch have eaten so far today Breakfast was oatmeal, snack at 10am 1/2 an apple each and 2 graham crackers, and lunch they want ravioli and a veg and another snack, after nap they will have another snack around 330 usually goldfish and or yogurt, and then dinner. Sometimes the 2yr old will eat 2 bowls of cereal for breakfast

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K.F.

answers from Cleveland on

My son is 3 1/2 and he is a huge snacker. He tells me every day that he doesn't like lunch or dinner. So far today he had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and not long after an oatmeal bar, then applesauce and teddy grahams. I think that's a lot considering it's not even noon yet. He will probably give me a hard time about lunch and dinner, but still beg me for snacks! I can't really tell you about day to day because some days he will eat more than others but he's been very picky ever since he turned 3, so I never really know what I'm going to get with him!

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E.B.

answers from Beaumont on

Fiber and protein will keep her fuller longer. Cheese cubes, whole grain products, fruits, yogurt, milk. My kids also loved black bean and rice...now THAT will stick to their ribs! :)

My kids always had a morning and an afternoon snack and I think we started that around the age of 3 or 4.

It all sounds normal to me. Just make sure and stick with lots of protein and fiber during the main meal times!

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C.O.

answers from Minneapolis on

Breakfast - Small bowl of cereal (we got little bowls from IKEA and that's what we use), milk on the side (again IKEA cups). Or a small waffle/pancake with honey. Some kind of fruit.
lunch - 1/2 pb&j, fruit or veggie side and something else small. Or other meals that are equivalent to that portion. Whatever we're eating is what she eats.
dinner - whatever we eating. We had soup the other night and it was a small bowl (IKEA bowl), small breadstick & milk.

She eats whatever we eat and I portion out what I think she'll eat. If she really likes something she'll ask for more.

She gets an afternoon snack around 3pm. Crackers, yogurt, fruit or something healthy. She also gets a snack at night around 7pm. Same type of snack, although sometimes we eat a treat like ice cream.

Both my kids have the same schedule and my oldest is 7 and youngest is 4. Both kids usually have milk or water. Juice is a special treat. They also drink water whenever they are thirsty.

Can you talk to your preschool about them offering healthier snacks?

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S.Q.

answers from Bellingham on

My almost 4 year old is eating continually. Breakfast is a big bowl of wheat flakes and whole milk, yoghurt and a banana. Then he wants a snack on the way to school - usually half a sandwich. Then at daycare he has morning snack of fruit, cheese, crackers and water (btw, why on Earth are they serving chocolate bars and juice at your daycare??), then it's a full cooked lunch, then afternoon snack, usually more sandwiches and an oatmeal bar, then a snack when he gets home, fruit and/or yoghurt or fruit muffin, and then finally dinner. Sometimes he'll have an apple after dinner. He is never full!

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A.G.

answers from Houston on

My daughter is 3

For breakfast she had a baby tangerine and 2 raspberries with homemade french toast.

for a snack i will give her either applesauce greek yogurt or cashews (whatever she decides)

for lunch probably baked waffle fries, a halved avocado(her favorite) and baby carrots.

another snack will probably be a nutri grain bar, or peanut butter crackers

For dinner i will probably make pizza covered in vegetarian pepperoni with salad.

...........she will still tell me she is hungry.......all........day...............long

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L.O.

answers from Detroit on

Sometimes when kids say they are hungry they are bored.

Mine get breakfast.. waffle, pancake fruit juice...

Monring snack... they love fruit snacks

Lunch.. peanut butter sandwich, hot dog

dinner..balanced...

when they were younger they got afternoon snack adn bedtime snack.. but they havent been getting them lately.

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

My son had done this from time to time, I divert him with telling him lets go read books or play games. If in an hour he still says this then I tell him lets go get a glass of water for milk. Sounds like she might be bored.

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M.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

Breakfast is either sugarless cereals like oatmeal, or low sugar like Cheerios in whole milk. Small bowl, they have glass of milk and yogurt with them.

Lunch is what ever I make probably LARGE spoon of it or full 2 piece sandwich, if no sandwich then the meal comes with with wholegrain bread or crackers, sometimes crackers with sun butter. Fruit, and some kind of veggie like carrots, or peas... they also like the veggie medly's with a little butter melted on it.

Supper is always what we make for the whole family and we make her eat that because she usually doesnt want to eat but, she has to eat whats on her plate, its a med size portion of each thing and we try to adhere to each food group if we can. Husband is vegetarian so we eat very little meat. Lots of legumes.

She gets 2 snacks a day, usually one before lunch and one before dinner. They consists of Butterless Popcorn, or trail mix, nuts, fruits, low fat cheese. Sometimes candy if they have done something really good or special occasion. Not much though Snacks are about a cup what ever, and a glass of fresh squeezed juice or lemonade, or chocolate milk. My kids are average or slightly below average weight but very tall. They are very active and made to play outside and very active games for 50 to 60 minutes every day.

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A.S.

answers from Detroit on

BOTH of my kids go through times that they're CONSTANTLY eating. A month later, they're an inch or so taller. Then things slow down to a crawl and I have to fight to get them to eat anything and ramps back up a few weeks later and can't keep groceries in the house!

I have a 3yr old boy and 8yr old girl. My daughter is skinny as a bean pole and I can't figure out where all that food goes!!!

Example with my daughter [she's going through a ramp up right now]... Breakfast = Oatmeal [full adult portion] with a banana @ 7am. Snack @ school @ 9am = A granola bar and some type of cracker. Lunch @ 11:30a = Sandwich & some sort of fruit or cheese & a juice [she eats as slow as molasses would run in winter]. As soon as she gets to my mom's after school, she's "starving" and will usually eat a bowl of cereal or pretzels and PB and this is about 3pm. Then she'll have some other type of small snack around 4-5pm... Dinner @ 6pm and eats a full meal... Then a snack just before [email protected]____.com's only one day of several while going through a growth spurt with her. She's been like that right from day one.

My son... He's a day on, day off, day on, day off.... Right now @ 3. I'm waiting for the days that he starts having more regular [and drawn out] growth spurts.

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H.W.

answers from Portland on

My son is four and goes through spurts where he just seems to be vacuum cleaner, sucking up everything. What works for us when he's in one of these growth-spurt phases:

Breakfast: toast and cereal, sometimes an egg with that, or apple slices. (He eats earlier than I do, hence the sometimes on the egg) Rice milk or water with the meal, his choice.

Morning snack: at home, usually a mix of nuts, fruit, a couple crackers, sometimes a serving of cheese or yogurt with berries. Water or rice milk with the meal.

Lunch: A whole sandwich on whole grain bread, usually almond butter and jelly. A serving of cheese (string mozzarella or something I'm having), at least a quarter of a large apple or a banana, some celery or carrot sticks. NOTE: I leave his lunch plate 'intact', which means I put a plastic bag around it and pop it in the fridge. If it's not finished, that's what he snacks on.

Afternoon snack: more veggies, some fruit, some crackers or pretzels or whole grain toast. Sometimes I'll have some leftovers like soup or mac-n-cheese from the night before and he's welcome to have that.

Dinnertime: A protein (fish or tofu, usually, sometimes egg or beans), a starchier carb like gnocchi with olive oil and Parmesan (he could eat a truck of it) or pasta or brown rice, and a green vegetable. AFTER a plate of this, if he's still hungry, he can have seconds or some apple slices, which he will also eat all the time. If I don't have a starchier carb, I'll often offer him a piece of bread and butter to substitute.

We rarely do desserts, but when I do, I serve them right after lunchtime or snacktime as a surprise. This eliminates any "eat your dinner so you can have dessert" battles and helps him get that sugar out of his system before bedtime.

You might also look at the book "the zone" by Dr. Barry Sears. Check it out from your library or see his site online. Many of the 'favorable carbs' are deemed thus because they do tend to stay with you a little longer. For instance, steel-cut oats oatmeal will keep one full longer than plain ol' oatmeal or most cereals. My son LOVES when I make the oats with raisins and cinnamon: Joy of Cooking has a great recipe to try out for that.

I hope someone gives you some information that helps.

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