Eating Out with My 5 Year Old

Updated on February 25, 2012
A.S. asks from Dallas, TX
10 answers

My 5 year old daughter is big for her age; she's super tall and skinny. She is about 4'9" - I'm 5'1" so this is depressing for me :) A lot of people mistake her for a 2nd grader. Until now I have been ordering off the kids menu at restaurants and fast food because I thought it was more than enough food. She will eat everything and then complain that she is hungry. Most of the time at a sit down restaurant my younger daughter won't finish everything so she just eats off of her sister's plate. Thank God we only get fast food about once a month but she will not be satisfied. Most kids menus say "Under 12" but have you ever purchased an adult meal for a younger child. I have tried getting an adult meal and splitting between the two but it's not enough food for both of them. I would be worried she is eating too much but she is still slim and trim. She wears size 8 clothes because she's tall and I have to tighten the waists up on the pants because they fall. Anyone else in the same predicament?

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answers from Phoenix on

My daughter is almost 9. She is 5ft and 100 pounds. People think she is in the 6th or 7th grade. She has always been big. I had to stop ordering the kids meals due to her not getting enough food and being hungry. She wears a size 16 and sometimes I have to even go into the womens section for shirts. If she is able to eat an adult meal then let her.

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm going to assume you meant 49" not 4'9" (Which would be 57" and much taller than any 2nd grader) and say YES we're in a similar predicament. My son is also that tall and super skinny (42lbs), he just turned 6.

At home he frequently eats more than I do, but when we go out, I still order off of the kids menu for him. Mostly I do that because the kids menu usually has a bigger variety of foods in a single meal which I like for him.

Not sure it helps with your question, but I usually have him eat a little something before we go ANYWHERE including out to eat. He'll have a PB&J or a hotdog, or even just a bowl of cereal before we leave which 1) makes him much more patient about waiting for his meal, and 2) makes the meal enough for him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I have been taking my son to nice restaurants since he was born. We have virtually NEVER ordered off the children's menu. I do not eat chicken fingers and hot dogs, so why would I expect my son to?

When he was smaller (he is 6 now) we would generally feed him from our plates (asking for a separate plate for him). More recently we have been either ordering off the appetizer menu or requesting a half portion of something on the entree menu for him. I discovered restaurants will do this years ago when I was dieting. Most will do an appetizer size portion of their entrees since honestly, many restaurant meals are so super sized adults can't finish them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

There is no rule that says you have to order off the kid's menu. The adult menu usually has healthier selections aside from the fried and furious! As others mentioned here, I would just let her eat and keep it neutral. It's hard enough being a girl/woman these days and the eating/body image issues that can plague us.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My husband is 6'6" and 170#, he can sit and eat a 4,000 calorie meal and lose weight. Me? I can have steamed veggies and a lean piece of meat, no sauces and barely hold on to the scale without gaining more weight.

My oldest son is 9, almost 5 feet tall and 80 pounds....very athletic and skinny. He is constantly hungry. We serve him his first portion and then if he wants more, I tell him ok. I don't want food to be a control thing. He never eats more than what he needs. We HAVE to get him adult meals....well, not at fast food place, since we never do the soda, milk, etc and rarely ever fries...but at restaurants, he always orders off the adult menu.

In the past, if I think he's eaten enough, I will have him wait 20 minutes to allow his brain to catch up with the fact that there is food in his body and see if he is still hungry. He usually is, so I've stopped doing that...but I wanted him to be aware that it takes the brain and body a little bit to get everyone on the same page.

Last night we were in LA and stopped to get fast food at a local place with better ingredients than most; he ate a hot dog, fries and a 1/2 pound cheeseburger. He was satisfied, not stuffed.

Our kids only drink water - no soda, rarely ever any juice (like once every 1-2 months). We don't eat sugar. We eat food at home and he loved broccoli with Bragg's Amino Acid spray, rather than soy sauce. All in all, we eat really well, so they are getting nutritious food.

So, here are two things I will bring up:

1. You might want to get her a good multi, as many foods are not nutrient dense. Catalyn from Standard Process is a whole food supplement, as well as New Chapter's Prenatal. Not full of synthetic vitamins. If she's missing nutrients, she'll be looking everywhere to get them. Also, if she's grown that fast, I'd add a good calcium supplement that does NOT contain calcium carbonate or oyster shell.

2. I had parasites as a child. No MD could find them on blood tests. I was super skinny and was constantly hungry. My mom finally took me to a Naturopath who found I had parasites. He gave me some remedies and I was never that hungry again. Literally, I would cry because I was so hungry. I would tell my parents that I was starving and my dad would get so mad at me that I couldn't be starving because I had just eaten.

Good luck....but if she's thin and healthy, don't make food a power struggle. It will not turn out well in the end.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

She might just have a high metabolism and if she is still on the thin and lean side, I would not worry about her eating too much. If it's all healthy (for the most part - I would not sweat the occasional fast food meal), I would not worry about portions that much. If she is very active, that burns a lot of calories too. My daughter's gymnastics coach has 2 daughters of her own that are both very active in gymnastics and cheerleading and she says they are eating her out of house and home! They burn just so much energy on a daily basis that they are hungry and eating all the time!

Just try getting your daughter the adult meal and see how she does - if she doesn't finish it, save the rest for later at home. Keep in mind too that it takes about 20 minutes after eating for our brain to realize that our stomach is full, so sometimes if she has finished her meal and is still saying she is hungry, make her wait a while before offering more. She could also be going through a growth spurt right now and that always gives them a bigger appetite. Just because she's a kid doesn't mean she must eat off the kid's menu!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My youngest has always had a big appetite and a high metabolism, and she's not even tall, she's actually quite petite. But we stopped ordering from the kid's menus when she was about 6 or 7, much to my dismay (I wanted to keep getting those kiddie discounts!) because it just wasn't enough food for her. There's no real rule here, if your child is healthy and active and at a healthy weight let her order a larger meal. If she can't finish it all she can always bring it home in a doggy bag and finish it later :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think it is fine to let her order off the regular menu. Do whatever works for you and your family...there is no rule that says you 'HAVE' to order off the kids menu?!

~My middle child (boy, age 6) is a very good eater and I have to order breakfast (it's usually our main 'out to eat' meal) for him off the regular menu and then I give his lil' sister (age 4) a tiny bit from it...otherwise he doesn't get enough to eat!


answers from Chicago on

Feed her until she is full - take home the leftovers, end of story.


answers from Rochester on

Four foot nine? Are you sure you don't mean 49 inches? My 7 year old is 49 inches, and considered tall for her age. That's only 4 foot one. Four foot nine, really?!?! She's super tall if that's the case!!! I know 4th and 5th graders that aren't that tall. Okay, sorry, moving on. say size 8 clothes. My seven year old wears size eight clothes, and again, is 4 foot 1 inch, or 49 inches. Are you SURE you don't mean 49 inches? I can't imagine a size 8 would fit my daughter if she were eight inches taller than she is now.

I'd say order what she will eat...let her have a value meal, if she needs it. Most "kid's meals" don't have much food in them. KFC's get fit kid's meal has more food than most of the others.

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