How Does It Look in Your House?

Updated on July 09, 2009
A.F. asks from Hurst, TX
21 answers

I feel like I don't even know the "normal" eating habits for 2 and 3 year olds...Please share anything and everything about your child's typical routine on a normal day.

How old is your child (boy or girl)?

How often do they you have them on any type of schedule (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, etc.?)

What do they eat and how much of it at one sitting?

Do you make them try one bite of everything, clear their plates, eat x amount of bites for a dessert...?

Do they get to refuse a meal...have to eat that meal for the next meal/snack...or just wait to get something different at the next meal?

I'm just looking for any kind of information you want to share:) I know this sounds weird, but I feel like so many of my IRL friends put on this front about how healthy their kids are and how much they eat, etc. etc. PLEASE be honest. No one can see your face if you care that much and are embarrassed about anything. If it makes you feel better, know that you are making another mom feel better about her picky children and their crazy eating schedule!!!!!!!!

Thanks, mamas!!!!!!!!!!!!

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answers from Dallas on

My kids are 20 months and 8. The little one is extremely picky and generally, her schedule runs like this:

9am-wake up-milk (about 10-14oz.) She likes to have two sippy cups in the morn.

10am-breakfast: toast, bananas (usually smashed and smeared on the wall), or raisins and some dry cereal (mostly thrown on the floor).

Lunch: (after morn. nap) 1pm: Grilled cheese, cheetos, string cheese, graham crackers, etc. Like I said, mostly smeared in the hair, on the face, on the floor.

3pm: snack. Gerber graduates fruit snacks with some juice and crackers.

6pm: dinner. Here comes the interesting part. I buy the gerber graduates meals that she either loves or hates depending on the day. Sometimes it's all over, and sometimes it all actually goes down the hatch.

Milk: 8pm-before bed which she usually holds in her mouth until she decides to spit it out on the floor/coffee table, and smear it around.

Good luck. I'm not having much. :)

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answers from Dallas on


My daughter is 2. I do have her on a schedule eating and sleeping. She thrives on that. But as for the act of eating, she eats what she wants and is done. I don't force her to eat. We went through a long few months of me freaking out over her not eating what I thought she should and her fighting with me about it. I finally just started providing the opportunity to eat and if she doesn't then I just let it go. Her weight went down when I was trying to force the issue. Once I gave in, she started eating better and her weight went up.

As for meal times, I do ask that she try one bite of new things. If she doesn't like it and she spits it out that is fine. At least she tried. If I forced her to eat it, she wouldn't even try.

I make sure there is at least one thing from each food group on her plate and that most things are finger friendly. She's trying to use utensils, but it's not really happening right now. She loves grilled hamburger patties, mini pepperonis, cheese sticks, sliced apples with the peal on, carrot chips, celery (because the Wonder Pets eat it), whole grain crackers and toast, cooked or UNcooked pasta shapes, french toast sticks, etc... Most mornings she doesn't want to eat breakfast, so I have started buying her Boost Essential protein shakes for kids = her "chocolate milk". She can drink this while she plays and that is right up her alley.

As for her schedule
7:30 AM breakfast = choc milk
10:00 AM offer snack = nuts, banana, apples, cheese stick, fruit rollups
12 PM lunch = pasta, pepperoni, meat, cheese, grilled cheese, apples, carrots
1:30 PM nap (2 - 2.5 hrs)
4:30 PM offer snack = same as above
6:30 PM dinner - try to give her what we are eating and things I know she will eat too
7:30 PM bath
8:30 PM brush teeth, read, bed

She does drink milk at all meals and has a sippy cup of half juice and half water with her most of the time. I don't agree with taking away her juice to make her eat more. My daughter does not like water in her sippy cup and I would prefer she stay hydrated. Too many people overeat because they are actually thirsty.

Well... that's my routine and my daughter and I are both much happier now. She is very healthy, tall and slender. Each kid is different... just relax and don't fall into the comparing yourself with others thing. You know what's best for your kids and your sanity. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Our daughter just turned 6. We've always had the rule that she doesn't get to eat more dessert than supper/lunch. If she serves herself, she has to eat everything. If someone else serves her (parents, grandparents, resturants, etc), we let her eat until she says she's full. If we don't feel like it enough, we say "6 more bites of chicken" or "3 bites of chicken, 3 of veggies". We've always equated her age with the number of bites she has to eat.

We always eat at the table and nobody leaves the table until eveyone has talked about their day. We started this at a young age and she knows she can't leave until we say it's OK. The only exception is when we have company who is not used to having kids around. Then we'll usually let her leave the table early.

At day care, she's used to a small morning snack, lunch and an afternoon snack. We usually eat dinner/supper around 6:30 or 7 -- depending on if I cook or not. We try to eat breakfast before we leave the house. During the school year, she ate at school if necessary.

We discovered that it doesn't really matter what we do, as long as we keep it consistant (sp??). We've always told her what is expected of her before we change the routine. We've done that since she was born and couldn't even understand, but it made me feel better to tell her what was going to happen. :)

Good Luck!! Don't give up. Remember it takes 21 days to form a habit.


answers from Dallas on

I do not believe in making a child eat. I think that will cause different problems. I do advocate telling them they must east something healthy before they can get certain other dessert. Do your best to provide healthy meals and snacks. If you can create a schedule.......Great! However if you eat when you are hungry, and do not eat when you are not hungry.......just seems to me you will have less of a problem of having a weight problem later. Make it about hunger......see what I mean? Many people have eating disorders for many reasons, but all in all it is usually about control. So I say avoid a battle of the wills.

Healthy eating.....3 meals per day. A healthy morning snack, and a healthy mid afternoon snack. Avoid after dinner eating. If you space the meals 4-6 hours a part with a snack in between then that is very healthy. Again, choose healthy foods. A perfect meal is 40-45% complex carbs, 25-30% protein and 25-30% healthy fats. No one expects you to be perfect.....but strive for something like this.

Bottom line, provide healthy food and hope they will eat it when they eat. Don't force food. Try to create the best schedule you can but don't beat yourself up when life happens.

That is my two cents! Best of Luck,



answers from Dallas on

my girls are 3 (picky eater), 16 months (will eat anything)
first thing in the morning they get milk with a little bit of chocolate syrup

8:30 ish breakfast - usually one of these options: 4 or 5 mini pancakes with syrup, small bowl of honey combs with a little milk or a banana.

if we are busy going and doing we don't eat again until lunch. if we are home we will have a 10:00 ish snack. usually raisins, fruit snacks or teddy grahams.

11:30 lunch
my 3 year old love salami sandwiches. usually east 3/4 of it. for lunch we eat one thing like a corn dog, some fish sticks, chicken nuggets, spaghetti o's, mac n cheese. then some fresh fruit if i have it or a can of mandarin oranges or fruit cocktail. ( i tend to look at fruit as the dessert).

after nap they get a snack (same as earlier)
juice through out the day

dinner 5 to 6.
i give them some of whatever i am making. i put everything on their plate but they don't have to eat any of it if they don't want to. I usually make at least one thing i know they will eat (usually texas toast). they do not get anymore food for the rest of the day. There are many days my 3 year old does not eat dinner. I always leave it out and if she is hungry later she can finish her dinner. (she has done that a few times but not very often). sometimes if i have dessert i do say they need to eat so many bits before they can have dessert. usually my 3 year old will do what it takes to get dessert but that is a recent thing. she used to just refuse to eat.
i am always amazed at what my 3 year old will survive off of. she does ask for a snack around 7 but i tell her she can finish her dinner and she can have water.

good luck with your boys.



answers from Dallas on

i let my picky one "graze" througout the day and never force her to eat but say eat 2 more bites before u can do this or that. my other girl tries most foods and eats when we eat but a small portion, not required to finish plate. don't feel bad abt it !



answers from Dallas on

My boys are 18 months and generally eat very well unless they are sick, teething or completely interested in something going on around them. They eat shortly after getting up with a cup of milk and usually have oatmeal with blueberries (frozen or fresh), yogurt/applesauce and fruit. Lunch is around 12:00-1:00 after their morning nap and for now is a ham and cheese wheat pita, crackers/veggies, string cheese, bagel and fruit with milk. Dinner is at 6:30 and is whatever we are having for dinner. Now I don't eat breakfast and never have and they do take bites of the salad I make for lunch and I try to have a small sandwich with them.

They should eat whatever you eat. No special meals. If you make special meals it will definitely cause issues in the future. If they don't want to they just need to wait until the next meal. My doctor encourages no snacks because it just creates bad eating habits. We still give snacks from time to time occasionally. It is hard to do, but I try as hard as I can not to worry when they don't eat. The amounts of food they eat varies. I just feed them until they show no interest. Sometime they eat a ton and sometimes very little.

We also only give them milk or water. We do not give them juices (just pure sugar and no nutritional value), high fructose corn syrup, MSG, fast food and much more. We want healthy kids that are not hopped up on sugar (and then the horrible sugar crash that follows).

You have your hands full! Meal must be busy at your house. I hope you get the advice you are looking for. Happy eating!



answers from Dallas on

i had a picky eater with my first one. i cured him of it starting about the age of 4. i mean he was so picky he required food to come from single serving containers, not big bottles, much like baby food. quite silly. he ate on his schedule not mine. then i decided that enough was enough. i took baby steps. put him on a normal schedule (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner). took away the single serving and worked him up till he is now eating most everything on the tables most nights. does he eat everything? no, but he knows that if he eats what i put on the table, then when given the choice he can eat what he wants.

my youngest is the opposite. he was eating table food without an issue before he turned a year old. he's rarely turned his nose up at food. he would eat continuously if you let him. so yes i have to watch his grazing habit. but other than that, he's a great eater. why? because i have never indulged a picky eating habit of his. i never started it, thus it never was there.

yes you can break the habit. for dinner, put 4 food items on the table: one likely will eat, one maybe will eat, one not even likely, and one wild card. you know your kid and what these foods are. tell them to choose any 3 for their plate and eat 3 bites, big bites, before they say they hate it. at first the kid will always choose the likely things and hate everything new. but then they catch on and you can stretch those 3 bites to 5 or 6. they may never tough tuna helper again, but for one meal you got him/her to eat 6 bites of tuna helper. count that as a victory and move on to something else.

it's been a long road, but now the worst picky habit my oldest son has is that he doesn't like any sauce at all. so i adjust my cooking some days, other days not at all and have the 3 bite rule. he deals with it fine. as my mom says, if they are hungry, they will eat. count me as a no nonsense mom that doesn't believe in indulging this habit. the result: 2 boys that will eat steak/potatoes/chicken/pork/whatever i put on the table.


answers from Dallas on

My youngest son just turned 2 in february. We do not give him chocolate, sugar anything or candy. And we never have.

I won't let him munch on potato chips or have soda.

I do this because me and his dad are both fluffy people. So my son has a predisposition to fluffiness...why tempt fate?

I offer bananas, yogurt or fresh or canned fruit (packed in fruit juice not syrup) for snack. We keep whole grain bread in the house for toast or sandwiches.

Everyone of our friends and family say that I have my son on a "special" diet...when in all fairness I'm just not wanting him to get a taste for the JUNK before he needs to.

Now we will give him an occassional hotdog...we have given him chocolate milk (not the store bought kind, we make it with Ovaltine) and we will give him a bite of ice cream or cake on special occassions...but it's not something we keep in the house all the time.

I figure that kids will introduce him to junk food soon enough...but for now...we'd rather let him have a healthier choice.

Oh...and my son isn't picky...and he sometimes chooses not to eat. And that's ok with us...we'll offer the same food or a healthy snack for later so he doesn't go to bed hungry.

i do not make him eat all the food on his plate and he NOW won't eat anything it's a hassle to get him to eat his vegetables...but we'll keep putting it on his plate anyway.

I do not have him and never have had him on a schedule. I will NEVER wake a baby up to make him eat. I have never made him eat everything on his plate or he can't get down (leads to over eating later if he thinks he has to finish everything...IMO).

We normally don't offer "dessert" at the end of a meal...if he wants to have something after he eats, then we will give it to him...but we don't use "dessert" as a mechanism to get him to eat more...

We eat when we get up...we eat again when it's lunch time...and then again when its dinner...around 8am, around noon and around 5 to 6 pm...

Hope that helps...and didn't offend too many people...

Smiles to you.



answers from Dallas on

I don't have a 3 year old yet, but here's what I can tell you. I have a 9, 7, and 16 month old. School is probably a better indicator of schedule, but basically we eat breakfast within 2 hours of waking up. During the school year I rotate breakfast so that I don't have to wait on them to tell me what they want, I found that works better and saves me time. Mon is cereal (kid type is fine), Tues is poptarts/bagel/toast/yogurt & fruit (whatever I have on hand), Wed is eggs, Thurs is oatmeal/cream of wheat/grits, Fri cereal. My 9 year old daughter usually drinks water while my son drinks chocolate milk. The baby eats whatever we are having, usually. Sometimes he just has dry cereal and a cup of milk, but I do try to get him to eat some oatmeal or fruit as well. On weekends we have pancakes or chocolate chip muffins (homemade from scratch-VERY EASY, let me know if you want recipies) or maybe bisquits. For lunch, during school, they can choose to buy 1 day per week and they usually pick Wed b/c it's pizza day. The other days my son usually eats a PB&J sandwich, goldfish, yogurt, granola bar and/or fruit. My daughter eats crackers, turkey, cheese cubes, carrots w/ranch dip (her choice). The baby is my picky one so far. He doesn't like a lot of meat and he doesn't seem to like sandwhiches, so I just keep trying. I sometimes toast bread and cut it up for him, he likes pasta pickups, cheese, crackers, and fruit - all fruit! So, he usually has crackers, cheese, grapes, and maybe a yogurt or applesauce. Finally, for dinner, I make various things. I DO NOT make anything special for them to eat and never have. They eat what I have to offer or don't eat, their choice, but my rule is to eat enough to keep you until your next meal. I usually allow yogurt, fruit, and granola bars for snacks if they ask, and I probably should give the baby a definate snack time, but I don't. They must try at least 1 bite of everything I cook, and when they were younger and picker, I tried to make sure I made at least 1 thing they liked so after they try everything, they can have more of whatever. For instance, my daughter went through a phase where she didn't really like spaghetti, so when I made it, I would put her just a little sauce (b/c that's the healthy part!) and after she ate that, she could have just plain noodles with butter and parmeasean cheese if she wanted more. I also use whole wheat bread & pasta. I try not to keep cookies, chips, etc. in the house, but we eat out plenty and they get dessert on Sunday's (hubby's idea - he got tired of hearing "did I eat enough for dessert", so he said we would only have dessert on Sunday's, seems to work for us!)

I feel like this is long, but I hope it helps you somewhat! As for serving size, I think the rule of thumb is their stomachs are the size of their fist, so I use a salad plate and put a small scoop of whatever on their plate. They can get more, but they do not have to clean their plates...oh, and we have water, lemonade or milk to drink, nothing else. They only get Capri Sun, etc. in their lunchboxes and I even hate that b/c of all the High fructose corn syrup.



answers from Dallas on

My boys are 5 and almost 2. They eat breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner and my oldest has a night time snack after my little one has gone to bed. I'm not strict on eating times because people aren't always hungry at the same time everyday, so I have a flexible schedule. My boys are very picky and I don't fight it because that is the way they are and I want meals to be a positive experience. I feed them the healthiest foods I can get them to eat and a treat here and there because everyone needs one sometimes. My kids meals are something like peanut butter on crackers and milk; Triscuits, apple chuncks or applesauce and milk; toast and milk. They don't eat a variety of foods nor do they eat a lot at one meal nor do they eat what my husband and I eat unless they happen to enjoy an item or 2 which is rare. I do fix them their own plate and since they eat such simple things it is no trouble and meal time is pleasant for everyone which is what we think is key. We do not make them eat every bite, but most of their meal in order to have dessert. My boys eat little fruits and veggies-apples/applesauce, orange juice and my oldest eats carrots, too. They eat only whole grain breads and the healthiest crackers I can find. They never eat fast food or even eat food at restaurants because they won't try the foods. I always pack them an individual serving of Pringles and a granola bar and a Dum dum sucker to give us time to finish our meal. They don't eat chips for meals at home, just a treat when we eat out about once a week. My friends think my children's eating habits are a little different, but we don't care because my kids are happy at meals and they are healthy children and have lots of energy, so we must be doing something right. I hope this helps!



answers from Dallas on

My almost 4 year old hardly eats anything. She wants to be fed (b/c of 1 year old brother). She has days where she eats my almost out of the house. Most of the time she barely eats anything. Our pediatrician says she will eat when she is hungry. We are not on a schedule and many times she eats taking a bite here and there. I don't make her eat anything she doesn't like although she does have to take at least one bite to try it. The only big thing is she isn't allowed to have dessert or junk until she has had some healthy food. Hope this helps!



answers from Dallas on

How old is your child (boy or girl)? girl - 2 1/2 and 1 year old

How often do they you have them on any type of schedule (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, etc.?) eat every 3-4 hours - breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner

What do they eat and how much of it at one sitting? breakfast - boiled egg or scrambled, cheerios or oatmeal, fruit; snack - fruit, cheese and crackers; lunch - peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cheese, carrot sticks or other veggie, fruit,etc; afternoon snack - fruit, cheese and crackers; dinner - meat, veggie, fruit. Milk with all meals.

Do you make them try one bite of everything, clear their plates, eat x amount of bites for a dessert...? No, I feel kids will eat until their tummies are full or when they are hungry; however, if she asks for bread or something other than what is on her plate, then I do make her eat what is in front of her before we move to something else. Usually, by the time she eats what is on her plate she is full.

Do they get to refuse a meal...have to eat that meal for the next meal/snack...or just wait to get something different at the next meal? If she refuses a meal, then I ask her if she is done? She will either say "yes" or "no". If she says, "yes" then I get her down. Now if it is breakfast or lunch, then if she gets hungry later I give her a snack of fruit. I don't care if she fills up on healthy stuff. She can have as much fruit as she wants! If she is not done, then she eventually gives in and eats what is in front of her. However, I never force her to eat. I just force her to eat what has been provided verses what she asks for - I mean she has pushed food away and asked for cookies before. She hasn't done that it a really long time; however, I just told that we are eating dinner. Then I told her if she is not hungry, then she may get down. I asked her if she was done and she said "no". She gave up and ate her dinner after she realized that I meant business.

Hopefully, this helps.



answers from Dallas on

Hi A.!

My kiddos are older now (10, 7, 7), but I will share with you what I did consistently with all 3 of them and tell you that they are all good eaters now. All in their own way...they don't eat every thing I serve and love it all, but they are good eaters.

By the time my kids were 2 they all had breakfast by 7:30, snack at 10 am, lunch at 12, nap from 1-3, snack at 3 and dinner 5:30, bed at 7:00 pm. They also drank from a regular sippies unless we were out and about.

I always used small plates for them with small portions. Picture their stomachs no bigger than their own fist. So it only took a tablespoon or two of each food item. Of course some things they loved and ate more of, but don't overwhelm them with a plate full of food. I made nutritious meals and snacks every day. Not necessarily fancy, but healthy and I put a little of everything I had made. They didn't HAVE to eat everything or take a bite of everything, but I did encourage a bite of everything. I didn't want dessert to be a big reward for eating so we only had dessert at lunch (I didn't think they needed a sugar rush before bed :) and they didn't have to eat all their lunch to get it (but they did have to eat some), but their dessert was also small. I did notice they ate veggies, meat, cheese, fruit most anything better if it was very bite size or cut cute. Petite baby carrots, cucumber strips, even pb&j cut into strips instead of just half a sandwich (or make a pb&j and then use a cookie cutter to make a cute shap). I like sauce, so I did provide dipping sauce for veggies if they wanted it. So, a typical plate at age 2 for lunch was about 5 grapes cut in half, 2 strips of cheese, a tablespoon of goldfish, and half a pb&j cut into 3 strips. I would also limit how much they could have. They weren't allowed to have an excessive amount of any one food. Just because they only liked the grapes didn't mean I would have them a cup of grapes. They might get 2 servings, but then they were done. This encouraged them to eat or at least try whatever else was on their plate because they weren't allowed to fill up on their "favorite" food. I also always (even now) make sure there is at least one thing on their plate they like so if that is all they eat, then at least they don't go away starving even if they aren't full. I don't argue with them ever. If they say I don't like that or whatever then I smile and say they can be excused whenever they want. Also, just one small glass of milk, then water.

Sample breakfast at that age: small portion of yogurt and a slice of wheat toast with apple butter and cut into strips and half a banana sliced up. Another good one is whole grain waffle toasted, cut in half then put peanut butter and banana on it like a sandwich and cut in half again with a small yougurt.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I kind of let my child direct what she eats and doesn't eat. It is working wll for me and her. My daughter is younger than your the two children you are talking about, but I thought that my philosiphy may be just as helpful as specifics. I think that it is our job as parents to help our children develop healthy eating habits. I put emphasis on them developing it. It is not something that a parent can force on a child. What I do is offer a wide variety of healthy foods. I offer a healthy meal, but something that is enjoyable. If there is a healthy meal available they will most likely take advantage of it. My daughter is not a real big eater. I know there are a lot of toddlers out there who can just eat and eat, but mine is not as hunger driven.

I do not really have set meal times. I just go by when I am hungry, when she is fussy and acting hungry, if it has been long enough since the last meal that I think she would be hungry, etc. If we are out and about a lot one day, she will eat more convenient foods than healthy foods, but it is still not junk.

For instance yesterday my daughter woke up, I gave her milk. She sipped her milk for the first 30 minutes she was awake. Then she acted hungry, so I put her in her highchair and gave her 7 raspberries, a handful of blueberries, approximately 10 grapes cut up and then 1/3 of a bannana. She ate 6 of the raspberries, all of the blueberries, 75% of the grapes and several bites of the bannana. Of course I didn't make her finish it, because she is too young to understand that she must finish it. After that, I put her on the floor, she played for 1 hour and then I gave her some milk and a few goldfish for a morning snack. I do not give her a lot of junk like gold fish and such, however, I choose to give her the enjoyable, less healthy foods only if she has eaten a well balanced meal before hand. If she had not eaten a good breakfast, I would have given her a healthier snack, like raisins. She did not seem hungry again until after her nap. She had more milk before her nap. After she woke up from her nap, she played until late in the after noon at which time I fed her pieces of grape tomatoes, which she seemed to enjoy and then I fed her a yogurt. I buy the Yoplait yogurt cups. I buy the regular ones for adults because I am convinced they are healthier and have less sugar, although I have not really read the labels for sugar content. I just know that the kids ones taste sweeter to me. I buy the thick and creamy ones, her favorite is strawberry. She ate the entire yogurt and then seemed pretty full. Not long after that, I gave her one Beech Nut bannana cookie and some juice.

Yesterday, she was a light eater. Some days she eats more. Usually she will eat meat atleast once a day. The day before, she ate the same fruit for breakfast, and then later in the day she ate some cooked broccolli, a piece of turkey lunchmeat, and two slices of American cheese. Various little snacks in between. The majority of the time I will just feed her whatever we are eating for dinner, unless for some reason it is something she can't have like it is spicy, easy to choke on or something that would be weird to her. If we are eating something she can't have, that is when I will pull out left overs from the night before or give her lunchmeat, cheese and a piece of bread (which I figure is like the equivalent of a sandwhich all separated). If you will make a habit of saving the leftovers from your meals, you can pull out leftovers that you know they will like when you are eating soemthing that they don't like. I do not have a problem with my child eating something different from the rest of the family, as long as what they are eating is healthy. For example, I have seen people make their kids soemthing like pizza rolls for dinner if they don't like what is served, I would never do anything like that because it is starting a bad habit. I would however fix them some green beans (leftover from a previous meal), chicken breast pieces leftover from a previous meal and some fresh fruit I had laying around. As long as they are eating something that is a healthy equivalent or sometiems even healthier than what you are eating that is fine. For example the other night my husband and I ate sloppy joes and onion rings, something toddlers can't really and shouldn't have, instead she ate healthier leftovers fromt he night before. Capitalize on leftovers when they don't liek the meal you make.

I have to say though that I would not really ever make my child finish a meal. It is my opionion that the concept of forcing children to eat their entire plate is what has caused the increase in obesity in our country. I think that in making our children eat everything on their plates, we are destroying their natural decision of being full and not finishing or eating even though they are not hungry. I will never tell my child they must clear their plate. A lot of people think it is wateful to not finish their entire meal, but to me it is more imoportant for my child to not over eat than to make them consume all of the plate. I think that children will naturally eat healthy I think the kids who don't have been trained not to by parents.

My 3 golden rules for mealtime at our house.
-Don't ever make them finish their plate
-Don't ever say eat this or you won't get anything (especially don't ever send them to bed hungry)
-Offer something that you know they will eat at every meal (find 5 healthy staple foods that are a guaranteed hit everytime you offer it and make sure that you offer on of them at every meal. For my daughter, those are cheese, almost any fruit, bread, pasta and chicken.

Sorry I went on for so long, this was probably more annoying than helpful.



answers from Dallas on

I have a almost 3 year old girl and an 8 1/2 year old boy.
For her she gets breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner (often with a bedtime snack). This is her schedule during the school year, and I try to keep it up during the summer, but with hectic schedules the snacks often get left out. But she lets me know if she's hungry and she eats. She is a pretty good eater, and eats most of what I feed her most of the time (she's the best eater at her pre-school and almost always finishes her meals). I feed her whatever the family is eating (sometimes super healthy, sometimes not~tonight is hot dog night, so not the most healthful thing, but I try to balance through out the week) and she sometime won't eat at all. I don't force the issue, as I learned with my son that they will eat when they are hungry enough. I also don't usually make either of them eat the previous meals food for the next meal, unless it has been a battle (this occurs with the 8.5 year old). My son eats breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. We are on him a little bit more to finish his food each time, as he's behing in his growth, but still very healthy overall. I try the if you don't eat dinner your not getting anything before bed thing, but don't really stick to it. If one of them tells me they're hungry before bed, I'll give them something to eat. Rest assured, that kids will eat when they're hungry and as long as they're healthy and growing, no worries.


answers from Dallas on

You may or may not be interested in my response because my daughter is now 14. I can say, she is a very health conscious, great eater from years ago.

When she was young, we fed her what we had at dinner. She loves all veggies, meats and seafood. I hate seafood but Hubby loves it so it cooked it for him and she loved it so I continue.

She will choose an apple or fruit over candy or junk anytime.

As for routine, my daughter has always been a "grazer". Like me, she'll have a few small meals a day. Sometimes I am shocked at how much she can eat!!! Especially, during school , there is not
much time to eat at school. When she gets home, she has a meal and she will eat again at dinnertime. I keep home made marinara sauce in the fridge and other things she loves such as salad. Her breakfast is always frosted mini wheats. She loves milk.

I will never forget a field trip from preschool and the topic of conversation, I was told was favorite foods. She said salmon, steak and artichokes when most other kids said pb&j, pizza.

She continues to be very health conscious. Of course..... There are a few times she craves ice cream or chocolate and that is on hand. Overall, she learned good habits from day 1 and it has
worked for us.

We have a regular family dinner time and that is about it as far as schedule. We feel that is very important. A lot of times she has friends here eating dinner with us. That is ok with me. One friend especially confided that dinner at our house was special to her. That's what it is all about...along with good food!!



answers from Dallas on

I have noticed that my 3 year old has had a funny little eating pattern over the last year or so. She won't eat much for two or three days ( I do offer lots of healthy choices these days she just don't eat them) then she'll have a day whear she eats bunches. When she goes on a growth spurt, she eats well every day. I do not make her clear her plate but she has to put a good effort into eating well to get any kind of sweet. I do not make her eat it at the next snack meal. I do give her coolaid but it is very watered down (she has a prob. with yeast infections and juice). No soda, only sprite once in a while. She does not get to choose her meals, she eats what I fixes or waits for the next meal. If its an eating day she has no prob. eating what is put in front of her.

I really kinda think the best way to influence a toddlers eating is to modle the behavior you want them to have. If you want them it eat it offer it to them and eat it infront of them. Just don't make it a big deal. If you make it a big deal then they tend to blow it up more.

I let my daughter help me prepare simple foods like sandwiches etc. and she usually will clear her plate when she "made it". Something else she likes to do is wash the veggies and help set the table. Take the opportunity when they are still young and want to help to teach them that being part of a family means everyone helps out, even the little ones.



answers from Dallas on

Crazy right now! With summer, we are on no schedule of any kind.... and it's making me crazy! During the school year I have a schedule that helps things go a little smoother! My boys are 5 and 8.5. Right now they are wanting to eat all the time all day long! And of course, all they want is Junk Junk Junk! I do have limits: 1 soda a day, 1 sweet/junk food a day (although this rule gets broken alot), limited TV time (I just ask them to turn it off for awhile if they've been watching too much - in the school year this limit is 2 hrs/day), they have chores like emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, picking up, cleaning up their play room, feeding the dog/guinea pigs, sweeping, dusting, set the table, clear the table... you get the idea - I have them do 2-3 chores each day and they earn their age in allowance weekly (deductions for not doing chores). As far as eating, sometimes they're starving and clear their plate, other times... not hardly 2 bites! I relate this to snacking too much all day! If it's something new, I make them try it and if they don't like it, they have to sit through dinner with us and THEN I'll fix them a P&J or something easy (I make my 8 yo make his own!). I have 3 nights that they can have "junk" dessert and 4 that they have to eat a "healthy" dessert (this is posted on the fridge and they picked the nights). NO dessert if they didn't eat dinner. Dinner time seems to always be a struggle, unless it's something they like... like spaghetti,chk nuggets, tacos, hamburgers, etc. But parents can't be expected to eat all that all the time! I just try to pick my battles! Take a deep breath and say "this too shall pass", that's my motto! You can only do your best... and your kids WILL be fine! Take care!



answers from Dallas on

I have a 2 1/2 year old son who eats on a regular schedule at daycare, but not so much at home. I'm a dietitian and I do my best to make sure my son eats a healthy diet and on a regular schedule, but I'm no food nazi about it either.

Ellyn Satter (author of "How to Get Your Kid to Eat...But Not Too Much") says there is a division of responsibilty in eating. Parents are responsible for what is presented to eat and the manner in which it is presented. Children are responsible for how much and even whether they eat. Kids eat when they are hungry and stop when they have had enough. No need to make them clean their plate. I've found that if I only put a tablespoon of each food on his plate, he is more likely to eat it. Too much food is overwhelming. Understand that "food jags" are normal, especially with this age group.

I do encourage my son to try everything he is served and always make sure there is something I know he'll eat and that is familiar to him at every meal (cheese is his current favorite) in case he doesn't like what is there. I will not make him a separate meal just because he won't eat what's on his plate. If he doesn't finish his meal, that's his choice, but he won't be getting a snack in an hour either. He may whine and ask for cookies later, but I'll offer fruit, milk or cheese. If he is truly hungry, that's what he'll eat. If he's not, he keeps whining and I just have to re-focus his attention on to something else, which usually works. I'll admit though, sometimes I do give in just because I need a few minutes and want to stop the whining. You pick your battles, right?

Satter also recommends including dessert with the meal instead of after it. I have done this many times. My son may eat dessert first, but he still eats other foods on his plate. Of course I would prefer it if he ate the healthier foods first, but this has worked well and cuts down on the tantrums.

So, serve your kids healthy foods in a pleasant atmosphere, without TV (music is good) and eat as a family at the table. Encourage them to try new and different foods. They can always spit it out if they don't like it. Keep serving those foods because one day they may like it. Don't be a short order cook. Don't force them to clean their plate. I've learned that if I focus on the company and conversation rather than whether my son eats, he is more likely to eat. If I say- eat this, eat that, or otherwise make a big deal about his meal/food, he seems to know it's a big deal too and will rebel. You know how toddlers and preschoolers are- little rebels!

Kiddos are responsible for how much and whether they even eat. Unless there is a medical concern, don't worry if your little one doesn't eat or eat much. They will make up for it at a later time. If you offer healthy foods, then their nutritional needs will be met too. As I said, they are much better at recognizing their hunger and fullness cues than we are as adults.

I know this was long, but I've learned to relax more about meal time when I adopted Satter's philosophy. Does it work every time? Not necessarily, but it works the majority of the time. I do recommend her book or anything she has written.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Hello A.

I have a boy-3 and girl-1

We have breakfast 8-9 (depending on when we get up)
small snack if they ask 1030 or so(usually banana,animal crackers, or pretzels)
Lunch 12
no pm snack (I used to but now that I stay home and have dinner earlier I dont want them to not be hungry)
5p Dinner
Sometimes a bedtime snack 8

I encourge my kids to make a "happy plate" but do not force them to clear it.
Alway have them take 2 bites of each thing. Even if they don't like it.
Ive noticed that some times kids just graze. And if my kids are hungry I feed them.
If the refuse dinner I do save their plate and make them eat it when they get hungry later that pm.
I do not buy all organic or anything but I dont give my kids candy...they get enough of that from other people. I do NOT think they should get it everyday.
I also only give milk, juice, or water. Sprite if we go out. Which is maybe 1 or 2 a month. I have broken one of my rules and started putting sugar free chocolate syrup in their milk. But I dont like white milk either. :)

Well theres a little insight our eating habits. hth K.

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