My Son and Neice Are Both ALWAYS Begging for Food.

Updated on June 17, 2010
A.B. asks from Wentzville, MO
18 answers

My son and my neice are both 4 years old. Riley (my neice) is slender as can be. Nathan (my son) is on the chunky side a bit. It's not bad but he has a little meat on his bones.
My question is how to handle these two because my sister is stumped too.
They both are constantly hungry or asking or food and drink.
My son last week ate an egg sandwich with my husband for breakfast, I woke up when my husband left for work a half hour later and thought Nathan hadn't eaten because he was asking me for breakfast. I gave him a yogurt and a bowl of cereal. He ate that and then had a string cheese. He immediately came to me saying he was hungry can he have a sandwhich? He had eaten in the span of an hour: a bowl of cereal, a yogurt, an egg sandwhich and a string cheese and 2 cups of milk and was still telling me he was hungry!
They do this ALL THE TIME!
And when they aren't eating, they are obsessing about food. "When's dinner? What's for dinner? Is it dinner time yet?"
What do we do? I don't want Nathan to get heavier. My neice eats more than he does!

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answers from Killeen on

Maybe they are bored. My kids seems to eat a lot when we are home doing nothing. I just tell them "no" and distract them with an activity and they quickly forget that they are "hungry".

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I have three kids all my kids are good eater but my middle child usually ask for second or third helping practically every meal.( He is in afternoon kindergarten so we eat lunch together also)
This is how I handle this situation. Occasionally I let him have a second helping. Most days my kids are playing outside with the neighbor kids running around the neighborhood so I know he work it off.
However he is my slightly chunky child. Also when I put out snacks I put fresh fruit or veggies. If they filled up them it doesn't matter The might be bored, they might actually be having growing spirts. I would make the food unavailable to him when its not time to eat. Have them play outside..ride bikes.

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answers from Kansas City on

i don't think these children have worms, for goodness sake. does everything on here always have to have some "better take them to the dr!" cause? if a child has worms they aren't feeling good either. they are scratching at their bottom. there are other symptoms. (by all means google it if you're concerned). of COURSE it "could" be worms. forgetting where i put my glasses COULD be alzheimers. it just drives me crazy when people ask questions on here and immediately get all doom and gloom answers. 99% of the time- really- it's just behavioral. that goes for most of the questions on here.

my son is 3 1/2 and in the last six months or so has done the same thing. it's a new skill, they have figured out if they say they're hungry, they get a treat. yes, some of it is high metabolism but a lot of it, i really think, is just a control thing. i just had this talk with my husband the other day. children this age do need snacks yes. it should be breakfast, about 2 hours later, snack, about 2 hours after that, lunch, about 2 hours after that, another snack, then 2 hours after that, dinner, then that's it. this is when routines come in really handy. i'm not saying that we should starve them, but if preschoolers were allowed, they would either eat constantly, or some days (yes, it actually happened the other day!), not at all. my husband who stays at home with my son for the summer, was in such the habit of just giving him food (usually pretty healthy food i have to admit) whenever he asked for it, that one day i came home last week, and said, "what did you and daddy eat today?" and my husband realized that he hadn't really given him much at all, other than some yogurt and carrots. his excuse? "well he never came to me and said he was hungry!" grrr! that's why we are the parents and they are the child. if we don't keep them on a routine, at this age, there will be busy days where they are just having too much fun to eat. likewise, if we allow them to eat whenever they want, eventually their little metabolisms are going to slow down and they're not going to be burning it as fast, and yes, they will gain weight. putting them on a routine will take out the guesswork and you will know they are getting enough. you will just have to keep telling them "no" the hundreds of times they ask. they will start to ask less once they get used to the routine. good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My twin boys are like this. They are so skinny and all they do all day is say "i'm hungry. i'm thirsty." And we give them food all the time and they eat it all and still eat all three meals. They must just have a fast metabolism because they are still very scrawny! If your son is hungry and you are concerned about him putting on weight, see if you can give him some food with protein and fiber (peanut butter for instance) to fill him up a little bit more. The yogurt and egg sandwich sounds perfect. He may just be bored. Maybe if you re-direct his attention elsewhere, he won't think about food. Get him outside where he's not near the pantry and refrigerator. I am a boredom eater... always eat when I'm bored. When I'm busy, I don't eat until I'm starving!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Make sure what they eat is healthy, high fiber and low cal. Celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter. Carrot sticks, veggies, etc. Have a salad for lunch with maybe just a little ham cut into it. I can understand being a bit more hungry during a growth spurt, but begging for food all the time would have me worried. If you can set a snack time, then stick to it. Have them busy with activities in between eating times. Have them play in a sandbox outside. On warm days, have them run through a lawn sprinkler (a classic summertime fun activity), or toss water balloons outside to stay cool or have them kick a ball around the back yard. Find ways to keep them active and moving so they are too busy to think about food all the time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

Hi A.! We have been dealing with this with our daughter. She is 3, has type one diabetes and gets plenty of food with a good balance of proteins and carbs. The answer in our case is........boredom. As soon as we redirect she forgets about asking for food.

There is absolutely no medical reason for our daughter to be constantly asking for food, as per our endocrinologist. Keep directing them to play with different things and in different settings (going outside helps alot!).
Another thing I tried (but it became a pain for me) was setting a timer after breakfast to let them know when it was time for snack and then setting it again after lunch.

Good luck! I understand how exhausting it can be to be constantly asked for food. Hang in there!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Have these two preschoolers always been this way or is it something very recent? If it's very recent, it could be a medical issues as others suggested (a talk with the doctor is never a bad idea) or it could be a growth spurt. When my kids were young, there were times that I couldn't imagine where they were putting everything they ate - and my son was a skinny kid but at that age, he could (and sometimes would) ask for 2 or 3 things to eat after having breakfast. Now I have a teen and a middle schooler, and it's amazing what they can put away

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

As gross as it sounds, you can google how to check at night for worms yourself. I also had it as a child and was thin.

However, this sounds pretty normal at this age. I would just be careful to make sure that your bread is 7 or 12 grain bread and if they are used to white too bad. Make the switch. Make sure the cereal is low sugar and whole wheat or switch to hot oatmeal. The egg and yogurt sounds great. Feed them and keep them active. They are likely going through growth spurts. I have one 4 year old that isn't eating much of anything right now. But he does go through times of eating everything in sight. I have another 4 year old that doesn't have a large appetite, never has, but he forgets what he has ate and will always say he hasn't ate anything. When he does need food he'll ask. I've had some boys at this age that I couldn't keep full, would feed them all day long and then at the end of the day they tell their parents they never ate anything! Now that burns my butt.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My daughter's like this. We just finally started telling her that she can't eat more often than every 2 hours. So she should eat until she's full, because she can't come back and eat again in a little bit. Man, that child can pack it away at dinner! So at lunch I'll say to her "are you sure you're done, because you can't have a snack until 2.30..." That sometimes she'll eat another bite and sometimes she won't, but it's helpful for her to know when the next time is.

And we have the "when's it dinner" battle too. I answer that question 3 times per day, and then I ignore her.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

My daughter will be 4 in August and when she is growing she is eating and asking to eat ALL THE TIME... so my question is if all the time just seems to come up for a few weeks then "normal" to little eating for a few weeks then they seem hungry/eating all the time for a few weeks and so on OR are they truly every day of every month of every year eating/hungry/asking for food all the time?

If the hungry/eating comes and goes due to growth cycle they need filling foods and protein to help them grow. My daughter right now is in a growth spurt (has been for about a week now and if like the past will be for about a month), she is very slender & tall but most days eats more then I do when she is growing. So it very likely could be that they need all that food for growing, if there is not a huge weight issue and they seem otherwise healthy just try to have easy to get healthy snacks. I like to keep a few bowls or a muffin tin in the fridge with healthy snack options so my daughter can just go and eat when she is hungry (cheese, nuts, cut up fruit, goldfish crackers and so on) when the bowls/tray is completely empty I refill it.

Now if they are truly hungry ALL THE TIME and it has been like this for months or years then talk it over with the pediatricians. It could be blood sugar unbalance, pre-diabetic or other things... or just growth.

The kids could be trying to figure out the schedule so maybe print up or make a quick chart of when breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are and put it up where they can also see a clock. This way you can tell them to check the schedule and also a great way to help them start learning about telling time (if they already know how to tell time then this will be easy for them). Put the number time that you have the above meals, snacks and that way they know what is up. That has worked well for my daughter, but if she is in a growth spurt and truly hungry of course I am going to give her something to eat. Now if the pediatrician would mention that she is starting to get over weight then that is another issue and the food obsession is really an issue that needs to be address, but if they are healthy and happy know & eat health snack options as well as very active then there is no issue.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I go thru that in a sort of way, but my youngest is a grazer (spelling?) - she will not just sit down & eat - she has to get up, go to the bathroom, she gets lost on the way to or from - won't finish when we all do.

Plus my husband started a new job in March and gets home much, much earlier so we try to have an early dinner, but that doesn't work out well because she thinks it's lunch & is asking for dinner at bedtime. I have been trying to buy a lot of fruit to have to offer her. She has gone thru a major growth spurt this year - grew over 6 inches & has gained over 10 lbs. She is chunkier then she was, but she just keeps growing. My biggest problem is that she hasn't been on a normal sleep schedule for years - I have spoken w/our pediatrician about this & he has just told me that some children don't require a whole lot of sleep. So that makes thing tougher too, sometimes I just really wonder how my mom did it w/4 of us! Well, good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that they get a complete exam from their pediatrician. This could be a medical issue. My first thought was worms. Worms eat everything that the person/child puts into his body causing the person/child to be perpetually hungry. Eventually, the person/child will become thin. I had worms as a child. It's easily diagnosed with a stool sample.

There are other conditions both physical and emotional to cause one to be chronically hungry. A physical exam is a good place to start.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It's time to ask the pediatrician! I've heard some people are overweight because they don't ever feel full. They just keep eating because their body keeps telling them they are hungry. Their brain doesn't get the "I'm full, stop eating" signal. I think there's medication to help with this. I don't know - but I imagine only a doctor could tell you if this is normal or not.



answers from Dayton on

Count your blessings. I have a picky eater on my hands and though I never force her to eat, meal times can get very challenging sometimes.



answers from Wichita on


I haven't read all the other answers so I might just be repeating someone.

If possible, don't worry about how much your little guy is eating. As long as it is healthy food, and it sounds like it is, he will learn to eat what he needs. Where the problem lies with overweight kids -- in my opinion -- is inactivity. Make sure your little guy has lots to do to keep him busy. Playing, helping out in the yard, swimming, riding a bike, etc. will make him strong physically and mentally and burn up any extra calories.

God bless,



answers from St. Louis on

my vote is: boredom & a need for structured play & activities. In my daycare, I have an infant....& 3 toddlers. If I don't actively engage the older kids in something/anything when I do diapers/feedings/etc......then ALL I hear is "I need a drink"/ "I need to go potty"/ "I want that". It's a normal bid for attention & equal time.

I don't believe that you are over-reacting or watching them like a hawk. I think you're doing a good job as a Mom! Your example was A LOT of food! & you're right to be concerned. BUT, relax.....get those kids engaged & I think you'll all be happier! Good Luck......& Peace.....


answers from St. Louis on

What I find concerning is you track everything they eat. Why this is strange to me is kids tend not to eat unless they are hungry. They tend to be hungry when they are needing the nutrition in the food.

No two children are alike. If I ruled the world every child rearing book, every self help book would be banned. Don't listen to someone who writes this is what a child does and needs. They are not speaking of your child but some generic "child" that doesn't exist. Half of being a good parent is knowing when this is not my child and adapting.

I understand that this puts the decision and by proxy the responsibility for the decision on you but hey, we are their parents, shouldn't this be our responsibility?

You have got a lot of good advice on good nutrition here. Take that to heart, you can't go wrong eating well. When you ration and control food it becomes something they crave. Think about it, when you want something and for whatever reason can't have it, you think about it all the time. Food with kids in no different. What you need to be concerned with is the quality of the food and the activity level. If you have a couch potato then you have a problem.



answers from Kansas City on

I'm not sure exactly what is going on, but one thing I notice in your post is that he didn't eat any vegetables or fruit in this particular morning. Fresh produce helps you feel full, so if he were eating some at each meal, that might help. Also, what kind of cereal or bread is he eating? We eat a multi-grain bread from Costco that has 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein in each slice. My kids CAN'T eat a sandwich made with two slices! Make sure the cereal and bread are whole grain and he is getting lots of fiber because it makes you feel full, too. Kids also have really obvious growth spurts, so they will eat a lot for a week or so and then slack off a bit. Maybe he is just going through a growth spurt.

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