My Son Wont Eat While at Daycare

Updated on June 13, 2008
N.J. asks from Deltona, FL
6 answers

My son started at daycare in April. He is 2 1/2 years old. It has been two months and yet he still will not eat lunch at daycare. For lunch, the kids eat together in the cafeteria. However, my son will eat at snack time which is given to them in their own classrooms. My son is used to eating at home whenever he's hungry and usually grazes on food all day. I always assumed that this is a healthier way to eat. I don't know whether it is the food or the atmosphere that makes him refuse food. When I pick him up in the evening, he is STARVING and he devourers any snack that I give him and continues to eat all evening. My husband has gone to visit him during lunch time and he still will not eat and just gets upset when my husband leaves after lunch to go back to work. I get so upset knowing that my son is hungry all day. Has anyone else had this problem? What did you do? Any advice would be much appreciated.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I would ask him about it. "I see you didn't eat your lunch today... you weren't hungry?... (long pause..)" see what he says. Is the packaging difficult for him to open on his own? I would also suggest talking directly to his "teacher" out of his earshot. Is she aware of this? What have they tried? Do other kids do this? Does she notice anything different from snacktime to lunchtime? Does he seem sad then?

I don't know the answer, but I'd start asking questions... Maybe you could put sticky notes on the different portions in his lunch... draw smiley faces on each one, or hearts signifying "I love you" or something... Is the food stuff he likes? My 6 yr old daughter loves PB & J but refuses to eat them if the bread gets the least bit crusty on the outside... Is there some ritual you do at home that he is missing at the meal at daycare?
Maybe someone else has been through this and has suggestions. My daughter does this sort of thing sometimes, but she is much older and KNOWS what she is doing....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Ocala on

I really don't know how to solve the problem UNLESS the day care will allow you to pack him a lunch from home! IF they will then you & he can pick out the items to go into the lunch the night before and then in the morning while he is busy doing whatever you can put a little note (since he can't read yet maybe a heart or something similar to let him know you are thinking of him).

The problem with him coming home and eating all night is the weight thing, food doesn't digest properly after a certain time in the evening. People who eat until bedtime have more problems getting a restful sleep which children truly need as their little bodies are growing so quickly.

Good Luck!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Panama City on

Maybe he doesn't enjoy daycare and he is expressing his sad feelings about it. Some children at that age are just not ready to let go of Mommy yet. Sure, in time, he will get used to it, but right now, maybe he is simply sad and lonely.


answers from Tallahassee on

Seems he is having a hard time adjusting to all the changes at once. Plus he may not even like the things he is being offered. I do know that feeding him a lot of food later in the day is not healthy for him. He will not have the chance to use up those calories.

I can remember being in elementary school and hating having to eat school meals in the cafeteria. I was scared to death, I could not eat infront of people, I would have a panic attack. This went on until early teens. I never told my paarents because they would have told me not to be ridiculous. I out grew it eventually. Still to this day don't really know why I was that way.

Good luck, I wish I had a majic fix to offer but I don't.

M. F



answers from Gainesville on

Maybe since he is used to "grazing all day" at home, eating lunch on schedule is not his thing. I suggest maintaining the same schedule at home that he has at day care (on the weekends or any days he is not at day care.) Have a set "breakfast - snack - lunch - snack - dinner" schedule so he gets used to it and recognizes when it is time to eat. Have snacks and lunch at the same time they do it at his day care, and have brekafast and dinner at the same time every day (or as close to it as you can). Also, I would suggest keeping to the schedule and not allowing him extra snacks in the evening, even on days he does not eat lunch.



answers from Orlando on

Sounds like there is too much of a difference between what he is doing at daycare and at home and that is throwing him off track.
I would get him more on a schedule eating at home that is more like his day at daycare. Grazing is much different than 5 small meals a day: Breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner.

IF he doesn't eat a meal or snack that is fine, but he doesn't get a snack 30 minutes later after he refused to eat his sandwich for lunch. Having food available all the time is not necessarily a good thing and an actually lead to overeating.
Besides that, kids, especially toddlers thrive on consistency and routine--so by keeping to a similar eating schedule at home that he has at the daycare will make him actually feel more comfortable in both environments.
Finally, do you pack his lunch?--make sure you are packing some healthy choices you know he likes--even if it;s the same thing every day. My son gets PB&J, fruit, and some sort of snacky thing pretty much every day because that is what I know he'll eat!
Oh and if you get a chance, check out the book Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter.
My good friend who was a mother before me insisted that if I read anything I read that book. It's really really good and is why I think my kids eats well and healthy...

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