I can not get my 4yo. daughter to eat, we have tried everything we can think of but she is getting worse how can I make her eat?

Jennifer - posted on 06/08/2009 ( 18 moms have responded )

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My 4 yo. WONT eat dinner. We don't give her anything to eat after lunch time (midday) or anymore to drink for an hour before dinner, we eat between 5 and 6 pm ( bed time is 7.30pm) and she gets only half as much food on her plate as her younger brothers. She is not worried that the boys get jelly and icecream after they have eaten, she would rather go to bed than spend some one on one time with me if she eats her dinner. My husband and I have spent 4 hours with her on more than one occasion trying to get her to eat and she just wont eat. I have tried moving dinner time to lunch time with no success and I refuse to make her 2min noodles or cheese sandwiches for dinner every night. She is getting worse as she is getting older, thing that she use to eat now she wont and she will not even look at anything new. HELP, how do I make her eat?

18 Comments

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Jonelle - posted on 03/19/2012

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Stay calm, stay consistent.



Have you tried to get her in the kitchen? There is an adorable little character by the name of Vivi LeDish who's perfect for her age and might just inspire her to get interested in food. Girls LOVE her! You can read her the story about Vivi and then healthy, fun recipes designed for kids ages 3-8 (all of them are 5 ingredients or less!)



The website is www.ViviLeDish.com. Signing up for Fridays with Vivi might be just the thing to help turn the corner. There are also other great resources like free coloring pages, an interactive pantry that's age appropriate for little kids, and a lot of other fun stuff you can read about at: http://www.viviledish.com/company/ourmis...



Good luck! Stay calm, consistent!



It's worth a shot! GOOD LUCK!

[deleted account]

Mean mommy here, just like Vicki. All 4 of my kids have gone through the picky eating stage and I just calmly ignore them. I make healthy meals and I do try not to make things that I know someone HATES. I never make them eat anything, but I also NEVER make something totally different for anyone. With 4 children, that is not only silly but totally impractical. We do not have dessert on a regular basis but the rule is that if they do not eat a sufficient amount, then whatever snacks or sweets anyone else eats, they don't get any. I judge "a sufficient amount" based on how much they eat of a food that they like. Someone told me two EXCELLENT rules to live by when it comes to food: 1. They will not starve. When a child gets hungry they will eat. Offer healthy, varied foods and if they don't eat, don't sweat it. A child requires amazingly little food when they are not in a growth spurt. As long as they are not filling up on junk food, they will eat enough to sustain life. and 2. There are two battles that you CANNOT WIN with a child. Eating and potty training. Never enter a battle of wills on either of these fronts because the child will always win. In fact, they will refuse to do it just because you are trying to force them to. On both of those issues, you generally have better luck as soon as you GIVE UP. This advice has been a godsend to me! My kids are all past that pickiness and they eat foods that most parents are amazed to see them eating. It's because hubby and I eat healthy food- we model the behavior and because that is all that is available to them so they have learned to like it. Don't even offer my kids a twinkie or white bread. They think it's "gross".

[deleted account]

There are many reasons why kids won't eat.. They can be testing their independence, they may have teeth coming in, they may be constipated and feel too uncomfortable to eat. She may be getting more calories then you think.. Try and get a feel of the amount of calories she is getting in the day. If you find it on the low side speak with your doctor she may need some supplements while she is going thru this period.

Jen - posted on 06/08/2009

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Sometimes it is the attention of trying to get them to eat that is what is driving this behavior and "feeding" it so it keep growing and getting worse. My daughter did this for a long time and when I finally just decided that meal time is meal time and when I put a plate in front of her she could decide to eat or not to eat on her own. No snacks between meals without the eating some of the meal before. Just dont make an issue out of her not eating. Act like it is a non issue at meal time. When she gets hungry she will eat and she wont be picky about it either. Stop making a second meal to tempt her with goodies she likes. She is working you for the attention. Give her more fuss and attention at other times of the day an ABSOLUTELY no positive or negative related to food. You will ruin her game and she will lose interest in trying to manipulate the situation. Good luck.. it is hard to say no to snacks when you know they are hungry and it is hard to watch your child not eat. Remember, you dont live at a casino.. .there are no games here.

Zainab - posted on 06/08/2009

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i guess there are 2 ways one u either ignore her behavior dont pay attention to her eating &once she finishes whatever she has on her plate put her to bed right away (may be its her way of saying mum give me attention& the more u fuss &plead the more shes expecting)the second way is give her some othe perk instead of jelly &icecream u could get her a toy or maybe get her to do water painting &make everything very attractive &a little secretive &something her sbblings dont get a chance to do &only she does so that she feels special.may be another way could be making her 2 min noodles &cheese sandwich but giving it to her after she finishes her meals that is an incentive by itself & it may be better coz she ll eat the other things uve prepared as well.i hope it works.may be getting her to eat a lot of fruits instead of dinner once a whilethis way she wont be pressurized.!

[deleted account]

wow, i must be the mean mommy in the bunch...i don't give in to my kids, what i serve for dinner is what they get. i don't make it special for anyone.they don't like something on the plate? well that's fine, because there's other items on there that they do. they always try new things and don't leave the table untill they do. they have thier spurts of not being hungry, which is fine, but they always eat at least one bite of everything on thier plate--and wouldn't ya know, they're not as picky as they used to be. i'm the mommy, not them, they don't tell me what i'm making for dinner...

User - posted on 06/08/2009

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My son is 8 years old and i am still going through it. I just make sure that i have the food that he likes. If he wanted the same thing for dinner every night I would give it to him, then after a month he would get sick of it, and he would move on to something else. He is finally starting to eat a little better, but he is such a picky eater I'm just glad that he eats anything.

Siegrid - posted on 06/08/2009

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I have the same problem w/my 5 yr. old adoptive daughter. I served chicken sandwiches and friedc pototoes w/a side of grape tomatoes last nite, and she could not stop eating the tomatoes. She hardly touched her sandwich. Our doctor said to feed her what she will eat, and agrees w/the previous reply from Hannah that children will not starve themselves!

Sara - posted on 06/08/2009

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As much as i hate to say it ya might have to give in and if she wants cheese and sandwiches for a week then let her . My almost 4 year old is on a rice and ham slice kick last week was mac and cheese with hotdogs .

[deleted account]

simple. you can't. just wait it out and when she's hungry enough, she'll eat. i've gone through it with all 3 of my kids. now if it's been a few days, then yeah, something may need to be mentioned to the doc, but if not, i'd just leave it alone.

[deleted account]

My sister went through the same thing with her 3 year old! if she doesnt eat whats for breakfast, no morning snack. If she doesnt eat lunch, no afternoon snack. If she doesnt eat dinner, no dessert. My niece went a WEEK without eating. She did talk to the doc and he said "food deprivation is not in a childs vocabulary." I know it sounds mean, but it worked for her. The babysitter put oatmeal, a chocolate pediasure and scrambled eggs in a blender and Chloe ate it right up. She knows that if she doesnt eat her meals, she gets nothing inbetween.

[deleted account]

My 4 year old son went through that too. Our battle ended in throw-up also! My mom told me that in children it is the calories they eat over the week not the day. The more you try to control the more she'll push back. Really, the worst that can happen is that she misses meals and gets hungry enough to eat. You can go up to 30 day without food. I just made meals as usual and if he ate, he ate if not no biggy and with in a month the issue was over. Good luck, I sympathize with your situation, it is hard.

User - posted on 06/08/2009

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My son is 13 but when he was 4 he didn't like to eat either. The dr. always told me( and we seen him alot bc he was a preemie) Not to worry about let him eat what he wants and when he wants, bc she will eat when she is hungry. If she has a favorite food give it to her everyday if she wants..it will be ok and trust me one of these days you will be thinking she eats all the time..and never gains weight thats were we are know

Christin - posted on 06/08/2009

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you need to not take away one on one time with her based on her eating or not eating, every child needs one on one time with their parents (both parents) taking away a reward like dessert is fine, but taking away your affection (your time) is a huge NO NO! the kids need this time at this age to feel loved and cared about, it may seem weird to you, but that is the way small children operate. they need your affection to feel safe and secure in their surroundings and make sure to treat all children equally when it comes to this since not doing so can cause a rebellion like this too (it is just her way of controlling you, something she has control over)

Samantha - posted on 06/08/2009

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My 2 yr old went through this. Even if I withheld snacks and things in between lunch and supper. Personally, I don't know how she DIDN'T lose weight. But I didn't make a big deal about her not eating either. If she didn't want to eat, then she didn't have to. She's just now started coming around on her own. She's still pretty picky and won't eat a lot of things, but at least she'll try them now. Like the one Mom said, as long as she's not losing weight, I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's probably just a phase.

[deleted account]

Every kid goes through this at some point. When they get hungry, instinct and survival mode will kick in and they will eat. Though, sometimes it helps to make the food attractive. Decorate it. Make it in shapes. Add some color. Sometimes having the kids help you make the food will encourage them because they want to take part in eating what they made. Lots of parenting magazines and websites have recipes and ideas for making food fun for kids. Take a browse at some. As long as she is remaining active and healthy, she is fine and will hopefully come around sooner than later.

Terreque - posted on 06/08/2009

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Sometime children go through this stage.... Mention it to your doctor and as long as she is not losing any weight she'll eat when she gets ready

Hannah - posted on 06/08/2009

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I went through this with my now 6 year old, the battle ended (age 4) when she threw up at the table over mashed potato. She has probably found a way to get you going and is using it as a control. We decided right there and then to back off completely. I give my daughter a selection of things she likes and something new on her plate. She only has to eat one bite of the new but everything else. I know your frustration and lack of time to make different things, i vary what we have into something for her, eg. stir fry for us becomes plain meat but removed before flavouring is added and raw veggies. I don't think there is a quick fix but slowly and surely she is eating more variety. Hang in there, children don't starve themselves.

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