How do i get my daughter to eat?

Ashley - posted on 11/21/2011 ( 36 moms have responded )

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My 4 year old daughter fights me with eating at almost every meal time, I try to play with it but it always ends up a fight. She will let it sit in her mouth for hours without swallowing. Then wakes up in the morning complaining that her stomach hurts. Sometimes she eats to make it feel better, but many times she does it over and over again. This is starting to make me concerned, her pediatrician says that shell eat when she's hungry, but this is happening way to often and I feel that it's affecting her growth, she has slowed down on growing, her hair has stopped growing as fast, same with her nails. What should I do?

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Dawn - posted on 11/23/2011

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Get her an immune booster. It helped my daughter a lot. She eats and sleeps much better then before.

Alane - posted on 11/23/2011

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Your doctor is right. She will likely eat when she is hungry. However, I had the same problem with my 4 year old daughter and opted to give her a liquid vitamin made for kids that contained a few herbs known to help with kids' appetite and hyperactivity. It worked beautifully with my daughter. It is called Oxykids Forte available at www.ardysshealthypeople.com. Talk to her doctor about it.

Kimberly - posted on 11/23/2011

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Gosh I love the ladies advice here!

When my 4 were small, we played games like monkey-see-monkey-do. If we were having vegetable soup I would get some in my spoon and tell them exactly what was on it, they would then match theirs with mine. Each would get their turn picking the next flavor combination. We would also play "mommy, how do you make mac'n'cheese?" The answer always contained a silly story that began with a long list of impossible ingredients (2 large rubber bands, a chicken, an 18 wheeler truck and the tooth fairy, etc) Food is, other than sustenance, a comforting, mental and physical joy. Good luck and keep chanting 'this too shall pass'. :)

Carol - posted on 11/23/2011

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Have you tried decorating the food? I know it sounds odd, but for instance French toast with cherry tomatoes for eyes, a little ketchup for a mouth, just as a brief example.

Angela - posted on 12/01/2011

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My 3 year old is going through the same thing and it makes my husband and I crazy. Especially since he is waking a couple of times a night. He doesn't want to eat but instead get up and play. He requests chocolate milk every day so we buy Carnation instant breakfast for "chocolate milk". I cut things up small so he can graze but most of the time doesn't eat. I also try to use the book Deceptively Delicious to make foods. I just keep trying until I find something he likes. He used to eat happy meals, but they really are not very healthy and he doesn't really care for them anymore. We know we shouldn't make an issue out of it, but it's so hard. He has a terrible problem with bowel movements because of the lack of food, but we just keep trying different things.

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My 5 year old refuses to eat most of the day so for breakfast I giver her a carnation breakfast drink (she will only take 1 bite of whatever I give her for breakfast). and for Dinner I make 1 thing I know she will eat whether it is mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, corn dog or whatever she chooses but I make at least 1 thing she hasn't eaten and make her take 1 little bite if she doesn't like it i let her spit it out. I know when she eats constantly for 2 days that she is about to go through a growth spurt. Also try pediasure I had to use that with my now 10 yr old she is on meds that affect her appetite it helps to make me feel better that she is getting something in her.

Anna - posted on 11/26/2011

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just make sure there are plenty of fruits and vegetables handy. And remember if she doesn't eat she doesn't get a treat. She may not be hungry then, she can eat her dinner later or chose between a fruit or a veggie.

Alexandra - posted on 11/26/2011

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i would keep snacks always available at the kitchen so that she can serve herself. Only things that she likes, but varied. I would also play with her, pretend play, and eat at the same time. For example: let's make a sandwich! And then we give the sandwich to the bear, "he takes a bite" and now mommy takes a bite and now the child takes a bite. After a few hours of this, she eats a lot. I hope this helps.

Tina-Maria - posted on 11/25/2011

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Perhaps she will, have u tried those drinks like up and go's, my daughter loves them or a protein drinks or frozen yogurts, perhaps ask her what she likes to eat or get her in the kitchen with a apron on a little hat and get her envolved in preparing food or cakes,she may see this as fun and it's a great way to educate on food and nutrition
You can only give it a go, good luck!!

Heidi - posted on 11/24/2011

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WHen my 3 older boys went through this phase I cooked a normal meal and if they didn't want it that was fine i would keep their plate and tell them when they got hungry then they would have to eat this. So if they said they wanted a snack or anything to eat ( not drink it was just water) they would get the food warmed up. With my first very strong willed son it took 24 hours. He did drink water during that time. With my second son it took 12 hours with my third much less. Giving them milk or juice just makes them feel full enough to ignore food and drink and juice is sweet. Who wouldn't want that. Or milk def. makes you feel full if you drink a cup of it. At least for awhile. THey have learned and even if it is a meal they don't really love they do eat or just go without now. With my first I did the whole nuggets,mac and cheese,frys etc diet. But when they began to refuse food because that is what they wanted I realized I had let something become a habit that I shouldn't and I needed to stop it as soon as possible!

Charmaine - posted on 11/23/2011

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I always remember when my 3 girls were that little, our family doctor would say, 'when the girls are hungry they will eat. Don't force them to eat.' Just keep some raw fruit and veges on hand. Some cut carrots, cucumber, red/yellow peppers, grapes, apricots etc (cut veges into sticks for your little daughter to easily hold.) Juice up some apples and carrots, this is yummy, she will just love it... excellent for her when she wakes up with 'stomach that hurts' good nutrient booster. Pack these vege sticks in 'her lunchbox' for when she needs it. It will be ok, you will see :)

Nondumiso - posted on 11/23/2011

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when my daughter was between 3 she hated everything that goes into her mouth, it got me so frustrated because she wouldn't eat anything in a day, i decided to get her vitamin suppliments just to ensure that her body gets the vitamins and all the nutrients it needs. the pharmacists advised me on Spirulina chewable tablets they are especially made for kids and they taste good, she believed they were sweet and would happily take 1 a day. Not only did it give her good nutrients but somehow it gave her her appetite back because a few days later she started eating 3 meals a day and snacks in between.

Fran - posted on 11/23/2011

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Don't push her. She will eat when she is hungry. My son is 4 and he can go for days with just eating Ritz Crackers, or toast. Try the Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink Mix. It's better than the Pediasure (sp). Like the other posts say, leave carrots, apples, graham crackers etc...out for her to pick on. Good luck and don't stress, they all go through this.

Sally - posted on 11/23/2011

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As the mother of 3 qne the grandmother of 5....Don't worry. THe Dr. is right....she'll eat when she's hungry. Have healthy food around...p.butter, fresh veggies, cheese. Don't allow her to get sweet/salty snacks but just good ones. Serve her the same food as everyone else in the family but less of it. If she eats fine, if not, that's fine too. You don't want to make it such an issue that she ends up with an eating-type complex/disorder. The presence of good food will eventually win out.

Sally - posted on 11/23/2011

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Leave her alone. Little kids are all about control. Eating and pottying are about the only things they actually can control. The more you push her the more she will rebel just because she can. Most kids will eat if they get hungry, but a strong willed child can make themselves very sick just to prove the point. It is really worth her having a tummy ache to get her to eat what you want when you want? Wouldn't it be healthier for her and easier for you to just put out a few healthy snacks and let her take care of it?

Alethea - posted on 11/23/2011

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Give her the dinner that you have made and sit her down to eat it ! Make sure she knows that there is no more food avalible til breakfast and leave her to it .... I had the same problem and never realised how little they need to survive ... My daughter is nearly four and eats a lot when she's hungry but I have learnt not to force it because she will fight me all the way xx good luck

Sharon - posted on 11/23/2011

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hi im having the same trouble with two of my daughters one of them is 6 and hates eating the other is nearly 10 she eats but makes herself sick saying that she is fat but she is not i had to take them to the doctors she has put both of them on iron my 1o year old doctor thinks she might be have bulima i hope not its a fight to get them to eat i no what you are going threw ,,,,,

[deleted account]

You have gotten lots of good suggestions. She needs you to be the one who sets the boundaries. What does your common sense tell you?

Kelina - posted on 11/23/2011

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http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-de... http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-de... http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-de... http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-de... these are some great ways to sneak veggies and stuff into foods she likes to eat. And then you do't have to worry about what she's eating. make it from scratch, use whole wheat noodles and stuff like that and keep healthy snacks on the table all day long, she'll eat when she's hungry. Also if she likes milk shakes and stuff like that see if you can find healthy recipies for those. My health center had one that was like a cup of orange juice a cup of milk and some fruit. And take a look at these, they're wonderful. http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipes.a... I'm planning to try the french toast sometime soon.

Susannah - posted on 11/23/2011

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She won't starve......give her lots of healthy options. Cheese on toast is good...high in fat. Don't fuss or make an issue of it. I know it seems tough but she'll be fine.

Christina - posted on 11/23/2011

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I'd try letting her help plan the menu for the week and let her help you cook. When my daughter helps make something she is much more excited about eating it, since now it 'tastes better'. :-)

Kimberly - posted on 11/23/2011

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Ashley, my 5 1/2 yr old son is the same...He'd live off of bread and Nutella, cheese pizza, mac n' cheese, apples, Cheerios cereal and yogurt.....Don't try giving him anything else...I suppose this diet could be worse...I also give him a multi-vitamin w/iron at least four times a week (I just can't remember every day)....He seems fine, the doctor isn't concerned and again, says he'll eat when he's hungry....So we are trying to ride out this phase hoping he learns to like more things...We do ask him to at least TRY other things but beyond that we're not forcing....I think this is pretty common with alot of kids his age...

Janel - posted on 11/23/2011

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Oh, and I heard once that apple juice particularly is an appetite suppressant (maybe i should try it...). So, switch out juice in between meals for water.

Janel - posted on 11/23/2011

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Good advice - have her sit with you eating whether she eats or not. Also, ask her what she wants. If she says nothing then you can say, well I want a PBJ and carrots. Then make that for lunch, have her sit with you. You have to stop showing her how much it bothers you. If eating = fighting, she's not going to eat.

Try to provide meals at the same time every day. A couple bites of various things.

You have to know she will NOT starve herself - it's not in the nature of any living thing.

You could take her to a nutritionist, to see if there's something out. Or a chiropractor... Both of these professionals helped me when I had a challenge with my sons.

A word to the wise - Don't talk about why you are taking her to these people or what bothers you in front of her. In front or ear shot of her - she's perfect.

Michelle - posted on 11/22/2011

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is there a special sauce she likes that is what we do for our daughter she loves zesty italian dressing so if we figure she won't eat dinner I just make sure I put the sauce on it and since we started doing this she is now eating better.

Jules - posted on 11/22/2011

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I totally agree with everyone, keep healthy snacks around in arms reach for her. I have 2 children of my own and my oldest was very hard with eating. But as you mentioned she likes mac & cheese, noodles & pizza give her what she likes eventually she will get tired of eating them & start new eating habits. Its a phase we as parent face unfortunately. Good Luck!

Kyleigh - posted on 11/22/2011

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can you ask her what she just feels like? i had to do that with my 5 yr old DD IT WORKED! i honestly didnt care if it was McDonalds happy meal..

Muganda - posted on 11/22/2011

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I have 4 kids- each one tried it plus the ones I watched- they have to try it- its in their gene's :) realy though- you should relax- you are the one that goes shopping- get healthy foods, ask her to help even if she doesnt want to eat it, but so she knows how to do it and has that choice. As far as other choices- golden rule in our house is that the more colored veggies you eat, the more "fun" foods like pasta or even desert you can have- but the veggies come first. Different fruits too. At times its the way they're cooked or cut up- let her try it and find out- my 6 year old is pretty particular about things, but is learning to cook from scratch and loves it- now he can make his food the way he likes it :) and yes- he is supervised :) but I am also learning with it. I shy away from too many carbs- in particular refined carbs like pasta's, pizza's- it gives a sugar high that I rather not have - but maybe with home made veggie sauce/ toppings? And if they cheat and only eat the crust, not the veggies, I wouldnt fall for that twice :) just set your rules and see how it goes :) in the end, they eat because they're- finaly- hungry :)

Ashley - posted on 11/22/2011

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I have her help get groceries, cook, prepare but still nothing. I've had her doing this since she was 2 1/2. She don't like smoothies or shakes I've tried. She only wants Mac and cheese, noodles, or cheese pizza. This is so frustrating

Anne - posted on 11/22/2011

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Does she like to drink. Maybe some protein shakes or juice. Let her help cook and prepare the food. Sometimes smelling it will affect the appetite.

Ashley - posted on 11/22/2011

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We have tried to give her pedisure but she fights to drink it, says it doesn't taste like normal chocolate milk or strawberry milk. She has been like this since she was about 1 1, she'll be 5 in march. She still has lots of energy and doesn't even like to drink water often. I have tried a luch box routine but she tries to let certain foods sit there for days and days.

Tamara - posted on 11/21/2011

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I have 4 kids ranging 7-17 and they all have gone through this (several times usually about once a year each so it will happen again in her life) where I thought they would starve to death, then they start to eat again and I thought they would eat the the whole fridge if they found a way lol, seriously its a phase don't worry to much about it. as suggested before just have some healthy snacks around for her to grab when is hungry, also something we did was give them a can of pedisure a day to make sure they did get the vitamins and what not they need.

Ashley - posted on 11/21/2011

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She eats very little like maybe 4-5 tbsp a day. I don't think it's very healthy.

Anna - posted on 11/21/2011

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I really wouldn't worry. If the paediatrician isn't concerned then you shouldn't be. You are getting anxious and it will not help the situation.
Give her access to healthy snacks and try putting smaller amounts on her plate. When she is done take the plate away and let her get down from the table, don't bribe her the promise of desert and don't start running a restaurant by offering her different choices.
She will be fine and will eat when she is hungry.

Tami - posted on 11/21/2011

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My grandaughter did this at that age too. I usually kept a bowl of grapes, crackers, and carrot sticks available for her to graze on when she was hungry. She also had to sit at the table when everyone else ate,even if she didn't. She usually just had something to drink but it kept her in the meal time cycle for when she did start eating. And she did start eating. Almost everything.
Give her some time and hopefully she'll come around.

Christy - posted on 11/21/2011

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Usually at the age of 4-5 yrs, kids slow down in growth and it will pick up again around 6 or 7. Don't fret. Let her graze if you can and don't force feed her. I am going through this with my 4 yr old son.

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