Eating debate?

Corinne - posted on 10/13/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )




My (almost) 3 y/o is going into the stage of not wanting to eat what we make for her! She demands things like grapes and applesauce and wont touch anything else really. My hubby and I have been sticking firm to the "eat it or get nothing" punishment bc weve caved one to many times in the past and we know weve screwed up giving her what she wants to eat but at the same time, she was still eating most of what we gave her originally.

My question is.. is this the right way to go about it? We will ask if shes hungry and she will tell us "yes" and then wont eat so weve been sending her to bed hungry bc after she refuses her food, we clean her up and she starts telling us shes hungry right before bed time. I hateeeee sending her to bed hungry but I dont know what else to do!? I always ask her to at least take one or two bites of something and once in a while, I will give her an option like "you dont want ____? Ill let you have carrots instead!?" or something along that line.

I grew up with divorced parents and both households were completely diff. One did the "dont eat, then starve" and the others went the "dont get up until its gone" route. Obviously both have their positive and negatives sides. Im a very picky eater so I understand her side of not wanting something and also the frustration of having a kid that wont eat a lot...Im very torn! :(


Janessa - posted on 10/14/2011




I've done that with all of my kids, and they are living to tell the tale. : ) I've done it from the beginning though, so that might make a difference. My almost 4 year old, and my 5 1/2 year old are good little eaters, and my 2 year old is catching on. Alot of the time because breakfast and lunch is so easy I let them pick what they want to eat, so they at least get those 2 meals, but for dinner what I make is what they get. They aren't starving, and don't even fight it, not even my 2 year old does too much now that he is catching on. My older 2 will almost always eat their full dinner now, and the 2 year old "tries" it. You're doing a great job for her, you are her mother and you know what is best for her, what I say or anyone else says just take with a grain of salt, use it if it works, don't if it doesn't.

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Corinne - posted on 09/24/2012




Ive been doing this "you dont have to eat it but you wont get anything else" rule for some time now and shes still fighting it. She does eat breakfast and lunch 98% of the time. I know shes not starving and she presents all the same signs that I used to as a kid, so I know that fighting her to eat wont work. Yesterdays lunch consisted of bribing her to at least try one bite of some things bc her "menu" is very limited. It makes it difficult to shop for and shes starting to show signs of being bored with certain things too.

I know itll be a long struggle (me being almost 30, and still struggling, I know the headache!) I just wished for more for my kids. *le sigh*

Janessa - posted on 09/21/2012




My kids know if they don't eat what I make for them, they don't eat. I've done it from the beginning, so they don't even fight it. In fact it was kind of funny my older kids and my 3 yr old got up and started playing around so my husband took their food, my older kids cried and came back to the table, and eventually we gave it back to them, but my 3 yr old was like cool I don't have to eat and kept playing. He doesn't even care if he goes to bed without dinner. He's growing just fine. He usually does eat breakfast and lunch though for sure, so he doesn't starve, and he'll eat some dinner, all my kids did that at first, then they learned. : )

Jonelle - posted on 03/19/2012




This is totally normal for her age. This is the time to set the tone so make it positive. Relax. Stay firm, stay calm. And above all else, be consistent!

There are two great resources for you PERFECT for your age:

First is Its a ridiculously simple approach for creating a positive tone for food to avoid struggles later. In just a few minutes a day you can set the tone to avoid struggles with food. You won't believe how much you can do if you just spend one or two minutes a day with your child on this site. ITS GENIUS SIMPLE! Key features of the site can be found at (remember-the whole site takes just minutes to get through even though it seems like a lot!):

More great tips on the Mama LeDish companion blog:

Be consistent and stay calm!

Wendy - posted on 10/25/2011




Just about every mom I know goes through this with their child from ages 2-4yrs. My daughter didnt want to eat anything besides cheerios or applesauce. I constantly worried that she wasn't getting the vitamins and nutrients she needed and was afraid she would become underweight or not grow properly etc. I worried a lot. I tried every approach to get her to eat, making her sit there until she ate(didnt work) and sending her to bed without dinner(which just made me worry more)Then around the time she turned 5 most of the picky finickiness went away and she started growing like a weed and is constantly hungry.
I think your daughter will mostly likely grow out of this picky phase too. When she was hungry I fed her even if it wasnt snack/meal time. I also gave her vitamins and Pediasure or Carnation breakfast drinks to make up for what she was lacking in her diet. Now that she has grown out of the picky eater phase she sits at the table and eats what I cook(as long as there aren't onions or tomatoes) and she eats all her veggies and actually likes them, so don't let yourself worry too much, just feed her when shes hungry and if you feel what she eats isnt enough try the pediasure etc. Now I have a 3yr. old son and he is just as picky, when we sit down to eat I give him what the rest of us are having but also put something I know he will eat. I give him vitamins and pediasure, and if he comes to me hungry I feed him no matter what because I just feel grateful he actually wants to eat. I don't worry myself over it like I did with my 1st born because as he gets older he is slowly becoming open to a wider variety of foods.

Kathleen - posted on 10/24/2011




My son tried that...I told him I wasn't making special meals. If he is hungry he can have what is for dinner. He'll give me a face and go OHHH and pout but he'll eat it. If he didin't want to eat it, i usually took his plate when we were all done, and just put it on the counter. If he said he was hungry later which was usually the case than I heated it up and set it back in front of him. It only took a few nights to realized mommy wasn't giving in. What I made for dinner was dinner....

Karenda - posted on 10/24/2011




Try to keep the eating battles low key - if there is more stress they more the kid will resist. Breakfast and lunch in our house are mainly items the kids eat easily. Dinner we make what the adults like including at least 1 item the kids will eat. The rule in our house is 1 bite of each item on their plate - if they do that they may be excused and later if they are hungry can eat as much fruit and vegetables as they want.

Anmarie - posted on 10/21/2011




breakfast and lunch is easy in my house but dinner is different! every single night i battle with my son (3) to eat any dinner! my daughter (5) went through the same thing for over 12mths but lucky enough she has come out the other side and eats all her dinner every night! just dish up whats for dinner and if they don't want it they must not be hungry. I made fruit ice-blocks so if they eat their dinner they can have one! But my son still eats like a sparrow, he gets like 1 t-spoon of potato, 3 slices of carrots, 1/4 of a corn cob (not all in 1 meal) and some meat. I'm lucky if he eats 2 veg a night and some of his meat. He is SLOWLY clicking onto the ice-block thing and will refuse to eat until he sees his sister eating her ice-block then he will eat his dinner. If he doesn't eat it he doesn't get a ice-block and I don't give in! just preserver!

Sharon - posted on 10/17/2011




My little girl is two and a half and also going trough the stage of not eating... even when it is her favourite foods..I took her to the doctor and he said that all kids go through that stage. Fortunately I sell Herbalife products and one of the items is a fully nutritional shake. So when Storm-Violet throws a tantrum and refuses to eat I just give her a shake, which she actually drinks and that way at least i know she get har daily dose of nutrients. I tried the "finish your food or else" approach, but she is stubborn and will just throw the food in the bin or toilet. so my suggestion is try something different at least till the faze passes. good luck!

Jo-Ellen - posted on 10/16/2011




I have some picky eaters. I totally understand the frustration when they say they want something and then they don't eat it. Drives me crazy. As for dinner, it has taken 8 years of battle with my now 10 year old to realize that all I can do is lead them to the trough, you can't make them eat. If they aren't willing to eat what I have made they are free to have leftovers from the fridge. When neither of those are chosen then they choose to go hungry. as long as there are healthy options in the fridge you need to let them have control. That is much harder to say BTW, as I still haven't mastered it.

Jennifer - posted on 10/15/2011




We don't fight over food. Mine likes to graze for the most part and when she tells me she's hungry I let her have a little of what she asks for so long as it doesn't require me to make a whole other meal. It's just not a fight that is worth it to me.

Also I have issues recognizing my body's satiety cues and it has made my weight a problem my whole life. I don't want to pass that along by making her clean her plate all the time or not letting her eat when she tells me she's hungry. Poor thing is already going to be nailed with lousy weight genetics from both sides of my family so I don't want to do anything that might "train" further problems into her.

Just what works for us and why. YMMV and you have to do what works best for your own family.

Kelina - posted on 10/14/2011




when you ask he what she wants for dinner ave you tried having her help you make it? it might get her to eat if she's proud of what she's made! Other than that, you could also try when she's telling you she's hungry before bed time have her eat what she didn't eat for dinner just to see if she'll eat it. If she will, then after a few times of that, she'll figure out she can stay up late so you'll have to revert to the eat it when we're eating or not at all stage. good luck!

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I don't fight over food. As long as it's healthy and I'm not out any extra work... they can eat pretty much whatever they want.

The only exception is w/ my 3.5 year old cuz every time someone wants something to eat.... he wants the same thing, but might only eat a bite of it. Now we have the rule that if he asks for something.... he eats it before anything else.

Of course, I also have 3 kids that pretty much never stop eating..... ;)

Corinne - posted on 10/13/2011




ok so we are pretty much doing what we should. i dont always offer her something else, only when shes truely not eaten anything in like two days and i only offer veggies or fruit, nothing sugary or salty! At certain meal times i will ask her what shes hungry for and sometimes she will tell me. Then i have the issue that some of THOSE times, she will STILL not eat what she TOLD me she was hungry for! i know this is mostly a stage theyre going through but wanted to make sure we were going about it in the right way! I dont want to scare her from trying foods or making her hate meal times bc thats what i went through as a kid.

Jane - posted on 10/13/2011




Instead of giving her an option that requires you to get up and get her something not currently on the table, try including a few things you know she will eat in every menu. Then let her pick and choose from what is offered. If she isn't hungry enough to eat at least something from the menu let her leave the table when everyone else is done, and let her go to bed hungry.

She is exercising control and trying to manipulate you. She needs to learn that she needs to eat when it is time to eat although it is okay not to like everything being served.

Not all 3 yos need very much food, but she will not starve herself. Making her sit there until she has eaten food she doesn't want will only make her hate meal time. OTOH, allowing her some control over what goes into her mouth is not a bad thing.

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