How to stop battles over dinner

(18 Posts)
soundevenfruity Thu 03-Jan-13 19:49:27

I am trying to figure out a way to have pleasant evening meals and would appreciate any suggestions. DS is about to turn 3 and uses any opportunity to assert himself though generally you can discuss things with him, he is not disagreeable all the time. He wakes up all enthusiastic about food, has a glass of milk first hand and then porridge or egg, fruits, cheese. He is still quite good at lunch but a bit picky though not at his nursery where he barely touches food. He normally has a glass of milk mid afternoon or yoghurt. At nursery they have a substantial snack (like chicken roll) so it's a bit difficult to get him to eat anything 3 hours later. But lately dinners have become a real struggle. He really looks forward to spend time with his father (playing trains, reading etc) so he sees dinners as unreasonable deprivation of his fun. He pushes plate away, runs away and we spend ages cajoling him back. He has milk before sleep but it's just not enough to sustain him, I think. He has a problem with falling asleep now which he didn't have before. I've tried to be relaxed about it, strict, cook differently - it doesn't make a huge difference. He normally doesn't snack because it wrecked his mealtimes and it's better for his teeth. Any suggestions?

What time does he have his dinner, would it be practical for you and your DP to eat with him, seeing as he likes time with his dad?

Or maybe the two of them can lay the table and your DP can sit with him?

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 03-Jan-13 22:45:14

Agree with jammy. What time is his snack at nursery, what time is dinner and what time is bed?

Is he having much milk too as this can affect appetite.

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 03-Jan-13 22:47:14

Have a look at a book called my child won't eat be Carlos Gonzalez too smile

soundevenfruity Thu 03-Jan-13 23:07:41

Thank you for all your responses. He does only 2 full days at the nursery. The snack there is at 4. We normally have dinner between 6:30 and 7 so I understand that he might not be that hungry.. And that's 3 of us. But he wants to carry on playing with his dad which he will be doing for an hour, hour and a half by then (DH leaves early so he can spend as much time with him as possible). He has a glass of milk at around the same time or not at all. Maybe the problem is that we don't have much in the way of routine.

We've found giving a five minute warning (and holding up all five fingers), and then a one minute warning helps get ready for things.

Or maybe if your DH and DS both did a tidy up before dinner, together as a game, it would get him ready for it. And could he maybe 'earn' a reward for at sitting well at the table, like an extra book with Daddy after dinner if he sits till you've all finished? He'll eat when he's hungry but at least if you can get him sat still, he's more likely to tuck in.

TheSamling Thu 03-Jan-13 23:47:08

Hi. if he's having a chicken roll at 4 and then milk at home he won't be hungry. it sounds very much like he is a 'morning loader too, which means he naturally consumes most of his food in the earlier part of the day. Most of us are more disposed to eating in one part of the day or another. I can go til 2 without food no worries, but then I graze all afternoon and eat a lot at night.

my ds is like yours, similar age, similar eating pattern. We found only giving him milk with breakfast and water only afterwards helped. If He has milk or juice with tea then he fills up on that rather than food. he doesn't eat loads more, he just isn't a huge eater. He's healthy, happy, obviously still growing mentally, emotionally and physically. (though he is smallish for his age he's pretty much following his centime) a d that's enough for us. It helps that DD was the same at his age and now eats like she's never been fed, so I know that it sorts itself eventually! grin

JiltedJohnsJulie Fri 04-Jan-13 10:06:55

Agree with everything above. I'd also ditch the milk in the afternoon and evening. He won't be going to bed hungry because if he was hungry he'd be eating his meal with you smile

soundevenfruity Fri 04-Jan-13 11:03:16

Just to clarify: he has a snack at the nursery at 4 OR (not AND) he has a glass of milk when at home. I might switch to low fat milk as it still has a lot of calcium. It's a good idea to get them both tidy up before dinner and I can sell it to DH because he ends up tidying it up on his own after bath. Thank you. I will check out the book.

JiltedJohnsJulie Fri 04-Jan-13 11:17:06

Both of mine are still on full fat but then I drink full fat and I'm well, lets just say I'm a little older.... At that age I just cut out the bedtime milk. We realised that dd wasn't that interested in her tea and wasn't bothered if she ate it or not because she knew there was always the milk at bedtime.

JiltedJohnsJulie Fri 04-Jan-13 11:30:25

Meant to say hat full fat works for us because we all drink it, if semi works for your family that's fine too smile

workingonitagain Fri 04-Jan-13 13:22:10

my ds is the same, he is best in the morning then fine with cold lunch but he eats hardly anything in the evening. regardless of his dad being there or not. we have made that mistake where we say if no dinner no yoghurt but he now gets to a stage where he gets cross that no yoghurt but no so much that he'd eat his dinner. He seems very pickey with cooked food but always been brilliant if i gave him cold like cheese ham bread (even if it's the evening) most nights he goes to bed without much dinner and wouldn't then give milk either so sometimes his last meal is at lunch time.
he's not particularly skinny and is very active. i don't really worry about his eathing as im sure if he is starving he'd eat more but just thought if anyone can recommend any strategy that would good smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Fri 04-Jan-13 13:34:34

working my dd is very much like that at 5 yo. The other night she ate just 1.5 potato wedges for her evening meal but had consumed more at lunch than she normally eats during an entire day. She would also happily live off ham sandwiches if we let her.

In the evening I serve the food, everyone who is home eats together and we talk and keep it light. We refuse to get drawn into conversations about what she will or won't eat and we don't ask her to eat anything, however she does have to stay at the table until everyone is finished and neither DC can remove any offending items from their plate. She used to be really fussy but is much better now, although she can have her moments. I try to look at what she has eaten over the course of a day or week rather than the meal, they are often very tired at teatime anyway.

Have you read the Carlos Gonzalez book?

workingonitagain Fri 04-Jan-13 13:53:15

thanks Jilted just looked at it on Amazon. Seems interesting. Somebody told me that once a nutritionist had told them that with children once they consume the amount of calorie they need for the day, they won't eat any more confused sounds logical although the fact that his one yr old brother eats twice as much of everything as he does baffles me a little bit smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Fri 04-Jan-13 13:57:52

Dd actually ate much more at one than she did at 3. Don't know why, do you think it could be growing rates? Once saw someone say on Horizon that appetite can be preset, so known its hard not to compare but they could always be lie that.

lljkk Fri 04-Jan-13 17:04:17

Stop expecting him to eat tea?
Sorry, don't know how to say this except bluntly: the problem is you adults pressuring him to eat. Stop that and he will eat what he needs & you won't have a battle.

amyboo Fri 04-Jan-13 17:40:53

We've just had similar problem with our previously good eater Ds1 (age 2.10). We've done a few things - firstly a star chart for good dinner behaviour respecting our minimum requirements (sit nicely, not theow food, not say it's horrible, not tip plate up, say please/thank you). We've also stopped expecting him to finish his dinner as it's clear that he's not always that hungry. He's always eaten loads, but has definitely slowed down growth-wise in the last cople of months so I think it's norml that he's eating less. Basically as long as hetries dinner, we're happy. We've also tried to stay calm - not exploding at every small behaviour issue and concentrating on e big things. It's all made a massive difference in just a week or so. Good luck!

3smellysocks Fri 04-Jan-13 23:48:33

He needs to eat a smaller snack at 4 - a bread roll and milk is very filling. At the moment he isn't hungry at all at tea time and that is the problem.

Mine have lunch at 12 or 12.30, then can only have a fruit/veg (or two) between meals as they need to ready for tea at 5. I have found even an additional couple of oatcakes will lead them to leave their tea. It's a fine balance.

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