DSS taking 2 hours to eat every meal... Help!!!

(38 Posts)
Stepmum123 Mon 28-Nov-16 18:39:14

DSS literally takes 2 hours to eat every meal, hes just turned 3. We have reduced his portion sizes, given him things he likes, have a star chart system and a prize for finishing the meal. He will finish it but only after 2 hours of stress and persuasion. We have tried taking it off him if he hasn't finished after an hour but it never makes a difference. Hes not tired, still naps for an hour a day and sleeps 12 hours at night we are at our wits end he literally spends half his waking day eating and we're all miserable. Please help mumsnetters

LIZS Mon 28-Nov-16 18:48:00

Seriously? hmm He's still little. Give him the tinest portion , let him eat for a normal length of time, no distractions, then send him to play or have fun. Toddlers don't always conform to 3 meals spaced out.

JiminyCricket Mon 28-Nov-16 18:48:26

Can you give a bit more info - Is he refusing or rejecting food for some of this time? Is he happy to eat it, but just slowly? Does he have issues with texture or taste, for example some kids like really plain crunchy food, but not much else? Any swallowing or chewing issues? Does he drink well? Is he normal weight?

Depending on your answers, a speech and language therapy assessment might be indicated - have you seen GP or health visitor?

ScarletForYa Mon 28-Nov-16 18:50:34

Why are you making him finish it? shock

Just let him eat what he wants and go. Don't make such a huge issue out of it. Some kids are bird like eaters and won't ever clean their plate.

PragmaticWench Mon 28-Nov-16 18:54:38

It's not clear what the problem is when you take the food away after an hour, are you concerned he's not eaten enough?

I'd stop the persuasion and just let him eat whatever he likes. He may prefer six smaller meals a day.

Stepmum123 Mon 28-Nov-16 20:15:23

This is a change for him though he always used to eat fine. We already give him miniature portions and don't want him getting malnourished were jusy worried

IfartInYourGeneralDirection Mon 28-Nov-16 20:16:45

Why does he have to finish everything?
Leave him be

Stepmum123 Mon 28-Nov-16 20:16:58

In terms of getting him eat what he wants and go that would result in him eating nothing

LIZS Mon 28-Nov-16 20:34:06

He wouldn't eventually deliberately starve himself unless there was a problem. Who does he reside with? Could he have a medical issue , ie. reflux, worms, intolerance, which makes eating uncomfortable? Have access arrangements or home life changed recently?

Somerville Mon 28-Nov-16 20:36:01

Give him more snacks. Nutritious, filling ones. Put them alongside him when he's playing or watching TV.

Stepmum123 Mon 28-Nov-16 20:48:59

If he gets into the habit of snacking and eating whatever and leaving will he ever develop normal eating habits?? The way DH and I were both raised you eat what's put in front of you and honestly we don't give him big portions and he's active so he just be hungry.

Nothing has changed in his life recently my DH has had full custody of him since day 1, his birth mother signed away her parental rights at birth and doesn't even want contact. he goes to nursery and has done for a year and enjoys it there it's just so confusing. It's not that he's struggling to physically chew or swallow or anything, hes been checked by the dentist and GP so doesn't have sore teeth or worms or anything.

Somerville Mon 28-Nov-16 20:51:23

Little and often is normal eating habits for a toddler!

JiminyCricket Mon 28-Nov-16 21:38:40

Be pragmatic - if formal mealtimes are not working so well, be more flexible. The stress of such long mealtimes will make him anxious and dread mealtimes. It might also be a good trick for him to get your attention, and reinforce the behaviour. A snack while playing or watching tv might help, then when he's got his appetite back you can gradually work towards a better routine. And not all children can adapt to rigid rules and expectations such as the ones we might have grown up with - as lots of parents of selective eaters will possibly confirm.

PenguinsandPebbles Mon 28-Nov-16 21:44:40

I wonder if something has changed at nursery?

Have they changed meal times or snack times, or if it's one of these buffet things maybe he is nibbling more than his share and then not hungry in the evening?

Or mentioned anything about him picking or not eating during the day?

neolara Mon 28-Nov-16 21:51:34

Just give him some food on a plate. Leave him to eat it or not. Ten minutes later, clear the plate away and pack him off to play. Don't nag or cajole him to eat. If he doesn't eat anything, that's up to him. He will be fine. He'll eat when he's hungry.

Nottalotta Mon 28-Nov-16 21:54:14

Agree with this ^^ give him food, remove after ten minutes. Every time.

HeyRoly Mon 28-Nov-16 21:57:51

I recommend My Child Won't Eat. It really puts fussy/difficult eating into perspective.

I recommend taking away the food after 30 minutes. Forcing him to clear his plate over two hours isn't good. Just let him eat what he wants over 30 minutes. He won't starve or develop malnutrition even if he eats really little or a really limited diet. Honestly he won't.

You need to take the stress out of mealtimes for both of your sakes.

Cucumber5 Mon 28-Nov-16 21:57:53

I would just give him a family meal and a wide selection of meals. Don't nag or pressurise, just accept when he has finished. Chat to him about nice things. Its highly unlikely he will get malnourished. You need to be more realistic about your worries.

Wolfiefan Mon 28-Nov-16 22:00:46

Agree with the above too.
2 hours of stress and persuasion? Really? That sounds like bullying him into eating. Try chewing and swallowing whilst being nagged to eat,eat,eat,eat,eat! It's not easy.
Sit down. Eat together. Don't mention him eating or not eating. Talk about stuff other than food. When he asks to get down ask if he's finished. Explain that if says he's finished there won't be food until the next meal or snack time. He gets down. Move on. No judgement and no stress.

Cucumber5 Mon 28-Nov-16 22:03:43

He needs to create good eating habits as a foundation for adult eating. You don't want to create future food issues.

So - feed him a wide mix of family meals and let him get down if he's finished. Reoffer the meal if he's hungry soon after.

Support him in listening to his body. Learning to know when you're full is important. Forcing a child to eat beyond what they are comfortable with means you are creating some strange dynamic which could result in adult obesity.

SheepyFun Mon 28-Nov-16 22:21:32

The information we got from the dietitian for DD suggested putting a first course in front of a child for 20 minutes, then a second course for 10, with no further comment or stress. Repeat for a few days and the child will get the message - assuming they would normally eat what you've provided, they'll get the idea fairly quickly.

Do you know what happens at his nursery, and how well he eats there?

MyWineTime Mon 28-Nov-16 22:28:35

Please throw away the reward chart and forget prizes for eating - that will make this whole thing worse.
Stop fussing over meals and making him eat for 2 hours.
Relax, give him small portions and take it away after 20 minutes.
No praise, no criticism, no comments.

WombOfOnesOwn Mon 28-Nov-16 23:56:36

Here's an off-the-wall guess, I could be totally wrong, but see if this resembles your family situation:

For some kids, delaying eating as long as possible and making meals into a full-on battle for control happens because meal times are the only times during the day when the child feels they can get an hour or more of pure, unadulterated attention from grown-ups. If you're spending a lot of time doing other things as soon as his food is finished up, you've basically told him "spend as much time on this as possible, because the amount of time we'll spend with you as our focus is controlled entirely by the duration of your meal."

The last time I knew a child like this, one of his parents worked in a very demanding job that required a lot of extra hours of work in the evenings at home, and the other parent had a major cell phone addiction. I felt sorry for their poor son, who seemed to realize that meals were one of the few times in life where his parents would drop everything to ensure his safety and health.

BratFarrarsPony Mon 28-Nov-16 23:59:21

HOnestly dont bother.
Just put something on a plate and if he doesnt eat it, say after 15 mins, then take it away...no fuss, no bother

Stepmum123 Tue 29-Nov-16 16:43:41

Will try the 20 mins and just take it away trick. All this has snowballed so much. Hes only at nursery in the mornings while his dad is working so only had snack time there, I'm at work most weekdays.

What about eating veg and stuff? He has a digestive problem so needs lots of fibre in his diet and gets easily constipated. There's no chance he will get that in him if he has the option of it being taken away no problem after 20 mins.

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