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To let my child go to bed hungry

(220 Posts)
Bettyblue2 Wed 13-Jan-21 18:45:04

To cut a long story short, my nearly 4 year old has started testing the waters at dinner time by gradually eating less and less of her dinner and then asking for cereal/toast before bed. We’ve tried pushing dinner back so that it’s closer to bedtime to make sure she’s hungry, cutting back on afternoon snacks, giving her options of what she want for dinner... but it’s not working. Basically she just faffs about at dinner time, she won’t sit at the table properly, plays with her food until most of it is on the floor/table etc. Then she complains about being hungry at bed time. We end up wasting so much. Tonight, I’ve stood my ground and said she can’t have anything else to eat today (I warned her at dinner time when she left most of her food that there would be nothing else before bedtime). She’s having a massive tantrum, holding her stomach and saying she’s hungry and that she won’t be able to sleep. I feel horrible at the thought of her being hungry but if I give in and give her food then the cycle starts again. Any tips?

OP’s posts: |
Peace43 Wed 13-Jan-21 18:51:04

Banana! Or something else your child will eat but doesn’t really want that is healthy. I used to tell mine it was “nana or nothing” if she hadn’t eaten earlier. Often she wasn’t hungry enough for food if it was boring old nana. She is 9 and I still sometimes say it’s nana or nothing!

Dee1975 Wed 13-Jan-21 18:51:15

We have this problem from time to time. One trick (although it might seem mean), when they don’t finish their dinner, put it to one side. When they are hungry an hour later, give them their left dinner. Which they prob won’t eat, and yes will go to bed hungry, but soon learn.
If that doesn’t work. Don’t give ANY afternoon snack.

Diverseduvet Wed 13-Jan-21 18:52:22

Drink of milk?

OnlyFoolsnMothers Wed 13-Jan-21 18:53:18

Can you keep the dinner aside so if she’s hungry later she can eat that still, no new food offered

formerbabe Wed 13-Jan-21 18:53:18

I'd cover the dinner in foil, put it back in fridge and tell her if she's hungry, you'll hear it up for her.

formerbabe Wed 13-Jan-21 18:53:31


inquietant Wed 13-Jan-21 18:53:42

Yes, yabu.

In our house you can always have bread even if you've been stupid about dinner. Never had any issues, the more wound up parents get the more fun it is for kids.

When she doesn't want her dinner - no problem. Soon gets boring.

SwanShaped Wed 13-Jan-21 18:54:34

It’s totally fine. Next time, just leave dinner out if they don’t finish it. She can have that if she wants. I do a fair bit. They just eat loads at breakfast instead!

EssentialHummus Wed 13-Jan-21 18:54:34

I do the same as dee, and/or give dinner with a small pudding (like a bit of fruit) at the same time. The message is “eat what you want, there isn’t anything else”. And make sure you’re eating at the same time.

Normandy144 Wed 13-Jan-21 18:54:40

Cut the afternoon snacks and bring dinner forward if necessary. Also keep dinner to one side if refused at the time. If she says she is hungry before bed then represent the same meal. If she is hungry she will eat it.

Hankunamatata Wed 13-Jan-21 18:56:23

Present her with her uneaten dinner

WitchesBritchesPumpkinPants Wed 13-Jan-21 18:56:41

Would she eat more if her dinner if she knew by doing so she could have a snack later before bed?

MeadowHay Wed 13-Jan-21 18:57:05

I keep the dinner and re-offer and won't give anything else and my DD is only 2.5. If she's hungry she eats it later. If she doesn't want it I assume she isn't hungry and just fancies eating crap. I should say though that I don't insist she eats every bit of her meal or anything but she has to give it a good go for me to consider giving her snack/dessert or anything else later. She does always have milk as well.

Lazypuppy Wed 13-Jan-21 18:57:08

I keep the leftovers and offer that qhen she says she is hungry. Also offer a cup of mklk, but i have sent dd to bed hungry. She just eats lits of breakfast in the morning, and i need to reinforce she needs to eat her dinner

harknesswitch Wed 13-Jan-21 18:57:34

I've done the leftovers many a time. Foil over the plate and offer to reheat it.

Hankunamatata Wed 13-Jan-21 18:57:43

If she faffs or plays with food, just take it off her and put in the fridge

Socksey Wed 13-Jan-21 18:58:09

Nothing else except the meal she wouldn't eat....
So after dinner, don't discard but keep it fir her to finish if she's hungry

WitchesBritchesPumpkinPants Wed 13-Jan-21 18:58:11

There's no need for it to be wasted though. There's almost always something you can do with left overs if it's that significant.

Hailtomyteeth Wed 13-Jan-21 18:58:18

Offer something simple, bread and spread or whatever. Nothing sweet.

But never, ever choose to make mealtimes your battleground. Ignore her messing about, provide a basic alternative, have no fuss at all. Don't be cruel to your child about food.

Jubaju Wed 13-Jan-21 18:59:25

Keep dinner for lunch tomorrow (if it’s not on the floor). Does she eat better at lunch? Maybe try cooked lunch and then lighter evening meal a bit later like soup/ bread

FuckOffBorisYouTwat Wed 13-Jan-21 18:59:45

Re-present dinner with no fuss. That or nothing in this house or a banana because they are filling but no one really likes them.

mummymummymummummum Wed 13-Jan-21 18:59:46

My 4 year did this. I kept her tea and offered it again when she declared she was hungry shortly after actual teatime. So no alternative is offered. Tea or nothing.

Bumpsadaisie Wed 13-Jan-21 18:59:51

Mine can always have toast and butter plus milk if hungry at bedtime. It doesn't cause bother as it's not a big negotiation.

Roselilly36 Wed 13-Jan-21 19:02:34

I would never let a child of mine go to bed hungry, my step dad was awful to me over food, never punish a child over food, unless you are prepared for a lifetime of food issues. It’s cruel IMHO.

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