DS won't finish his dinner(32 Posts)
He has eaten about two bites. He always seems to eat enough to take the edge off his hunger, then gets bored and decides he's finished, and refuses to eat any more. Then he wakes up in the night saying he's hungry, I used to let him get up and have some toast and fruit, just because he ate so little that I was desperate to get any food into him, but recently I've said if he is really hungry he can have some bread and butter, and he can't come downstairs, he has to have it in his bedroom, and he refuses. So he can't be that hungry - I think he was just wanting to come downstairs.
He is 2.9 and I just want the stupid food battles to be over now.
I already spread out the main meal and dessert, though often he's so tired by bedtime that he doesn't even want pudding most nights, he just says he's full and he wants to go to bed and read a story. Or last night I gave him two yoghurts and he just messed around with them and didn't eat them at all. Sometimes he will eat if I feed him, if he's really tired. It might be tiredness by now because I've let it drag on so long. It's got a lot worse since DP moved in a couple of weeks ago though.
I keep saying stuff like "You haven't had enough. You're not full." and trying to bribe him to eat, FFS. I don't want to do this, I feel like I'm massively overriding his hunger cues and encouraging him to ignore them and I've always felt really strongly that I don't want to do that But I don't know what else to do, I can't cope with the broken nights either and he doesn't seem to be making the connection that refusing dinner now = hungry later (which of course he wouldn't, if he's sleeping in between that, would he?)
I'm actually in tears over this but I'm probably just being hormonal (and didn't get much sleep last night due to him doing the same thing)
What time is tea? If he's tired he probably won't eat. DS (5) still will eat a tiny but to take the edge of hunger and then be hungry later. He still has 'supper' to make sure he is not going to bed hungry.
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Well you are going to have to get tough obviously - why should children get something before bed if they have not eaten dinner? Your ds is getting to the age when he can totally understand that if he doesn't eat the meal you have cooked, then there's nothing else until the next meal time. This is what I have always done. Sometimes they eat none of their dinner, and they know that the next meal will be breakfast. If your ds wakes up in the night hungry, you will have one bad night then he will realise that you are not going to give in to him. It's the only way.
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Looking at the time of your post if he's having tea at this time it's way to late imo.
would he eat cerial at bedtime?
we always had cerial before bed, right up until i was into my late teens, it became a bedtime ritual.
bath, cerials, bed.
No, Grace, he's waking up hungry in the night, but then still not eating his dinner the next night, he isn't making the connection, I've said that. Perhaps he is getting to the age, but he isn't there yet. I can deal with one bad night but when I've had several in a row the thought of another is not much fun I find if he eats something before bed he's okay and I'm happy to do this, but I don't want to be woken up at 2 or 3am when he then won't go back to sleep easily.
Yes I think you are all right to say tea earlier is better, thinking about it, I had a similar problem a good few months ago, possibly around a year now, and I solved it by making sure tea was religiously before a certain time, but his bedtime has changed since then and I can't remember wat the gap was.
Normally at the moment he eats tea at around 5-5.30ish and then goes to bed at 7. Tea was at around 6 tonight because I suddenly noticed at around 5.15 what the time was, and then I was going to just stick him in a mini pizza but DP asked if I would mind sticking a big one in instead for them to share, and then it just took ages to cook because it was one of the deeper base ones and our oven is shit. And then took 10 minutes to cool down, etc, things just sometimes happen like that, they start taking ages and it all snowballs.
Thinking about it I really really want to get us a proper dining table now. I think that might help. This has really started to become a regular rather than an occasional issue since DP moved in and I think it's because there's someone else here who he's trying to get the attention of, especially when we're all eating at various points around the living room. Will probably be a month or so until we can even look at whether we can afford one though.
Well, it's up to you obviously, but I do think he needs to learn now that night time is not for eating, so if you happy with giving him something at bedtime, then that's working for you I guess. But I still think that he will realise that if he doesn't eat dinner, it doesn't matter as you will give him something else later.
I would let him have something to eat just before bath and bed (bowl of cereal, banana or something like that) as well as whatever is offered at tea. It's a really long time between 5pm and morning. I would be hungry, even if I ate all of my tea.
No all kids make that connection at that age graceandbeauty. My DS wouldn't. He's a natural grazer and just won't eat massive amounts in one go. It doesn't necessarily mean that he will never eat. He will figure it out but he's not even 3 yet.
My boys always ate well for breakfast and lunch, but dinner was just a non-event. They just were not particularly interested in eating much at that time of night.
Don't stress about it, just take your cues from him.
But I don't mind if he has something just before bed, lots of people do "supper" in their families. It's the night waking I have an issue with, because it disturbs my sleep and his, and I haven't been giving him food at night more recently.
When I said 2.9 I meant as in 2 years, 9 months, BTW.
Oh, I had this problem. big time.
And it is gone now, either through luck or because we got something right ...?
What worked for us: Dinner at around 5:15. He could eat how much or little he liked, but had to stay at the table until mealtime was over (ie others had finished their meal). This stopped him from getting up to play. I put zero pressure on him to eat, but he would not get desert if he had eaten only, say, two bites. Not as a massive punishment but as a matter of fact.
He was allowed a "top up" on bread an butter, and a glass of milk just before bed time (7). Nothing more interesting than that, and defo no treats.
This seems to have worked.
but I really have had to chat to DH and MIL and my mum to lay off the pressure. Basically I ignored any complaints and refused to turn it into a battle. I would only tell him "It's fine to not eat, if you're not hungry. but you WILL sit down at the table. And this is NOT a topic for conversation. Now how about tomorrow, shall we go swimming or to the park? etc etc bla bla" Essentially wetblanketing the whole attention seeking boring draining thing!
oh yes, and no eating in front of the telly. We eat in the kitchen.
I've been through this Bertie. In the main I let DS eat in the night because he was genuinely hungry until he was past the age of 3 (he's just turned 4). But he was only offered plain oatcakes and milk, and I brought them to him in bed.
These days he's much better but we do eat earlier than we used to and so sometimes if he hasn't had a lot of dinner I'll give him a slice of bread and butter and a glass of milk, or a banana, or rice cakes with peanut butter, just before we go upstairs.
These days we eat around 5.30-6pm and bed by 7.30pm.
Could you pick up a table on Freecycle, just to see if it helps before committing to buying something big and expensive?
That's really helpful Chandon, thanks. I think I'm getting stressed as well as DP is sort of the opposite and has always done a bit of "Eat one more carrot and then you can have pudding" which isn't really my thing (my mum was always very much like you - zero pressure to eat but not cooking a whole extra meal if we refused either) - and so he is more of the school of pressuring DS to eat which I don't like. He hasn't been doing it massively, because he's not DS' dad and he's only lived here for a couple of weeks, so he's finding his way at the moment, but I definitely think it's something we need to talk through.
With the no pudding if he has barely eaten thing, would that happen even if others in the family are having pudding? Pudding here tends to be yoghurt so I've always let DS have it even if he hasn't eaten his tea, or sometimes he has pudding first if tea is taking a long time. He isn't holding out for pudding with this phase though, it seems to genuinely be that he doesn't want to eat, because there are much more interesting things to be doing. Which he's always been like a bit I think. I'm going to see whether we can shift anything financially to be able to get a table ASAP because I like the idea that he has to stay there until other people have finished anyway.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Ooh that's a thought GreenTeapot, I never thought of looking on freecycle.
Overwhelmed by too much food is almost definitely true as well actually. I think I'd forgotten the importance of this because DS got a lot better with it, but DP tends to cook for a teenager rather than a toddler and I hadn't thought to mention it, I just thought DS would leave what he didn't want. And to be fair some nights he does, but thinking about it, that's when we've been eating earlier.
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