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3.5 year old - Bad eating habits

(8 Posts)
johnnymunro Thu 23-Oct-14 21:51:27

My 3 years 4 month old son is a bit tricky at eating times. He shows little interest in the food that is put in front of him and we are still spoon feeding him everything. Also there is always a game or puzzle on the table to distract him or we don't think he'd sit at the table at all. Furthermore he won't sit at the table for more than 5 minutes.

Now, I'm the first to admit that this is a problem I've brought on myself. There was the constant worry that he's not eating enough and that has stayed with us. But I need to look forward and try to get sorted!

He eats fine at nursery, they just leave him to it. He can use a knife/fork no problem so we know that he can do it. I'm looking for any tips/advice as to what to do - Cheers!

Snickersnickers Thu 23-Oct-14 23:11:36

What percentile is he on?

can you give him less snacks and so he might be hungry by meal times?

odyssey2001 Fri 24-Oct-14 11:47:48

I'm afraid you just need to bite the bullet.

1) Cut out all snacks and juice so that he is hungry at mealtimes, including fruit.

2) Do not allow him to drink anything for at least 30 minutes before eating.

3) Phase out distractions over the course of a week (five minutes less each day)

4) Buy a 30 minute sand timer to set meal length

5) Stop spoon feeding him. Explain he is a big boy now and will be going to school in just under a year and he needs to do it for himself like he does at nursery

6) Then leave him to it for 30 minutes, either sitting with him or alone. Do not cajole or force feed. If he is hungry he will eat. Don't offer substitutes or snacks afterwards. Don't cave in. If only half of the food is eaten, consider whether he will get it back at the next meal.

Good luck.

Artandco Fri 24-Oct-14 11:57:39

I would just go hard core tbh. At lunch today, serve him dinner with cutlery next to it, sit down and eat your own. Don't pester him, don't count bites etc, just say it's lunch time. After 30mins remove from table and put in fridge. If he doesn't seem bothered just leave until you give him dinner at dinner time. Do same as at lunch, eat yours, let him eat his or leave

If he's hungry mid afternoon you can say would you like your lunch, reheat if needed and just place at table again with cutlery as before

HolyDrinker Fri 24-Oct-14 12:22:32

My DS can be like this, especially wrt toys at the table. Things I find help...

Make sure he's hungry.

Make sure he isn't too tired, this means serving dinner ridiculously early on pre-school days. But if he gets tired the messing about & not eating gets worse.

Serve at least one thing on his plate you know he really likes. That always at least gets him started.

I quietly remove and put away all toys etc that have gathered on the table during the course of the day before dinner whilst he is in another room playing. Then the immediate temptation to play isn't there when he is called to the table. Then, if he does kick up a real fuss for in-meal entertainment I compromise and will read him a story.

Don't make a fuss about how much or little he has eaten. Try and stay calm!

Things are slowly getting better, and have definitely improved since he stated eating lunch at pre-school.

I know people will come on and say I'm pandering etc but I don't really care as long as he eats. I think, unless you have had a child that's fussy, a non-eater it's very easy to criticise.

Good luck!

HolyDrinker Fri 24-Oct-14 12:28:28

Oh, and if he likes tractors, the DVD Tractor Ted Harvests Vegetables has really helped. It's a very dull in depth look at how farmers grow and harvest lots of different vegetables. Since we bought it DS likes to tell us all about how the veg on his plate was grown and picked. He doesn't always eat it all but he is much more interested than he used to be, even if his dinner table chat isn't the most stimulating!

johnnymunro Thu 30-Oct-14 17:02:49

Thank you for all the replies. We've taken everything off the table, no toys, drawing or jigsaws. The table in the front room is now only used for eating - Nothing else EVER!

We've explained that the table is for meals only. The food is put in front of him and he get's 30 minutes to eat it. So far it's been a mixed bag but last night was great - He stayed there for about 20 minutes and ate like a horse. No spoon feeding - As I said we always knew he could do it. Monday and Wednesday lunch times weren't too good but I would put that down to tiredness.

We do still read books when it looks like he's about to leave the table - If only to keep him interested and at the table. Again this has been getting better since Monday. Very early yet but it's promising so far. Need to keep on it of course - Thanks again for your replies.

Galvanized Fri 31-Oct-14 20:44:00

I can't tell from your posts - are you eating together as a family at the same time as him? He'll learn from seeing you do it at the same time and being part of the herd. It takes all eyes off him - you concentrate on your food, the pressure's off him, he eats.

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