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How to deal - minimal breakfast and a fight, or nothing to eat and no fight?

(49 Posts)
katepol Tue 03-Jul-07 16:17:54

Dd is 4. Staring school in Spet. Bright, energetic, argumentative, very skinny (only weighs 2 stone).

She is not interested in breakfast. From what I can see, she isn't keen on eating till she's been up for a few hours. Hwr, when she is a pre school, the first snack isn't till about 10.30am, which I feel is too late for the first fuel of the day.

We have tried different foods, cajoling, bribing, threatening. Once rilled though, she tends to get a grump about everything...

So, should we just give it up and let her go without eating (and drinking btw)anything, or should we insist, deal with the loud, angry, drawn out consequences, with the satisfaction that she has eaten a couple of teaspoons worth of cereal?

She is not a best eater at the best of times, and at the mo is extremely oppositional, so we have been trying to be low key, and just offer food and accept when she refuses. What would you do?

SleeplessInTheStaceym11House Tue 03-Jul-07 17:10:57

i think just accepting when she refuses is the best course of action, my dd is 2.8 and is a terrible eater too so i can sympathise with how heart wrenching it is. but i find its best not to make an issue. if she finds shes hungry before snack time then hopefully shes old enough to realise if she eats breakfast she wont say stick with it. its not worth the fight.

JackieNo Tue 03-Jul-07 17:14:05

Maybe you could rope in the people at pre-school to talk to her (possibly to all the class) about healthy eating/eating breakfast? Sometimes children will accept advice/knowledge from teachers that they might not from parents.

OrmIrian Tue 03-Jul-07 17:14:44

Would she eat a banana maybe? Or something like that? Or a fruit smoothie with some yoghurt added?

Otherwise no fight, no breakfast. The more of an issue it becomes the more it will be an issue as she gets older. And she needs to start school in a happy mood, not stressed and unhappy.

collision Tue 03-Jul-07 17:16:11

I am of the opinion they should try and eat something even if it isnt what you think a normal breakfast should be.

I do have trouble with ds2 (2.5) and breakfast so I set out a banquet and got him to choose 2 things to eat.

The banquet

small bowls of dry cereal
banana (chopped up which I would eat if he didnt)
choc spread sandwiches
drink of milk

He only had to choose 2 things and he ate strawberries and cheerios and milk!

The key is not to get stressed.

fingerwoman Tue 03-Jul-07 17:17:06

I would totally give up. Don't fight it, or she'll just resist even more,.
I wouldn't want to be made to eat if I wasn't hungry, and neither do kids. and it definitely isn't worth it if all she is getting is a couple of bites of cereal.
I would however talk to pre-school and explain the situation and make sure she is getting a good snack at half ten to make up for it.
THat's not to say don't offer anyrthing- tell her there are food and drinks on offer if she wants it, but don't push it.

Gig Tue 03-Jul-07 17:17:20

Is there ANYTHING she could eat? Sometimes we get bogged down with the usual foods such as cereal and toast, whereas we can eat anything we like for breakfast! Have you offered yoghurt, smoothies, fruit, baked beans on toast, a sandwich, cheese in cubes or spread on crackers/bread? Would it help if she/you got up earlier so she was more awake? Or is this not an issue?
From a teacher's point of view, I'd say it is essential that a child eats otherwise they simply don't have enough brain power to cope, so I wouldn't give up- keep offering a small amount of food every day but don't make a fuss- she will eventually twig that if she is starving by 9.30, she needs to eat breakfast. You might like to give her some healthy snacks to eat at playtime, if school allows that- check first.

Ladymuck Tue 03-Jul-07 17:17:42

My vote is with JackieNo - ge the staff on board and she may come round more easliy than you think. A sticker chart at school/preschool can be a huge incentive to develop certain habits if managed wisely.

Twiglett Tue 03-Jul-07 17:18:24

DS like this .. leave it alone and give her a breakfast bar to take to school or similar

OrmIrian Tue 03-Jul-07 17:30:36

I do agree with the idea of thinking outside the box for breakfast (sorry for use of horrible phrase but it seemed apposite). I banned chocolate cereals from out house a few years ago after they'd somehow crept on to the menu and for a long while I struggled to get my DD to eat anything. So now our breakfast includes things like cheese on toast, sardines on toast, fruit, home made smoothies.

Gig Tue 03-Jul-07 17:33:26

The problem with " breakfast bars" is that they are incredibly high in sugar - unless you are buying ones that aren't (do they exist?)- and it is so bad for their teeth if they aren't cleaning them til bedtime. They are really a con- sorry.

Twiglett Tue 03-Jul-07 17:45:18

Actually rather than being the devil its being painted to be ... a bit of sugar gives a good, if short term, energy boost in the morning .. if a cereal bar then you get sustained energy release from the oats / grains .. I'd personally recommend the Jordan's bars

an apple can be just as bad dentally with the fruit sugars

sugar can be your friend you know

Gig Tue 03-Jul-07 18:41:09

"A bit of sugar"..yes. But most cereals and bars are around 25-30% sugar. Yes, it can give you an energy boost, but the low soon follows.
It's easy to be fooled into thinking cereal bars are healthy , but if you read the labels it's the proportion of sugar that's bad. I don't think there is any question of apples being bad for your teeth- for a start, they need chewing and the sugar doesn't stick to your teeth like the refined sugar in biscuits etc. it's the bacteria that eat the sugar that cause decay, rather than the acid- the acid in fruit and fruit juices can wear out tooth enamel, but you'd have to eat an awful lot of apples for that to happen.

Gig Tue 03-Jul-07 18:44:42

Apples, for example, have been called nature's toothbrush because they stimulate the gums, increase saliva flow and reduce the build-up of cavity-causing bacteria.

From an article on tooth decay- Readers' Digest.

KrustyTheClown Tue 03-Jul-07 18:47:29

give her a smoothie

I take it she will drink something? just shove some nutrition in there (so mush up a banana, milk etc.)

I still can't eat breakfast and I'm an old git. I think not everyone can for some reason.

collision Tue 03-Jul-07 23:21:59


Where are you when we have all posted fab ideas?

What will you do in the morning?

My banquet?
No breakfast at all?
A smoothie?

Ulysees Tue 03-Jul-07 23:28:21

oh was just going to suggest a smootie

if anyone sees me posting again tell me to go and wash up and get to bed

Ulysees Tue 03-Jul-07 23:28:43

smoothie* (apart from this one )

Carmenere Tue 03-Jul-07 23:32:07

I give dd a brioche roll on some mornings when she is being fussy. It's an admittedly sugary way of getting a few carbs into her but it works and it is not every day.

luckylady74 Tue 03-Jul-07 23:41:57

how about opening the fridge and giing her a choice - my 3 had vatrious things this morning - rice crispies with no milk, a carrot, cheese, fruit juice lolly - food on the move - homemade malt loaf in the buggy. bribe - ten minutes tv after toast eaten - don't shout at me it was just an idea!

RedTartanLass Tue 03-Jul-07 23:42:49

My 3 year old is like this goes days without eating his breakfast (porridge), but then has days when he'll eat a massive bowl every day. I just let him get on with it to be honest. I try not make an issue of it.

He's now at a stage where he wont eat fruit. "Doesn't like" bananas or grapes etc. Grrrrr

If he doesn't want/like what's on offer he doesn't get anything but when he is hungry he does eat!! He's also decided he doesn't like meat. Trying hard not to make an issue of it, so you have my sympathy!

katepol Tue 03-Jul-07 23:43:25

Collision - I am here!

Thanks for all the ideas ladies...

TBH, all food tricks have failed - she is a poor eater anyway, won't do smoothies or fruit, not impressed by brioche, never eaten an egg etc etc

We don't have much time in the mornings, so the banquet idea wouldn't work, plus I don't want to pander to her too much.

I think choices of toast and toppings or various cereals should be enough choice anyway(and it is for her two siblings).

She is well aware of healthy eating, but can go for days without eating much at all, and is not motivated by sticker charts and the like.

She enjoys being stubborn, and telling people 'I don't et breakfast in the mornings'- she is a real drama queen!

I suppose what I want is to know whether to push this with her, as there is no 'nice' way of getting her to eat, or whether it is acceptable to let her go without anything.

She really is not into food (except sweets and choc - she would kill for those), and will go for days at a time eating less than the equivalent of a sandwich all day. Food used to be a big issue for us, and she is much better than when she was younger, but does use food as a control thing a bit...

Sorry, this is a ramble - tis late and I need my bed.

Ta again

kidsrus Tue 03-Jul-07 23:49:17

have you tried the variety pack of cereals give her the choice to buy in the super market, then let her choose in the morning and don't forget to sit at the table with her eating your breakfast and don't fuss if she doesn't eat it then don't worry she'll come round when you are least bothered

Gig Wed 04-Jul-07 08:25:28

As this has already become an emotionally charged situation, with her pulling the punches (I don't eat breakfast- sounds like her boasting, wanting a reaction) you'd be better off backing off. She's using it to get attention. Maybe make sure she has something to eat at school, suchas a sandwich or a piece of fruit. From what you say, she's already picked up on your anxious-Mum vibes and is using them as much as she can! I'm sure she'll eat when she's hungry- no child will ever starve themselves to death (exc. anorexics) so just relax- she'll be fine as long as what she does eat is healthy stuff and not junk.

Issy Wed 04-Jul-07 08:44:22


Much sympathy as I too have a tiny, skinny, bright, energetic and stubborn nearly 5yo with a less than enthusiastic attitude towards food. Like your DD, breakfast is particularly difficult. We've tried a number of things:

* Put the food (pancakes in slices, quarters of cheese on toasts, chunks of fruit) onto some plates in the middle of the table and then let the whole family take what they want. A sense of having to compete for the food with us and her big sister can sometimes encourage her to eat.

* Put on some music or a story tape during breakfast - it helps distract from the meal and lower the emotional temperature.

* If you drive to school, make a snack box for the car. DD2 will sneak food whilst she thinks we're busy driving. Don't comment on whether or not she's eaten the contents of the box.

* Start breakfast with a small glass of smoothie (DD2 likes the Innocent smoothie for kids). I think the drink helps to get her gastric juices flowing and kicks off a few hunger signals to the brain.

* Our most successful but hardest to achieve tactic has been studied indifference. Put the breakfast in front of her, remind her to eat it a few times, then when the meal is over (a timer is useful for this), chuck whatever hasn't been eaten in the bin with a barely perceptible shrug of the shoulders. I find it useful to maintain a conversation on a neutral subject with DH or DD1 whilst I do this, just to make it clear that I'm really not interested. Of course I'm screaming inside. You need to maintain this for several days before it shows any results.

* We reserve cereal for special treats as we try to get her to eat foods that have a higher calorific content. As a result she will almost always eat cereal (served with full fat milk) when allowed to do so!

Don't panic too much. DD2 was diagnosed as 'mildly malnourished' when she first came home from Cambodia. The difference between mildly malnourished then and skinny now is very marked.

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