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Do you make toddlers stay at the table after refusing food?

(16 Posts)
Zil131 Mon 05-Oct-09 13:17:35

I?m sure if you could get toddlers to eat their dinner you could write a book and retire off the proceeds, however I?d like a quick straw poll / other suggestions of what you do when your DS looks at his dinner, says no and pushes it away / demands pudding...

DS is just 2, and has never been into eating (to be honest I remember being exactly the same...) and would much rather play. We all (Me, DH and Toddler) eat together, and eat things we think he?ll like. It can be a struggle to get him in his chair to start with ? we either ignore him, and all make ?Mmmm this is nice? comments till curiosity gets the better of him; or occasionally (e.g if he is screaming at the back door ?Go outside and play diggers?) he gets time out on the naughty step till he is ready to sit down.

Anyone, once he is at the table, taken one look and pushed it away do you:
1. Make him sit there, and try to eat whilst he is screaming, trying to throw himself out, crying ?Go play diggers? etc and tell him he has to eat
2. Take him (back) to the naughty step, and tell him he can stay there until he is ready to eat; and try to eat whilst the screams come from the other room.
3. Let him get down, say ?Fine, but there is nothing else?, and try to ignore the tugs at your sleeve of ?Come and Play?
4. Offer alternatives / Move onto pudding (I refuse to do this, but just wondered)
5. Something else?

I have been going with option 3, and big bottles of milk and occasional bowls of Weetabix before bed. But DH and I now wonder whether, although this is ticking the ?Don?t make an issue out of eating? box, it is allowing him to get away with bad behaviour...

Zil131 Mon 05-Oct-09 13:19:48

Bizarre - all puctuation changed to "?" - I'm sure you'll work it out!!

jobhuntersrus Mon 05-Oct-09 13:28:07

I really think you should not make meal times a battle, it only leads to more problems. The way I do things is if dinner is refused they can leave the table but get nothing else except maybe a very boring healthy snack before bed. They are not allowed to bug anyone else while they eat and don't get pudding.

ElenorRigby Mon 05-Oct-09 13:31:33

If DD refuses to eat,
1) she gets not pudding
2) she has to wait until we have finished before leaving the table

No fuss or arguments about, trying to make her eat or engaging in her demands for pudding.

Yes we supplement with extra milk if she misses a dinner. Thankfully though this simple no fuss approach means she's little trouble at the dinner table these days. She's 2 years 1 month btw. Oh and she's on the 90+ percentile for weight.

MrsJohnDeere Mon 05-Oct-09 13:37:21

I try to keep 3.5yo ds1 (my non eater) at the table until 19mo ds2 has finished, even if he's not eating. I tell him he has to drink his milk and chat.

No pudding allowed if he does leave the table. Didn't take long for the message to get through on that one. If he does leave the table he is ignored.

wasabipeanut Mon 05-Oct-09 13:42:12

Option 3 sounds sensible. If my 2 yo DS refuses food I just say "ok, if you are't hungry that's fine but there's nothing else." And I stick to it. If he ain't hungry then he ain't hungry.

More often than not he'll eat what was originally offered half an hour or so later if given the opportunity.

I refuse to turn mealtimes into a battleground - I love eating too much and couldn't bear for DS to have issues.

ElectricElephant Mon 05-Oct-09 13:43:55

I don't discipline DS if he doesn't eat - he's too little to understand I think (almost 2)
I have started restricting desserts and he'll get a piece of toast of he hasn't eaten enough dinner instead.

Have you tried letting him colour or have a small toy? DS is a terrible eater, but if he's distracted with something else he's fine.

Recently sat at a table for 2 hours happily colouring and playing with teletubbies. Didn't eat a bloody thing, but was happy at the table until everyone else had finished.

Agree that you shouldn't make meal times a battle. If he's not ready to eat, don't make a big deal of it.

Zil131 Mon 05-Oct-09 14:40:54

Thanks all, sounds like we are pretty much in agreement – just wanted to check we weren’t being a push over!! I can’t stand the stress of trying to make him eat. I can actually remember as a child having to sit at the table for what felt like hours locked in a battle of wills – never made me eat!!
I do like the idea of encouraging him to stay at the table until we have finished, even if he is not eating, maybe I’ll allow a small digger or tipper truck amongst the tea cups, or get the colouring pencils out.
I will also stop throwing away DS’s meal (in my own little tantrum...) and leave it in case, like wasabipeanut’s (great name!) little one, he comes round half an hour later.

spookyrookie Mon 05-Oct-09 14:44:05

We still go with approach No3 and DS is 3.5 years old ( mind you we are big softies).

Strangely enough his behaviour when eating out is exemplary which is all I'm really worried about.

Stigaloid Mon 05-Oct-09 15:40:10

Hmm if i give DS something i know will be a stretch (he doesn't like rice but have offered him risottos of late - he will try a bit but won't finish) then i do tend to have a boring alternative on stand by (piece of ham and vegetables). He gets dessert but one i choose for him, not one he chooses. I don't do the 'go hungry' route at the moment (2.2) as if he doesn't eat enough during the day he wakes again at night with a starving tummy and wanting something to drink/eat then. I would rather he sleep through TBH.

If i give him something that he does like and he refuses to eat it then we move on to dessert (usually a petit filous) and i offer him a piece of fruit with it too. He may also get a breadstick before bed but nothing elaborate.

kitbit Mon 05-Oct-09 15:48:36

If ds doesn't eat his dinner or doesn't want any more, there is a rule that we all stay at the table until we've finished, but only since he was about 4. It was because he would rather go and do other things instead of eat, so withut wanting to "make" him eat, we still insisted that mealtimes were for sitting together and he can eat if he likes. More often than not he'll absent mindedly start picking at him food again, but the point is the focus isn't the meal, it's the family time.

thesecondcoming Mon 05-Oct-09 16:07:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dominique07 Mon 05-Oct-09 16:55:39

I'd just let him get down from the table when he's finished, no pudding without eating the main course.

aarghhelp Tue 06-Oct-09 10:46:02

My little one (16 months) likes food generally, and is growing like Topsy, but doesn't always eat much supper. He does always want grapes and yoghurt, and we always give him these, so at least he is getting something nutritious. He stays in his highchair till we have all finished eating round the kitchen table (if he finishes earlier I give him his toothbrush to brush his teeth, which he loves, strange boy.

I have wondered whether we should try and enforce this eating up your dinner thing, maybe before moving onto the yoghurt. But then, you aren't supposed to use pudding as reward either (confused).

Miggsie Tue 06-Oct-09 10:51:51

If DD didn't eat, we'd say, ok but this is your dinner, there isn't anything else.
She was allowed to get down.
Sometimes she would return voluntarily because she actually was hungry.

We didn't give snacks or any food not served at the table.

By tea time she would eat something. We always served food at the table...I think running around after a child trying to feed them or giving random snacks all over the place just tells them they don't really have to bother with meals or sitting at the table.

Once she decided she hated the high chair we piled cushions on a normal chair and she was much happier like that.

tinierclanger Tue 06-Oct-09 10:54:09

With DS (16m) I don't push it, some days he eats lots of his 'main course', other days he just plays a bit. When he seems to lose interest I ask him if he wants a yogurt (which he always does!) then after that he sometimes eats a bit more of the savoury, then some fruit. I think he gets bored and likes to mix it up. I don't think making a big deal out of it helps. And I agree that puddings shouldn't be used as a reward.

It does seem to help when he's got something to play with at the table on the days he's less interested. And he always eats well when we eat out and he can just have stuff off our plates.

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