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How long do your kids take to eat their tea?

(61 Posts)
kando Tue 06-Apr-04 18:04:44

DD1 (age 3) has been taking an absolute AGE to eat her tea. Last night and tonight it has taken her an hour to eat it. Her meal wasn't anything new, in fact she asked for it (although without the vegetables, obviously!) She's gone from being quite good (ie eating it fairly quickly with no help from me) to taking ages, although if I helped her she'd be finished a lot sooner. I've put my foot down over helping to feed her as I have dd2 (16 months) to deal with too, and I think at 3 she should be able to manage herself.

I totally lost my patience with her tonight over it - I shouted at her so loudly (from the kitchen, not right in front of her) that I hurt my throat!

Is it unreasonable of me to expect a 3 year old to eat their tea in about 40 minutes? How long do your kids take to eat their tea - do you set a "time limit" and if so, how do you stick to it?

twiglett Tue 06-Apr-04 18:16:32

message withdrawn

kando Tue 06-Apr-04 18:23:05

Yes, she's chattering and singing etc or just staring into space (!) rather than eating. DH does the "bin it" thing, but I always feel bad doing that as I know she's hungry, but just being too lazy to eat. Perhaps I should try your tactic too Twiglett. I try not to let it bother me but unfortunately it usually does and I end up being grumpy with her. How long do you reckon I should leave her to get on with it before threatening to take it away - half an hour maybe? (Don't want to make myself even more of a grumpy mum!)

twiglett Tue 06-Apr-04 18:26:01

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emmatmg Tue 06-Apr-04 18:35:52


I'm almost pleased to read this....sorry.

DS1 is the slowest eater EVER. If I let him he would sit for the entire evening. I think the longest has been about 1.5 hours!!!!

I've tried serving smaller dinners, earlier dinners, later dinners, different dinners, same as last night dinners, the list goes on and on and on.

I now just admit defeat and if he says doesn't want it after just a few mouthfuls then that's fine, I am honestly, totally and utterly fed up and beaten on this one

Will keep a eye on this thread in the hope that a lovely MNetter will come up with a miracle I cane use.

Nimme Tue 06-Apr-04 18:36:12

My DD (aged 4) frequently takes forever (30 min+) to eat her tea. However very happy for me to feed her. Generally not about food, but much more about attention as she seems to get more like that the more pre-occupied I am. At the very least she likes me to sit next to her. I hate feeling "trapped" like that - but it's that or food in bin (which has worked) but then she might get hungry later and despite what I say I can't let her go to bed hungry.

jac34 Tue 06-Apr-04 18:38:23

Mine take ages and they are 5yo !!! We mostly sit at the dinning table to eat our tea, and I do agree with having conversation at the dinner table, but they usually have so much to say, their meals are cold by the time they finally eat it, it drives me nuts !!!!!

It was quite a worry, before they started school as I was concerned about them being able to eat their school dinner in time, but they often come home with lunch time awards from the dinner ladies, for eating all their dinner or good behaviour.They are pretty good eaters so they do eat it all eventually.

emmatmg Tue 06-Apr-04 18:47:36

Jac34.....our ds1 will be 5 at the end of the month and can also talk the hind legs off a whole herd of donkeys.

BTW,Do donkeys come in herds??????????????

mummysurfer Tue 06-Apr-04 18:52:11

dd is normal, takes abou the same length of time as me.

ds is a nightmare, ages, ages, ages! When it's getting on my nerves i set the kitchen timer for 10 mins and tell him that i'm going to take his plate away when it goes off. if his plate is empty(ish) he gets dessert, if not no pud!! i usually leav the room then and dd (8) encourages him. if its something he likes it works a treat, if it is something he really doesn't like the timer goes off, followed immediately by a loud wail!

give it a try.

Codswallop Tue 06-Apr-04 19:19:53

10 minutes. If that!

emmatmg Tue 06-Apr-04 19:24:19

Ohhhhh coddy, you lucky thing. How do you get them to do that?

TW Tue 06-Apr-04 19:39:34

DD is so the same. Just dreams, finds something else to think about. She's just like that. And I lose my rag the whole time. I've been really trying recently becasue I know it's so wrong. I also have ds1 (5) and ds2 (2) so I REFUSE to help her. Recently I have tried giving her REALLY tiny portions, as it means I get less wound up. I don't really see it as a time issue, she just doesn't DO it. I have no idea what the answer is. She drives me mad in so many different ways, and yet she is SO much easier than my boys, in so many others.
I've tried the timer thing. She just cries, says she needs help. Binning it has no effect at all. The only thing that works is feeding her myself.

Nutcracker Tue 06-Apr-04 20:13:49

Far to long. We also have a bargaining bit at the end, with "well if i eat that can i leave that" and so on. I have given up trying to get them to eat at any reasonable speed. I just try to have dinner slightly earlier sometimes.
I have tipped it in the bin before now, but felt sooo guilty. Not that you should feel guilty, but i did.

Codswallop Tue 06-Apr-04 20:17:36

Emma, conversely I cant see how it takes so long. If they dont want it take it away!

Give them less?

Give them fewer snacks before?

I have no idea!

they eat it before sit down!

grumpyzebra Tue 06-Apr-04 20:17:53

DS used to take ages, but nowadays my 2 may not take much more than 10 minutes, either. Then they're clamouring for movie or toys or pudding whilst we still want to eat or go do the washing up, urk! I don't understand the problem of them taking a while to eat, unless it prevents you getting on with other things?

stace Tue 06-Apr-04 20:55:19

what a bloody relief to find out that i am not alone on this one and my ds is not a complete freak 1 hour is about average and that is with loads of distraction going on.

This evening i timed him it took him a whole........
45 minutes to eat 1 apple. If i dont remind him to put it in his mouth he will just hold it forever.

He will go without food, he will become a demon without food and he loses wieght really easily so i find myself in a catch 22.

I generally let him get away with 1-2 bad days and then i will badger him relentlessly for the next two.

I have real food issues and am aware that im probably passing them on to him but i just cant stop myself.

Do you think we should all try a controlled experiment and see what the results are?

I will probably be the first one to crack but does anyone else think it is a good idea and is anyone else up for it???

emmatmg Tue 06-Apr-04 21:00:07

stace, that's exactly what my Ds1 does too. He'll have a teeny weeny bit of food on the fork for ages and I'm sure he just forgets to put it in his mouth.

I'm up the experiment if you want.

Codswallop Tue 06-Apr-04 21:11:28

dont talk to them then!

read them a story insted an d refuse to turn the page till they eat what ever it is

Codswallop Tue 06-Apr-04 21:12:02


you can see my total lack of understanding!

yearn for long langorous meal!

frogs Tue 06-Apr-04 21:35:43

I'll join Codswallop on this one.

Permanent mealtime cry in the frog household is 'Stop gobbling!' 'Don't fill your mouth so full!' 'It's not a race!'

Don't know why... The only time they tend to be slow is if it's something they don't really like, but it has to be pretty extreme -- ratatouille usually provokes a go-slow, as does anything else with courgettes in. DS (4.5) sometimes dawdles if he's not that hungry. Otherwise it's sit down, snarf, and ask for pudding.

Mind you, I am Mrs Hitler when it comes to food, so they know if they don't eat it they can go without. Also no pudding for anyone who hasn't eaten most of their first course. If it hasn't all gone within about 15 mins that means they don't want it, in which case I take it away -- not vindictively, just in a 'oh well, you're obviously not hungry' sort of way.

stace Tue 06-Apr-04 21:41:25

wow i would love to be so laid back about it.

We read books, we talk, we look at toy catalogues, we know actually most of the time a game called apple/grapes play which basically lets me off the hook as long as every 2-5 minutes i shout ALEX APPLE!!! he comes running for another mouth full.

I have tried every kind of bribery to speed it up and little works, hunger plays no part either.

Emmatmg how do you think we can go about this. Do you resort to feeding your child? if so how often or after how much time?

stace Tue 06-Apr-04 21:42:17

sorry that should have said that now dessert is actually nearly always played with our game ....

kando Wed 07-Apr-04 08:52:04

Wow, it's great to know that I'm not the only one who "suffers" this! We have no distractions (other than dd1's imagination!) at the table - telly off, no books etc. I hate the thought of her going to bed without any tea so she'd *probably* get something before bed (although when dh did this last time she got nothing else and it didn't seem to bother her at all). She also doesn't snack much during the day at all, so it's not because she's full up on other food.

Grumpyzebra, it's not that her taking ages to eat her tea prevents me from doing other things, but our night time routine has always been tea at 5pmish, followed by a short play/reading a story or something to let their tea settle down, in the bath no later than 6.15, then bed by 7pm. I don't like giving them a bath too soon after having their tea (although sometimes it's unavoidable).

I'm up for an experiment too. Stace, I admit to feeding her when I get too wound up about it, and it's usually about two or three times a week. She starts off her meal feeding herself and usually gets about half way through, then I end up helping her to finish it.

So how do you think we should do this?

jmg1 Wed 07-Apr-04 09:59:21

Message withdrawn at user request

Codswallop Wed 07-Apr-04 10:09:01

ooh dont start the no pudding thread again!

Intersted to know what slow eaters do about pudding!

Ia m going to time my boys tonight

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