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What do you do when your child won't eat dinner?

(17 Posts)
zebedeethezebra Mon 17-Oct-11 13:49:22

Last night DS (21 months) didn't want his dinner. He was well all day so not ill. It wasn't anything new that he hadn't had before. We tried again about 45 minutes later but he still didn't want it. In the end I gave in and got him a banana and a very small piece of biscuit which he did eat. I still felt guilty as he hadn't eaten properly.

We quite often have this situation. He's just not a hungry boy, never has been and its quite rare for him to finish a whole bowl full.

What is the best thing to do in this situation? Do you go and cook something else and risk him turning out fussy and refusing food because he knows he will get something else? Or do you stand firm and not provide anything else?

ScaredBear Mon 17-Oct-11 13:52:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CharlotteBronteSaurus Mon 17-Oct-11 13:52:45

we still give "pudding" (9 times out of ten it's only a piece of fruit anyway), and offer bread and butter as an alternative. I assume they're just not hungry if either of those is refused.

just a thought, but is there a possibility you are putting too much on the plate if he never finishes? portions at this age really are tiny.

I never offer anything else to mine, unless it's clear they actually genuinely dislike what I've given them (in which case they get a bowl of porridge instead). That said, they're 4 and 6. I think, at 21 months, I wouldn't make it look as though I'd caved and given something else, I'd make a little selection of things - for example a few pieces of banana, a bit of whatever you'd like him to have for tea, some other picky things, whatever, all either in little bowls or little piles, and let him pick. Have a look here for inspiration. Dr Sears recommends this method of feeding a toddler. If he's not hungry, he's not going to eat loads, but neither is he likely to starve himself. Most important thing to remember is just to stay totally matter-of-fact - don't let yourself get stressed - if he doesn't eat much at tea, he'll probably make up for it at breakfast.

BeeMyBaby Mon 17-Oct-11 14:00:42

this happens all the time with our DD (20 months), if she has dinner she gets given milk afterwards, if she doesn't I offer her a couple of things, but generally she will just wait it out until she gets milk. I don't see that there is anything else I can do.

Bee, if it were me I'd try giving a little of the milk first, or with the dinner. Perhaps she'd be more amenable to trying dinner if she's had the edge taken off. If that works, you could gradually reduce the milk until you're back to no milk pre dinner...
There's a list here of calorie-dense foods, which might help if you're concerned about the volume of food your LOs aren't eating...

An0therName Tue 18-Oct-11 14:19:32

I wouldn't cook them something else -at 21 months I would happy to give them some fruit and biscuit - if he was older then I would proberbly be a bit stricter

honestly don't worry - it so normal at this age - is he happy, active and healthy and a decent weight - then he is just a child that doesn't eat loads

think about his eating over a week or so - if he is having a range of foods over that time he will be fine

This is from experience of a small/fussish eater - its easier to say than do....

zebedeethezebra Tue 18-Oct-11 14:53:45

Thanks everyone, its good to know I'm not doing the wrong thing! grin

Avenged Tue 18-Oct-11 20:53:59

I usually just keep their fluid levels up with plenty of water or milk. Thing is, if you think about what most kids are like when they have a bad cold. IME most kids with a cold will drink more and eat less until the cold eases. They aren't always hungry at normal mealtimes and may just be a bit peckish.

My HV used to tell me the child's clenched fist is about the same size as their stomach (empty) then imagine the size of 2 fists and that's about the size of portion to give the child.

As long as your DC isn't losing any weight then you should really be bothered by the odd-time refusal of a meal.

KD0706 Tue 18-Oct-11 22:15:27

My DD is 17mo and one of these toddlers who seems to just live off fresh air. For her tea tonight she had 1/3 of a banana and that was all. If I try to force the issue she just gets upset, and I don't want to turn eating into a big battle. I just try to take the view that she won't let herself starve. She does have bursts, usually every few days, though sometimes less frequently, when she eats loads. But for the vast majority of the time she appears to me to be eating way too little.

She is energetic and alert and happy and sleeps through the night so most of the time that keeps me reassured that she's doing ok. I do sometimes get myself in a pickle and worry about her intakes, but I think worry is just a standard part of being a parent, isn't it!

foreverondiet Tue 18-Oct-11 23:37:49

DS2 is a serial food refuser. He often refuses dinner. We don't force him. I might offer a piece of toast if he'd refused lunch as well. He gets 7oz of milk at 6.30pm and thats it.

Unless your child is waking up hungry in the night or is on the 2nd percentile for weight I don't really see why this is such a worry.

KD0706 Wed 19-Oct-11 17:05:43

I thought of this thread earlier today as I tried to persuade my reluctant DD that she did really want to eat porridge. Managed about three spoonfulls.

So disheartening isn't it!

TiarasTimeOutsAndTantrums Wed 19-Oct-11 17:16:05

DS doesn't eat. Well hardly ever. He grazes and goes back to nibble so I leave a plate on the table for half hour and if it's not eaten in that time it goes in the bin. He's 2.9 and HV said it's normal. He's been like it since birth though he never finished a full bottle. DD eats for England though!

Nat38 Wed 19-Oct-11 17:25:52

My DD was the same at that sort of age!! Her 2nd christmas she had 2 banana`s for christmas lunch with yoghurt for pudding!!! Still feel a bit guilty now, but she refused christmas lunch!!!

CharleyBucket Wed 19-Oct-11 17:39:25

My ds was the same! I started doing what you did and it made him worse!! Now if he doesnt eat his dinner he goes hungry! I had 2 nights of tantrums and tears and feeling like a terrible mother now he eats that majority of whats put in front of him without any fuss.
Its hard a first but its worth it in the long run!
And remember.. a child will never starve themselves!! If theyre hungry they eat!!

CharleyBucket Wed 19-Oct-11 17:43:04

Sorry have just read that your dc is 21 months. My son was abit older, around about the age where they start pushing your buttons on purpose! grin Probably have been abit softer on him at that age!

cece Wed 19-Oct-11 17:43:28

If he doesn't eat anything for his dinner then the plate is removed and nothing else is offered.

Then at bed time he is given his supper as usual with a cup of warm milk.

Sometimes he doesn't eat that either. TBH I am not worried as he makes up for it the next day.

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