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If your child says they are hungry

(137 Posts)
pookamoo Tue 13-Jan-15 23:23:38

After their bedtime, what do you give them?

Would your answer be different if you had earlier had to throw away an uneaten plate of dinner?

For the avoidance of dripfeeding, here is the reason behind the question:

DD1 (6) is a terrible eater and always has been. I have always taken the attitude of offering the food, if she doesn't eat it, I don't make something else, she goes without. I never serve anything she actually doesn't like, and I never force her to clear her place. Dessert is not withheld for an unfinished main course.

People say to me "just let her go hungry, she'll soon learn" but she doesn't "learn" and I don't think it is fair. She usually doesn't complain of being hungry.

This evening she refused to eat two thirds of her meal. She just ate the plain pasta, but left the sauce, veg and chicken. At bedtime she had a glass of milk and an apple. After lights out, she complained she was hungry and I refused to get her a snack.

I do feel like a terrible person, she got very upset and I have no doubt she actually was hungry.

We had a chat about choosing to eat your meal or not and the consequences of that choice and she had a drink of water and went off to sleep fine. I am anticipating two bowls of porridge tomorrow morning!

I have been thinking about it and wondering if we should change our evening routine so that I can get an extra "supper" type meal in. We usually eat around 5, the DC go in the bath about 6 (or upstairs for teeth etc) and in bed by 7. It's flexible.

Just wondering if I should bring the DCs' dinner forward to 4.30 ish, and squeeze in something extra before bedtime. If so, what?

Violettatrump Tue 13-Jan-15 23:27:50

There's an easy answer to this. Don't chuck the left overs. Just tell her if she's hungry she can eat anything of the plate she left.

Violettatrump Tue 13-Jan-15 23:28:32

We only do snacks if it doesn't effect the kids appetite for main meals.

Lweji Tue 13-Jan-15 23:30:36

I work a different schedule and never put DS to bed that early.
At 5 he'd have a mid afternoon snack and dinner at about 7. When does she eat during the day?

grumpyoldgitagain Tue 13-Jan-15 23:33:32

One of mine is a terrible eater, if she eats everything and then still says she is hungry later on I will give her something else for supper

If she messes and food gets thrown out and she complains she is hungry later then tough, she had the choice, food was wasted and she can wait until breakfast

She is 8, her older sister (10) has hollow legs it would seem and pretty much eats everything put in front of her and then still wants more

yellowdaisies Tue 13-Jan-15 23:33:45

Keep the food she doesn't eat in a pot in the fridge. Offer to heat it in the microwave if she gets hungry later. I used to allow grated cheese or ketchup on leftovers too quite often to make them seem more appetising.

Quitethewoodsman Tue 13-Jan-15 23:33:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Priceypizza Tue 13-Jan-15 23:34:23

Nothing, although do give them supper, slice of toast or a bagel but not till 8.3- ish

ANewMe2015 Tue 13-Jan-15 23:35:51

I tend to let my child have something if they say they're hungry and I believe them. (So if they'd chosen not to eat tea then perhaps something small later). It would only be breadsticks/crackers/ ricecake rather than anything "treaty" but I don't like the idea of my children going to bed hungry.

I don't routinely give food before bed but as a child I used to have "supper" (not the main evening meal) of a small bown of cereal each night (say 1 weetabix or something) or a glass of hotchocolate and a biscuit.

We're similar in that we don't make special meals, dont make a fuss if they dont eat it, dont make pudding dependent on dinner being eaten. No fuss about "cleared plates".

I think its really important to develop a healthy relationship with food and part of that is listening to your own hunger cues. I'm firmly against any reoffering of cold uneaten food several hours later as that wouldn't be appetizing to anyone. Or forcing to finish a plate.

I think I'm in the minority on mn though ;)

pookamoo Tue 13-Jan-15 23:36:40

She has lunch at 12, packed lunch consisting of sandwich, fruit, yoghurt, sometimes some kind of bar. This is her choice - she has turned up her nose at all the school meals bar macaroni cheese, which comes up once every 3 weeks. Then I have to give a snack immediately after school as she and DD2 are both baying for blood by then and it buys me time to prepare dinner. I feel it gets in the way of their meal, but try to give just fruit (or in DD2's case half a slice of ham hmm).

I am one of those people who had to bring bedtime forward to make it more bearable and actually get the children to sleep. Any time after 7.30 and it is hell for everyone!

violetta That seems obvious, but given she's not "learned" the connection with leaving your dinner and being hungry by bedtime in almost 6 years, I think an almighty paddy would play out and no lessons would be learned by anyone!

GoofyIsACow Tue 13-Jan-15 23:38:26

Following because we have had this exact issue with DS (same age) tonight, he gets bored of eating after about 3.5 seconds and insists he is full, i explain that is fine as long as he understands that he will not be getting anything later on.

An hour later, im really hungry mummy...

pookamoo Tue 13-Jan-15 23:43:27

anewme I am with you, I think.

We haven't got a microwave, I think cold congealed pasta would be grim and nobody would choose to eat it - it wouldn't solve her being hungry and the point she is "making" was that she didn't like the dinner in the first place even if she asked for it specifically.

I am actually quite worried about her, she's tiny and always has been, and I really don't want food to be an issue. I'd like her to enjoy it.

She listed what she likes when we chatted this evening:

Pasta, tomatoes, red and green peppers (raw only), grated cheese.
Pudding. Peanut butter. Yoghurt.

She gets so tired and is so pale, (I asked on here the other day about iron supplements). I took her to the GP and he said she looks ok, but I just wanted to cry.

I felt awful tonight, like a wicked stepmother from Cinderella, denying a child food. sad

Sorry, dripfeeding. Didn't mean to.

Quitethewoodsman Tue 13-Jan-15 23:44:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pookamoo Tue 13-Jan-15 23:45:47

I've just realised I'm not supposed to say paddy. Sorry blush

pookamoo Tue 13-Jan-15 23:48:12

We end up doing the "one more spoonful, please" sometimes, quit and I cringe while I am saying it - it's just that I know what's a healthy amount and while I do want her to know her own limits, she does need a minimum amount to actually grow and be healthy.
I have tried explaining this to her.

She loves cooking but isn't bothered about eating it herself.

Quitethewoodsman Tue 13-Jan-15 23:51:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IceBeing Tue 13-Jan-15 23:53:19

This may shock some people, but not everyone is the same. The 3 square meals no snacks philosophy is great for some peoples metabolisms but a total disaster for others. Some people need to eat little and often rather than infrequent bigger meals.

If your child would be happier grazing then why not let them get on with it?

What causes weigh issues is forcing people to eat in a pattern that doesn't suit them. This works both ways - people trapped in grazing at work when they would prefer a solid meal and people forced into solid meals who need to graze.

Fairenuff Tue 13-Jan-15 23:53:51

If she had a glass of milk and an apple at bedtime then she isn't hungry.

She is using the word 'hungry' because she doesn't know how to describe what she is actually feeling. It might be that she wants to delay the time where you stop interacting with her and leave her on her own to sleep.

If you want her to have more, give her another piece of ham with her apple and milk, or some cheese. That's plenty for supper anyway, she doesn't need another meal.

ANewMe2015 Tue 13-Jan-15 23:55:00

Do you think she's just not hungry for much food at a time? Some people are more grazers, maybe she needs smaller meals more often?

Maybe an afterschool snack, small dinner, then a light "supper" as per ye olden days of something she'd eat. You could ensure its balanced over the course of a week.

Will she have fruit in her yoghurt? Oats in it? banana sliced up?

Does she chose her own amounts of what she wants to eat? I'd be wary fo the one more spoonful as that's making her know its an issue for you - you ideally want it to be a non-issue (I think....)

ANewMe2015 Tue 13-Jan-15 23:55:30

Ha - multiple cross posts.

Cooki3Monst3r Tue 13-Jan-15 23:56:02

OP I am in exactly the same position. I totally feel your pain!

My fussy eater is nearly 3. Although he ate a fish cake today (yay!!!).

I think your plan for an earlier dinner then a small supper before bed is a good one. What I do when DS hasn't eaten dinner (I won't make something different either) is make 'pudding' a large banana milkshake. Literally just a whole banana and 150ml of while milk whizzed up. He loves it and it seems to fill him up until breakfast.

wiltingfast Tue 13-Jan-15 23:56:04

If the food hasn't been cleared away, they can still eat it but once it's gone from the table, it's gone.

I've a fussy eater too who also sometimes says he is hungry at bedtime but I say it's bedtime now and I guess you'll have to eat a nice big bf in the am.

My dh (when he has them alone) is much stricter on snacks than me and tbh they do eat more of their dinner. When I say stricter I mean no snacks. Whereas I would probably allow a snack cause I tend to need one myself. My dd esp (tho she is not a fussy eater) it is so easy to ruin her appetite.

I suppose the danger of a "supper" is that is bound to be "easier" food for her and she may end up holding out for it and reducing her variety.

All you can do really is offer the food and give her a strucure she can trust. I do bang on about eating even a tiny bit of everything, that no food is yuck which my dc seem to buy into to some extent. Basically I try to talk a lot about the food we eat so it doesn't seem strange.

I'd think about reducing the after school snack or else making that dinner. Not sure what time they're home? It really won't kill them to wait and be hungry for dinner. They will annoy you though!

TendonQueen Tue 13-Jan-15 23:58:22

I have some similar issues to you. My DS is the same age and he goes to bed at 7 - he is, luckily for me, one of those children who thrives on more sleep and actually gets up earlier if he goes to bed later (as well as being grumpy later that day). So I get your reluctance to keep your DD up later for food.

He's also become more picky over food over the last couple of years. When he does this, I usually offer a glass of milk and then, if he gets upset about being hungry, some of those Belvita cereal biscuits that are supposed to keep you going for longer. I get the milk variety which I actually like myself smile but which fulfill, I hope, the principle about giving 'boring' snacks for instances like this. I don't think there's an easy answer. I do wonder whether something like peanut butter though would work to fill up your DD without being too 'treaty'. Also maybe more milk to drink.

Cooki3Monst3r Wed 14-Jan-15 00:00:55

Just re read your post op and see your DF had milk and apple before bed. That is a supper really, isn't it?

Perhaps miss the after school snack and bring dinner forward. Add toast or cheese to the milk and apple.

pookamoo Wed 14-Jan-15 00:17:17

Thanks everyone - I am really appreciating your support and tales of similar fusspots! I feel like a neurotic mother.

I don't think it would be that healthy to have pasta salad every day? Plus, I am not keen to start making a separate meal for her. My mum did that for my brother for about 20 years!

We get home from school about 3.45 on an ordinary day. I have started to prepare meals in advance so they are in the oven on timer when possible or as much chopping as possible is done before the school run. This means I can spend a bit of time with the DC, as well as distracting them from the "I'm hungry!" wail that goes up as soon as we reach the front door. I had to put a lock on the fridge, but that was DD2 (3) who eats ham and mushrooms ! I am not in the least bit worried about her!

It is so hard to cook a meal with two small sharks circling, often crying like they haven't been fed for weeks!

DD2 will often say "I'm hungry" and I will say "Good thing I am cooking dinner" and she'll reply "I don't want dinner!" by which, of course, she means she wants something else, i.e. a snack possibly a bite out of a pat of butter, strange girl !

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