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HOW to make a 4yr old eat????? HELP!!

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VHunter

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Ok, to begin with.... we are accustomed to my 6yr old, who since birth is a veritable HOOVER:!:

That child will eat anything and everything under the sun... almost.
And when in doubt, deny dessert, and then she finds a way to eat it, for she doesnt want to miss out on dessert.
(we have dessert every meal, but it's not as you think. It's usually: yogourt, apple sauce, fruit, and that sorta thing. With occasional ice cream OR popsicles that are home-made from real fruit juice). RARELY is it cake or cookies or that sort of thing.
We often have to tell her "no you can't have any more until your brain gets the message that your belly is full. WAit 1/2 hr and if you're still hungry, THEN you can more." And usually, she doesn't want more. She eats a tad fast, and we have to remind her to slow down.


NOW my youngest...... 4yrs old........ she's a bird. Since birth, getting food down her gullet is a MAJOR BATTLE.
Even her 'favorites' take forever and a day. It's not unusual for her to take 1hr to eat even her favorite food. It's FRUSTRATING!!!
We deny snacks between meals, and only permit minimal amount of beverages to her, between meals so she doesn't fill up on liquids.
We have denied desserts, she doesn't care.
We have tried time-outs or sending her to bed. She doesn't care.

She eats when and if she wants. NOTHING works.

PLEASE HELP!
 

'chelle

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Sounds like you've got your hands full!!

Just a couple of ideas spring to mind:

Have you tried turning food into play? Do some cooking sessions, baking sessions, let her decide what she wants to cook, help her, but let her do as much as she can safely do herself, and she may be more inclined to eat something she has made herself. It might not happen straight away, but I would be inclined to ease off, dont make a big deal if she doesnt eat, just give her no response. But, when she does eat, give her praise and rewards. Have a box of stickers and little stuff that little girls like. do you think she might respond to a star chart? If so you could say something like, 7 stars in a row (ie a full weeks meals eaten, or at least a reasonable go at them) and she gets a treat at the end of the week.

I really do not envy you, they are stubborn little buggers at that age, mine was exactly the same! Involving her with cooking worked for me.
Good luck. Above all, remember, they wont starve themselves, if you think it becomes a problem nutritionally, perhaps see your health visitor

Good luck!!
 

Bagpuss

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Is she on the go all day....has she got colour in her cheeks....??...if yes to both then there isn't much wrong with her, she will eat when she is ready and as long as you are not allowing her to scoff junk then i wouldn't worry. This is what a doctor told me when i had the same problem. She is 7 now and much better but still doesn't eat like my other kids.
 

shellpink

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I had this & have this now at times! My mother-in-law made up this silly game where you put the food on the spoon/fork and have to look around for a 'birdie' in the mean time my daughter would eat it and when we look back at her plate we would say 'oh no, the birdie ate it'! and put more on and do it all over again, before long it was all gone, she thought it was great! sounds silly but it worked for my miss fussy pants!!
 

hayls

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My little boy eats just enough to keep him alive, and thats it! We have had endless battles about it, but now we have come to the conclusion that when he is hungry he will eat!
No treats, no snacks, nothing, Im not going to reward him not eating, but he doesnt care, if he doesnt want it he doesnt eat it.
There was a time when I thought Im gonna make him sit at the table until hes finished, he won, lets put it like that!

To me, there is no point in forcing them to eat, as I say if hes hungry he eats, only a small portion granted, but its something!

Also he is underweight, but not majorly, the health visitor told me to try and feed him up a bit, but short of shovelling the food into his mouth myself, there is no way!

Its just something that we have come to terms with.........my little girl on the other hand loves her food, isnt fussed with all things sweet, and would rather a carrott stick to a choccie bar! Poles apart!

Dont stress it V, Im sure she'll be just fine!! (the picky little blighter!!)

xxxxxxxx:hug:
 

rouge

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Well if she's healthy and happy and what she does eat is good stuff, then I wouldn't worry too much. I was exactly the same when I was a child, and my mum was worried about me, took me to the doctor's, and that's what he said to her too. Honestly, when I say I had a small appetite, I mean that when I was about 10, my dinner would fit on a saucer, that's how little I ate. I grew out of it though!
 

absolutly fab!

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we dont all have big appatttes. As long as thewre is nothing phyisicasl rong , CHILL, the more you demand the more she will be put off. Meal times should be fun time 4 chat and catch up with family. My 11 year old would not eat enought to keep her allive, now she has had a growth spurt and we have to slow her down on the volume she eats
. I she a happy child , is she active colour in cheeks?

Do u and u hubbie have an appetite, r u big eaters.

If u imagine there little tumms the size of ,and try and put all there dinner in a plastic bag would there tum busrt with the quantity that they r tring to eat/ fit in?

She may be one of those that is little an oftern.

good luck. xx
 

sj1973

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my brother had this problem with his son.....he hardly eat anything....they use to fill him up with sweets....

one day....we went to a family bar-b-que...i watched them follow him around with a burger.....
they made him eat it and to tell you the truth ...it made me feel ill watching them....
i told them not to make a big issue of it and they are better.....and so is he....
he still does not eat much but he is soooo much better ....i do hope your girl gets better xxxxx:hug:
 

JessieBee

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I done a similar thing as Shellpink with one of my girls I would put food off her plate on my fork, tell her i'm going to eat it look away then she'd steal it off my fork (which of course she thought was really naughty and funny). Another thing I done was put say 3 different pieces of food from her plate on her fork (the portion would still be small) make her close her eyes and then she had to tell me what food from her plate she was eating - worked everytime.
Another thought, maybe get different plates, bowls etc with pics on the bottom so that she has to eat her dinner in order to see what the picture is?
My eldest daughter was really fussy, we have a picture at about 3 and she is soooo skinny in it, she would eat but was just so fussy that she wouldn't eat much. Even now she won't eat cheese, eggs anything like that, will only have lemon curd or jam in her sandwhiches etc :rolleyes:. Like most have said though, she will eat when she wants to and as long as she's getting her liquids then there's not really a lot you can do.
 

VHunter

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I have tried the games. But short of spoon feeding her myself (AT EVERY MEAL which I flat out refuse to do, at her age), getting her to eat is a challenge.
I think it's the "work" involved that puts her off, to be honest. She'll happily ingest anything that doesn't require effort: milk, yogourt, applesauce, milk-shakes, that sort of thing.
If she must fuss with a fork or chew it....... FORGET IT.
Even Cheerios cereal, her favorite, LITERALLY takes an hour. I am NOT kidding. Every morning, they sit at the table at 6:50/7:10am for breakfast. At 7:55 when Mereena is walking out the door with our neighbor to head for the bus-stop to school, she is STILL eating her cheerios:!::eek:
AND YET, the yogourt that follows dissappears down her throat faster than you can blink:irked:

I'll try getting her involved in the cooking and the star chart. she does have designed plates, and her favorites are the dolphin plates and she gets upset if they're dirty and unavailable. I also give her MUCH MUCH less than I give her sister, and she rarely eats even half.
Yup, I understand that some kids eat less, and that's not the problem.
Its that it routinely takes her 1hr or more to eat 1/2 or 1/2 or what her sister has eaten:grr:

I argue with hubby about this frequently, because he wants to punish her every time, and it turns into a battle. it's simply not worth the battle and no one's happy at the end of it.

She's happy. Healthy. Has coulour
But rather delicate/tiny. She can fit size 2 or 3 clothes, EXCEPT the sleeves and pants are too short and she's tall enough for size 5, but they're too baggy on her.

thanks everyone for your ideas, I'll approach hubby with them.. and we'll see what happens
:hug::hug::hug:
 

Bagpuss

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get a timer....set it for 30 mins and tell her that when the buzzer goes off it goes in the bin. no tv and to sit alone with no distractions.........sounds harsh but try it....my youngest was the same when sat with her sisters....when sat lone to eat she whizzed through it.
 

Debbies Gellies

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Hi Victoria, I know this is a problem for you because life is not easy when one doesn't fit in with the normal running of 'meal times' but if she is eating, even if only when she wants at least she is eating. Looking at this as an outsider and being a mum I can see a picture of a young lady getting all the attention by what ever means she can and not necessarily on purpose, but if it works why not. Try looking at it that she is not the same as you or your other children and not naughty but just different. If she has realised being a little madam about food causes her to get your full attention she is somewhat in control and only 4. Changing her and the way you deal with her I can imagine taking a long time with the patience of a saint. When will she start school? as this could be a point where you either need to sort it before she goes or hope that if she eats school food she likes it. I do feel for you though :hug: it is not easy being a mum!
 

marioned

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Hi Victoria,
How about porridge in the morning (oatmeal you probably call it), made with milk. You don't need to add sugar. You can make it in the microwave and making the real stuff with oats is just as easy as the prepackaged kind. That would mean you know she is at least having a good start to the day and it will cause you less hastle in the mornings, which I'm sure are a busy time for you. You could add things to it to make it more intersting for her, eg applesauce, raisins if she copes with them, if not soak them overnight in fruit juice, etc.

The main thing to remember is not to turn it into a battle. This isn't making eating any more enjoyable for her, it'smaking it just the opposite. Watch if she is doing this for attention too. Do you pay a lot of attention to her when she is eating? Do you continually coax her as she is at the table? Compare her to her sister? Discuss what she is/isn't eating with others in front of her? Is she eating at the table alone or does she not really have any need to finish her meal and leave the table, either because somebody or something (tv, toys, books, etc) is keeping her entertained?

Getting her involved in the cooking as others have suggested is a good idea. Also involve her in the meal planning. Maybe the night before, go over what she would like to eat the next day. Have a paper plate divided up into maybe 3 sections - one for meat/fish/cheese. etc, one for veg and one for carbohydrates such as potato, pasta, rice, etc. Have some cut out pics from a magazine of the different foods available and allow her to choose one or more for each section. This gives her control over what she wants to eat, but you control over the choices available. It means a bit of work cutting out pictures, but if it works it is worth it. Don't worry if she makes "strange" combinations, which normally you wouldn't have on the one plate. This doesn't matter, it's just "convension" that we don't put these together. Take her shopping with you too if possible, so that she can help in the selection of foodstuffs. Give her (limited) choice, eg should we buy bananas or apples? With this and involving her in the preparation of meals, hopefully your tussles will be fewer.

Try giving her foods which are softer if possible too, eg if she prefers mashed potatoes to whole potatoes, don't insist that she has them whole. Maybe mash up the pasta, cut up spaggetti into smaller pieces, etc. However, still give her some more lumpy/hard foods too, so she is still getting experience of chewing.

Just remember, it's unlikely that she will starve. If she is healthy, with good colour, sleeping well and active during the day she is probably getting all she needs. Make sure she is still getting enough calcium in the form of milk, yogurt, etc and if you are worried about vitamins you could slip som drops into some of her food.
Hope this has been of some help Victoria.
Marion xx
 

*JOANNE*

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Is she on the go all day....has she got colour in her cheeks....??...if yes to both then there isn't much wrong with her, she will eat when she is ready and as long as you are not allowing her to scoff junk then i wouldn't worry. This is what a doctor told me when i had the same problem. She is 7 now and much better but still doesn't eat like my other kids.
ditto what ang has said my 9 year old...eats slow(i am a slow eater too)....and eats not alot he is tiny framed compared to his brothers but he is an energetic little lad and is thriving.....my other 2 brilliant eaters but paul isnt and never has been, i think if you make it an issue she will make it an issue too, just let her get on with it, eat the way she eats and how much she eats.....some peeps eat 3 meals a day, some peeps are grazers and probaly eat more than we realise....have plenty of fruit, nuts raisins to hand....
if she takes ages eating her breakfast get her up first.
but dont make this an issue for her to listen too, or it could get worse...as in it could start being a real issue for her if people are reprimanding her for the way she eats and what amount she eats
 

Lucy-Jayne

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Ok, I have no experience with kids, but when I was younger and I wouldn't eat, just drink or easily swallow e.g. milkshake, I had toothache. Not being able to tell anyone about it, or explain it because I was so young!

Does she perhaps have something wrong with her teeth? Pain when she chews? Or a feeling of being uncomfortable?

I have constant pain with impacted wisdom teeth now (too scared to get them taken out!), if I have a bad day with them, I take forever to eat and just want to drink.

Isn't it around the age of 4 / 5 when adult teeth start pushing through?

Just a stab in the dark!

xx
 

VHunter

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All kinds of great advice here!

Much, I've tried already. Some of it, I'm willing to give it a shot.

No, she has no health problems. She has been this way since birth. Even when breastfeeding, I had to coax her and harass her to eat enough.
She has ALWAYS taken an hour, since learning to feed herself.
We have tried reprimanding, removing priveledges, rewarding, all sorts of things, encouraging, discouraging...
She just doesn't care.
What she does eat, IS balanced because I flat out refuse to give her any junk. ESPECIALLY given the situation.

I guess for the moment, we need to stop making an issue of it, set the timer for 30min and if she's not done, just put it away. If she's hungry. Oh well, wait until the next meal. I'll try that for a month or so, and see if this silliness ends.
Perhaps by ceasing to make an issue, it'll end.

THANKS OODLES:!::!::!:
 

chantell simone

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Ok, to begin with.... we are accustomed to my 6yr old, who since birth is a veritable HOOVER:!:

That child will eat anything and everything under the sun

this sounds just like my 7 year old daughter:)

i say to try cooking meals with her
 

minky

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Hi Victoria Ive had a problem like this with kids and I know its really hard .:hug:

You could try and leave little healthy tempting tit bits or nibbles around while she is about the house with you ,
and then just pretend your not watching her ,

or she could have a tea party for her dolly's and make the dolly's some teeny sandwiches ect ,
she just may want to pretend the dolls ate them or she may fancy a secret sandwich too :hug:

she may start to eat these things if they look to good to resist
especially as someone said if she has had a hand in making them too,

I always remember being shocked at my little one when he ate the ducks stale bread , :eek:
I couldn't get him to eat anything either :eek:

It must have looked good if the ducks wanted it
or he got jealous of the ducks eating it :lol:

so off we went most days to feed the ducks with some nice wholemeal or banana bread sandwiches instead :lol: lol

also at bedtime you could make some special toasty houses ,
(just a little piece of toast with windows and doors cut out) and a small milky drink with a bedtime story for her and her older sister ,
this always used to work too ,

your older daughter may want to finish your smaller girls toast and milk off for her ,
but say a gentle no,
and your younger daughter will probably guard it as it is a very special treat
plus it always tastes so much better when someone else wants it , :lol:

I know everyone has their own eating routines and everyone knows their own child best ,

but you may just find something helpful on these posts that just may work

good luck :hug: x

.
 

gillian w

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I used to worry like anything about my daughter not eating enough but she is just not a big eater. She is 16 now and still only eats basically what she needs and likes.Ready brek at breakfast, a sandwich at lunch,fresh juice and a dinner,which would be macaroni cheese or jacket potato and salad every evening if she had her way .She doesnt like chips,crisps pastry milk or any junk food apart from chocolate,she doesn't like meat apart from lamb and she has never been any different.But she is very healthy,has good skin/hair an enviable size 6/8 figure and plenty of energy.
My son on the other hand is like a baby bird and never stops eating anything and everything so i have to be careful what i buy.
I think we over estimate what some people actually need and its quality rather than quantity thats important.
I might add that my son has omega 3 multi vit and my daughter an ordinary multi vit.
I also make quite a lot of smoothies in the blender,with frozen fruits a banana,a fruit yoguart and apple juice.If i can be bothered to get my juicer out i will stick in a few juiced carrots and ginger as well.
 

lotus blossom

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All kinds of great advice here!

Much, I've tried already. Some of it, I'm willing to give it a shot.

No, she has no health problems. She has been this way since birth. Even when breastfeeding, I had to coax her and harass her to eat enough.
She has ALWAYS taken an hour, since learning to feed herself.
We have tried reprimanding, removing priveledges, rewarding, all sorts of things, encouraging, discouraging...
She just doesn't care.
What she does eat, IS balanced because I flat out refuse to give her any junk. ESPECIALLY given the situation.

I guess for the moment, we need to stop making an issue of it, set the timer for 30min and if she's not done, just put it away. If she's hungry. Oh well, wait until the next meal. I'll try that for a month or so, and see if this silliness ends.
Perhaps by ceasing to make an issue, it'll end.

THANKS OODLES:!::!::!:

does it really matter if she takes along time???

i feel quite sorry for her if you are reprimanding her for being a slow eater, its not that shes eating junk instead of a balanced diet, shes just not eating much and when she is its taking a long time.

i would just forget about it, as long as shes well

let her eat as much or as little as she wants and maybe start her breakfast earlier if shes making you late, rather than rushing her

kids are kids for such a short time,
when shes all grown up and your little bird has flown the nest, youll probably wish she was still there eating her cheerios however long it took!!!

dont sweat over it victoria xxxxx
 

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