30 month old refuses to eat dinner

bizydigginJanuary 31, 2007

New to the forum, and I'm impressed with the wonderful advice that many of you have to offer. I hoping that you can help me with this one.

We spent most of the summer and fall months living at the drive thru windows. My son likes to play McDonald's and will take your order, even asking if you want a pie. This is all pathetic I know, but we didn't have much choice, it's the result of a military transfer and a very slow builder. Needless to say, the little guy will not eat dinner anymore!

Breakfast is around 8AM and, for example, he'll have pancakes, peaches and a glass of milk. Lunch is at noon grilled cheese sandwich, mixed fruit and green beans, and milk. His teenage sisters get home from school at 3:30 and share a snack with him, usually a salad or Ramen noodles or a sandwich. But when dinner rolls around at 6:00, he refuses to eat, no matter what we're having.

I've never subscribed to fixing separate meals for each memeber of the family, but iin desperation, I have tried to give him something else that I know he likes, only to have him feed it to the dog.

Is this just a phase (it's been going on for about 2 months now), or is this a cause for concern. He seems to be growing and developing normally, if he hadn't he'd have already been to the doctors.

Are there any "tricks" that anyone might suggest?

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Is he getting snacks in between time? If not, he may just not be hungry. I'd make sure that breakfast and lunch are healthy meals with plenty of fruits, veggies, and protein. You may not be able to affect much more than that. If he doesn't want to eat, he won't.

If he is doing a lot of snacking with juices, kool-aid, cokes, junk food, etc., throughout the day, you could cut those way back and see if he'll eat the third meal. I've found the easiest way for my family to cut back on the junk food is to "accidentally forget" to buy it. I've cut out a bunch of bad snacky type stuff this way.

You're last mealtime may also be the reason he won't eat. We had a time change at the end of October. My kids don't always make the time change. I like to have the last meal time of the day as a family sit down time. That means we eat at 7 pm since that's when dh gets home. My kids are bad about not eating that last meal very well because they were hungry before then and have snacked. I try to do what you do and serve a snack such as Mac'n cheese that could also serve as a meal. I try to get them to eat a couple of bites of veggies or grilled chicken at supper.

I feel for you on the transfer and new house routine. We moved last summer. DH went on ahead to start the job and get our moving/relocation benefits started. I was home alone with three kids for around a month. I was trying to get the house in shape to sell and didn't want to clean up messes so I bought mainly pre-made foods such as microwave meals, chicken strips, and fish sticks. I packed up most of the plates, cups, and silverware so I didn't have to wash anything. It was easier on my stress, but not as great for family dynamics.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 11:43AM
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The more you fuss over mealtime the more kids tend to see it as a power struggle sometimes also. So look at the following.

1. As Adellabedella says...what time is supper. If you are snacking at 3:30 and eating at 5, maybe he's not hungry yet. Or is he snacking more before (food OR Drink) the supper meal. He may just not be hungry yet.

2. We made supper a sit down together time. You had 3 options...Supper, PBandJ and Nothing. But you had to sit at the table. I realized there were times when the kids just did NOT like what was for supper, thus the option of PB&J sandwiches. You may not like that, that's fine, that is the option at your house. You are right though to NOT be a short order cook. The kids too had to TRY supper before the PB&J option was given. Then it was that they just had to STAY at the table for conversation. Sometimes they started to pick at their food and Wallah, they "picked" until it was done.

3. Sometimes food becomes the way they control their lives at that age. Mom wants us to eat, well I won't then. The stay at the table works, but they still won't eat the meal...well you have to eat 3 (their age) bites of everything. No drama, just matter of fact. Praises go a long way..Wow what a big bite that was, you're sure a big boy for eating that bite. If they're eating something and you can tell after one bite they just can't do it (We learned not to try to make DD#1 eat sauerkraut when she ate one bite, gagged and almost threw it up on the table, I was not going to make her eat anymore), then it's fine, at least it was tried. Sometimes they decide..hey this is great, can I eat more than 3 bites...make a game out of it. After a while you'll find that the power struggle is gone. Of course with all of it remember too that be flexible, you don't feel good, but you tried and only ate one bite of everything..ok this ONE time (ya right like it will be the only time you do it, but don't tell them that).

4. Make sure the other 2 meals are healthy and remember...this too shall pass, soon enough he'll bee a teenager and you'll wonder why you ever worried about when he didn't eat and wonder 'WHERE IS HE PUTTING IT ALL'.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 3:37AM
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Thanks to both of you, very good suggestions. We'd like to have dinner at 5:00, but DH usually gets home around 6:00, so we're usually eating around 6:30 or 7:00.

After you mentioned the time change, a bell went off, we started having these dinnertime issues at about that time. I'll keep it in mind when Spring rolls around and see if we have a "magic" fix to the problem. In the meantime, good idea to coach the bite taking, he really has fun with the "airplane" game, even asks sometimes for me to "put it in the hanger." Funny, the solution has probably been in front of me the whole time!

Vickey, you are so right...DD2 was a picky eater, now at age 14, she's 5'5" and a whopping 100 pounds, and eats 90% of the groceries that come through the door.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 11:56PM
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I have this problem as well. Hearing your story, the first thing I thought of, is if I were to eat top roman or a sandwich at 3:30pm, there is no chance I will be hungry for a 5/6pm dinner; and that's with an adult stomach. Toddlers have smaller tummies, so I would say your child is just not hungry at dinner time.

My issue is my son is hooked on drinking milk while watching Dora after he comes home from school. My issue is like yours, he had afternoon snack at school and comes home to a full cup (or two) of milk, so he's not hungry come dinnertime. I try to start dinner as soon as we get home, but that is sometimes difficult. So there's my "not being hungry" reason.

Another thing I have heard is children often don't eat dinner. They join the other kids at school; watching them eat lunch and being what they do out of instinct... "follow the other kids". But at home, it's their own call, especially when claiming their independence. I will make dinner, and sneak bites in throughout the evening. It may not be a good lesson to teach, but I want my son to have a full tummy before bedtime and will do whatever works. I won't make an issue of it, just give him a bites (while watching his favorite show, or during his bath) and he'll go for it; not even paying attention. But if I sit him down at the table, he just wants to get up and play. I just play the "sneak a bite" trick. Next thing I find he has made a "happy plate" and we celebrate. He loves that and is proud of himself.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 12:38PM
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How funny is this??? We just set those clocks back, right? Little Man sat and ate ALL of his dinner tonight!!! (The dog was very disappointed.) I hope it wasn't becuase he's decided fish sticks are his new favorite food, becuase they are definately not mine.

Thank you all again for the reassurance!!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 5:27AM
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