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Starving four year old!

Okay, so I have a four year old boy who in the last week has decided he is starving all the time!!! We have healthy snacks available all day long but I don't want him eating all the time because then he will not eat his dinner.... It is very frustrating to hear how hungry he is all the time and then he just wastes the food! He is not overweight (actually has always been petite, currently weighs 31lbs ) and busy as hell! I just don't know what to do with this.....he will mostly waste his breakfast and then act like he is starving to death when he gets home from preschool (they have snack there, usually fruit, veggies or crackers) there is 40 minutes before lunch ( I try to make him doesn't usually happen because I get sick of hearing him whine about starving to death) but he usually ends up with an apple anyway...he will then eat maybe half of his lunch which is fine then he begs for snacks all afternoon , which I don't really give into (but if I of, it's string cheese or carrots...something simple ). He will usually beg for dinner and then completely waste it, then an hour later beg for more food like he hasn't ate all day long....I wrap his dinner up and warm it up for him, but he doesn't usually eat it.... What would you do? It's very frustrating to listen to him whine about food all day long while wasting it and I don't want him to lose weight since he is small already....oh vey!

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Asked by Anonymous at 3:13 PM on Mar. 28, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (17)
  • Maybe he is growing through a growth spurt. My DS eats a lot during those times. I would keep doing what you're doing ad if he starts dropping weight then take him to a doctor. Just feed him snacks in between meals.

    Answer by LostSoul88 at 3:18 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • My daughter has been the same way. I finally figured out that with her, it wasn't about food so much as control. So first, I started making her wait a few minutes after she said she was hungry so I could figure out if it was really hunger or just boredom or wanting my attention, which would be relieved by some non-food activity or a cuddle. I insisted that she had to get a healthy snack before a sweet, and not every healthy snack she ate would be followed by a sweet, either. I also said that if there was an uneaten meal and she chose not to eat that when I warmed it upfor her, she must not be really hungry. She always wanted food at bedtime, which was a stall tactic. We battled it for years, and finally it was suggested that we pick one food--cheese and crackers--we call them her bedtime crackers. She gets those or nothing at bedtime. Ignore the whining; seriously, you don't even hear it.

    Answer by Ballad at 3:21 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • Save the food he doesn't eat for later when he says he's hungry. Or offer small snacks throughout the days instead of whole meals.

    Answer by maecntpntz219 at 3:23 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • All of this sounds pretty normal except dinner.
    That sounds normal too except that he is starving an hour later and wont eat the dinner.
    I fed my kids several times throughout the day but if they would not eat meals they would get nothing but what they left behind. If you are truely hungry you will eat.

    Answer by Dardenella at 3:25 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • Okay, he's getting a chance to each 3 meals and 1-2 snacks every day. He's not starving. He's just a whiny 4 year old (like most of them.. really not personal) who wants to see if he can get what he wants when he wants. My almost 4 year old does that too and is getting worse. And just like you, I make it worse by sometimes giving in and letting him have something a little earlier or at a different time. Meh. He's skinny but strong, energetic and growing consistently. My brother and my DH were scrawny, picky kids too and now they are both tall, healthy adults, so I think our son may follow the same pattern.

    I think if the whining is getting to you, you could either just set hard and fast rules and NEVER deviate so he'll learn that whining doesn't work. Or you can tackle the whining voice specifically (which is what I do), and teach him that he may sometimes get what he want... but NEVER if he whines. He has to speak nicely.

    Answer by Sebbiemama at 3:27 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • It is much better to eat 5 small meals a day than 3 big ones, just start giving him 1/2 breakfast, then snack, then 1/2 lunch then snack 1/2 dinner then snack, he sounds very underweight to me, without knowing his height-31 lbs is what my kids weighed when they were about 2 and 1/2.

    Answer by jerseydiva at 3:41 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • Along with these other ideas make sure he has plenty of water to drink. Sometimes we are really just thirsty when we think we are hungry. And I assume you are telling him that if he does not eat his dinner he can snack on that, and only that, before bedtime.

    Answer by silverthreads at 3:47 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • At our house if they don't eat their meal it is left on the table (if appropriate) and they eat it cold when they say they are hungry 10 minutes later. Did that since they were about 3 and at almost 8 and 6 they don't pull this kind of stuff anymore. If they were still hungry after eating the meal then they got a snack. He may be going through a growth spurt but it sounds more like a control thing to me.

    As for the underweight comment my almost 8 year old is 52 pounds and was barely 30 at the age of 4 himself. He was born tall and skinny and still is. If your doctor is not concerned I would not be either.

    Answer by aeneva at 3:50 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • If my son was wasting meals, he wouldn't get anything in between. I can't stand food waste. It drives me nuts. Also, I'm not about to cater to a child's demands. I am not a short-order cook, this isn't an all-night diner. Eat what you get, when you get it.

    Answer by hootie826 at 3:59 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

  • He has always been petite, so that doesn't bother me....he has always been around the 1-2% for weight and the 12% for height (currently) but he climbs and dances and is moving constantly! He was 7lbs 2oz at birth (and my biggest baby!), crawled early, walked early....not that any of that matters, it just shows how busy he has always been.... He does ask nicely, but starts to whine after I initially say lets wait till dinner.... I am hoping for a growth spurt! Lol! He will be five in August. I don't want to give him unhealthy foods but would love some idea's for some stick to him longer foods.... Right now our snacks are things like string cheese, fruit, veggies and nuts... My eight year old eats the same things as he does and doesn't do this and never has.....starting to wonder if my four year old has a tape worm or something! Lol!

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 4:08 PM on Mar. 28, 2013

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