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My 4 yr. old will not eat!!!

So I'm sure this topic has been covered a lot but seriously my 4 yr. old is driving me crazy!! Every meal takes her an hour or more to eat and she usually won't feed herself without constant prompting... 'pick up your fork', 'take another bite', etc. And sometimes we end up just picking up the fork/spoon ourselves and putting the bite in her mouth. My husband and I are at our wits end, please is there anything that works with your child? How long do you make them stay at the table and what do meals generally consist of? Our daughter's 4 yrs. old and just now got over 30 lbs. so I'm concerned that she won't get enough to eat if we just leave it up to her. Though we've heard over and over that a child won't starve themselves I'm not sure that pertains to our daughter. I think she would become a skeleton and wind up in the hospital if we didn't make her eat.


Asked by Anonymous at 12:11 PM on Aug. 8, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

This question is closed.
Answers (5)
  • Yeah it sounds like you're in a battle of wills and your daughter is winning. I agree although she may be stubborn she really won't starve herself. Don't make things up, but maybe some hard truth will help her eat. Like explain to her if she refuses to eat at home mommy will have to take her to the hospital where they will force her to eat with an iv. You know your daughter so you can make the vocabulary appropriate for her, scary enough she chooses to eat at home but not to freak her out and give her bad dreams. NEVER give in to feeding her, thats just reinforcing the negative behavior. Set an actual timer for however long you deem appropriate and tell her when it dings thats it the food is going in the garbage and she will not eat again till next meal. Keep that up consistently with the reminder of a hospital stay if she chooses not to eat and I bet you'll see things turn around. Good Luck!

    Answer by ba13ygrl1987 at 3:25 PM on Aug. 8, 2009

  • My two year old dawdles, and we have a warning for when the meal is almost over. She gets nearly 45 minutes, so there's plenty of time to eat. I start cleaning up the table, and she has until the table is clean to finish eating. She always finishes what she wants to eat by then, and I have her carry her plate and put it on the counter. If you stop giving the attention, I bet your daughter will eat. She will not starve, and you'd know before she was a skeleton and in the hospital anyway. If you're worried, weigh her, give it a week, then weigh her again. most preschoolers I know that need help eating are just trying to get attention. I'd try it and see if it works for you.

    Answer by apexmommy at 12:42 PM on Aug. 8, 2009

  • DS is going through this right now, and guess what, every child before him went through it at one point or another. It is simply her trying to assert her control over the situation. Honestly, we say, "if you don't eat, then you go lay down in bed". That's just the way it is. Now ds (the youngest) understands that, and so he will eat, but he now, is asking to be fed. I don't get it, I don't care, if he wants to be fed, I'll feed him. But of course, he's number 4 so I've had my fair share of battles, I just don't want this to be one of them.

    Answer by Petie at 4:12 PM on Aug. 8, 2009

  • My son won't eat and he doesn't eat what we eat. He eats what he wants as long as his food choices are healthy. He loves Yoplait yogurt and apples pretty any fruit and will eat cooked veggies and hotdogs an pizza without cheese.
    He hates anything with cheese and even mac-n-cheese. It has to smell good if he's going to eat.
    I do let him have chocalate milk. It's still milk. he loves real french toast not the frozen kid.
    he hates spagettios but likes ravioli
    They will eat if you let them decide what they want. Just dont buy fruit snacks and cookies Kids are people too and if they don't like something don't force it. Just make available fresh cut fruits and healthy snacks. Nothing wrong with snacking all day long all that matters is they get healthy food. My 4 yr old is thin but he is growing like a weed. Don't worry about her starving to death she won't, trust me...It is a phase and it will pass.

    Answer by wheresthewayout at 5:53 PM on Aug. 8, 2009

  • First off, take her to the doctor. Make sure her tonsils are not making eating difficult. Sounds crazy, but I have seen a few kids where the tonsils were large and made eating uncomfortable.

    If this is not an issue, she may be sensitive to additives in food. Allergies to food manifest in many ways. My youngest son would not eat "store bought meat" or canned/frozen vegetables until he was close to 6 years old. He would eat meat from our friend's farm or vegetables that were fresh and steamed however. It was more expensive, but I had to shop at farmer's markets, etc but he would eat.

    If this doesn't help to get her to eat, and there is nothing else wrong, she is just being difficult. Put food in front of her (healthy food) and if she doesn't eat, well then she doesn't eat. She will learn that you eat at meal times. Do NOT give her something in-between or snacks, especially cookies, cakes, candy.

    Answer by kate3937 at 9:21 AM on Aug. 9, 2009