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How do you get a stubborn child to eat??

Our daughter usually eats really well if she gets what she asks for, but if we feed her what we have made for ourselves she is so utterly stubborn. She doesn't throw a fit or anything, she'll just sit there with food in her mouth and not chew it up or she'll almost gag herself because the food has been in her mouth so long. Even when given some incentive to finish eating she won't eat any better. Yesterday it took her over an hour to eat 4 little pancakes. And she is perfectly content to not eat. She has taken the option of going to bed instead of finishing her dinner more than once. We no longer give her that option because she isn't eating enough! Please help!!

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Asked by cutemomma127 at 1:06 PM on Dec. 20, 2009 in General Parenting

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Answers (13)
  • A 4 year old will not starve herself to the point of being unhealthy, no matter how stubborn she is. Just stay consistent and don't give in to her and she'll figure it out eventually. Skipping dinner won't hurt her.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 1:13 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • see if there is a root cause. I have a friend who would really rather starve then eat. he is so thin dhs has threatened to take him away. my friend says meals are awful -they take two hours and he only eat a very minor amount. she has done everything from food coloring to.. idk so many things it's crazy. i asked her why and she said that he told her that eating is torchure. at that point I would have taken the child to therapy to fix the situation.

    they say that a child will not really starve themselves but i beg to differ... acess weight and over all health. talk to your doctor and look online for picky eaters meals/recipes. my friend is only concerned about calories at this point so she found a shake that sounded great... the child won't eat that either. Best luck to you!!!!

    Answer by MoMoFu at 1:18 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • My friend is very strict with her child now.
    somethings that work are No snacks. if you think your childs health is at stake cut out the snacks. check calories and nutrient. give the child what they need Only.

    my friend even restricts fluid because he will fill up on liquid and then not eat food.

    here you are both end of the picky eaters spectrum....

    Answer by MoMoFu at 1:22 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • I make meal time fun. I use cookie cutters to make cute shapes or cut things in really small sizes so they don't choke on them. The first thing I thought of with your post is that maybe her throat hurts. She sounds like she's hungry and wants to eat. She even puts the food in her mouth but doesn't want to swallow so maybe swallowing hurts for some reason. I'd take her to the doctor and get her throat checked out. Just a thought.

    Answer by admckenzie at 1:28 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • Offer your child food 6 times a day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Make sure all of them are high in nutrition and not sugar or fat based treats. For the main meals, put 3 to 4 different things on the plate. YOU decide what to put. Just make the plate and don't give your child the option of saying no to something. Then just give your child the choice to eat or not. If, after being offered food 6 times a day, you still feel your child is not getting enough, start adding things like whey protein powder (it's odorless, colorless, and tasteless) to the favorite foods. It can be added to sauces, applesauce, yogurt, baked items, etc, and no one will know you added it. Also, give a vitamin every day to make sure they are getting enough of that as well. Remember, your child's stomach is the size of their fist. For a 4 year old, that is really small. That is why it is important to offer food 6 times a day.

    Answer by AngelDawn7 at 1:31 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • my daughter had always been a 'picky eater', she used to keep food in her mouth for hours too. I believe a kid wont starve themselves but my Grama is always worried about her eating and will try to stuff her with any food she'll eat. I will send her to bed hungry and tell her she can eat a big breakfast if shes hungry. kids will only be picky if you let them by always giving them waht they want, they need to learn to eat whats there IMO. If she is growing and healthy I wouldnt worry about it. I think kids are more in tune with their body and when it needs food and need to hold onto it instead of learning to eat when not hungry and having weight issues later. JMO...good luck!

    Answer by MamaZena at 1:33 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • Try a reward chart make a little chart maybe with a colorful posterboard and some stickers and for every day that she eats she get a star on the chart and at the end of the week if she has all of the stars for each day you could give her a little treat. Maybe it will encourage her to eat more:) Goodluck!

    Answer by MommysRylanBug at 1:42 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • Forcing kids to eat when they aren't hungry, or to clean their plate, makes fat kids who grow up to be fat adults with food issues. She'll eat what she's given if she's really hungry.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:44 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • i would do what mamazena did. Allowing a child to be picky will enforce it.

    I saw i believe a child will strave themselves if allowed. I should add if they are taught that they are allowed to be picky... You know what is best. :)

    Answer by MoMoFu at 1:52 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

  • I would just eat my dinner in front of her and tell her she can't have any.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:22 PM on Dec. 20, 2009

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