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how do I get my toddlers to eat dinner?

It's the only meal they fight- and they fight EVERYTHING we put in front of them, regardless of what it is. I have a three year old and two year old. I know my youngest is only doing it to copy his older brother, but I can't figure out WHY they do it! We could have chocolate sundaes and they'd STILL fight me on every last bite!!! Any tips?

p.s. so far we've done the "eat it for breakfast" route, and they went hungry for 24 hours, then threw up. We made them sit there till they finished, then straight to bed, but they'll sit there till 3 in the morning and fall asleep at the table. So anything ELSE?


Asked by livn4hevn at 3:13 PM on Dec. 30, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 11 (622 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (8)
  • We use the 3 bite rule. You must try 3 bites of what is on your plate; if you don't like it, you fix yourself peanut butter and honey on whole grain toast with a kiwi or apple. Even my husband is expected to follow the rule.
    If you cave now, you will forever have picky monsters on your hands.

    Answer by rkoloms at 6:29 PM on Dec. 30, 2009

  • Why don't you just not make them eat dinner? ... maybe they really honestly are not hungry. Don't let them snack between lunch and dinner and don't let them have anything after dinner. If they're not hungry it is not good of you to force them.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:22 PM on Dec. 30, 2009

  • My kids usually skip dinner. They have eaten enough at that point and usually are not really interested. I'll offer them a banana or a string cheese if they want it. I would never force them to eat. That's really not good, it could result in eating disorders later on.

    Answer by mompam at 3:28 PM on Dec. 30, 2009

  • Dinner is the smallest meal my 2 year old eats. I never force her to eat, but she doesn't get snacky food or treats if she misses a meal.

    Answer by apexmommy at 5:00 PM on Dec. 30, 2009

  • NEVER force a child to eat. Do you like to eat when you aren't hungry? Neither do they. Also, a serving size for a toddler is very small compared to an adult serving. Tablespoons compared to cups. Offer foods that you know they will eat along with other foods. Have them try the new foods before giving standby's. Also, make sure they are not sitting next to each other at meals. Kids that age tend to eat very small portions more times a day. 5-6 mini meals compared to 3 full meals and snacks. Also, NEVER make a child go without food. Ask someone who has an eating disorder how they were made to eat as kids, most have been forced to finish all their food, had food used as punishment or incentives. Think about how you feel when someone forces you to eat foods you don't like, eat when not hungry or food that has been sitting for hours.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 5:24 PM on Dec. 30, 2009

  • We have a two bite rule too, only you don't get anything else if that is all you eat. We eat as a family, and I will leave off spices, but if we are eating chicken, everybody is eating chicken. I don't mine them not eating anything but their two bites of everything. I think when we act like it is a big deal, they fuss more. When we say eat you two bites and get down, it is over and not a fight, just how it is....

    Answer by Simonsmama at 11:35 PM on Dec. 30, 2009

  • I have the same problem and my daughter is 4. There are nights that she doesn't eat and we put her to bed early. No snacks ect for not eating a meal. We try to encourage her to take at least 2 bites of the meal but that doesn't always work. Our doctor says its normal for this age and that you shouldn't pressure them to eat if they don't want too. Keep offering them the dinner and if they don't eat excuse them from the table and tell them no tv but they can read/look at a book.

    Answer by mommytobrooke at 9:27 AM on Dec. 31, 2009

  • Just wanted to say that I listened to the advice and scoldings for all you moms who said not to force them to eat... and my son wound up in the hospital. Ends up, when a child doesn't eat enough, their intestines can start to do crazy things. His large intestine sucked up a portion of his small intestine. The pediatric surgeon said it was common... progressively more common as more parents have adopted this idea that their kids don't have to eat and forcing them to eat is wrong.

    That's the last time I take scoldings from ppl I don't know to heart. And for the rest of you, please make your children eat at least a bite or two. It only took three days of not eating dinner for this problem to develop in my 2 year old. You don't EVER want to sit there and watch them pump your baby's bottom full of pressurized air to fix this problem. It was a nightmare- and my heart couldn't handle it. It's for their own good... make them eat.

    Answer by livn4hevn at 9:00 PM on Jan. 9, 2010