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How do you deal with a child refusing to eat?!

My almost 3-year-old son just won't eat! This is not a temporary problem linked to a fever, teething, etc, but something that has been going on for quite some time. My husband and I thought it would gradually go away as he got older, but it is not. There are days when he will sit at the table for an hour or more and not eat a single bite of the food that is on his plate. Our 4.5 year old and our 1.5-year-old eat just fine and we (whenever possible) eat all of our meals together as a family.

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3Elizabeth

Asked by 3Elizabeth at 4:20 PM on Oct. 1, 2008 in Toddlers (1-2)

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Answers (5)
  • Is it he won't eat anything..or wants only certain things? There is a big difference. If the child refuses to eat anything you need to take him to the Dr. for evaluation to make sure there isn't a physical reason he won't eat.
    If it is that he only wants sweets or something, don't give in. Don't Let him drink his fill in sippys, bottles or whatever either. A 3 yr old won't starve themselves unless there is a problem of some kind. Offer meals same as everyone else. When the rest are done..or 30 min max..so is he. No snacks, no juice, only water.
    GrnEyedGrandma

    Answer by GrnEyedGrandma at 4:27 PM on Oct. 1, 2008

  • You know, it's not as big a deal as it sounds... kids won't starve themselves if there is food available. My kids do the same thing. They like to have snacks during the day and then they don't want to eat their meals. BUT, I find that if I put food in front of them and they don't want to eat it, I tell them fine, but they will not get anything to eat until the next meal... the key is... you have to take the food away, and not give them snacks or anything until the next meal. I guarantee, your child will be hungry enough to eat the next meal. This works for me every time. My kids still try to get away with not eating, but I feel that giving snacks is not only nutritional, but it should also be a priveledge, especially if they are using snacking as a substitute for meals. Plus, when they are hungry they will eat. Simple as that. Just make sure that no food is accessible between meals and it will work.
    hottiemommy2002

    Answer by hottiemommy2002 at 5:34 PM on Oct. 1, 2008

  • He won't starve himself to death. This is a control issue. Unless you are willing to force a tube down his throat and force feed him - you can't make him eat. If he isn't losing weight, just offer him good food and healthy snacks and shrug your shoulders when he refuses to eat. By making it a control issue, you are giving him a reason to NOT eat. If he is losing weight, go see the doctor. But as I said, for most kids this is a "you can't make me, I'm more powerful than you" game. Take the competition out of the game and hunger isn't fun anymore.
    kaycee14

    Answer by kaycee14 at 7:42 PM on Oct. 1, 2008

  • I have a 14 month old that refuses to eat and we are actually about to go to a feeding clinic. They offer brushes to help with textures.
    tabarismom

    Answer by tabarismom at 9:15 PM on Oct. 1, 2008

  • juices i give my kids lots of juices smoothies stuff like that in a color cup so the cant see the color lol like carrot apple juice
    Patience1

    Answer by Patience1 at 3:24 AM on Oct. 2, 2008

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