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Age to get child use to eating normal meals with the family

Ok so general question. At what age do you think is appropriate to start making a child eat normal meals with the family? I am remarried and my DH has a 5 year old from a previous gf. Very little does he make her eat meals with us. I would settle for her even picking out what she wants to eat whether it be spaghettio's etc and sitting down with us for meals but instead she is aloud to pick throughout the day and basically not really eat meals with us. I have tried suggesting she eat with us to get her away from wanting to eat junk and little things all day, but this has not happened. I guess it would not bother me as much if not for the fact that then all day, and usually every half hour or so, shes asking for chips, candy etc. Which she will get because she has not eaten. What do you think?

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Asked by Anonymous at 12:29 PM on Apr. 12, 2011 in General Parenting

Answers (17)
  • By the time kids are able to eat table food they should be dining with the family. At 5 she should be eating with the family and also eating the same meal as the family. Since it's gone on this long it will likely be a very hard habit to break and will be met with a lot of resistance. GL!


    Answer by TweenAndTwinMom at 12:33 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • In our home, whether it's my nieces, nephews,friends, or our own boys, when we sit down for any meal, we ALL sit down together. He's giving her too much power letting her do and eat what she wants. If you're are married, then you should be backing each other up, so you need to explain to him, without her present, that he's creating a monster if he's going to let her run the show. She's just going to get older, and more demanding.... It's just going to get worse. The longer you put this off, the harder it's going to be.

    Answer by MrsLeftlane at 12:34 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • answer to original question:  You start as soon as child is old enough to sit in a high chair.  Children should learn that family meals are VERY important from the get go.  Doesn't matter if they are eating what you are eating they should be included.  And even include them in the conversation.  We used to look at our baby and ask "and what do you think?"  They have no idea what you are saying but it is showing love, showing that they are part of the conversation, and is training.


    Answer by Anonymous at 12:35 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • My hildren started sitting at the table with us at meals from infancy. We would sit them in their carrier on the table and we'd eat with them with us. As they got old enough to eat food in a high chair we'd feed them their meal right before we ate but they'd sit at the table with us while we ate and they'd play. Once they could feed themselves they would eat when we ate and they were already used to sitting with us and interacting with us while we ate. By 5 they were very much used to family meal times so I agree with you. Your sd should be eating with you and dad and shouldn't be grazing during the day.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:35 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • Bigger issue: problem in the marriage? If you are showing love and concern for your step child and hubs is not giving it any importance... this issue could be come a GAIANT wedge in the relationship as the child gets older. Hubs is showing the child that you have NO authority. This will become a HUGE issue as you hit the tweens and teen years.


    good luck! It may seem like a small issue but it looks (from the out side) as a symptom of a HUGE problem.


    Answer by Anonymous at 12:35 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • The minute they start solids at 6months+ is when mine sit with us at the table to eat together. Even if I have a grazer. However, mine is only grazing on healthy foods, not chips and candy.

    Answer by BradenIsMySon at 12:37 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • We have always taken our babies to the table with us when we sit down to eat. We park them in their infant seats or bouncy seats at or near the table so that they grow into knowing that is when we eat. I presently have an almost 3-year old grandson who very seldom eats anything between meals, an 18-month old granddaughter who, when she sees everyone else getting ready to eat, goes to her high chair and grabs her bib, and a 7-month old grandson who gets very upset if he is left in another room even briefly while we are preparing to eat. Since this is not your child, you did not have the option of starting her out that way, but I would insist that she sit at the table with the family. You cannot make her eat, but you can make her sit there, and you can refuse to give her snacks between meals. She won't starve and she just might be willing to eat if the snacks were cut out.

    Answer by NannyB. at 12:37 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • That is a really bad habit she is in. Stop buying chips and junk. Let her have a healthy snack at an appropriate time. If it is within 1 hour of a meal, have her wait until dinner. If my kids are starving and I'm cooking, I'll let them have a banana, carrot sticks or cheese stick before dinner. She should be sitting with you for meals.

    Answer by mompam at 12:38 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • Is he doing this for her all day or are you? Do you keep her when he is not around? If the fater is not around. Feed her the way you like.

    Answer by louise2 at 12:39 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • I cannto agree more with a few of the comments. The eating thing is just one of a few issues that we're having and I am being met with resistance on most of them. Please know that he is a great father and for the most part things are not bad but when I make suggestions to making it more "family" oriented or just making observations to "teach" her things that I think are important and to not make her into a brat in a few years, things don't go well. I don't want these things to get in the way of us moving forward into being a happy family but I cannot feel like I have no say in anything and I don't feel these things are so horrible to ask or suggest.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 12:42 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

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