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My 4yo son won't eat a full meal

He refuses to sit down and eat a full meal no matter what we try. We've tried praise or punishment and neither works. He is very skinny, but I always figured that was because of his dads side of the family is super skinny also. He picks at food all day long, a snack here and there. I'll make him a plate and he'll just pick at it. Any advice info suggestions? Should I be worried? Could this be a health concern?


Asked by team_stewart at 10:26 AM on Jul. 14, 2008 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 3 (13 Credits)
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Answers (7)
  • Avoid at all costs any battle of wills.Relax and take away any pressure or focus on it as if it were a problem. That just knots up his tummy! I watched my sister-in-law with her first child: lots of rules "if you don't eat your broccoli, then no dessert!" all the way to having him sit endlessly at the table and:"have just one bite, and then you can leave the table" He is now 12, and to this day they struggle and plead with him. His younger siblings are no problem. Forcing a child to eat is just not good on several levels(no space here for explanation). Health experts recommend eating 5 or 6 times a day, anyway. Have nothing but fresh produce and whole grains around - he can snack on oatmeal or a carrot. Juice, chips, cookies, sodas shouldn’t be in your house, they can dampen his appetite for a whole day. I discovered that regularly eating meat made my 3 start to dislike vegetables and crave sweets! Protein can be cheese over vegetables, dairy, beans, fish, tofu … good l

    Answer by waldorfmom at 7:19 PM on Jul. 14, 2008

  • It is a stage they go through. Try not to feed him any snack 2 hours before he eats. Give him Homo milk. When I make my daughter something I make a bit of everything for her and then she does not get board with what she is eating.
    Good luck

    Answer by MZeni at 10:46 AM on Jul. 14, 2008

  • No meal, no snack, that's the rule in our house. If he's snacking throughout the day, he's not going to be hungry at mealtime.He'll eat whatever you put in front of him if he gets hungry enough.

    Answer by Bethsunshine at 11:37 AM on Jul. 14, 2008

  • If he eats breakfast, he can have a mid-morning snack. If he eats lunch, he can have an afternoon snack.
    Make sure everything he is offered is healthy so any foods he does eat are good for him.
    At meal times, make sure you put kid-sized portions on his plate. Let him ask for seconds of something rather than face a huge pile he has no hope of eating.
    Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes and have him stay at the table during that time. Once it rings, he can either stay and eat/talk more or he can ask to be excused.

    Answer by kaycee14 at 11:56 AM on Jul. 14, 2008

  • My son has been like that for the last 3 years. I have continually brought this up to the doctors and they have never shown concern. They said he would kind of grow out of it and start eating more around 4 or 5. (Mine also has a major sweet tooth - my fault) A few things I do is put protein powder in his oatmeal, sneak in vegetables in my meatloaf, get the juice with vegtables in them, put in vegetable powder in my spaghetti sauce or anything else I come up with to get additional nutrition in what he does eat. He is 4 years 2 months and has started eating more meat. Since I've kept up with this with the doctors, I am more at ease with his small appetite and just let him eat the amount he wants.

    Answer by tripsmom1 at 12:57 PM on Jul. 14, 2008

  • Don't let him eat whenever he wants. You set a schedule for him to eat so that he will want to eat each and every time. Give him very light snacks with water and if he still is not hungry or picky when eating you may have to cut the snacks out all together. It's very important that the eat the nutritious meals because their bodies need that nourishment. The snack is just a filler until the next meal time. If he is not eating the meals, it means he doesn't really need as many snacks.

    Answer by SylviaNCali at 5:28 PM on Jul. 14, 2008

  • Oh! And ... a great idea is to have a couple of fresh vegetable cut into spears put onto a side plate near his plate. He can take ones to eat as he wants to. Depending on your family's usual food, you can include a dip bowl for him to add more flavor - pesto, sour cream, yogurt, mashed beans or hummus dips. Just be careful that the dips are very mild and not strong or salty since this will spoil his palate for the more simple food appropriate to his young age. If he is already feeling backed into a corner about this, then be sure that everybody at the table has these little side dishes so his side dish does not look like another issue. He may ignore it for many days, but he might reach for this as a snack sometime ...

    Answer by waldorfmom at 7:26 PM on Jul. 14, 2008