Thursday, February 25, 2010

How To Get Your Kids To Eat

I know there are a lot of parents out there, like us, who struggle or have struggled with getting their kid/kids to eat.

Our oldest is a slow eater and that's just the way she eats and that's fine. But when she was younger, she wasn't just a slow eater, she was also a very stubborn eater. Sound familiar? I think a few things caused this, but sometimes it's not what the parents are doing necessarily, sometimes this is just the way that some kids choose to seek attention. My advice...don't give it to them. Try not to make food an issue. How? Don't MAKE your child eat something they don't want to eat. Instead try doing this.....

Set a timer for a reasonable amount of time (30 min.) for your child to eat his/her meal (make sure to let your child IN on the fact that they ONLY have this amount of time to finish their food). If during this time, they pick at their food and choose not to eat, let them know that's fine, but they have to get down from the table now that time is up and NO substitute food will be fixed for them to eat. (if you think your child needs more time to eat, make adjustments that fit your child's needs)

FYI: Children will NOT starve themselves. If they don't take you seriously the first time, stick to what you say and show them that you are serious (even if it means sending them to bed without having a full tummy). Keep in mind that kids need this to happen before they will learn anything from this. If they KNOW that you are serious, they most likely won't try this again (not eating, that is).

In my experience (with our daughter and some daycare kids) the child ALWAYS ends up eating after this (even if it's something they don't like), because they are hungry and they KNOW that another meal will NOT be fixed specially for them.


1.) Make eating a more POSITIVE time. Children should never have a NEGATIVE outlook on eating (It could lead to eating disorders later).

2.) Let them know that it is THEIR CHOICE whether they eat or not, but there will be NO SUBSTITUTING their food for something they would rather be eating. And remember kids WILL NOT starve themselves. If they are hungry enough and they know this is all they are getting to eat they WILL eat.

3.) Don't get ANGRY with your child if they still choose not to eat, it may take some time for them to adjust (especially if you have previously been very lenient and given in to fixing something special for them at their request)

4.) Try fixing meals that are suitable for children to begin with. For example, you can't expect your child to eat something that is WAY too spicy even if that's how you like it. Fix them separately if you need to, to begin with. This way they are still eating what you fixed for EVERYONE, but with less spices. Oh and be sure to serve appropriate amounts to begin with. Their stomach's are about the size of their fist. (Yeah, you may want to re-think the amount you've been serving and expecting them to eat!)

5.)Last but not least... PRAISE them for eating well AND for trying, even if they don't finish their plate. But NEVER punish them for not eating


Make sure the meal/dessert ratio is appropriate. Meaning.... make sure the amount of dessert is appropriate for the amount of food they ate. If they ate a small amount of food, serve an even smaller amount of dessert.... large amount of food/a slightly larger amount of dessert. If they didn't eat well at all....just don't serve dessert that night. Whatever you do, DO NOT eat dessert if you aren't allowing them any.

Do you have trouble getting your child to eat? What do you do?



  1. Our daughter is on the Euro-eating plan. She'll eat anything as long as she has a good two hours to do it.

    We are just starting this process so this post is very timely. I'm setting a timer for 30 min. What she doesn't eat then is food for her next meal (she had cream of wheat for dinner the other night. Ick).

    No more "please it" or "come on, just eat it" comments. Just a timer, some reasonable expectations, and fun dinner conversations about poop.

    Thanks for posting this! Great ideas.

  2. Lol!!! It's pretty bad that I have (on several occasions) had to stop myself halfway through dinner because I realized I had been talking about poop the whole time! I guess that's just part of being a parent :)