My Child Won’t Eat

Grrr…Miss Aviana, who is the child that will say to me, “I would dist wite some wejtibles for a snat” (I would just like some vegetables for a snack) has been rebelling big time at mealtime. In the last week, she has refused her lunch and dinner every single night on the premise that it is too spicy, or she doesn’t feel well or it’s too hot, or I gave her too much, or she won’t say anything at all and just won’t eat it. Sometimes she’ll eat a bite or two if we feed her like a baby. We don’t let her eat anything else the rest of the night. It it’s at lunch time, I’ll reserve her lunch at snack time, but she still won’t eat it, so I usually let her have some fruit or veggies with cheese.

I haven’t been too concerned because she always has healthful snacks and eats a good breakfast.
I have been trying to not get into a power struggle about it, because after all, how can you force a kid to eat? You can put a carrot in the mouth, but you can’t make it stay.

Tonight we had a yummy roast with carrots and potatoes. All her favorites. She wouldn’t even touch it, complaining of a tummy ache. I know she’s playing me, so I ask her if she wants some snack mix.
“How about a cookie?”
“Could you eat some chocolate?” I inquire.
“Yes, I fink so.”
“Then eat your dinner.”
Plaintively, “I taaaaaaaan’t”

I had told the girls we would go upstairs and watch a video after dinner if there was time before bed-always a special treat. So after trying to convince her to eat to the point of my frustration, I told Aviana she would just sit on her bed until bedtime while Brielle and I went upstairs. She cried and complained, but to her bed she went. After a bit, she came upstairs. I told her to go down and eat her dinner, and she did. There was one break, where she needed to be reminded again, and the whole process took almost an hour and a half, which is just ridiculous. But she did eat, and got to watch the last five minutes of Elmo’s World (Melmo in B speak) with us.

I don’t know what to do. Is this a big deal? Is it a phase? Should I discipline her about it or just say ‘fine, nothing until breakfast’? Should I cut out her snacks altogether? Or should I just not care as long as she’s not eating junk, and is getting her nutrients? Is this an obedience issue/ rebellion issue or just a food issue?

Most of the ‘experts’ (not that most experts necessarily know more than your average mom on the street) say not to worry, bribes/punishments not a good idea, don’t give child any extra attention… I want to know what really works at a kitchen table near you.

6 thoughts on “My Child Won’t Eat

  1. OK, so in my “vast” experience, I’ll tell you my opinion. My almost 15 yo daughter started something like this about age 2. For the entire year she was 2, until just after 3, she only ate cold cereal with milk and peanut butter, on a spoon no less. I let it go for awhile, but after several months, I spoke to the dr. He told me not to worry about it. I really wasn’t too worried becuase she wasn’t lethargic and was still running around acting normal (and taking vitamins). But, finally she started eating a little more. Then, around the age of 4 or 5, she stopped eating dinner…at all. Total battle every night. She was perfectly happy with no food til breakfast where she would suck food down. So, a couple theories here: (1)They are realizing they have a little control over their lives, in the food area. Feels good to be in control. It’s just the beginning of them asserting their independence. A good thing in small, controlled amounts. (2)They have small tummies and some people have natural tendencies to hunger time. My dd still eats a big breakfast, small lunch, and med. size dinner. She’s always hungrier in the am than at night. (3)Their growth is slowing down and they don’t need as much food. Sorry this is such a long comment, but this is what I’ve dealt with for years. Have fun!! LoL :-)PS-Email me if you want more info. on what I’ve seen.

  2. We have surely had our share of food struggles. Our deal with Goosey is that she needs to have at least one bite of everything on her plate. Period. I had one pediatrician say that there should always be the option of having a piece of bread (no PB&J – just a plain ole’ piece of whole grain bread) – but otherwise you don’t want to be a short order cook, and that most likely they’re testing to see if they can get what they want. If you continue to stay tough, she’ll learn she has to eat what you’re serving. She won’t starve. They are Americans after all 🙂 BUT, Goosey no longer has snacks. If dinner is going to be late, she can occasionally have one in the afternoon, but I found they were interfering with her meals.
    I don’t know if that helps at all – just my two cents!!! (and it ended up being a little long winded – sorry 🙂

  3. Trevor is tiny and underweight so we had a meeting with a nutritionist a few months ago. She said definately not to allow it to become a power struggle. It sounds like she’s exerting her will. The nutritionist said not to cut out snacks or anything. She also said not to make a big issue out of eating.

    Sounds like the watching a video thing worked. She’s old enough to understand that tactic. Maybe just tell her matter of factly that if she doesn’t eat her dinner (or at least some of it) Then she will miss out on x y z. Leave it at that and then follow through That way it doesn’t become a big deal. If it is a power struggle then maybe it will stop quickly.

    The nutritionist said there will be times when kiddos don’t need to eat as much. Certain stages they go through. Maybe with it being winter her body is telling her that she doesn’t need as many calories. That’s why I say maybe at least eating part of it. Maybe cut the servings in half if she seems like she doesn’t want to eat?

  4. Thanks for the ideas and the encouragement! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one; and that it gets better!
    I don’t mind long comments; it just shows me that you care 🙂

  5. My oldest is 36 and I can assure you this is a time honored struggle.All of mine did the same thing. The previous ladies are right on in not letting this become a power struggle. Stay calm ,stay firm. Toddlers naturaly eat less. My son,now 31, ate only hot dogs and cheese for months but By Golly, he only ate them at lunch time ;). Your on the right track!! I’m prayin for ya 🙂 p.s. if you think toddlers are fun wait till they are teenagers 😀

  6. I’m having this issue with Judah. I was wondering if it was a control thing – with the new baby and all. I am going to implement a few changes and see if they work. There were some good suggestions and it’s great to know I am not alone!!


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