My 3 year old refuses to eat: What should I do?

What do I do if my three years old refuses to eat? It doesn’t matter what I make. Even meals I’ve made him before, and he liked. It is a fight for every meal. I’ve given up; he’d rather go to sleep than eat


My 3 yr old is the same way. He will eat something one day that he wont eat the next… His pediatrician suggested pediasure . 2 a day. I don’t beg for him to eat anymore… He will ask when he is hungry. Whenever that usually is will vary and isnt very often. Ive heard its normal


My 2 year old does that. She will eat when she is hungry. My doctor isn’t concerned about her weight or anything so I just don’t fight it anymore


Find the thing he does like and have him eat that lol. Or do little amounts of variety and show that you like what you are serving even if ya gotta fake it. Oh yum, this is SO good.

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Introduce pediasure and wait till he’s hungry.
Mine always wanted to try new foods when I am cooking, put his chair in the kitchen and let him participate to his ability.
Don’t force feed, reinterest in food.

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My 3yo does this. His peds wasnt worried.

My doc told me its a power struggle and they wont starve themselves… If I was worried i could give them ovaltine… I usually saved their dinner for when they said they were hungry later.

Then let him go to sleep

He will eat when he’s hungry. Replace meals he doesn’t eat with Pediasure.

He’ll eat when he’s hungry

Don’t even waste your time fighting him to eat. If he doesn’t want to eat, try offering a variety of smaller snacks throughout the day. Eventually, he’ll get hungry enough to eat. I think of it this way, if I didn’t want to eat and someone kept trying to force me to, I’d get pretty pissed about it. So offer the smaller snacks, if he doesn’t want it, shrug it off and move on. My 18 month old does this and I’ve learned to not make a big deal out of it. She’ll get hungry eventually. As long as I’m offering a variety of nutritious meals and snacks, I’m doing the best that I can. They’re little humans, they’ve got opinions about food too :woman_shrugging:t2:


Could be a growth spurt, my toddler one week will be absolutely ravenous then the next week be tired and would rather sleep.

Its weird but thats how littles grow. Also on his “rest weeks” i give him smoothies and sneak in nutrients that way

When my son was little I had him help me cook. I gave him plastic knife and he would sample veggies when he cut them. He would be full by time dinner got prepared.

I give mine vitamins. I also make him drink. Then I try to let him eat some of what he will eat. Ugh with the eggo waffles

When my daughter was 1-3 she wouldn’t eat anything. Just here and there some days she’d eat some she wouldn’t. I stopped forcing and begging. My pediatrician wasn’t concerned of her weight or anything and told me it’s so common and most likely a phase. She’s turning 5 now and eats ! She’s still picky but she does eat much more and is more hungry. I agree to introduce the pedia sure and of course talk to your pediatrician for a everyday multi vitamin

He will eat eventually. As long as he’s getting fluids. Get some pedisure or something to replace what vitamins he losing from not eating.

Kids eat when they are hungry… stop trying to force him to eat​:rage::rage::rage: he will let you know when he is ready to eat. If you offer something and he refuses then he’s NOT HUNGRY!!!

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Let him serve himself (with your help of course) and only give it to him if he asks. Reverse phycology.

All mine went through stages like that or only wanted one thing. My youngest went through a corn phase lol so weird! I just always offered dinner, didn’t make a huge fuss, and gave them pediasure or carnation instant breakfast when they went through these phases. Now my 4 are 4, 7, 10, and 12 and nobody is picky and they will eat everything just about. Try not to stress too much Mama!

When my two-year-old went through this. I took her to the doctor. Thinking something was wrong with her and the doctor told me there was nothing wrong with the child. When she goes to Growing spurts she will eat more and when she’s not she will eat less. Not to worry she will eat when she needs to.

Why does he want to go to sleep. Does he sleep well at night? Act tired all the time? Have a drastic loss of weight. If so you might want to take him to dr and have blood work done. And how long has this been going on.

Get him involved in your grocery shopping pick 2 things and ask him do you want this one or that and let him put it in the shopping cart. Pull a chair up and let him help stir when appropriate while cooking.

My 3 year old won’t eat meat & was refusing dinner almost everyday. We talked to the pediatrician about it & they told us it’s pretty normal at this age. They told us to stop offering meat & to sub with vegetarian options if we could, not to give her anything to eat or drink 2 hours before meals, nothing to drink during meals, & give her a Pediasure everyday incase she decides to skip dinner that day. They also suggested letting her pick a dinner once a week. It’s worked wonders. She now only skips dinner like 2-3 times a month.

What exactly do you mean by he’d rather sleep?
Is he always tired or is this just around lunch before nap time and dinner before bed?
If he’s tired all the time you definitely need to talk to his doctor because 3 year olds normally have tons of energy

Just keep serving up what everyone else is having. Don’t let it bother you. He’ll eat when he’s hungry. As long as what’s on offer is healthy don’t worry. (Mum of 5)

He gets a lot of attention by not eating. Cut out all snacks, no special meals. If you don’t make an issue out of it he’ll eventually eat what you serve. You’re the grown up and you get to make the rules.

We have the kids ensure drinks that have protiens and nutrients for the days that they just don’t want to eat. Or if we are out we make her a chocolate milk with a little bit of protein powder just so she’s getting something

My kids (now teenagers) did this growing up. I would just leave mini meals out (snack type)… Fruit, cheese, crackers, meat, etc. They would graze all day and still eat good for them food at their schedule.

I don’t know when my daughter was that little I was always told don’t make a fuss out of it when she’s hungry she’ll eat. Kids go through many stages and many phases.remember if your kid is like my kid and the bigger fuss you make about it then the less they’re going to do it because you got to remember sometimes the more you push the farther away they go. always remember that especially when they get older and they hit preteen doesn’t matter what I like or don’t like my daughter is the complete opposite every time.

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My almost 2 year old goes through this. Just make sure he is hydrated and he will eventually eat

Give finger foods. Something he can carry around with him. Usually their attention span is pretty short at that age and they are more interested in what is going on around them.

Kids won’t starve themselves. Don’t worry about it. Offer food if he doesn’t want it, don’t force it. But I’d also refuse any sweets unless he eats real food first.


Up and go drink
Least still getting the nutrients they need…
One of my sons does the same with a different story…

Rick Sargeant, Stacey Louise Sargeant, Jaz Hall Nadia Lumbus :woman_shrugging:t3:

I leave platters of my daughters favourite foods on the coffee table and let her graze. Meals didn’t work for her.
This way I know she is eating.
I also add nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, dips, pasta and garlic bread.
I mix it up everyday.


Kids will not let themselves starve. They will eat when hungry.

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Sarah Michele Soberal

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So I’d they are tired let them sleep, once they have woken up they will be hungry, growth spurts you eat loss before then it allows right down and they sleep and grow.

I quit fighting it. My oldest is now 12. Always been a picky eater.
I got them in on shopping, gardening and in the kitchen.
My youmger eats everthing.
She only eats about twice a day and it not usually at meal times.
That saying kids won’t starve themselves is actually not true.
Espiccaly those with texturecor sensory issues.
After working with hundreds of kids i’ve seen it many times and cause many food Aversions and food disorders. We don’t force, punish or make a big deal over it.
She’s not getting sweet snacks or deserts without a healthy alternative to dinner.
Smoothies are a great meal alternative snack and can be packed with vitamins and even made into Freezer pops.
There are many tips, recipes, fun shaped and Colored food on pintrest that helped to.

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They’ll eat when they’re hungry
I feel like my two year old hasn’t eaten all week

You can’t make someone eat. He won’t starve he will eat when he’s hungry

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In the hottest days of summer my kids don’t eat well at all. I just make snacks, jello cubes, fruit, cheese, freeze yogurt into popsicles, they seem to do okay with light snacks 4 to 5 times a day, but my lil one eats maybe once a day for 4 to 5 days then eats 5 or 6 small meals for a day, then back to once until it cools down (we live in the desert) he checks out fine at his physical. The pediatrician says to look at the food over a week rather then daily.

My three year old same thing he has lost weight I took him to doc she has him on kid protein shakes and getting him evaluated for autism and about to start therapy for sensory and texture problems

My MIL told me she had the same thing happen with my hubs when he was little. She said he grew out of it but gave him pediasure in the meantime


Welcome to parenthood. My 3yr old will only eat butter noodles, pizza lunchables sometimes a gogurt and some cheese.

Kids will not starve themselves. Offer water. Nothing special. My son tried at 2. It took a bit by 3 eats everything in front of him. Loves veggies.

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My 3 year old son is also like this he lives on ice pops for 2 days then eats none stop one day then again stops eating. One day he likes some thing the next he says nasty.


Less milk. Be patient. On the side my grandkids 6,10,13 now will eat everything n anything in site. Clean out fridge in 2 days…

My 3 year old had been doing the same thing for a while so I turned his iPad off and told him he’d getter back after he finished his plate of soup. I literally turned off the tv and put my phone away while his iPad was still in front of him but turned off. And I said when you are done eating your soup You can watch your iPad again.
But I never took it away, I just let him stare at it turned off lol and I sat right next
To him waiting to finish his plate.
He ate his dinner in less than 5
Min !!!
I would definitely try to give that a shot cuz it worked wonders for us now he eats without fussing

He will eat when he is hungry. It’s normal for kids to go through phases where they just don’t eat a lot. Maybe try some pediasure or something to make sure he’s getting nutrients he needs during these times. Good luck

Don’t make a big thing of it. Offer food at mealtimes. If you’re worried, keep a diary of what they actually eat. Why would they rather sleep at mealtimes though?

My son is 3 and we are going through a similar phase. He hit a huge growth spurt and it caused his BMI to tank. His dr said no more snacking all day. He gets 1 snack between breakfast and lunch and maybe 1 after his nap before dinner just to tide him over and to carb his rear up. He loves pastas, chicken, and pb&j. For lunch and breakfast its his choice what he gets. Usually he wants purple cereal (lucky charms) and lunch he wants pb&j. Since my mom watches him through the week, the morning snack might be a snack pack of animal cookies and after lunch he chows on some fruits or his bell peppers. As long as he eats dinner he gets whatever he wants for dessert unless it’s his peppers and those are free for the taking. Going by that routine has helped drastically.

When my kids were little my Dr. told me they would eat when they were hungry, but to make sure they got the nutrients they need give them carnation instant breakfast in their milk at least twice a day.

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Get him to help prepare a picnic and take a trip to the park. If that isn’t possible, a picnic in the back yard. Or even on the floor in the lounge room. And maybe a trip to the shops for a small reward if you think he has eaten enough.

I wouldn’t worrie to much that age kids normally don’t eat much my son was the same way he will eat when he is hungry

It truly depends on the child. Neurotypical children will generally eat when hungry, but a child with special needs(like severe autism with food aversion) may not. If they will drink, try pediasure. If you’re still worried, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.

Stop fighting with him. He will eat when he’s hungry.


are they curious when your doing tasks? Maybe have food prepped they can interact with? is it Ladbaby have some food related videos for inspiration?

Kids will eat when they are hungry. Don’t worry too much about it

Make fun foods. Kid friendly

Believe me, he will make up for it in the teen yrs. :joy: I can’t keep groceries in the house for a wk. We go through $700/mo for a family of 4 with 2 teen boys.

Be patient and keep trying. There’s a number of things it could be. It may be a phase, it may not. My son is “picky” because he’s autistic and has sensory issues with the texture of things he eats and touches. Don’t believe a child will eat when they’re hungry because that’s not true for every child. My son will go without eating if it’s something he cant/won’t eat. It could be something medical, dental, growth spurt, a phase, etc. Two of my kids became complete vegetarians when they hit 2. Yrs later, they still won’t eat red meat unless its a burger or meat pasta sauce. It can be frustrating but don’t give up mom. Keep at it. You got this.


My son’s the same way. Doctor prescribed prevacid because he was the same when he was 1yr old and he was on zofran and ate with the zofran. Have a doctor check before just assuming its a phase!

He will eat when he’s hungry. Don’t make a rod for your own back, by giving him options or cooking special meals, which he will reject anyway. Don’t make his portions too big, don’t let him see you are concerned…


We give carnation breakfast essentials , ovaltine or meal replacement shakes to our non-eater. We continue to offer a variety of foods throughout the day as well some he eats, some he picks at and some he feeds to the dog but he always drinks his “ chocolate milk.”

I give mine breakfast essential mix it with milk and it gives them the nutrients and vitamins he needs as if he was eating I only give in days he doesn’t feel like eating and he’s 1 1/2 years old

Yeah, unfortunately my baby is like that, I’ll give whatever she’ll eat as long as she’ll eat… they grow out of that, and when they’re a little older you can make them eat healthy stuff…

Have blood work done if there’s nothing wrong is a stage he’s going through. My youngest did it. He’ll eat when he’s hungry.

There will be times they eat like a bird and then there will be times they eat nonstop. Growing spurts. As long as he is drinking fluids

Weird. But maybe ask him what sounds good. What he wants to eat. Just a thought

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They go trough phases!!! Don’t sweat it as long as they are drinking they should start eating again soon

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My grandson doing the same at the moment he’s nearly 3 all he wants is lollies and chips or will fill up on milk. Your not alone in this lol


My 2 yr old just started doing this. She eats like once a day I don’t know what to do

Have you tried smoothies or adding protein powder (check amounts for kids and weight) to yogurt or milk?
I found it best to really involve my oldest kids in choosing food from making a list and checking flyers to going into store to choose the fresh items themselves.

Sounds like my 2 year old. Just keep trying

He will eat when he gets hungry.

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i have a very important question! is he gagging on any foods? or throwing up?

Polivisol? Liquid vitamins

Have a look at the page called kids eat in color

Check his iron levels. If levels are low children have no appetite.

My son is like that with macaroni and cheese :woman_facepalming: one day he loves it and will eat an entire plate… Other days he looks at me like “what the hell is this mess Mom?” :joy: pretty much the only food I can get him to eat without fail is hot dogs lol

They all go through phases. Encourage eating but don’t force it

Mine drinks alot of milk. Sometimes she doesn’t want to eat.

In my experience letting your 3 year old “help” cook the food making it fun worked for me. My now 8 year old loves to help prepare every meal and isn’t picky anymore.

Dont worry maam when a child gets hungry believe me they will eat

My kids go thru a phase like that. They won’t eat meals but they love fruits and veggies so as long as they eat that and or drink their bottle I don’t worry. They eat when they are hungry. I’ve also heard some parents buy their kids pediasure so you can always buy some to make you feel better. :slightly_smiling_face: some kids will only want sweets and my kids tried asking for only that but I refuse. I’ve also seen the kids who only eat that and it’s just nothing good for them. Try to stay away from saying yes to only them eating sweets. You’ll just enable them to really not want to eat real foods.

My two year old did that for almost a month straight. He wanted us to make a fuss and plead with him to eat. Well that lasted about a week (first kid, we were concerned) then we agreed we give up. Now he only did this with my husband and I at dinner because he was at school through the day and ate fine there. So we added in a bedtime snack. My child loves milk, so we took the milk we normally give him at dinner and gave it to him as a non-contingent bedtime snack. If he ate nothing at dinner, he still got the snack. Our only stipulation on dinner was he had to sit with us until it was over.

My kid nibbled and refused to eat 4-5 days a week then ate like a horse the others. I refused to let him leave table so sleep at table til I carried him to bed

It is normal. Kids will eat like pigs for a while, and then not eat for a while. I never forced my child to eat she is a mom now. Dont get overly worried. If his health starts to wane then see what a doctor says.

My kids all go thru different phases right before a growth spurt and it can last anywhere from a day to a month. My oldest and middle daughters will eat nonstop before a growth spurt and next to nothing after. My son and youngest daughter are opposite. Right before a growth spurt they eat absolutely nothing. Give it a bit. If he starts losing weight take him to the doctor.