My toddler likes skipping meals: Help!

please know i do have a drs appt scheduled for her but i’m asking here to see if anyone has any ideas i could use until then. My oldest is 3 and it’s always been a struggle to get her to eat she is on pediasure as she’s only in the third percentile for her weight. She has gotten now where she would rather sleep, sit at the table all day, or sit on her bed until the next meal than eat. We have tried letting her go shopping and pick out dinners, letting her pick the meal for that night and help make it, make her own plate and help serve her sister. I’ve tried to sit down and explain to her that her body needs the food and that she doesn’t want to go hungry she will tell me she would rather go hungry than eat. She had a sitter when she was a baby that we found out wasn’t feeding her we confronted the sitter and found a new one but now we aren’t sure if that is having long term effects on her. We don’t know how long it went on before we caught it either. Does anyone have any ideas to get her to eat? I hate when she skips a meal but don’t want to force feed her either. She will take up to an hr to eat even one pop tart. sometimes she will sit at the table for 1-2 hrs before she’s done eating and cries the entire time. We have also tried rewarding her when she’s done eating. I’m exhausted and just want my little girl to eat.

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Help a mama out and respond anonymously on our forum. My toddler likes skipping meals: Help!

I wouldn’t force it sounds like that will make it worse. I would try to Keep healthy snacks that are always available on table for her to eat. Any time. Even just a bit here or there. Also as long as she’s growing and healthy I wouldn’t worry much. My son was small and he are when he wanted now at 8 years old he is finally catching up to kids his age. He was just a small baby.

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Kids do that, she’ll eat when she hungry. My grandson NEVER eats. Very rarely will he eat anything other than snacks. Don’t worry yourself it’s completely normal for toddlers.

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I’m here for advice also. My 3yr old will not eat unless I spoon feed him. He’s very skinny, still wearing 2t pants…

See her doctor again to make sure there are no other health issues. If she is drinking on a regular basis and still eating something without being forced and maintaining her weight may take some stress off of you. 3 year old need to be encouraged but not forced to eat.

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First off stop making feeding times a battle. You’re making it worse by forcing her to sit there, making her cry over this and sending her to her room until she eats everything. She’s 3! She will eat when she gets hungry enough. I would still consult her pediatrician, but right now it seems like you are traumatizing this poor baby over food.

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Sounds like a toddler! Stomach size for toddlers is very small a tablespoon serving size per year old. She sounds like she’s also getting pediatric nutrition drinks as well… she’s getting nutrients from that which is a meal in itself. Sure she will eat when comfortable and hungry. You stated your forcing her to sit at the table all day/made go to bed, etc being forced and punished is abusive. Should make an appointment local childrens pediatric doctor point you to resources to educate yourself and family. Make it fun and healthy try visiting Farmers Market

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So when we were having this issue we were told to NEVER force them to eat a meal if they refuse. It will give them a bad relationship with food and can lead to eating disorders later in life. Instead it was recommended to make “snack plates” that had a mix of foods that she will eat and cover a few food groups(example; some cheese, sliced meat, Crackers, a yogurt bar, some Grapes or cut up apple. Any combination of things will work). Set them up where they are easily accessible to her and just leave them there and let her pick. If that’s all that goes into her then it’s better then nothing at all. We also plated her a meal with everyone else and if she didn’t eat it then it wasn’t the end of the world. I would also check with a doctor/dietician and see if there is anything they can do to check for food aversion for example even as an adult there are certain foods I can’t eat cause the texture of them makes me gag. It could definitely be some sort of issue like that. I truly wish you the best of luck. It’s definitely a tough place to be in. The one reassuring thing the doctor told us was that children will never let themselves starve.

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When my daughter was smaller we would play a game when she didn’t want to eat. I put a bite on my fork then set it down and say No one better eat my food why I “ look” for something or “stretch” or take a drink…

Every time she would grab it and eat it! Then I’d say who took my bite? She would crack up and blame everyone else why she chewed it.

Weird but it worked and to this day she asks me to do it🤣

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Don’t force toddlers to eat when they aren’t hungry.

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I usually pretend I am sneaking food. I will take a bite. Then I will like look out the window and say something. Then my son will come take my food and eat it. I look back to eat it again and say “hey who took my food”.

Try milk shake drinks and just leave bits out that she can pick at while playing leave sitting at the table to eat until she can eat there are drinks you can get that are high calorie and you could just put them out and maybe bits of cheese or a few chips

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She will eat when she gets hungry enough. Don’t force her to eat. Her stomach is tiny and even a pop tart could fill her up. Maybe she has a gastro issue as well, and it’s uncomfortable. My son has Crohn’s disease, and at times , eating is uncomfortable.

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Two kids here. Mine haven’t been through this. One has autism and ADHD and the other has ADHD and SPD. We’ve had a time with food particularly with the youngest (long story).
You’re on the right track speaking with her doctor. It might be time to involve some type of therapy for her (there’s an eating disorder in kids called something like afrid? And it’s not caused by body image issues it’s a severe sensory issue)

Here are some extra ideas between now and then:
*Have her play in her food. Let her “paint” on toast. Or use fruit to make funny faces. Dye some noodles throw some prizes in it and let her go to town. The idea here is to help her become familiar with it and associate it with something fun.
*Let her feed you. Let her be messy or silly with it. Again the idea is to turn food into something positive
*If she will eat some things let her eat them. It doesn’t mean you stop encouraging her to eat more. But seriously my kid went through a period where all he ate was carrots, apples, and chicken nuggets. It wasn’t “the worst” so If that’s what I could get him to eat for breakfast and lunch that’s what I gave him. Even dinner too (as an alternative after he’d refused dinner).
*Ask her to just try it. Let her know she can spit it out. You just want her to try it. I’ve found once my kiddo tries something he usually likes it and wants more. We just have to get over that first issue
*Animal bites. Ask her to show you how her favorite animal (or character) eats.

My pediatrician always told me, they will eat when hungry and stop when full

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My son never eats meals, he survives off snacks. Usually healthy ones. He eats granola bar and apple for breakfast, peanut butter and Nutella for lunch. Lots of chocolate milk gold fish and other crackers. And only will eat pizza or McDonald’s for dinner or he won’t let. Most days I let him not eat dinner bc he will eat snacks . No veggies. I offer him a dinner plate and eat in front of him to show him it’s good but he won’t even sit down. I learned not to stress over it… the rest of the family eats a different breakfast and lunch. I ate horrible as a kid so I understand. I healthy snack him all day.

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I know it’s difficult and I can also see that a lot of people disregarded the fact that she’s in the 3rd percentile for weight. If the doctor isn’t telling you that you need to be concerned then don’t overly stress out, although My first recommendation is always a second opinion. My 2 1/2 year-old doesn’t eat terribly much. When my mom is watching her she will tell me “oh Ava had strawberries blueberries and a banana”… :hushed:… in a smoothie. Smoothies are a good way to add a lot of nutrition you can even put vegetables in them. I also make sure to give a daily vitamin. We try to make dinner time fun around the table even if you have to fake it till you make it maybe cause a little bit of a scene with laughing and excitement that will encourage baby to come to the table and eat with you. I do agree that forcing your child to eat is not a good thing. I am in love with the idea of a mixed spread of snacks and healthy veggies left within babys reach, i think that is great. Wish you the best of luck sending lots of love your way.

My kids did this too

I think it’s just the way these little ones are … the go through moneys where they won’t eat when given food. I usually just fed my daughter when she was hungry and I made sure she finished all her food. 

They have specialists, almost like physical therapist that can help kids through this stuff. Sometimes it’s a texture issue, sometimes it’s that they choked and it scared them. I’d ask pediatrician for a referral.

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Pediasure was a problem for me when my son was younger. Before he’d eat better but after introducing him to it he just stopped wanting to eat. I never bought pediasure again & he’s slowly starting to eat more & start trying to eat food that he used to eat but stopped.

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This sounds like learned behavior

Maybe she has stomach issues also

Try graze plates and let her eat on the go while
Playing

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You are on the right track to speak with her pediatrician about your concern.

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My grandbaby is almost 6 and only weights 38lbs her sister is almost 2 and weights 28lbs her parents fed her non GMO products when she was little and I feel like that’s why she’s so small but she’s not a big eater either but she does come tell me when she’s hungry and she’ll eat everything that is fixed for her I let her tell me what she wants to eat. I believe it’s normal now but she’s tiny to don’t worry to much she’ll get there

A whole poptart is a huge amount for someone that small. Don’t stress about food and fixed meal times. Don’t make her stay at the table for more than an hour or insist she cleans her plate. Suggest she can leave if she wants after 20-30mins. Focus on what she eats for a week and see if it’s balanced. Don’t worry if there’s not a great deal of it. Check with the Dr that there’s no allergies or eating problems. If food is causing pain they she won’t want to eat. Consider that she might find eating in front of others stressful or difficult. Maybe let her eat alone or outside or leave bowls of cereal or fruit she can eat anytime.

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Never force Feed a toddler/child…it will cause bad relationships with food…eating disorders…
They will eat when they are hungry! They will stop when they are full!! Forcing her to sit there for over an hour is horrible! You might be making things worse! Why is it a big deal if she takes an hour to eat a pop tart! I was this child…i was forced to eat things that i hated…or finish my plate when i wasn’t hungry! I still won’t eat things i was forced to!! And i never eat breakfast or lunch…i eat dinner, and a snack about 9…i have never been a big eater…sometimes i went a full day and only had a snack…it’s ok!
I’m 45…have 3…never forced them to eat if they didn’t want to! It’s awful to do to a baby/toddler/child! This is not the hill you want to die on!

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My daughter was a picky eater. But when I was fixing vegies she liked to pretend she was a bunny and would eat lettuce, carrots, almost any raw vegetable. So I started giving her a plate with raw vegies - she also liked meat & buttered bread so limited her to one piece of meat and one slice of bread - She did just fine and eats everything - except meat - she is a vegetarian now.

Pick a food she likes and let her have it. Even if you don’t like it. Supplement with vitamins. She will grow out of this phase.

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I used to worry till my doctor told me add up what they ate the whole day…as long as they’re getting liquids…they fo through the not wanting to eat stage

I think that most kids go through the not wanting to eat phase , she will eat when she is really hungry, try to put less food on her plate ( smaller portions) try to cut candies, snacks , junk food etc ) get her kids multivitamins

Child psychologist.
What happened to her rewired her brain. There is a serious problem. Not eating is rarely abt food or weight, per se. It’s abt control.
Ask her Dr abt viatims and hormone supplements but 100% take her to a child therapist.
“I’d rather starve” isn’t normal, especially if she has any understandikg of that meaning. :black_heart:

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Maybe a Dino Kilt and shirt? That could be swung as a “Two piece dress”

do not force her to eat get help asap

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That’s my kiddo still part of the time. She’s 10. Especially when it’s hot, she doesn’t eat. But she’s old enough to tell me what she’s hungry for. So when it’s hot and all she wants to eat is watermelon or pb&j, I let her.

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My daughter had a lot of food issues as a toddler. She was already sickly, so she could not afford not to eat. You have to stop fighting her, or this will be a battle for the rest of your life. Take her to the pead, let them do a full physical. Once that is done, and all is OK, don’t let this be a problem. Encourage her to do appetite stimulating things, like playing outside, fresh air, etc, then ask her if she wants something. I was a stick 3 meals a day mom with my son, but my daughter made her own rules. Still at 12 her food is very different from ours, and we had to make it work for us.

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Don’t force your kid to eat she’ll eat when she’s hungry my daughter is the same way she just likes to snack all day which is perfectly healthy and making a three year old sit at the table for hours is cruel…. Feed her snacks throughout the day and stop worrying about the charts cuz they aren’t one size fits all,

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I’ll bet it’s a control thing. Put the food out and let her go. Don’t make an issue about it, just make the food available. If she only eats peaches this week, let her. Next week it will be something else.

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Take her to her Pediatrician n tell hom about her eating!!! Mine told me to stop trying g to fix n control when n how much he eats! Stop making him extra food like his favorites!!! Only offer cereal after he refuses to eat his meal. Kids will eat when they get hungry

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Honestly doll that sounds like it would be helpful to talk to a psychiatrist and dietician team. It could lead to an eating disorder later if the problem isn’t confronted head on.

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I think sometimes we take a child not eating a big deal. I know as moms we worry but a child will not starve unless they are diagnosed with a failure to thrive. She is 3 and let me tell you my daughter would not eat anything but hot dogs. If we make a huge deal out of it well it can get worse. She did drink milk and I snuck in vitamins. For a few years when she went to school she wanted mustard sandwiches and boy did I wonder what the teachers thought of that. Most children will outgrow this stage in their life.

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Have you tried leaving little snacks out on her table? Maybe try a party table, put balloons up, party plates, her favourite foods and snacks on the table, different foods, ones that you can pop back into a container so you’re not wasting the variety too. :heart::tada:
I’ve never been able to eat breakfast, most of my life I’ve lived of 1 meal a day and a few snacks, but that’s just me :relaxed:

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Don’t punish her for not eating. Making her sit at a table and cry is a good way to ruin her relationship with food, and you.
Put food she likes in an easy to reach cupboard and keep fruit in a bowl on the table. When you sit down to eat, invite her but don’t force her. She will eat when she’s hungry. Keep up with the pediasure and yogurt drinks.

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Personally I noticed that when they prescribed pediasure mine at way less real food🤷‍♀️ We stopped it within a few weeks and i would limit her milk as well and she began to eat a lot better.

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My oldest daughter is 14 now, she was never even on the growth chart for weight. We tried everything, she’s just always been slender. Kids will eat when they’re hungry. :woman_shrugging:t2:

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My granddaughters both went through this. I let them eat what they wanted just to get something in them.

Instead of meals, we’ll she graze during the day? Just keep little thing such as fruit and such to nibble on.

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This is definitely something that needs a doctor’s attention. I don’t think it’s something that should be left alone. At this age. Some don’t worry if kids miss a meal. But she’s missing way to many. If it’s possible. Give her a vitamin each day.

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Children will eat when they are hungry. Forcing the issue will only create problems. It is surprising that they will pick the foods that their bodies crave. They suggestions to leave snacks out is very good one. Pieces of fruit, cheese, small slices of bread or crackers, vegetables that are easy to eat raw, even small pieces of luncheon meat will work.
Do not make an issue and it will resolve as she grows

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I’m 43 and don’t eat sometimes. I just don’t think about it. I also don’t eat if I’m really stressed. And then comes the grubber. When I’ve gone periods of not eating, when I do I gorge. It’s a terrible cycle, but it is what it is.

Something is wrong, call her physician and get a referral for a dietitian.