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I got a daughter whos 4 yrs old, for the past 2 yrs I hav struggled to get her to eat dinner, she just doesnt wanna eat, constantly fight with her to eat, if she had it her way she would just eat junk food all day, she is soo skinny its unreal, only weights like 34lbs am really worried that she is gonna starve herself... Can anyone give me some suggestions or somthing am goin crazy
I wasn't sure what a 4 year old is supposed to weigh, so I looked it up. It doesn't look like 34 lbs is anything to be concerned about. The place I looked said that was about the 40th percentile, which seems perfect. I would be more concerned about her poor eating habits than her weight.
I have gotten a lot of feeding advice in trying to get my daughter to eat. I'm not sure how much applies to a 4 year old, but I can give you a few tips that were passed to me.
-Only allow for specific, structured mealtimes. No grazing. Don't let her just grab junk food or whatever in between meals. If it is a true problem that she fills up on junk, don't give in no matter how hungry she says she is. No snacks, no juice, only water. If she's hungry, she'll eat during dinner. If she doesn't, she goes to bed hungry. Even my daughter who was not even anywhere on the growth chart until this past week was held to this standard, so a kid who is at a fine weight can certainly take it.
-Every meal should include something "safe" that you know she'll like. Don't expect her to try new things too often. She needs to feel comfortable at meal times, not dread it coming. Also, it will prevent you from having to get up and get her something different and answer to her demands. What you serve at the beginning is what there is for dinner. Period. She is welcome to second helpings of anything if she goes through the one or two things in the meal she likes.
-Limit mealtimes to no more than 25 minutes or so. Don't let her sit there and pick at her food for an hour.
Hmm, that's all I can think of that might apply to a 4 year old. It may sound harsh to be so strict, but the point is to emphasize that dinnertime is the time to eat. She has been working hard to develop ways around it and get her food otherwise. You have to make sure that she is not full for dinner and that she doesn't have an opportunity to fill up after dinner either. It may take her a few bad nights to get it, but if you stick to it, she'll probably come around if she has a normal appetite.
If you think she has an abnormal appetite, I would consult your doctor to see why she might not be as hungry as she should be. I know for my daughter, the current theory is that it could be as simple as some constipation problems make her feel more full. She's been on a mild laxative for the past two months, and her weight has finally climbed again.
ETA: Oh, and I forgot that there is a good resource out there for parents struggling to get their kids to develop good eating habits. Check out www.ellynsatter.com She has a lot of fantastic ideas. Her books have great advice, but you can get a general sense of her ideas on the website.
Rosalie, Mommy to Anna (05/06) and Thomas (10/08)
I agree with Anna. My daughter is 5 and is on a strict 3 meals, 2 snack schedule. She gets breakfast in the am, snack at 10, lunch at 12, snack at 3, and dinner at 6. There have been nights where she has gone to bed hungry, or where she didn't eat lunch. She was only allowed water in between meals and snacks if she did not eat. If she did eat, we would let her have milk. My dd doesn't drink juice, koolaid, sweetened drinks, so that was never an issue for us.
She is also on a strict time limit, she gets 20 minutes for each meal and/or snack. We set a timer and let her start and stop it. That really helps her.
Also, make sure food is not easily accessible for your dd. If she gets into everything, you may have to clean out the food pantry and get rid of all the junk food. Maybe only stock fruits and veggies.
If you are worried about calories, there are ways to increase calorie counts of foods. Carnation INstant Breakfast is a great way to add calories to milk, we also do a lot of chocolate milk. Make sure you check out the stickies. There are some really good recipes for higher calorie, healthy snacks.
Another thought, when introducing new foods, always follow the new food up with a food she likes. We have Alexis on this sytem and it teaches them that if you do want I want, you get what you want. We would give her a bite of textured food, (she doesn't chew so she is on a textured fading program) and that would be followed up with a food she likes. So maybe you could try something like 5 bites of chicken followed by 2 potatoe chips, 3 bites of veggies, followed by 2 potatoe chips. This will help cut down on the junk food, but also reward her for eating the foods you want her to.
Always make sure you reward the positive behaviors, praise for the behaviors you want. Never comment on the negative behaviors. This is called extinction and the child has learned that these bad behaviors get them out of eating or gets a raise out of mom and dad. Whatever bad behavior they show, you need to breeze right over it and pretend it never happened. You can't say one word about it, or it will keep happening.
With these tips, and some of the one's Anna mentioned, within a week, we were able to start turning around meal time for my dd. We had a really rough couple of days at the beginning, but once they realize that they can't get away with old behaviors and that you are not going to cave, things get better really quickly.
Hope that helps.
<div align="center">Thanks Alison's Mommy, SillyMama, Katarina and samylaine for my blinkies.</div>
I have a 5 year old (not labeled FTT) and she weighs around 35lbs. They are not concerned about her weight since she is short (like me) and also has been following her own curve.
She is a very picky eater. I make sure to offer foods she likes at every meal and I make her try the foods that are new and that she doesn't like. She gets breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. She only gets milk and juice with meals so that it doesn't fill her up. For snacks I try to encourage her to eat things like carrot sticks, or grapes or something healthy. I do not keep a lot of junk food in the house because 1. I am diabetic and 2. she would eat only junk food and not regular food. If she eats her entire meal I allow her to have a piece of candy or a cookie or chips or some sort of junk food reward.