My preschooler is a slow eater (after 1-2 hours my wife usually gives up)

I, on the other hand, am a little more persistent. ... but last night she sat at the table for 3 hours, and barely ate. I saved her dinner & put her to bed. This morning, warmed up her dinner & gave it to her for breakfast. Eventually she went to daycare & ate there. But when she came home (starving), I thought I'd get her to eat. I warmed up her food again, and as of right now, she's barely eaten anything and it's been 2 hours.

... I don't want to cave, since I'll never get her to eat, but she's about to break me.

Any advice?


asked 08 Apr '10, 23:13

frustrated%20father's gravatar image

frustrated father
accept rate: 0%


Is there anything she likes to eat? Is there something in the food you are trying to give her that she refuses? What does your wife do after 1-2 hours? Do you let her snack between the meals? What snacks? Do you usually eat together?

(09 Apr '10, 04:18) brandstaetter

How old is your little one?

In my opinion 1-2 hours is a bit too long a time to be waiting for her to eat and from what I gather you spent rather a lot of time waiting for her to eat. ( 3 hours is an awfully long time to be sitting at the dinner table for a young child)

I think that first you should try to relax and not look at it as caving in. Heating dinner and serving it for breakfast the next morning may not be the best way to encourage her to eat. Even though they may seem obvious I would still probably ask myself these questions and try to see if I can adopt a different plan of action so to speak.

  • What do you eat and at what times do you eat in your household?
  • Are you preparing different food for her?
  • If she goes to pre-school I am presuming you can talk about food with her. Does she say say anything about food and meal times?
  • Is the problem a dual one, both a slow eater and refusing to eat?
  • What do they feed her at Pre school?
  • How is her weight/height ratio for her age?

I also think that these questions and answers below can be useful for you to read and may give you some ideas as well.

Good luck!

2 Year old girl won't eat

My toddler has stopped eating meals and only wants snacks

How do you deal with a child who is a slow eater


answered 09 Apr '10, 10:21

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%


Great answer said most of what I was thinking.

(09 Apr '10, 20:07) K D

Something in our house that works is having an incentive to eat. Some examples that work really well with our 3 year old and sometimes with our nearly 2 year old are:

  • In our house only those who eat their main course (vegetables and meat) get to have dessert (usually fruit).
  • After dinner is playtime with daddy so if you eat at the same pace as daddy then you will get to have more time to play before bedtime.

How much are you putting on her plate? At a course I went to on preschoolers and nutritution the presenter said that if there is too much on the plate then the child gets overwelmed and wont eat anything. Sometimes we will tell our son he has to eat half. We divide the food on his plate in half. The funny thing is that he will often eat all of it if we do that.

You must be incredible paitent to last more than an hour. If my kids are refusing to eat then when the rest of the family have finished it gets cleared away.


answered 09 Apr '10, 20:32

K%20D's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

Our kids sometimes don't want to eat. We generally don't force them too much (the 3.5 year old a bit more). Of course there is no desert if the main course is not eaten. But in general worrying too much does not help, and making a fuss just puts them off. At some point we got a nice video from the library and the pediatrician gave the answer that no toddler had ever been seriously harmed by not eating for a couple of days. The only thing you need to be careful about is no meals is no snacks. Don't let esp. candy, cookies (but fruit as well) substitute for proper food. The kids will get hungry and if there is only one solution, eventually they will give in and eat their meals. Just make sure that it is not something they genuinely dislike.


answered 14 Apr '10, 12:04

Paul's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

One thing I'd suggest is not re-using the food they've already turned down. Our 21m old daughter sometimes refuses to eat a meal and if we try to give it to her the next day again - however, if you then prepare a new meal, she'll happily sit and eat it all.

Also, if she's tired she tends to eat far less than when she's wide awake, so if you're not already, stick to set times for each meal and ensure they aren't tired.

Finally, if they still refuse the food, try a few alternatives and if they still don't eat let them go to bed hungry, as the next morning they'll most likely make up for it at breakfast time.


answered 14 Apr '10, 19:42

Lazlow's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

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Asked: 08 Apr '10, 23:13

Seen: 6,671 times

Last updated: 14 May '12, 21:27