We're having a bit of difficulty with our 2 and a half year old little boy tonight. Normally he'll take his time eating, but he does go through most of it. Tonight however he's absolutely refused to eat his dinner, even at the expense of going for a walk, watching cartoons and playing with his toys, all of which he wanted to do. Now he's sitting on the couch sulking because he knows we're unhappy with him.

I know there's no magic answer of how to get him to eat his dinner, but is there a good response to the situation? I'm not sure if we're handling this correctly by threatening and following through with withholding the things he likes, but I think it's wrong to let him get what he wants without doing the things that we want (and he needs) to do.

asked 31 May '10, 19:37

DaveDev's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 31 May '10, 21:28

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦

+1 Good question

(31 May '10, 21:11) Emi

Here are a couple of similar questions with answers that might be very helpful to you: http://moms4mom.com/questions/4643/2-year-old-girl-who-wont-eat http://moms4mom.com/questions/4858/what-should-i-do-when-my-preschooler-wont-eat

(31 May '10, 21:35) Tammy ♦♦

Personally, I wouldn't punish him for not eating his meal - he may really not be hungry or not feeling well and I wouldn't want to force him to eat.

That being said, I assume you're not running a 24-hour buffet, so I would however remind him of how long it is until the next meal and suggest that he eat something to prevent hunger (from experience this doesn't work the first time, but hey you tried.) Then when he still doesn't eat, take his meal away and go about your normal activities (going for a walk, cartoons etc.) He will get hungry eventually and then you need to remind him of what transpired earlier. Then I guess it is up to you whether you continue to hold out to the next meal/snack or offer an interim snack (but nothing too good like cookies!)

Occasionally, my toddler pulls this stunt, BUT she is normally a good eater so I don't stress too much and she is usually fine to make it to the next meal.

A side note: In the event that she doesn't like something, I encourage her to eat some but don't force the issue too much. Then I'd give her a more substantial snack when snack-time rolled around - this doesn't happen much so when she says that she doesn't like something I tend to believe her (which I know is not the same for all kids).


answered 31 May '10, 20:49

Kate's gravatar image

accept rate: 20%


+1 for the voice of sanity. And rationality. Sometimes it slips my mind that I can explain things to him, and what you're saying makes perfect sense. Next time this happens, I'll just explain to him that if he doesn't eat now he'll be hungry later. We're already using the need-to-eat-to-grow-big-and-strong line on him, but a hungry belly will be more likely to convince him why it's important to eat. Thanks

(31 May '10, 22:07) DaveDev

I have also found it is important that you don't get stressed or upset about it.

(01 Jun '10, 01:40) K D

I have found with our 19mth old daughter there is nothing we can do to make her eat if she doesn't want to. So she sits with us at the table while we eat and if she says she is all done when we are done she can leave the table. Some days this means she has not eaten and others she will ask for more after she is finished what we gave her. I try to have something in meals that I know she will eat if she is hungry like bread or salad. If supper is early or she acts hungry I do offer her a healthy snack before bed as well where she normally just gets milk.

When I was younger and decided not to eat my supper I realized pretty quickly that being hungry was not fun no matter how much I didn't like my supper.


answered 01 Jun '10, 00:03

nikjoyce's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

+1 for ensuring that every meal contains something you know they will eat.

(02 Jun '10, 15:59) Meg Stephenson
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Asked: 31 May '10, 19:37

Seen: 7,260 times

Last updated: 01 Jun '10, 00:03