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My 4 year old takes forever to eat
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My 4 year old takes forever to eat

My 4 year old eats very slowly, no matter what we try he still takes forever to eat. Like tonight we sat down for dinner,everyone else has finished and had dessert he was still eating the same thing. It was over 2 hours before he finished. I am worried about him. Also is it normal for a child of his age to still eat 1 thing at a time?
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Avatar_f_tn
Kids at your son's age frequently are picky eaters.  My kids age 4 and 2 are somewhat picky but not at an extreme level.   We have always been conscious about the kinds of food we have available in our house.   For dinner, we pull out plastic trays with small compartments and fill them with healthy foods that they like i.e. cottage cheese, cheese cubes, fruit, whole grain bagels, cut up, plain yogurt.  Sometimes they eat what we are eating but most often not.  As long as its healthy, I don't worry.  You can't force your child to eat something.  Have the family meal, then offer a healthy alternatives i.e pasta, whole grain bagel, fruit.  If they snub your main meal and the alternatives, well then tough beans.  You did your job.  Don't worry your son will not starve himself.  Don't become a short order cook for your son either.  Just give him a few options and thats that.

As for how long he takes to eat, alot of young kids are very slow eaters.  Let him poke its no cause for concern.
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Avatar_n_tn
My 4-year old is the exact same way.  Her and her sister who is 20 months sit at the same time, have the exact same thing in food and Grace finishes 20-30 minutes before Kena does.  

We make Kena sit and eat all or most of her food.  She likes to get up from the table, play and so on... but we're consistent in making her stay in her chair and finish her food.  Sometimes I will sit w/ her and eat w/ her... that seems to help some.

She is very picky too... and she only will eat one thing on her plate at a time.  

I think it's pretty normal.  I wouldn't worry if I were you!

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200828_tn?1209921575
Welcome to the club! (LOL)

My 3 1/2 year old daughter is the same way.  My husband and I get so frustrated waiting for her.  Good luck!
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154929_tn?1196191338
My four year old is the same very slow to eat--he would rather pick at his food and take time to eat and paly in between.  We have a very relaxed food rules in our house so sitting at the table does not apply--They must leave their food on the table and not take it with them, the one we really enforce.  Unless he is totally hungry and saying he is starving then supper time takes a long time.  For Tyler I think that it is now his wind down time and he is not really ready to totally stop playing and eat.

My 2 1/2 yr old on the other hand will eat quickly and understands thatn as quickly as he eats the faster he either gets a popsicle or gets back outside.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have a 5 year old boy, and he has always been a slow eater.  I think it is because he does all the talking to us over supper time.  My husband and I are always finished first, dishes put away and he is still poking and picking.  This happens ever night, and we did have to laugh cause just 2 days ago, he actually had nothing to say, and finished eating before all of us did and screamed out "i am the first one done" he was all excited because this is the first time every he bet us.  So don't worry, nothing is wrong at all.  As long as he is gaining weigh and growing as all other 4 year olds, then he'll be fine.
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164559_tn?1233711618
My kids are always ravenous eat their food like they havn't eaten in a week.  
Tall skinny kids are impossible to keep filled up.

If he is falling within your familiy's structure, I wouldn't worry about it.  We want the kids to sit with us at dinner and our structure is that once you get down from the table you are done.  Other families do it in a differant way.  

If he is a healthy weight and is eating well, I wouldn't worry about it.  Or you could provide incentive, ie we will play Scrabble as soon as everyone finishes.

This may be a problem when he goes to school though....
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Avatar_n_tn
Hungry kids seem to eat better than ones with no appetite.

A walk does wonders, but on those days we can't manage that, an afternoon devoid of snacks usually means a faster dinner than one where snacks have been available.

And the quickest meals have been ones where they thought they were going to miss out because I said it had got to late and was about to send them to bed, but we decided to let them stay up and join us. They wolfed it down. Not sure why that one worked, other than they were glad they didn't miss out - or really did want to go to bed because they were tired. Of cousre if they had dwalded it would have been bed straight away, with just an easy to eat snakc offerred in case they were going to wilt away over night.

SOmetimes we just take theplate away and say its available tomorrow same time. They often seem to have had enough and were going slow because it was too much. They happily return to finish it the next day as long as it wasn't spoilt by storage (and the simple foods they eat do keep overnight)

When they are sick they don't like to eat as much, so allowances are made for reduced appetite then.

Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
My daughter takes forever to eat. The problem is at school she throws a fit when meal times are over. After lunch it is time to take a nap, but she will throw a fit if someone takes her plate away. I don't know what to do, because I cannot continue to devote 2 hours of my day to each meal. HELP!!
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Avatar_n_tn
I feel for you.  I spend 3 hours a day! trying to get my 4 year old daughter to eat.  One hour for each meal time! and she only eats at most 10 mouth fulls at each meal.  Honestly, she can take 10 to 15 mins just for one mouth full! help
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Avatar_n_tn
Here are some things you can try:

1) Lead up to dinner the same way every day. I pick him up from his afterschool program, watch 30 minutes of TV while I cook, then turn off the TV, get them to wash their hands and sit down
2) Start at the same time every day
3) Set an exact amount of time to finish. I set 30 minutes. It takes a while, but he needs to understand that dinner has a start time AND an end time. If you let him eat as long as it takes, he'll take that as control over you and push it. I know it's hard, but at first you may need to take his food away even if he doesn't eat anything. He may get hungry later, but then you need to get him to understand he needs to eat at dinner time AND within the time set to finish it
4) Remind him how much time he has left
5) Do not feed him; make him eat for himself
6) If he doesn't act like he wants to eat, threaten to end dinner right then and take away his food. For some reason, my son would protest strongly about this when I tried and then he would eat some
7) If he's playing around or causing trouble, put him in his room and tell him only people who want to eat can sit at the table and he can come out only when he's ready to sit and eat. My son always got straight after that
8) Give him a reasonable amount of food to finish
9) Ask him beforehand what he "will" eat for dinner (you may not want to do this, but for me, if I can get him to agree to what to eat, he usually eats it). I know most people will believe the child should eat what the parents are serving, but I found that kids take a long time to accept new foods, so, I give them what they want for dinner and gradually work in new foods. I can sometimes get them interested by telling them they CAN'T have what I'm eating, which, of course, makes them want it and I "give in" and they try it (I always make extra in case they actually like it).
10) Occassionally, I will have dessert available, but they cannot get it if they don't eat all their food (after all, I remind him, if he doesn't eat all his dinner, he must not be hungry)
11) I try to stick to what is on his plate, but sometimes I will make a deal with him: like if he doesn't finish the whole sandwich, he needs to eat 5 carrots to make it up. The trick is to make the substitute healthy or healthier
12) Making eating fun can sometimes work, but it can also get too carried away. I can get him interested if I arrange the food in a funny shape, or sometimes he "builds a fire" with broccoli stalks (left over after he eats the top) and ketchup.
13) We had an incentive program that required eating dinner on time. That's how we started them to get disciplined for dinner time. We didn't need the inventive program after a while

Hope this helps.
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332370_tn?1205702317
My son used to do the same thing every morning and it would drive me nuts.  He would take forever to eat and then we would end up feeling rushed the rest of the morning and I would be in a bad mood.  I ended up giving him a time limit and setting the timing on my stove.  He can see it and knew how much time he had.  At first he did not believe me but after a couple of times where he ran out of time and the food went away he got the idea and now I don't have any more problems with it.  Good luck to you.
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427612_tn?1203700589
5 yr old girl, same thing takes forever to eat. What I have found helpful was just saying... " I betcha can't eat that piece of chicken before I finish my chicken, but theres one rule... You can only eat it one bite at a time and have to chew it up completely" She thinks it's kinda fun and I almost always let her beat me. So she revels in her victory too. It's fun... Even if we are always the last two at the table, it's like a special bonding time.
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Avatar_n_tn
My six-year old girl is also taking forever to eat and always seem to have no appetite. She is also easily distracted and keep the food in the mouth for long time. I tried preparing food that she likes but it still takes a long time for her to eat. and every meal, she will negotiate on the quantity she should eat and always complain about not able to swallow...she is very skinny and not gaining weight (some ppl told us not to be unduly worried as it might be genes as both my husband and myself are small frame). Though skinny, she is otherwise healthy. Is there a cause for concern to have six-year olds having this eating behaviour?
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Avatar_m_tn
I have a 4 1/2 year old and she is so sweet, caring and loving.  When she plays with her 3 month old sister you feel like crying cause of the thoughful sweet things she says to her.  But when it comes to food its a nightmare.  My husband refuses to stay home with her for more than 4 hours cause he can't stand her eating habits.  If I am to go out I have to make sure she eats which takes about 1-2 hour and most of the time it end up in a crying, yelling or throw up session.  I am at my wits end with this child.  I have tried everything....from feeding her, taking her toys away, timing her, giving her what she wants, bribe her with cake candy, TV, computer and nothing works.  I would even tell her if she does not eat no school or TV or playing with ther toys...still nothing works.  She would go hungry all day long.  Everytime my mother in law comes over she would loose 3 pounds or more cause she thinks she knows whats best fo rmy daughter. If there is anything or anyone out there that has any suggestion I would love to hear it
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey food907, I just realised after reading your artical that I am not the only one going through this.  My 4 and a half year old son is exactly the same.  He is very loving and caring but when it comes to food its a nightmare.  I have also tried everything, same like you and nothing has worked so far.  since yesterday I have starting setting time limits to his dinner and giving him only 45 mins but  I still have to be there and watch him otherwise he will not eat, dont know what else to do... he has been like this for 2 and a half years....he can go without food all day and still have alof of energy....
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hi, I have a 5 year old and a 4 year old.  I think one way kids kind of exert their power is over food.  My husband was very concerned about our kids and eating and talked to our pediatrician about it.  He was told that kids actually don't need all that much food, not what most parents think they do.  They need as much protein that fits into the palm of THEIR hand (small).  That is the most important thing.  That getting into a power struggle with them over it will actually backfire.

I would lay off a little, to be honest.  Make meal time a fun time of day, not a way.  Give your child some choices in what they eat and when possible, let them help prepare it.  I've even let my kids pick out some things themselves at the store.  Also preparation can play a hand.  My son doesn't like big, whole chunks of carrot but will eat the little slivers that are sold in the salad bar area.  Why, I have no idea.  But it's not a big deal to serve it to him that way and he'll eat it.  Making food look nice (cut sandwich into shapes, arrange the plate artfully) really can help.  Think about fancy resturants----  the best resturants have a consultant that arranges the visual of food on a plate (what, you say?  Well, when I was going through a rough spot doing couseling and psychological analysis as it was at times overwhelming, this was something I almost pursued as a career change . . .)  Anyway, it takes a little extra time but if your child will happily eat and try new foods, it is worth it.
Make healthy food the food that is available in your home then who cares what choice your child makes----- it is all healthy.  And if your child tries something new----- give them lots and lots of praise, even if they don't take another bite at that meal.  

Try to keep the peace over food and encourage your child to grow in this area.
Good luck!!
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Avatar_f_tn
My 7 yr old daughter is a VERY slow eater as well.  She does not snack, she gets a wide variety of nutritious food that she enjoys.  The problem sets up a viscious cycle.  She doesn't finish her breakfast, so she's sleepy in class.  She doesn't finish lunch in school becasue she is too slow, so by the time she is coming home from school, she is starving.  To satisfy her hunger, she gorges herself with her 'leftovers' from lunch on the ride home.  Since dinner is usually within a couple hours of her coming home, she is still full from gorging herself on the way home.  This is not healty and she is undersize for her age becasue of it.  Anyone who starts pontificating about the benefits of eating slow doesn't realize the magnitiude of the problem when you have multiple children to juggle and that the world does not wait for slow eaters. Also, the problem is not 'savoring the food',but a disconnect during eating:  forgetting to take a bite, then forgetting to chew, then forgetting to swallow.  One bite cycle could take 5-10 minutes with all the daydreaming.  The only way to break this cycle is to get her to eat a good breakfast.  The only successful trick I have been able to use is to read her a story during breakfast.  She has to take a bit with every page and i won't turn the page until she takes her next bite.  It isn't always successful, but at least it gives her a timed reminder to bite/chew/swallow.
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1660349_tn?1302565156
my four year old is not so much a picky eater, she will eat just about anything and for the most part, has no problem trying new things.  the problem is actually getting her to eat most days, other days she will eat everything in site!  shes so busy with other things!  so the question is, should we force her to sit there till we feel she has had enough?  do we let her decide, and send her to bed hungry if she hasn't eaten enough?  do we wrap her dinner and if she gets hungry, thats her snack?  i am so tired of fighting every meal!
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Avatar_f_tn
I don't think it is anything to worry about, and making a big deal of it only makes matters worse. I was both a slow and a picky eater, I ALWAYS ate one thing at a time, At age 42 I am STILL a slow and picky eater, I still eat one thing at a time. I do not like the items on my plate to touch, I always take small bites, chew for a long time, I have to concentrate to swallow at times. In my preteens I developed an eating disorder. I had great food anxiety, most stemmed from the harping over the amount of time I took eating, and eating one thing at a time.
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Avatar_m_tn
we have the same problem we dont have her all the time she at her mother house for five days a we only get her for two days a week and its the worst and meal time she is a sweet little girl she cry that she want to eat and than we give her dinner she starts to play has to talk we tryed every thing put her in time out the coner put a timer on after an hour of her eating tell she wont get a treat she wont do it she will cry and cry and than i have just take her food away she cry for something to drink because that all she will take she seems like she need somethnig in her tummy i have a five year old that eats like a boy in high school its crazzy it seem rude i have even try having my five year old eat her treat infront of her i cant take any more of this. when she get done after two hours of fighting her she still thinks she get some thing for eating if i did not fight her she would never eat her food at all and at her other house they give her all goods every time we pick her up she is eating some kind of treat and the mother all ways tells us she did not eat much she normaly hungary
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377493_tn?1356505749
I think every single one of us with a young child or toddler goes through eating issues with them.  I actually am working closely with a Pediatriac Dietician and have learned a ton of really helpful info from her.  I will share with you what she shares with me.

Feed your child and dont' make an issue out of eating at all.  Do not reward (ie: clapping or cheering because they ate well) or punish for not eating a lot.  It is completely normal for their appetites to fluctuate, and what you want is to make meal time just a normal part of every day.  So if they won't eat, don't say anything at all.  We offer a bedtime snack of something like oatmeal & fruit, and often if my son doesn't eat dinner, or perhaps ate just a few bites, he will gobble it down.  He just wasn't hungry at dinner.  But by doing things like putting her in time out, you can make this a power struggle, or a scary thing for her.  We always eat dinner as a family.  My son sits with us, I give him dinner, and he eats as much (or as little) as he chooses.  I cannot tell you how much easier meal time has become.  And as I said, offer a nighttime healthy snack if they dont' eat and you will probably find they eat it.  But don't fight with her and don't punish her.  Just let her be, keep mealtime a family event and an enjoyable experience, and she will come around.  Remember that going back and forth between your and her mothers house is also probably a very stressful thing for her.  She's just little.
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1548028_tn?1324616046
My son did the same thing.  His nickname was "doodlebug" for that reason.  My ped explained kids eat when they are hungry and won't when they aren't.  Kids don't do what adults do frequently.  We eat because we want to and most kids eat because they need to.  Their body's are smart.  I would never have a weight problem if I ate when I needed to and not when I want to.  As long as they are growing and playing it is all good.  You dr. always monitors growth and weight.  Once they get into school and are limited in the time to eat that changes really quick and then you are asking them to slow down.LOL!
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Avatar_f_tn
I have a 6.8 year old son, who is a really really slow eater. For example tonight, he started his meal at8.30PM and still eating at 1. I get agitated because, everyday and every meal i handle this. Today my husband has taken charge and has tried everything : sitting in corner, kneeling down, and eat . Everything.. And he just finds excuses not to eat a healthy meal of chicken salad.
I understand clearly that its a behavioral issue. Would it be possible that factors like TV cartoons, influence them to dream than focus on their meals?
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Avatar_m_tn
This is an interesting subject. I'll tell my tale.
When I was little, my sisters even made fun of me for eating slow. I cried and my parents did nothing about it. No one understood. I remember one time my mom forced me to take the last bite and I felt like throwing up.
When I was little, I didn't know the word "proportion." I tried my best to explain to them. I said, "You're bigger so you eat more, but I don't need to."
To those whose pediatricians said that children really don't need to much, you're right on!!
I always hated how my parents forced me to eat. I'm 20, now, and my childhood till around age 9, is full of negative food memories.
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hi there.  I do think most parents are just trying to keep their kids healthy and it is very old school to think that cleaning their plate is the best thing.  Most doctors do not recommend this nowadays but many parents still adhere to this philosophy.  I was a slow eater and not a huge eater as a child.  I try to be respectful of my children.  I do have rules though . . .  if you are too full to finish your dinner, you don't get any sweets later on.  Seems many kids can be full for the real food but find room for the junk.  So, I hold to that rule.  But you are right, one shouldn't force a child to eat if they are saying they are full.  luck to you
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Avatar_f_tn
Our 5yrs old daughter eats whatever is given to her, but the problem is that she is a slow eater. This really make us mad especially in the mornings when she has school. She does this at every meal. How can we solve this problem? please help
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hi.  Well----  at breakfast, she has a time limit.  Get her up in plenty of time and maybe give her 20 minutes to a half hour to eat.  That should be plenty of time.  When it reaches the end of her time limit----  say "okay, time to go.  Hope you're full".  And leave for school.  She won't starve.  I promise.  

But at dinner, let her take as long as she likes.  I was a very very slow eater as a child.  It's actually good for your digestion and not such a big deal, right?  So, she sits there while you do dishes and finishes her meal.  I think you pick when you can relax about how slow she eats and pick when there isn't time for that.  Then she will understand that it is okay to be herself and live at her own pace when circumstances allow for it but then at times, she will need to hurry herself along due to time constraints.

good luck
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535822_tn?1389452880
Works okay if you set the alarm earlier and get her going without rushing her kids hate to be rushed ,its as simple as that, try it..
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