Child Behavior Community
14.2k Members
Avatar universal

Sneaking food

My daughter is 31 inches and 45 pounds -- overweight on the BMI scale.  We have been working with her since September 2003 to improve her diet (At that time she had high cholesterol, which has since resolved).  She has been consistently over-weight, even as a breast fed infant.  We have seen a great improvement, ie:  weight gain of 10+ pounds from age 2 to 3, versus about a 3 pound gain from age 3 to 4.

Lately (within the last month), she has begun "sneaking" food -- candy, pretzels, brown sugar, today it was raw oats!  We offer her 3 meals a day and she often eats more than her 2 1/2 year old sister and would eat as much as you would give her, I think.  She has had a CBC which is normal, which leads me to believe this is a behavioral issue?
She has snuck food (at one time 6+ Hostess cupcakes) in the past -- but it's been about 9 months ago.

I am a stay at home mom, my husband (my daughter's father) works 3 days a week.  She has an 8 year old brother and a 2 1/2 year old sister, neither exhibit these behaviors.

Thank you.
17 Responses
Avatar universal
I actually mis-typed her height -- she is 41 inches tall.  Sorry.
13167 tn?1327197724
Mom,  your post is so confusing I went to your profile to try to figure out what's going on.  You state you've been working with her diet for over 5 years,  but she's only 4 - and you state that she eats as much as her 2 1/2 year old sister and would eat more if allowed.  I would think she would certainly eat more than her younger sister,  she's a tall healthy girl of 4 1/2.  

Gaining 3 pounds between 3 - 4 is on the low side,  especially considering her height and weight are normal for her age.  

A child her age needs more than 3 meals - she needs several snacks in between meals.  

It sounds like she's doing great - best wishes with her.
Avatar universal
It might be a good idea not to keep things like Hostess cupcakes in the house.  Your little girl is so young that at this age, she doesn't realize why she shouldn't eat foods like that in large quantities whenever she wants.  Even though your other two children don't have weight issues, it is probably better not to keep junk food in the house.  Have you talked to your little girl's pediatrician about an appropriate number of calories to feed her, based on her current height, weight and activity level?  She sounds tall for her age.  Do you allow her to have a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon, in addition to her three meals?  Best of luck to you.  
Avatar universal
I took the liberty of actually calculating your daughter's BMI..based on what you said..your daughter is 41 inches and 45 lbs.  Based on that, your daughter's BMI is 18.8.  The normal range for a BMI is 18.5 - 24.9!  Your daughter is actually almost underweight for her height.

Sorry to sound rude, but i agree with rockrose...your daughter needs snacks during the day.  That's probably why she's sneaking food.  She's a growing healthy girl.  Is it possible that you have your own issues with food and weight?  
Avatar universal
You know, I thought that 45 pounds at 41 inches sounded on the thin side too!  
364382 tn?1300245899
I agree with everyone else here on offering her snacks. My 4 year old son goes through periods where he will just about eat everything in sight, then eat very little for a few weeks. One of my friends suggested a 'snack shelf' in the fridge that has worked really well- things like apples, cheese sticks, low-fat yogurt, etc. He knows he can go get one if he's hungry.
If she's having to sneak food, then that could lead to issues with overeating later. Let her have healthy snacks during the day.
Avatar universal
Thanks for all of your comments.  Sorry about the original post -- I was thinking that we started ensuring the whole family had a healthy diet when our daughter turned 3 -- so 2007 is the correct year, not 2003.

I have also calculated her BMI at 18.8.  It is in the over-weight/obese category for children.  BMI is interrepted differently for children than adults.  See this link for the BMI calculator I used.    http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/usefultools/l/bl_bmi_results.htm?test=1&gender=2&age=4&months=4&cwt=45&chf=3&chi=5

I have tried snacks at home, but it seems to make her more interested, rather than less interested in food throughout the day.  And, she does receive snacks at Sunday School (once a week), Pre-school (2 days a week), and at Bible Study (once a week).

Further, I agree with indigo -- and my other children are like that, especially our son -- they will go through times of eating a lot, and other times, not much at all.  Our daughter, on the other hand, never goes through "the not eating much at all" stage.

Also, we have talked with her doctor.  She is pleased that our daughter only gained 3 to 4 pounds this last year.  She is growing, and the goal is not to lose weight, but to slow the progression of weight gain.  

I was hoping to maybe connect with someone who has had a similar experience to see what worked for them.

Avatar universal
we are having the same problem with our 3 year old son...he does not have a weight problem but he exhibits addiction like behavior when it comes to food...today for example, he had just got punished for going into my room and drinking my drink...then 20 minutes later he went into the kitchen and ate 4 hostess desserts...the other day he got up before us and opened a pack of hot dogs and was in the process of eating his 4th one when i caught him...this is a daily occurance and we have tried every punishment that we can...he does not care about spankings or time outs...its almost as if the punishment is worth it...also his biological mother was a drug user during her pregnanacy ,and con artist and is in and out of jail alll the time...im wondering if he is showing characteristics of her or results of what she did
Avatar universal
Have you found a way of getting your child to stop doing this yet? I too have the same problem with my almost four year old daughter, and have since she could reach the pantry door. We starting putting things up higher so she learned to get a chiar or step stool. We've moved and it seemed to stop for a while be she is back to doing it again. It's anything and everything she knows is there. It's my husbands (her father's) snacks for work, it's candy, it's even chewable viatamins. Once it was an entire cake. And when she realized she couldn't eat the whole thing before I got done with the laundry, she then got her baby brother to join her and the dog even. she is sneeking it every chance she gets. She is not under fed. She gets three meals a day and three snacks, usally healthy, but everyone once in a while I will let her have a peice of candy or a cupcake. My husband and I just don't know what to do. we've explained to her that what she is doing is wrong. We have tried time out, we even tried to remove all snacks. Instead she stool an entire bag of sugar, the next day it was rolaids (for heartburn) and then flitstone viatamins. I am worried that she is never going to stop. I can't trust my child, and unfortanatly I can't keep her by my side at all times of the day. PLEASE someone help.
13167 tn?1327197724
jg,  I'm really baffled by this whole thread.  It started out with a tall skinny preschooler the mother says was over eating.  and didn't get easier to understand,  for me.  Eating habits of families can be so engrained over the years.

Sorry if I misunderstand your post,  but it seems to me you have a lot of sugary children's type food that is only for the adults,  and your 4 year old gets an "occasional piece of candy" or cupcake.  That's what you wrote,  I didn't just surmise it,  and the sugary snacks and candy for your husband are kept out of her reach.

This sounds more like anger than food craving and hoarding on her part.  If she went into the pantry and got the cake but DID NOT HOARD it for herself or eat it,  but rather got the dog and her baby brother to help out with getting rid of the cake,  that's anger,  not hunger.  

It  sounds like you have a real food control issue, and she also has a rebellion issue.  

Sorry if I got that wrong.  In my family,  the candy,  sugary snacks and cakes were for the kids,  and there was nothing put up really high for the adults.  
377493 tn?1356505749
I am a bit confused as well, but will throw in my two cents.  If you don't want children eating unhealthy snacks, don't buy them.  If she knows they are there and ever sees you and dad eating them, of course she will want them.  If told no, she will sneak them. She's little.  I would get rid of the junk food and fill the fridge with carrot sticks, celery sticks, etc.  Have them in easy reach for her.  It's fine if she is a big eater, just keep it healthy.  Fruit, veggies, crackers and cheese.  And I would increase her activity levels. Make it fun. You haven't said much about your lifestyle, but outdoor play whenever possible.  Family walks or perhaps find something you can do as a family that incorporates excercise.  Swimming, biking, whatever is appropriate.   Anyway, this is what I would do in this situation.  
Avatar universal
I have a problem with my girlfriends child where he's 3 years old and he sneaks in the kitchen to grab 2 liter bottles, orange juices, and potatoe/pancake mixes. He grabbed some vitamins and cough syrups as well. he has a older brother (age 5) and he doesn't do that at all. I believe the medicines he's grabbed was influenced by the older brother because he knew the 3yr old will get in trouble. However, the 3yr old gets enough meals and snacks per day and around 4am or 5am he's constantly sneaking cartons of juices and mostly 2 liter bottles as well. I don't know if he's thirsty at night, bored where he cannot sleep or he's just wanting to get into something. Sometimes he does things for attention but every day when he's been punished for the things he's done he doesnt learn from it. What can we do about this? is this odd for a 3yr old?
Have an Answer?
Top Children's Health Answerers
189897 tn?1441130118
San Pedro, CA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Is a gluten-free diet right for you?
We answer your top questions about the flu vaccine.
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
Healing home remedies for common ailments