Why won't my child eat at the dinner table?

June 10, 2016

Mealtimes can be tough when you have small children at the table who refuse to eat anything on their plate. The good news is that this a common complaint among many parents so try not to worry too much about it. A child will usually grow out fussy eating habits and soon embrace trying different foods and flavours as time goes on.

If you're still concerned here are a few things to bear in mind:

  1. What have you cooked for dinner? If there are certain elements of the meal that your child is willing to eat let him/her start with that bit first. Perhaps if they begin eating the bit they like they might continue and try the rest.
  2. Try not to put too much pressure on your child to eat everything. This can make mealtimes feel like a battle and create a negative space at the dinner table. It's okay for your little one to try a bit of everything without finishing it all.
  3. It could simply be that your kid isn't that hungry! If they've had a big bowl of porridge for their breakfast they might not be hungry enough for a big lunch three hours later.
  4. Have you overdone it on the snacks? Lots of parents give their children snacks throughout the day. This is fab if your child is feeling hungry and their energy levels are low. However, if you offer too many snacks your little one won't have space for dinner when tea-time arrives.
  5. Don't focus too much on what your child eats at a single meal. Think about what your bubba has eaten over the course of a few days, rather than at a single sitting, to get a better idea of how much they're eating.
  6. Finally, as odd as it might sound to us food lovers, kids can often just be more interested in playing than eating. If you've got an active child it's likely that he/she wants to go play with their toys or be out in the garden rather than stuck at the table. Continue to instil good eating habits in your children by preparing meals and sitting down together to eat as a family but do remember that it takes time for smaller kids to settle into a proper routine.

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