Q: My child has been refusing to eat dinner and then begs for something else to eat 15 minutes later. What should I do?
A: Dinner can be a tough meal for children because there tends to be more grown-up food on the table. I follow the advice from Ellyn Satter’s books and consider the whole family when planning dinner instead of focusing on my picky eater. I try to prepare at least 2 meals per week that are my daughter’s favorites and do the same for my husband and me. On the nights the dinner entree is a new item or something she doesn’t typically eat, I make sure to serve at least 2 other items that she likes such as bread and fruit.
If your son goes to bed awhile after dinner consider adding a bedtime snack. That way, when he asks for food between meals you can tell him his bedtime snack is coming in a couple of hours. If you stay consistent, your son will catch on and will stop asking for food right after dinner. Eventually, he’ll start eating a wider variety of food because he knows you’re not just going to feed him his favorites.
The hardest part is accepting that some nights your little one won’t eat a balanced meal. But I believe the above strategy pays off in the long run. My daughter is finally starting to eat more of the dinners I serve after months of refusing. And by refusing I mean taking the food off her plate yelling, no, no, no! Of course, I follow the Division of Responsibility: I decide the what, when and where of feeding and she decides the whether and how much of eating.
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