Picky Eaters: Changing Eating Schedules

September 28, 2012 | By | Comments (1)

We asked you on Facebook for your biggest challenges when it comes to having a picky eater in the house. We called in Elizabeth Pantley, best-selling author of The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution to help solve your problems.

Spinach "Meatballs"

I have a 33 month old son who is quite a picky eater.  We’ve talked to our doctor about it but he didn’t give us any solutions. My son eats a ton of breakfast, later a snack, then lunch, and then a nap. After his nap he wakes up wanting another snack. He doesn’t want to eat dinner, though. We try bribing him with dessert or someone spoon feeds him. It’s a big struggle for us and there have been a few times where there was some fighting at dinner time. We have been struggling with it for a long time. —Elaina H.

Hi, Elaina. I suspect part of the problem is that your son’s refusal to eat dinner has become such a huge focal point in your family that the problem has grown way out of proportion. Firstly, is your son of normal height and weight and growing well? Since he eats “a ton a breakfast” then a snack, lunch and another snack, he may be getting all the calories he needs for the day. Maybe you can start thinking of his afternoon snack as “dinner”—try to push it off for an hour or so, and then provide him mealtime foods. Be careful that all this snacking isn’t filling him up with empty calories so that he’s too full to fit in a proper meal.

Keep in mind that it’s common for parents to misjudge the serving sizes for their children and assume that their child isn’t eating enough. What we think of as a miniature serving for ourselves is actually quite large for a child. Your child’s stomach is only about the size of his clenched fist—go and look at his hand—it’s much smaller than you thought! Being portion-savvy is a critical part of feeding your child right.

A toddler needs ¾ to 1 cup of vegetables, ¼ cup of grains, and 3 tablespoons of meat per day, not per meal. That means you spread that amount over all the meals and snacks for the whole day. That means a dinnertime serving of vegetables is about ¼ cup. That will look like a very small amount to an adult eye—but it’s plenty for your tiny child. A ¼ cup serving of rice is . . . four tablespoons and a ¼ cup serving of green beans is about . . . four beans! So your son may be getting plenty of food – it’s just been concentrated to the early hours of the day.

This is Elizabeth’s final post for more advice, visit her Facebook page.