When your four year old refuses to eat dinner, what do you do to guarantee he/she eats?
I have toddler who doesn't like to eat. My doctor recommended Ovaltine because then she get all the necessary vitamins she needs. So you can try it. I tell her it's chocolate milk so she loves that.
I say they'll eat if they're hungry. I think in that age it is more about asserting their independence than anything else. Whenever I fix something just for me, my daughter wants to eat it too. Sometimes tricks like that work.
One pediatrician said to sit down at the table with empty plates and make the children ask for food instead of filling their plates with food for them.
Also, make sure not to give a snack in the afternoon if they don't want to eat dinner. If they're starving, they may not be as picky.
It's trial and error. Try one thing and if it doesn't work, try another.
Why is he or she refusing? Is it something they don't like? Are they picky? With my daughters if they didn't like what I cooked they could make a sandwich, bowl of soup or cereal. If they choose not to eat those they didn't eat and weren't allowed to have snacks.
I never worried about "guaranteeing" that they ate. My child-rearing days are long behind me, but I used to simply say, "Fine, but don't come looking for snacks later."
Many times, it is simply an attention-getting gesture. Deny them the attention, and it probably won't happen often. Dismiss them from the table to their room to play alone. Next meal, they'll be hungry enough to eat.
No one ever died or got sick from missing a meal, but plenty of people have become ill after pigging out. (Assuming normal good health, and not some 'must eat on schedule' condition such as diabetes.)
Even when they were high-chair age--I never put up with fooling around and playing with the food. I'd remove them from their high chair and put them back in their play area, telling them, "If you just want to play with your food, you're obviously not hungry. Let me know when you're ready to eat; the food will be here." And then they'd get served the same thing that they'd been just playing with.
Today, neither of them are especially picky eaters as adults; my youngest will "eat anything," my eldest has followed my lead of being vegetarian...which still leaves plenty of choices to eat.
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