or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Do Your Kids Ever Go to Bed Hungry?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Do Your Kids Ever Go to Bed Hungry?

post #1 of 303
Thread Starter 
Okay, that's not how it sounds.

We have one meal for our whole family at each mealtime. In "addition", each meal is served with whole-grain, homemade bread. At breakfast, that's bread with butter. Bread is unlimited. The 3.5 yo gets milk at breakfast and lunch. They get a fruit snack once a day and a protein snack once a day, or a combo. They may have ketchup or yoghurt on their meal if they want, if they think it will make it better, but in moderation.

Now, the baby is still nursing more or less on demand so if she doesn't eat, I suffer at night.

But if the 3.5 doesn't eat, too bad. Sometimes, this results in her going to the park or to bed on an empty or near-empty stomach.

Is that like, super harsh? I mean, I cook a very varied diet, we have grains at each meal, they like them, and I cook their favorite foods (chickpeas, broccoli, whole-wheat spaghetti, rice, beans, baked potato "fries" with fried salmon) often enough so this only happens once or twice a week. We definitely have treats a couple times a week.

However, when I see threads on "my kid will only eat x" on facebook or here, and these are NOT kids with special needs otherwise or, to my knowledge, food (there's always the undiagnosed child, but let's be honest, how many children have a disability that makes them entirely normal except that they have to eat Spaghetti-Os at every meal? but otherwise have zero issues?)--I think, "Well, just don't give it to them every day."

Now, I KNOW that the child may go somewhat hungry for up to three days. My feeling is, that if this child is otherwise typical, they WILL eat other foods when they are really hungry.

Is that like, really harsh? I'm not going to suggest it because I don't want to be un-friended, LOL. I mean whatever, if you want to give your kid Spaghetti-Os 21 times per week, I have no problem with that. I'm sure they'll be fine. But I'm asking if *my* parenting is that harsh.

(Once again, I'm not talking about kids that reach a level of malnourishment over weeks or months due to a quantifiable special need. I completely understand that "just" serving them regular food and letting them deal will not change the child in that case.)
post #2 of 303
After a certain age (pretty much when we were totally verbal) my parents handled it like that...This is dinner, eat it or don't, but you can't dictate what we eat.
post #3 of 303
We don't make our kids go to bed hungry. We don't agree with making food that much of a control issue.

That being said, my own kids, would not be able to survive off of three meals a day a two-three snacks. They just need more food than that.

As for kids who will only eat one or two things everyday, it's not so much a disability as it is a part of childhood. Many, many go through a stage where they will only eat certain things. Making that into a source of stress for the child and parent is, IMO, a very bad idea. At 3.5 I would be making sure that every meal has something in it the kid likes. I mean you wouldn't appreciate sitting down to a meal of things you don't like and being told "it's this or nothing". In fact most people wouldn't even dream of doing that to an adult.
post #4 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Is that like, super harsh? I mean, I cook a very varied diet, we have grains at each meal, they like them, and I cook their favorite foods (chickpeas, broccoli, whole-wheat spaghetti, rice, beans, baked potato "fries" with fried salmon) often enough so this only happens once or twice a week. We definitely have treats a couple times a week.


No, not harsh at all. I see no reason to make a separate meal for the kids, you sound like you are incorporating a lot of their favorites into the weekly meals. I do the same thing.
Btw, parents who feed their kids spaghetti o's and chicken nuggets at every meal are a big pet peeve of mine.
post #5 of 303
If my older dd (the one who isn't nursing) doesn't like what we have for dinner, or if she's hungry for a snack, she is welcome to make herself something simple, like pb&j, or have something like fruit and cheese or nuts that she can just grab and eat, but I don't make another meal. Since she can get herself something, she obviously doesn't go to bed hungry. Spaghettios aren't in our house, so that isn't an option.
post #6 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post

Now, the baby is still nursing more or less on demand so if she doesn't eat, I suffer at night.

But if the 3.5 doesn't eat, too bad. Sometimes, this results in her going to the park or to bed on an empty or near-empty stomach.

Is that like, super harsh?
What I don't understand is why self regulating food intake is good for your baby but not your 3 year old. I think unhealthy is a better word than harsh. Your 3.5 year old's little body needs fuel. If her blood sugar deeps low it can effect her behavior and her ability to learn. If she goes without food for long periods of time can effect her metabolism. Also being hungry a lot of the time can give her food issues. So If your DD doesn't eat dinner can she have a piece of fruit or leftovers as a bedtime snack?

My 4.5 year old self regulates her food intake. She can eat whenever she wants and what ever we have in the house. She usually does eat dinner with us, but the other meals/snacks are when she wants. Has she ever had Spaghetti-Os? No, we do buy canned beans though and she will have garbanzo or pinto beans for a snack or lunch. I control our family diet when I shop for food. Letting a child eat when they're hungry and letting a child eat overprocessed foods with poor nutritional value are not related issues. Letting a child eat when they are hungry and only as much as they want encourages them to listen to their body when it comes to food intake.
post #7 of 303
You're definitely stricter than I am, but that doesn't make you too harsh. I probably cater a bit too much to my kid. She's not the best eater, but she eats a variety of things and most of them are healthy. I have sent her to bed without eating though. If I put dinner out and she's too busy playing to eat then she goes to bed hungry. On the other hand she is always allowed to have bread, yogurt, and bananas at any meal, so if she doesn't like what I am serving she still has something she likes. I don't usually make her an alternative though unless I make something for dinner I know she hates. As far as lunch and breakfast though I usually make her whatever she wants (that's available, sometimes we're all out of something and I'm not running to the store). She's also allowed to have snacks whenever she wants, but it's still the same stuff (bread, bananas, yogurt, vegetables, toast, not usually any crackers or junk). I cater to my husbands pickiness much more than my dd.
post #8 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by junipermuse View Post
I cater to my husbands pickiness much more than my dd.
I get not making alternatives, but I guess I don't understand this. Why would your dh get more accommodation than your dd?
post #9 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
We don't make our kids go to bed hungry. We don't agree with making food that much of a control issue.

That being said, my own kids, would not be able to survive off of three meals a day a two-three snacks. They just need more food than that.

As for kids who will only eat one or two things everyday, it's not so much a disability as it is a part of childhood. Many, many go through a stage where they will only eat certain things. Making that into a source of stress for the child and parent is, IMO, a very bad idea. At 3.5 I would be making sure that every meal has something in it the kid likes. I mean you wouldn't appreciate sitting down to a meal of things you don't like and being told "it's this or nothing". In fact most people wouldn't even dream of doing that to an adult.
Agreed. My kids are generally good eaters, but even they have meals that they will not eat. Instead of sending them to bed hungry I will make sure that they have something to fill their stomach before heading up to bed for the night. I know that I hate going to bed with a growling stomach so why would I ever make my kids do the same thing.
post #10 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
Agreed. My kids are generally good eaters, but even they have meals that they will not eat. Instead of sending them to bed hungry I will make sure that they have something to fill their stomach before heading up to bed for the night. I know that I hate going to bed with a growling stomach so why would I ever make my kids do the same thing.
I believe there's a difference between "I don't like this food...we've tried this before and I still hate it" and "I'm just throwing a fit" or whatever. I also know that there are things that we just have to eat to be healthy. I don't like apples (it's a texture thing) but they're good for me so I find a way to eat them...same with spinach...I think it's good to learn that at an early age.
post #11 of 303
My kids wouldn't go to bed or to the park hungry (unless they truly didn't want something) because while our main meals are pretty standard, they can have snacks whenever they want. They aren't limited to two snacks a day at set times - personally, I'd hate that as an adult - what if I didn't want to eat then or was too busy? I really think everyone should be allowed to eat when they are hungry. Whether that's right before bed or at 11 am.

Anyhow, spaghetti-o's make me shudder, just because you couldn't pay me to eat them. I really doubt my kids would like them. Unless a parent of a picky eater was asking for advice (like via FB), I wouldn't comment on their kid's eating habits. I may not personally understand how a kid could refuse to eat anything but x,y, and z because I have pretty good eaters - but every family/kid/situation is different so I try not to be too judgemental.

Oh, and I don't see food as a disciple issue, but a nutritional one.
post #12 of 303
My approach has always been to put a good meal on the table, at regular intervals, planned to include something that each person in the household normally likes. If they eat, they eat. If not, that's cool. That's their decision. If they were hungry, they'd eat. I also offer three snacks a day, again with several choices.

They do sometimes go to bed having eaten nothing, but I don't see that as harsh at all. It has nothing to do with me. If they don't eat, it's because they chose not to eat. So if they're hungry, they have nobody but themselves to blame. I'm not "making" them go to bed hungry. I have given them every opportunity to eat, and they've chosen not to.

What I won't do is keep junky food around, and let them eat that after they've refused perfectly good wholesome food. If a particular meal just really isn't appealing to a child on a particular day, I have cheese, fruit, and milk in the fridge usually, or yogurt, and they are welcome to help themselves to that.
post #13 of 303
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
We don't make our kids go to bed hungry. We don't agree with making food that much of a control issue.

That being said, my own kids, would not be able to survive off of three meals a day a two-three snacks. They just need more food than that.

As for kids who will only eat one or two things everyday, it's not so much a disability as it is a part of childhood. Many, many go through a stage where they will only eat certain things. Making that into a source of stress for the child and parent is, IMO, a very bad idea. At 3.5 I would be making sure that every meal has something in it the kid likes. I mean you wouldn't appreciate sitting down to a meal of things you don't like and being told "it's this or nothing". In fact most people wouldn't even dream of doing that to an adult.
Well, I do it to my husband, LOL! And he can't cook and I don't buy him junk so guess what. I am not sure if my husband qualifies as an adult. Sometimes I think he's in-between the 12-month-old and the pre-schooler in terms of emotional development, but that's a different story.

I don't have time to cook separate meals.

We don't have stress over meals. It's just a fact- we eat family food and we eat together and if you don't want it, cool, but I'm afraid I don't have time to prepare something else.

BTW, they get snacks when they want, just not unlimited. It's not like, come for your banana. It's more, "I'm hungry." "There's fruit in the basket on the table. Have a piece. Don't eat them all because that's all we have for the week."

Unlimited snacking is to my mind absurd. I thought snacks were for active days? When we asked for food (after a meal and a healthy snack) when I was a kid my mom said, "You're bored. Go make something." I say the same.

I thought snacking between meals was supposed to be bad?!? That only little kids needed a couple snacks instead of breastmilk if they weren't nursing?
post #14 of 303
I don't think snacking is bad - especially if they have eaten the last meal. Like right now, my kids are warming up cheese quesadillas because they are hungry. They had lunch earlier, and strawberries for snack later on, as well as cucumbers about 20 min. ago. We won't be having dinner for a few more hours (7 ish) so I wouldn't not let them eat now, yk? And if they are hungry after dinner they might snack again. I have 3 boys and a pre-teen girl, so yes, some days it does seem like all they do is eat! But they are healthy, and we only have whole foods (for the most part - the tortillas they are eating are store bought b/c I haven't made any for awhile).

I don't think it's necessary to make separate meals - I never have. But like a PP said, if they don't feel like what we are eating they can help themselves to a sandwich, cheese, yogurt, etc.

oh, and regarding one of ythe replies - I never make them eat something they don't like forthe sake of nutrition, b/c that's silly to me. There are always other ways to getthe same nutrients. I hate milk, and my parent used to make me drink it as a kid - I have not had one tiny sip in over 15 years now. I still get plenty of calcium. Food shouldn't be made an issue, IMO - it's not healthy.
post #15 of 303
It probably isn't a great idea for adults who aren't active and are finished growing to snack much between meals. But kids go through growth spurts and need very different amounts of food from one week to the next. I really think it's best to put kids in charge of how often and how much they eat, unless they've shown they have trouble with that, and even then I'd work with them to educate them about eating habits, and I'd be careful to only have healthy foods available, rather than limiting food. I've talked to dd about how sometimes when people are bored they eat out of boredom rather than hunger, but that's as much as I've done. And I do just have healthy options around. But she eats as much and as often as she wants, and she has developed great eating habits and is very healthy. Generally it is just meals and really one snack these days, but there have been times she's been very hungry and she's eaten more often.
post #16 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Well, I do it to my husband, LOL! And he can't cook and I don't buy him junk so guess what. I am not sure if my husband qualifies as an adult. Sometimes I think he's in-between the 12-month-old and the pre-schooler in terms of emotional development, but that's a different story.

I don't have time to cook separate meals.

We don't have stress over meals. It's just a fact- we eat family food and we eat together and if you don't want it, cool, but I'm afraid I don't have time to prepare something else.

BTW, they get snacks when they want, just not unlimited. It's not like, come for your banana. It's more, "I'm hungry." "There's fruit in the basket on the table. Have a piece. Don't eat them all because that's all we have for the week."

Unlimited snacking is to my mind absurd. I thought snacks were for active days? When we asked for food (after a meal and a healthy snack) when I was a kid my mom said, "You're bored. Go make something." I say the same.

I thought snacking between meals was supposed to be bad?!? That only little kids needed a couple snacks instead of breastmilk if they weren't nursing?
Snacking isn't bad, eating because your bored or emotional eating are bad. Snacking when you are actually hungry is simply responding to your bodies cues. Not everyone can eat three meals a day and be fine. I know at least one person who can't eat more then a "snack" at any given time because it's just too much food, and she's an adult. For her snacking is more healthy than eating enough to make her sick/feel sick just because it's "proper" to eat three big meals a day.

I don't know when DS, DD, Dh are hungry. I can't tell when they are hungry because I'm not attached and feeling what they are feeling. I have to either try and make them conform to my idea of what they should be feeling in relation to food, or let them tell me what they are feeling in relation to food.
post #17 of 303
Quote:
Originally Posted by AFWife View Post
I believe there's a difference between "I don't like this food...we've tried this before and I still hate it" and "I'm just throwing a fit" or whatever. I also know that there are things that we just have to eat to be healthy. I don't like apples (it's a texture thing) but they're good for me so I find a way to eat them...same with spinach...I think it's good to learn that at an early age.
You don't have to eat those things to be healthy. You are simply choosing to eat things you don't like rather than find other ways of getting the same nutrients. DH doesn't eat apples, and he'd not unhealthy because of it either.
post #18 of 303
I don't send my dd to bed hungry. I tend to offer her a fruit, vegetable, of cereal if she is hungry for a snack towards bedtime for whatever reason but I am not going to let her go hungry at night just because she wants a change from one food group or because they don't like a certain food so they didn't eat it. If she is missing food from one or two specific food groups then I try to focus on those for our nighttime snack. You may want to offer more fruit and vegetable offerings if one is all they are getting a day. I believe the recommended daily serving amount is 2-3 for each of those. They may just be tired of having so much bread and wanting other options.

You don't have to give unhealthy food options like spaghetti-o's in order to give a snack that kids will like. Parents who don't send kids to bed hungry aren't necessarily parents who are giving them processed crap, they are parents who don't want their kids to have a hurting tummy when they should be full and sleepy. It isn't a black and white, "you let your kids snack before bed therefore you feed them garbage and I don't so my kids only get healthy food" kind of situation. I know a few families that feed crappy food but have your point of view about eating at the meal and going to bed hungry. Try to not get stuck seeing it as a black and white thing because that isn't anywhere close to the truth. It is more influenced by how you were raised and your view on cleaning your plate.
post #19 of 303
I do about the same as one_girl. I always offer my daughter a snack before bed, whether she ate dinner or not. I try to limit the fluid intake because we EC (she drinks a lot of water during the day), but we always offer a healthy snack.
post #20 of 303
interesting thread...

I only have 1 kid and he's 15mo and still not big on the solids. Right now we eat at the table together and he is offered whatever we're having for dinner. I do try to accomodate him in the sense that if we are having indian food, I'll pull out some of the unseasoned veggies and rice for him to eat but generally he is given what we're eating. If for some reason he won't eat it then later - separate from our family dinner I'll give him something he will eat - usually yogurt. This is working for us right now but I have been warned by my Ped that he is manipulating me and I'm setting us up for big trouble down the road... I dunno but I'm subbing to this thread!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Do Your Kids Ever Go to Bed Hungry?