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Help! 4-yr-old ALWAYS hungry

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My 4-year-old DD is always hungry. I mean, literally always. She doesn't gorge herself or anything, but she says she's hungry every five minutes when we're not eating. Really, don't read this with the assumption that I am exaggerating. When I say every five minutes, I mean every five minutes. And feeding her seems almost useless. For example, last night, after eating a pile of pretzels and a bowl of strawberries at around 6 o'clock, she ate a huge dinner at 7 o'clock (barbecued tri-tip, two helpings of mashed potatoes, a bunch of grilled peppers, some corn, some garlic bread), said she was full, but ate a small ice cream sandwich within five minutes of saying she was full. Half an hour later, she wanted popcorn. (The answer was no. We've instated a rule where we "close" the kitchen after the girls have had one snack after dinner because otherwise little DD would have DH and I getting out snacks right up until bedtime.) Mornings are the worst. She'll eat breakfast and as soon as she's done, says she's still hungry. She watches the clock for it to be lunchtime, even though snacks are available all morning. She definitely snacks--fruit, crackers, cheese, yogurt. I have no idea how she's going to get through kindergarten, which she starts this summer. Three and a half hours with just one snack?!

I've made healthy snacks readily available so she can help herself, which she does. Sometimes, depending on the day, it seems that she says she's hungry when she's bored. But even in the middle of a big fun playtime, she'd rather eat than, say, swim or ride bikes or play a favorite game. We went on a bike ride last week with some favorite friends and she needed to eat at every stop. When we go swimming, she swims for awhile, but talks constantly about what snack we brought, and about what we'll have for dinner later.

She seems genuinely hungry. She loves food, and happily eats all different kinds of foods. She's not overweight. From the minute she was born, she wanted to eat constantly. Nursed every hour (except at night--this child respects sleep as much as she does food), but headed for solid food on her own at 6 months by reaching across the table for brown rice.

Has anyone else dealt with this? I hesitate to squash it too much, not wanting to cause food issues. But I'm beginning to think food issues already exist. She's obsessed with eating. Is there some reason she might not be feeling "full" for very long? Is this just a fast metabolism thing? Something more emotional and complex?

Any insight would be welcome!
post #2 of 11
Boy, can I relate. My 5 yr old dd si the exact ame way. She will literally still be eating a meal, and asking what she can have next. She woudl fall asleep eating if she could. We also had to havew a kitchen close policy at night due to her desire to snack all night long. Eating higher protien helps to feel filled up- my dd is a vegetarian and allergic to dairy so that can be tough for us since she doesn't like beans, but if she has say an an egg rather than toast and fruit, she does stay fuller longer. I also think that for my dd much of her desire i sensory related. I keep things around that she can chew- Peelu gum, chewy candies, and a variety of textured snacks. Sometiems all she really wants is something to chew on. We also don't let her eat in front of the TV, since kids tend to eat out of boredom when they are watchign TV. Other than that, as long as they are eating healthy stuff I would just let it go.
post #3 of 11
LOL, PLease! My son is the self-titled "Eating Machine"!! lol

What I've learned is that sometimes he's just thirsty, not so much hungry. I think the little guys (and gals apparently!) aren't fully capable of discerning what's what just yet.

Try giving her a glass of milk, water, juice, whatever floats your boat. I'm not saying it's a cure-all, but it's worked lots of times for me. Sometimes even an ice pop (not the fatty kind, just the frozen juice kind in the plastic sleeve) will do the trick.

And don't forget-little kids, even at this age--live for exploring things, and that includes food. "This swing is fun, but hey! What are those!?! French fries?!?! A new type of ice cream??!? Ooh, I'm hungry now!" Wanting to eat and being hungry are also feelings that little ones have trouble distinguishing between (heck, so do I lots of times!)

And since she was such an enthusiastic nurser from the start-she may still see eating as a comfort (even if she's not overweight) and that's okay too. (As long as it doesn't progress to an unhealthy lifestyle or even obsession, both of which I doubt).

But try the drink thing (tho not too much at night-the tinkle fairy has visited ds PLENTY of times since I realized his confusion)

Best Wishes,Kelly
post #4 of 11
Welcome to Hobbiton!

My children are definitely Hobbits. They eat breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper .... my almost-4-year-old a little more than my amost-2 year old. My 5.5 year old isn't quite as hungry as his siblings, but he definitely was at 4!

I'd type more, but apparently my dh left the kitty door open in the basement and there's a raccoon destroying my basement...just wait 'til he gets home from work!!!
post #5 of 11

Your 4 year old and my 5 year old...

really need to get together lol...seems like we are speaking of the same little girl...but honestly I am looking forward to the replies you get because this drives me insane sometimes. Like you said my dd would rather eat than play. I started taking her and her two younger sisters to the playground last year. I soon learned that if I did not bring a snack (crakers, drink or something like that) that we could not stay for long because she would sit on the bench and just say "Oh Im hungry I cant play" or "Im hungry Im getting dizzy" So now if we go to the playground I take a snack. I find this strange because as a child I would rather play anytime than eat. She is also constantly talking about different foods and recipes and how she loves to bake cookies (which we do sometimes).

Oh and her favorite channel is The Food Network Im not kidding about that either.

post #6 of 11

mine too!

This is making me laugh!! My 4 yo DD is the EXACT same way! She also eats at least 2 breakfasts... usually some oatmeal or cereal and fruit, then a few hours later eggs or something more substantial. She wants lunch by 11 or so, then is hungry again by 1-2. She will easily eat a sandwich, carrot sticks, applesauce,and pretzels for lunch, then want another bigish snack around 3. We usually eat dinner around 6 :30, and tonight she ate 4 tacos!! That's more than me! She is very energetic and still quite slender, but she eats non stop!! I'm glad to hear that momma's of other 4-5 year olds are in the same boat!
post #7 of 11
My dd is the same way. Maybe not as hungry. But she is always eating.

I figured it is a growing spurt.

But then I started to think she was eating out of boredom. Do you think they can do that at this age?

I am not that worried but if this is the case then I am going to worry a little.

It doesn't seem uncommon obviously, from the above posters. I still kinda wonder if it is aout of boredom or if she is really hungry.

post #8 of 11
DS has alwys been this way. He's 6 now, and not overweight. I think dome people derive more pleasure from eating than others. I tworry that he will be overweight wehn he gets older. SOme of it comes from boredom too. If I just leave the snacks out instead of doling them out one serving at a time, I find that he takes way too much,and then I willl find half eaten crackers all over the yard, or an apple in the copost with just two or three bites takenout of it. Part of it may also be the attention, or just the idea of stating a need and knowing it will be met. Hypoglycemia might also play in. DS drinks plenty of water, and not really any other beverages, and he seems healthy. I get pretty tired of the wining for food. I feel like a bad mom if I say no, especially in front of other people. The one defference I can see between our situation and the posters above is that DS does not generally eat well at meals, and this seems to have no connection to whether or not he's been snacking that day. Very frustrating.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. At least I know I'm not the only one running food all day long! And, yeah, it gets tiresome, the whining for snacks. This is why I went to the "get your own" system, at least for part of the time. I have wondered if my DD really is just still hungry because the things she eats aren't usually very high in calories or fat, and they're often not things that would stick with her. She doesn't care for bread, for example. Eats the guts out of sandwiches and burritos, or the toppings off pizza.

In any case, I'm comforted to know that maybe she's not that abnormal!
post #10 of 11
You know what? I have the exact same problem, the constant "I'm starving!" whine!

So yesterday, we were at the park and ice cream man came. My DD always gets a popsicle but she decided she wanted this cookie sandwich Ben and Jerry's thing that had 18 grams of fat : . I normally would never allow this but I was so tired of the battling, I let it go.

She never asked for a single snack before dinner. We had the ice cream at 1:00.

It occurred to me that since I rarely have things in the house that are high in fat, she probably is hungry a lot! Duh!
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by mom2threenurslings
Welcome to Hobbiton!

My children are definitely Hobbits. They eat breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper ....


my ds asks for 'second brefkast' and we always joke about him being a hobbit!!! thanks for reminding me about elevensies
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