playing during mealtimes - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 08-23-2014, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
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playing during mealtimes

My 3-year-old dd doesn't like to stop and eat, preferring to play. When she's hungry, she'll let me know, and she'll eat a bit, then she'll go back to play, coming back to nibble every so often.

I have found that if I feed her while she plays, she can eat a lot more food than if I let her alone and wait for her to feed herself, which she can do perfectly fine. On one hand, I don't want her to get used to someone feeding her. On the other, if she feeds herself, she usually eats very little before she goes back playing. Her overall food intake during the day is much less.

I would prefer for her to feed herself, except she's very petite, in the 5th percentile for height, and not even on the charts for weight. She gained only 1 lb in the last 12 months. She noticeably gains weight when we are at my parents' as they are very concerned with her size and feed her all day.

So I'm just wondering what's the best way to approach this, to ensure she gets enough food and also encourage independence?

single mama to DD1 (June 2011) and DD2 (Dec 2014)
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#2 of 3 Old 08-24-2014, 09:06 PM
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I stress about the same thing. My DH always reminds me about the book"radical parenting" as there is a passage in there that says something of the sort, when children are hungry they will eat. Sometimes I do have to let go and I do notice there are times my toddler eats a lot when he's hungry and other days he just has bites.
Hugs I know this can be stressful and I hope someone chimes in with more advice.

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#3 of 3 Old 08-26-2014, 07:33 AM
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We have a toddler like this :-) DD(3) will only come to the table briefly before she is off and running (or playing, or spinning or jumping), she will eat more if I hand feed her as well.

What has worked for our family is to allow her to snack while playing. (I know, I know, there is a whole train of thought out there that this is not a good habit - but this compromise has allowed my daughter to gain weight)
When she asks for something to eat, I ask her to choose an item that she likes - I plate that up in little bites and then I add 2-3 other items that I know she also likes (and will probably eat - although this does change from day to day, sigh)
So for example, she will ask for melon. I put little sized bites of melon on a plate, then I add tiny bites of cheese, cheerios, maybe cucumber, tiny peanut butter sandwiches. I just put it down near her and say no more. She will eat it all usually. She would never ask for all of these things but eats them if they are there. If she ignores something on the plate - no issue - I just remove it when she says she is done.
If she is willing to sit at the table - she gets larger bites of food and gets to practice cutting with the big girl knife (it's just a butter knife really)
I also have the rule of no active play with food in your mouth - but this works well if she is doing a quieter activity.
I don't know if any of this will help you but hugs to you - it IS stressful.

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