My 3 year old has been waking up very early in the morning, starving. He cannot get back to sleep, until he has some oatmeal or something. As soon as he eats, he falls back asleep.
He is a pretty picky kid, who in general, nibbles at his meals. I cook relatively healthy meals, with a main dish, and salad or veggies with every lunch and dinner. He is more than happy to take a bite or 2 and be done. He goes to bed almost instantly after dinner, so there is not much time to fit in a snack. He is without food from about 7:30pm to 7:30am. Previously this was never an issue.
Should I give him something more to eat if he picks at his dinner? I don't like the idea of offering another option, because it seems like a bad habit to get into. He is more than happy to eat a bowl of oatmeal/yogurt/applesauce, so it is not a big complicated thing.
Also, I don't know how to handle this with my 5 year old. He eats his dinner, will try most foods, etc. If he sees his brother getting a yogurt or something, he will want it too. We talk a lot about eating until our tummies are full, and then stopping, but he will be really upset to not get what the 3 year old gets.
We have been gently pushing that my 3 year old eat a bit more at meals (3 bites total), but I don't know if I like that. I want him to grow up trusting himself and understanding full/not full.
I feel like I am rambling! Any ideas?
I have the same suggestion as the PP-I often tell my kiddos to grab a banana if they are up early and starving. You could even leave it next to his bed if you think he would go to sleep.
I would not offer something besides dinner because I agree, it sets a bad precedent. I do let them grab a healthy snack before bed, so maybe you can squeeze that in even if it is right after dinner. Maybe if you offer it to the 5-year-old as well, the novelty will eventually wear off and he won't really want it if he is full from dinner?
If your 3yo likes oatmeal, make that the go to snack, rather than a meal alternative. We do desserts and fruits for our snacks rather than doing dessert right after the meal.
As for kids trusting their bodies, we support that big time in my house. But we focus mostly on not overeating. Undereating is also a problem, especially when it later interferes with sleep. I figure, there are certain things that are mostly instinctual, but that may need a little parental guidance for optimization. And eating is one of those things.
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