Disclosure: I am happy to bring you this sponsored post today, thanks to Alberta Milk. All thoughts are my own!
"What should I do if my child doesn't eat dinner?" As a dietitian working with young families, this is a very common question.
Should you be worried that your child isn't eating enough? Bribe him with dessert, so he finishes dinner? And should you still give her a bedtime snack if she doesn't eat dinner? I'll answer all of those questions for you here!
First of all, know that you're not alone if your child often doesn't eat dinner. Dinner is the most challenging meal of the day for most young children, for a few reasons:
Appetite goes up and down in young kids. Some days they seem to subsist on thin air and other days they can out-eat an adult. Your child is the only one that knows whether they are hungry. And it's a good thing to listen to their appetite. Let them!
So, should you worry if your child consistently doesn't eat dinner? No. Don't judge their nutrition or food intake on a meal-by-meal basis. Or even day-by-day. Over the course of a week, most young kids will take in enough of a variety of foods to meet their needs.
And yes, you can still offer your child a bedtime snack. If there's 1.5-2 hours or more between dinner and bedtime, I would encourage it. If not, then they likely don't need a snack, and will just eat more at breakfast the next day. But don't make the snack contingent on whether they ate dinner or not. And snack doesn't have to be the earlier-refused dinner either. Unless they truly weren't hungry at dinner and wouldn't mind eating it now for a snack! Just make sure to offer two food groups per snack (such as greek yogurt and fruit) and it can be a great chance to get in some extra nutrition.
While we never want to force or pressure our little ones to eat, there are a few things that might help them come to the table with an appetite, and take more interest in the food:
Struggling with picky eaters? Sign up for my free 3-part video series on how to deal!