How Do You Ensure Your Child Finishes Their Meal?

~ Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 11:53 PM ~

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You see, there are several times after taking a few bites of his meal (quite often during dinner), Ben refuses to finish up his meal. I know some parents will teach their kid a lesson by not letting them eat later when they get hungry. Kinda like a lesson to their child that you can't always get what you want.

But I can't see myself doing that.

I don't want to be pleading to my child to finish up their meal too - else I would be doing that everytime this happens.

Now what I do is, if he doesn't want to eat anymore (after asking him and confirming that he's not hungry yet), I'll move his plate away and when he gets hungry later, I will make him oats and add in whatever dishes we had earlier (example: chicken or fish or vegetables)

He always finishes up his meal after that. That's what I wanted in the first place, just that he doesn't finishes it together with us during meal times.

When it comes to meal time, how do you ensure your child finishes their meal?

Comments (10) -


That's the good thing about Tri, I don't have problems with him during meal time. He eats whatever is served and finishes it like an adult, well at least for now. hehehe Laughing Tots do have "moments of hunger". They'll let us know anyway, if they really need to eat or if they're already full, or if they just want a glass of milk. Smile

MieVee @

I'm fortunate that Vee loves to eat. He eats with us, and usually finishes a lot, unless distracted by something (e.g. cousins who have finished earlier and are down on the floor playing).

1. Our meal time is a little flexible, plus minus 0.5 to 1 hour. This ensures I start the meal when I think he's hungry. E.g. at least 1 hour after a snack. If he wakes up late from a nap, then we skip the snack and go have an early dinner.

2. I know his usual appetite and give him a small portion first. E.g. 3 scoops. Then when he's done, I ask if he wants to top up. This way, he feels encouraged by being able to finish the initial portion. (Compare this to giving 1 bowl of food. He may feel there's a long way to go. And if he can't finish, the caregiver may be frustrated over the wasted food.)

By giving small portions, he can end up finishing 1 bowl of main (rice / noodles / pasta with veges), 1 bowl of soup, and 1 portion of fruits. It's amazing how little portions add up! Smile

3. If he refuses to finish his food (e.g. due to distraction), he has to wait for the next meal or snack time, which is usually 2 hours away. This rarely happens. In between, he can drink water.

Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy

Hi Anne!
Good for you! I hope Ben will not be like so often! Thanks for sharing your feedback!

Hi MieVee!
Oh yes, I do go for the small portions first, and try to aim for at least 3-5 spoonfuls first, if he finishes it, I add more. Currently if Ben is having rice, I am satisfied when he takes about 10-12 spoons of rice (with dishes on each spoonful). If he's taking oats, he's taking about 18-20 spoons of oats with whatever dishes I add in. Thanks for sharing your feedback!


Great question! I don't worry about my girls not eating. Generally, if they are *full* after a few bites I know that they either had too many snacks/milk or they just aren't hungry. My girls know that if they don't eat dinner than there aren't any snacks/treats after dinner. They are allowed milk or water to drink before bed, but that's it.

It also depends where we are. For example, Bella will not eat if we are at a restaurant. There are so many things grabbing her attention that she just looks and drinks milk.

Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy

Hi Aurie!
Now that you mentioned, Ben also rarely eats in the restaurant (when we have our family dinners and gatherings) and that's because there are too much distractions like you said. So I normally feed him before we go out. But in any case, oats is always my backup choice to feed him Tong Thanks for sharing your feedback!


My daughter is a picky eater, but she has really improved lately.  Two things I have learned from reading and from my pediatrician is to walk away.  Don't sit there and watch them eat, don't force them to eat, and don't nag them to eat.  Just walk away.  Also, if she doesn't eat fine.  If she is hungry she will eat and tell me she wants to eat so I don't force her.  I get her down and try it again later.

Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy

Hi 1tootiefoodie!
Yes, that's what my pead used to say too! If they are hungry they will tell you! Why need to fuss and get mad over them? Thank you so very much for sharing your feedback!

Catheryn @ Pinkbibs

I used to get really upset when Isabelle refuses to finish her meal at one go.  But I have learn to accept it that children have their moments too as we do as grown ups with our appetite etc.  I just put her food aside, try again later.  I will also keep aside some of her favourite food as back up.  

Miki Chua

Ha! i'm not the only one.. glad... but then Ben will ask for more. Mine will just ask for milk! He doesn't wan to eat when he don't want to. Anytime he will prefer milk!

I want to try ur way but unfortunately if he dun finish his meals, i'll finish up for him and clear the table. maybe i should try let him feed himself, he'll be more motivated. ;D

Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy

Hey Catheryn!
Seems we have the same approach... only my backup food is his oats hahaha..

Hey Miki!
Ya let him self feed, messy but worth it. I also want to do that more!

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