There's a lot of content on this site and others, which basically tell you never to force feed your child. Your job is to provide healthy food, it's their job to eat it. Allot a certain time limit in which to eat their meal, say half hour. If they aren't done eating within that time or don't eat at all because they don't like what's being served, then they go hungry till the next meal, and learn from the consequence. This way meal time is not a constant struggle - which aggravates the struggle more.

See : 6 Year Old meal Time expectations, Should I really be insisting that my daughter finish eating her meal?

I'm generally on board with this idea, but have a few questions:

  1. What age is appropriate to start enforcing this? That is, not worrying about kids starving?
  2. How should it be handled for kids below that age, who are slow, picky or disinterested eaters?

This specifically asks the 1st part of the question, but the answers sadly do not suggest any suitable age.

1 Answer 1


To me, a good rule of thumb on issues like this is if they can communicate clearly with you, then you can be more willing to err on the side of allowing them to make mistakes. That's because before anything serious happened, they'd be able to communicate their discomfort. Before that time (whatever age that is for your child), you should be more careful to monitor things.

Most likely, this is much older than the age where many of these kinds of things is actually an issue; I'm fairly sure a two year old (who may not be verbal yet) can probably go a meal or two without eating without any serious consequences. But it's a good point in my opinion to draw the line, that before that you should talk to your doctor if you're concerned.

That's also not to say that even older children - even in their teens - can't have eating issues where it's possible they might need positive dietary supervision well over that age. You should ask your doctor if you have any concerns on that front. If your child is below average weight, for example, or if this not eating happens more than very occasionally, you should be talking to your doctor, as it could be a sign of more serious things. That's venturing into the medical advice front, which we don't really go here.

  • Thanks, my question really was about children who don't have special dietary requirements or medical issues around eating. But thanks for mentioning those cases too.
    – learner101
    May 15, 2018 at 4:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .