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My boyfriend has three little girls, 3, 3 and 5 years old. I try to feed them balanced and correctly portioned meals and snacks even though the 5-year-old is extremely picky. They eat about every 2 hours but always ask for more food every hour. I don't mind giving them more, but when I do they barely eat any of it. If I don't give them more they throw screaming crying tantrums. It's exhausting.

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    You ask specifically "How can I get [them] to stop asking for food every hour." Are you only looking for that answered specifically, or are you open to answers regarding managing the frequent feeding in different ways (including possibly allowing them to have food every hour, but in a way that's more manageable)? Thanks! – Joe Aug 23 at 18:15
  • I'm open to ideas for managing the frequent feeding. I also have a 6 month old. Some days it feels like all I do all day is prepare food and bottles. – Kayla Aug 24 at 0:26
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    Just to be clear, are they 100% human ? Because it sounds more like a hobbit behavior to me, in which case it would be a normal behavior. – alecail Aug 24 at 14:23
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I don't mind giving them more, but when I do they barely eat any of it.

Then pack it up, and offer it the next time they ask for more.

Or keep healthy snacks like cheese and raisins available without having to ask.

  • Thanks, I will! The healthy snacks have been a struggle. The five year old won't eat any veggies and won't touch most fruits. She wants just carbs and dairy. Crackers, bread, macaroni, potatoes, cheese, yogurt. – Kayla Aug 24 at 0:29
  • @Kayla Not really related to the question itself, but have you identified a reason for this? There are children who are extremely picker eaters for what turns out to be medical reasons (acid reflux, autism-related texture sensitivity, etc.), but the majority of children who “won’t eat any veggies” are picky eaters ‘just because’. In such cases, tough love is sometimes the best approach to help them get over the pickiness. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 24 at 14:30
  • @Kayla Do you eat with the children or separately? If yes, have you or your partner always eaten with the children and shared your food? Usually children that are fed on the same stuff at the same time as the parents are not very picky eaters. I don't know if that's something that's reversible, but it might be worth a try. As someone else mentioned, it could also be a form of bordom. – Finn O'leary Aug 25 at 16:15
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Some kids are "grazers", especially at those ages - they tend to want to eat small portions almost constantly. My youngest (now 6) constantly wanted food until about a year ago, and even within the last year has had flashes of his grazer phase. He used to eat 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, a mid afternoon snack, and dinner. Although by the time dinner rolled around, he didn't want a big meal. His older sister had a similar phase but wasn't as severe.

We dealt with it by having easy snack foods ready whenever he wanted it (bananas, apple sauce, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks). The snacks consisted of easy to eat, easy to serve, healthy foods. And leftovers were always saved and re-served the next time he was hungry.

Issues always arose as we were close to meal times but we managed it as best as possible, often depending how long until dinner was served. Sometimes a very tiny snack was allowed, sometimes nothing.

The concept of 3 main meals a day is very modern and very adult. In my experience, kids are not ready for such a regimented eating schedule, so we found it best to let them eat when they were hungry and let them eventually adapt to eating with the adults when they were ready.

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    I would say adults aren't either, and just have it imposed on us by social norms and/or employment arrangements. – R.. Aug 24 at 1:49
  • Agreed. I probably eat less than them daily. But I don't want them to have my crap eating habits. That's a reality though. The 5 year old goes to kindergarten next week. They have structured meals, she'll have to understand that. – Kayla Aug 24 at 2:51
  • Amen. Three meals a day isn't the ideal human diet, but a widespread social norm. I once went to a terrible psychiatrist whom I told that it doesn't suit my lifestyle. She said "three meals a day isn't a matter of lifestyle—it's what everyone does!" Yeah. So is being heterosexual, right? – Artelius Aug 25 at 12:34
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It can get frustrating, I was doing the same thing. I find that when my daughter has a lot of idle time or she's bored she wants to snack and eat constantly all through the day. Just as you say the little ones do at your house. My solution was to keep her active and burning out all that energy. I started walking to the park and after she plays for awhile walking back. Have game time or movie time or tea time and when it's 7pm it's dinner and bath time and she's out for the night. Good luck!

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In addition to the excellent answers here, I'd like to add that some kids (adults even) tend to snack when they are bored. So try to keep them active and engaged.

Another is that people tend to snack on habit so keeping them busy will break the habit.

Even that will be exhausting, but hopefully more fun!

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