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I don't worry about it. My belief is that I have to provide meals for my children. It's their choice to eat it. Oh, it used to make me nuts, but turning it into a power struggle just compounds the issue. My oldest is not a morning eater. So, I give him his "snack" before school, and he has a more substantial snack at school. It works for him, and me.

Kids will eat. they will not die. Rebecca is right. I provide, you choose to eat or not.

Just stop trying to get them to eat. Eating should be also a pleasure, not a fight with the mother. I would try to make an agreement with them: they have to drink at least a juice or a milk, but if they aren't hungry, they don't have to eat. Give them a healthy snack, and probably Kate will eat more of it if she hasn't to eat in the morning.
And I would let them sleep untill 6.45 and don't put them in front of the TV in the morning. sorry, that's terrible! ;-)

I'm with Rebecca on this one.

Also, I think idea of 3 meals a day is just that: an idea. Definitely not something every person's body needs.

But I think your routine is fine. Question: do you eat breakfast at the same time?

Hey Tertia, I have 3 boys (oldest is 12) and also have had many eating issues. If you wanna chat back and forth about it, email me :)

Have you tried Weetbix Up&Go Liquid Breakfast? You can buy them in six-pack cartons with a straw attached at Pick n Pay. Each one is the equivalent of two Weetbix with milk and when cold, they taste like milkshake. Best of all, the kids can drink them in the car on the way to school.

Yes, my kids eat breakfast though they'd rather not. But, when one doesn't have lunch until 12 and the other until 1, they have to. I address that just as I do anything else - I don't give them a choice. They have to eat something. I don't care if it's not regular breakfast food, but they do have to eat. And, my oldest also has to drink her nutrition supplement - which she takes with her to school if she doesn't finish.

I'm gonna agree with everyone else. If they aren't hungry, you can't force them to eat. The liquid breakfast is a good idea! They could drink it on their way. My son will only eat breakfast if they have it at school, and even then I think he only eats a couple bites. :)

Something in the car on the way? Maybe a packaged smoothie or yogurt drink. Otherwise, let them sleep in & skip breakfast. If they get up at 7 and eat a snack at 10, how is that different from their weekend schedule of eating 3 hours after wake up?

Our kids eat cereal in the morning, but we (read: winner husband) make a big deal about them getting their own cereal from the cupboard, bowls and spoons etc. He eats with them every morning, I'm usually either in the shower or running around.
Most days they eat, some days they don't. We don't make a big deal about it, but we'll pick it up if they don't eat well for a couple of days.

BUT we leave later and your kids are older. And I could not be asked to fight with them in the morning, it's hard enough to get them to brush their teeth and put on underwear.

I have two that are VERY picky about what they eat and two that eat anything put in front of them. The doctor has told me that all four are fine and healthy, that eating little bits here and there is fine, and that as long as they get a vitamin and drink some milk (my kids are fine on that end), and get enough protein over the course of the day they'll be fine. Like others have said, no worries on this one mom - they'll eat when they are hungry! My youngest (2.5 yrs.) is a free range eater. She ends up eating about 6 "meals" over the course of the day instead of 3 big sit down type meals. So, unless there's a medical reason that your doctors have said to press the issue, give yourself a break on this one - you're doing fine by letting them eat when they are hungry!

For the most part I agree with everybody that they will eat when they are hungry and right now it may not be very important. But something - anything - nutritious in the morning will be important later on when they have exams and such later on in their school careers. A few bites of yogurt or a piece of toast will give their brains the jumpstart they need. We've seen a difference in our oldest son's grades by just having him eat a few bites of something with some carbs and protein.

I agree with everyone about not forcing it and I like some of the ideas they offered. The only other thing I might suggest is trying out some other "fun" snack type foods, granola bars (some have chocolate chips - it is practically a cookie), yogurt, string cheese, apple slices. As long as you are getting into them whatever it is you want to get into them (calcium, vitamins, fiber), see if there is a snack version that they would be more agreeable to?

My daughter will eat but usually is too slow in the morning so she often ends up eating cereal out of a baggie in the car on the way to school. Sometimes presentation is everything - who doesn't love eating out of a bag? I don't actually know the answer to that, probably lots of people don't but it seems like a real treat for the two other kids who get up on time and sit at the table for a proper meal.

I'm with everyone else on this. The best advice I have ever heard about child rearing is that you, the parent, decide what, when and where they will eat. They will decide if they will eat. Make sure there is a nutritious breakfast available to them before school, but do not make a big deal about it or stress. They will not starve themselves to death, and will quickly learn the consequences of not eating, if they end up hungry later.

My kids (now 7 and 10, oh my effing god) rarely eat before school. They each eat breakfast with their class at about 9:30, usually a half a sandwich, occasionally a piece of fruit or yogurt instead.

We were giving my older one a second half sandwich or fruit/veg for his "small snack" an hour later. That stopped the day I found TWENTY-SEVEN mouldy sandwiches left in his backpack. Yes, 27. Trust me, you really don't want to know...

I find that when left to their own devices my two eat a lot less than I'd have expected, but they're both in good health and I figure they know their own bodies best.

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DRIVES ME FREAKING MAD!!! How can they survive on NOTHING! We fight every morning- Tried toast- she sucks the butter and bovril off! Tried cereal- YUCK! Endless, am going to try weetbix drink though! I give mine paedasure at night, meal supplement for children 1-8, at least I know she gets some nutrients from that! When you find the solution, let us know. You are NOT alone! x

Few things are better for breakfast than last night's dinner leftovers so swap breakfast and dinner!
Protein for breakfast is excellent to help maintain energy levels and focus throughout a school day! French toast is also awesome, as are fish fingers or and egg and bacon.
You'll most likely have to eat breakfast too though... do as I do and all that.
:P

Make them toast? A colleague of mine described how she and her DH make their three girls (and themselves) different types of toast every morning (this one has jam, that one has peanut butter, the other has xyz etc.). They are all in great shape and brainy so not sure why toast is always made out to be the bad guy! It's so easy and so yum. Let us fatties stick with fruit and hi bran, let the rest eat ... toast.

My mom made a big deal of eating 3 meals at set times and finish it all.... Most of my friends that had similar mothers are like me overweight and have a bad relationship with food. If your kids do fine eating 32 or 3 hours after they get up, Let them. If they are nto losing weight weak or getting sick all the time it's working. Having said that make sure the snacks they do get are healthy stuff. Fruit veggies yogurt smoothes etc. (rather than the snacks I grew up with Sugar coated sugar and an occasional bit of carb rich salt.)

My standard breakfast during my school years was a sour pickle and a glass of milk. I am not a morning person, and the idea of eating anything "normal" before 10:30 a.m. was just revolting. The glass of milk held me over until lunch, and I think now I could have had a handful of nuts, but except during the xmas season, there were rarely nuts in the house (other than the human and animal ones).

Best parenting advice I ever got was: It's your job to feed them, it's their job to eat. It was an immediate end to my stress.

Have you ever considered one of those morning shake things? Would your kids drink one? My son barely eats and he starts each morning with two Pediasure's. He calls them his "milkies" (and yes, he's 5...) But it is almost 500 calories and all sorts of good vitamins and things he needs, so since he doesn't eat I at least know there is something in his system before he heads to school.

Personally, I get nauseous if I eat before I've been up at least two hours. I dint know why. I'd rather be hungry than nauseous, though. With a 10am snack, I think they're okay.

If you really do want them to eat, move dinner an hour earlier. That way, they're hungrier in the morning.

I haven't had to try this yet (my little one eats a frozen toaster waffle every morning, or a scrambled egg), but have you thought of blending up a fruit and yogurt smoothie? Use frozen strawberries, some orange juice (or other type of fruit juice), and plain or vanilla yogurt. Yum!

Never fight about eating - or you'll fight about eating.

I have 3 children with 3 different morning eating habits. Older daugher doesn't like breakfast food, but is hungry in the mornings. She eats other stuff - - soup, a turkey sandwhich - - whatever. Middle son is the perfect breakfast guy - - hungry in the morning and likes breakfast stuff. Youngest son? Not hungry in the morning AT ALL. He goes off to school on an empty stomach (although sometimes I can get him to drink hot cocoa or chai tea - - but that's about it. All 3 have lived and are not starving :)

Mine dont eat breakfast most mornings! But then they are old enough to work it out!

I spent years fighting and fighting! Now I make the food available and they decide what they want to do! Cameron will eat most mornings but Kiara not - she does eat all her lunch though and Cameron not!

Neither of them are underweight so for now I have stopped fighting!

I agree with pretty much everyone else. I put (mostly) healthy food in front of my kids and they eat as much (or sometimes as little) as they want. Also I find small portions help (they can always have more) and giving them some input in either preparation or selection. Plus they get milk or water for drinks - no filling up on juice or cordial. They also seem to eat better if I sit down with them and eat the same thing at the same time. Telling them to eat seems to make them eat less - they are very stubborn!

I was a super picky eater up until I was 16 and I was also a very skinny, healthy kid. My poor mum wasted 16 years worrying about what I wasn't eating and now I am 1.73m, 65kgs and still very healthy. She really could have saved herself all that worry. Having said that, if any mum out there works out the secret to not worrying about their kids, please let me know ;-)

I think breakfast for children is important for them to keep their concentration up at school. But I also know that it is next to impossible to try to force a kid to eat. My son wants cereal about the second his eyes open in the morning, but that is also almost the only meal that he wants to eat. The rest of the day is a struggle! Have you tried Jungle cereal bars? My kids are quite partial to them - they are almost like a sweet, but with oats, honey, yogurt, etc. in. There are also a number of other cereal bars available (same section as the boxes of cereal usually).

As an aside: what would be the South African equivalent of string cheese? I have read about it on so many blogs, but I have no idea what it is :-).

I read fairytales (switch on CeeBeebies) pop a colouring book in front of Luca and shovel down the Jungle Oats before he even knows what hit him. Then, of course, he literally runs on fumes the rest of the day. Go figure. But like almost everyone says, when they're hungry, they'll eat. Or starve to death. Oh well.

I used to have the same problem. Now - the TV stays off - and is offered as a reward - and only gets turned on once they are out of bed, have eaten *something* (chocolate otees are the thing right now), and have their school uniforms ON. The first time I did this, they were ready in less than 10 mins, having eaten and dressed at lightning speed.

At what time do they have dinner? If they can eat dinner at 5 pm I bet they'll be starving in the morning. Are they having milk when they wake up? Skip that too because it will make them feel full. Watching tv switches of the appetite as well. Send them outside for a runaround! They can sit down all day in school.

Eating breakfast is a good thing. They'll do much better in school if they're well fed. My 4yo kids plough through a BIG bowl of porridge in the morning. Don't get tempted to buy the processed stuff that's full of sugars. After finish their breakfast they can have a milk, tea or hot chocolate and a treat.

Don't give them that Weetbix milkshake drink....it is god-awful....and lumpy! Urgghh!

Jaden is a nightmare with food at the moment and i simply tell him no telly until after breakfast and that seems to do the trick!

The pediatrician told me that children will never starve themselves. They will eat when they are hungry and eat only as much as they need. It's as they get older that we "force" them to eat more, eat less, eat this or eat that... At this stage, they are perfectly in tune with their needs.

I had the same problem with my daughter and it still worries me today when she goes to school without having breakfast....but there is a lovely lady in Durbanville that sells Herbalife shakes (which although costly, is a fully balanced meal suitable for children and adults alike), if my daughter hasn't had breakfast, I give her a shake and can send her to school with the piece of mind knowing she's not going to sit at school with hunger pains, etc. I have this womans details if you are interested.

I keep telling my son that he needs breakfast to start the day: his body needs fuel! I try to give Ben (will be 5 in April) something from each food group, and this is where it gets VERY flexible. Protein is sometimes a spoonful of peanut butter, or cheese or milk. An egg on a good day with time to spare (ha ha ha!!!). Some kind of fruit, including frozen blueberries (which he loves but turn his lips purple). Some kind of grain (cereal, toast, a waffle, a 1/2 a bagel or we get these mini whole wheat pitas). Harmony rings throughout the house when we give him a PB & J on the mini pita! With milk! And fruit! Also, I put fruit juice (without sugar) into popcicle molds so he eats a popcicle in the morning when he wakes up. HE: thinks he's getting a treat. I: know he's drinking (well, eating) juice. He's usually not very hungry in the morning, so we keep the portion small, but he is eating something.

I know some parents are more flexible with breakfast for their kids. Everyone seems to figure out what works best for their families. In our house, if Ben goes too long without eating, even if he doesn't seem hungry, he's a miserable, cranky mess (just like his dad!). So going without breakfast isn't an option in our house. Even it's a piece of string cheese and goldfish crackers on the way to school.

Have you discussed this with the kids' teacher(s)? Are they noticing a problem with Adam and Kate not having energy or being grumpy before the 10 a.m. snack? If not, I'd just present them with a couple of reasonably healthy options (e.g. a banana, some cereal) in the morning and completely ignore whether they eat it or not. This is what I do with my son; usually he eats some, it ranges from a bit to a lot (sometimes it's nothing). Honestly, I don't have the energy or interest to worry about what my 4 y.o. eats, as long as I know he has access to good food -- and I just have 1 kid. Personally I'd let them sleep in and ignore it entirely (unless as I say the teachers are concerned because the kids' behavior suggests they're hungry).

I am never hungry before lunchtime, and in fact find food before 11:00 AM a bit nauseating. My father did insist on my drinking a 1/2 cup of milk before leaving the house, and I found that to be a compromise I could live with. Protein, a bit of fat (we drank 2%) and some carbs -- and lots of minerals, too.

Personally, I would try to keep them off the sugar-concentrates with a milk base (like pediasure and the milkshakes). If they will drink it plain, plain is better.

One of the best things my mother ever said to me that has stuck with me is that my kids won't starve as long as there's food in the house. I would offer them something to drink in the mornings and not push the food at all. Their 10 am snack is probably around the time they start getting peckish anyway and then they are home for lunch. You could also make sure that healthy snacks are readily available in the house for them to help themselves to. By not pushing the food issue, they will learn to follow their own signs of hunger.

We have the rule of no tv (or computer or iPad) in the morning until everyone is dressed, has eaten, brushed teeth and hair and put on shoes. It most definitely improved the dragging of feet in the morning.

And blast the auto-fill on the computer which doesn't like my first name to be without the rest of the email address!

You're in charge of offering. They're in charge of eating. If you offer them something nutritious and appetizing and they choose not to eat it, c'est la vie! Clearly their bodies just aren't wired for a big breakfast, and they are making up for it later in the day. I know it's hard not to worry about your kids' eating habits. I do it too, even though I know better. But I also try to keep reminding myself: As long as they are healthy and growing well, there's no point in stressing out over food.

I have a friend who is the same as your twins: he doesn't eat until 2-3 hours after waking up. Everyone's body is different so it would be best NOT to make eating an issue. The less of an issue you make it, the less stress for you and them. Then they just may eat a bit more! ;) I would suggest packing them an extra morning snack to make up for not eating breakfast or having a snack ready to eat in the car/bus on the way to school if they ask for it. Good luck!

We leave for school at 06h45 and my son (12) will not eat at that time and quite frankly I could not think of food at that time of the morning. We do the Weetbix Up and Go and a hot chocolate and then pack in some healthy snacks including lots of fruit and a sandwich as he stays a couple of days a week until about 4pm to do his sport. He is healthy (maybe a doctor twice a year)and yet on some days can eat me out of house and home - literally. As he is a little older I make the food available and he must decide if he wants eat it if hungry.

In saying that I used to stress when he was younger about the "brain food" needed in the morning but have never been the best example to be true.

Give them four bites on the plate. One small bite of sausage. One small bite of toast with jam. One bite of egg. And one strawberry. It'll amuse them. And might even whet their appetite. Sometimes it's a supply and demand issue. I'd say "it's one bite per year of life" or something hokey that they'll like. If they only eat one bite you can say "what you're only a one year old?" Or "nope you can't have six bites today b/c you're not six yet. sorry kids!" even a food good, healthy bites is better than nothing...and also better than a whole lot of crap.

I've told my kids, now 8 and 10, all along that their teachers require them to eat before they go to school. Disappointing me is one thing, but no way, not their teachers! They eat every little morsel! (and I mean "little")

Oh! I couldn't agree more, Making them it can be troublesome and stressing. But they have to eat for a good start of the day.

Agree with everyone to not make an issue of it and also not stress about it.
But I would offer something different- maybe tinned fruit, banana, cheesestick. The last 2 can also be eaten in the car and make no mess which is a bonus.
I hate cereal and toast in the morning and my kids do too.

http://health.yahoo.net/rodale/PVN/how-to-live-with-a-fussy-eater

i'm not saying this article is based on anything but beans, but i thought of you. i have to say -- i see your children and think of how incredibly blessed they are to have such long, lean bodies. they look to me incredibly healthy and fit, active and bright. i have no advice.

i am challenged on the other end of the spectrum. imagine having a child who overeats, who LOVES and is EXCITED by food and THINKS about food. in part, i believe that too is programmed. having two children (one from donor -- thereby getting my lousy genes i fight daily OUT of the picture - amen), i immediately saw the inherent difference in eating patterns and interest, even with a five year age gap. with my daughter, we are constantly on to encourage / promote healthy eating in the appropriate amounts, we all engage in sports, physical play, etc... together and she's in gymnastics and swimming and there is little time for sitting and only videos a few times a week. it's an conscious effort, it's a daily struggle, and she's still in the higher end of BMI. it kills me. she's just like i am and i feel rotten.

We do food before milk & no tv until breakfast has been eaten, he has free range of what to eat, it doesn't have to be breakfast food, but he has to eat something. He is a grumpy toad when his tummy is empty. Once he has eaten some food, he can have a milk drink :) I find if he has milk first there is no room for food.

I agree with those commenting to take the battle out of it. I rarely ask what my daughter wants. I just put a variety of healthy options on the plate, put it in front of her and walk away (figuratively or literally, depending up on the meal). She will choose to eat what she wants/needs. We do the same with lunch and dinner. I never praise her for eating vegetables or fruits or healthy things, nor do it stop her from just eating crackers if those happen to be something I put on her plate.

Before she started on solids, I had the good fortune (at least in my opinion) to read an article in the NYT about how to raise a non-picker eater. Basically, it said don't make food a battle. Don't praise eating of good things or discourage eating of bad things. Simply offer a variety of healthy options. Every study done of toddlers who are just left to their own devices for eating shows that, when they are consistently offered healthy options with each meal, they will naturally balance their diet over the course of a week. They may eat only carbs one day, or only white foods another day, but if you follow that method, kids will take care of the rest. I don't know if that works if you start it after years of food battles, but I can attest to the fact that it worked for our daughter. At 12 months she was eating almost no solids. She'd spit them out or throw up if I put them in her mouth. Steak was one of the first solids she liked at 12 months - steak! So weird. Anyway, I stuck with the no praising/no forcing/simply offering healthy options approach. At 3yo, she regularly asks for fruits and veggies over crackers; she asks for almonds and all sorts of nuts; she'll ask for beans as a snack; she eats salmon sushi like it's going out of style (she seriously always eats as much or more than I do when we go out for sushi - her favorite). She also asks for candy and cupcakes and all the unhealthy stuff. I limit it in terms of saying yes, you can have one M&M, but no more right now. This satisfies her. I offer this not as a testament to my stellar mothering skills (far from it), but rather as backup for the "no battles!" method of eating. They're not going to die of starvation if you're offering them food.

Also, I'm NOT a morning person, so my daughter watches her allotted 30 minutes of TV in the mornings. I give her breakfast to eat while she's watching TV. Maybe if you just start a new routine where you give them their breakfast in front of the TV, walk away, and say nothing more as to whether they've eaten or not. I would imagine after maybe 2 weeks of this, if you're consistent in not saying anything about what/whether they eat, they'll just naturally start to see it as a choice and will start to eat it of their own accord.

Good luck! Down with the food battles! :)

Read Ellyn Satter's book: How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much ...
I promise you that after you read it, you will relax and things will get a whole lot easier...

Um, in all the photos you post they look pretty far from malnourished or lethargic to me. As long as they're growing well, and getting a range of foods at other times of the day, I personally wouldn't worry too much : )

Haven't read all the comments but agree with offering and letting it go if you can. You could also get them involved in making their own breakfast--my 6 yo son loves to slice hard boiled eggs in an egg slicer, spread cream cheese on bagels, pour milk over cereal etc....good luck.

let it go NOW! they will NOT starve, and they look amazingly lean, muscly and healthy, and they have TRUCKLOADS of energy. BUT, you DO need to have mainly healthy options available for when they do decide to eat. food that give you more 'bang for your buck' so to speak. don't let them skip meals then eat a bag of potato chips or sweets, or anything high in sugar and fat (i.e. empty calories); instead, have body-building and brain building foods on hand. if they have no other choices, they will eat what's on hand.

with amelia, we have a lot of success with 'healthy treats,' so i make diluted sugar free juice icy poles with molds from a couple of home stores, or frozen organic greek yoghurt and fruit 'ice-creams' . . . she can have one each of those for breakfast, watching cartoons, and its a good start to the day without hammering her about eating if she is having an off morning. or try those mountain bready wrap things - fill em up with cheese or peanut butter, roll em, and cut into bite-size 'wheels'. then shove a plate of them on the floor between them and let them have free range. at night time, why not make oven baked sweet potato chips? slice them super thinly, spray with olive oil, and bake for 20 mins until crisp? chips baby, but healthy. then she eats frozen peas and corn, like FROZEN, with her fingers, and little slivers of meat like chicken or steak. or smoothies: milk, banana (or ripe mango), honey, and half a ripe avocado - you don't taste the avo, but it makes the smoothie rich and creamy, and it gives them essential fats for brain function.

i know you hate cooking, but maybe work a few extra hours so you can afford to import a 'fussy kid' chef!

but, again, STOP FIGHTING with them over this. make food available, then walk away. what you want is them ASKING for food. the only thing you have to watch for is that if you DO have crap, valueless food on hand, and they know it is there, they may wrangle with you to get it . . .

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