Originally Posted by KCT
Good advice. Adults snack, why can't a child? What's the big deal about not having any food after 'dinner time' is over?
I can see not allowing junky snacks if they didn't eat more healthy food at dinner, but leaving their dinner food out to have later isn't a big deal, IMO.
Microbiologist chiming in here!
Please be careful about which foods you leave out. Meats shouldn't be left out for more than about 20 minutes, then they need to go into the fridge. I would do the same thing with any milk-based foods (e.g., mac n cheese).
In fact, I wouldn't leave food out at all, but that's because I see so much food poisoning.
Why not just offer nutritious snacks in between meals, or offer to warm-up the leftovers?
Best to be safe when it comes to food poisoning! Call me a paranoid microbiologist, but I think that food poisoning is icky and unnecessary!
I raised two daughter, and my rule was "never ever make an issue out of food." If they didn't eat, I wouldn't fuss about it. If they wanted food at times other than meal-times, I didn't fuss about it.
IMO, if the child starts crying because she's hungry, I would say, "Well, then, let's go get a snack so that you won't be hungry." I wouldn't make a big deal out of the situation at all, but simply offer something to help her not be hungry.
I would NOT remind her that she had an opportunity to eat and refused. A three-year-old has no concept of time passed.
Also, many children, even older children, do not make the connection that "hunger" = "stomach pangs." A lot of children have other cues that cause them to eat; e.g., everyone else gathering around the table, or the sight of a certain food. So IMO, it's not useful to remind a child that she needs to eat now so that she won't be hungry later. A lot of adults don't even have that concept!
And a lot of adults (like me) are always eating because we are afraid if we don't, we will be hungry later. Doing this has resulted in inappropriate weight gain because it is very seldom in the U.S. that we don't have the opportunity to eat later as well as now!
One more thought--is it possible that when she cries for food a few minutes after the dinner has been cleared away, that she's not really hungry, but instead, has a tummy ache (or other physical symptoms) over some food that she isn't tolerating well? Or perhaps the tummy-ache (or other physical symptoms) is caused by stress (sensitive children tend to stress themselves out)? Try to check it out, but again, do NOT make a big issue out of food. It just makes things worse.
Good luck with the little one.