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Dealing with A Slow Eater: 5 Things to Check

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 23, 2020 7:18:06 PM / by KidzMatters


Here is something to consider if you have got a s-l-o-w eater!

Ever felt like dinnertime was slowly turning into breakfast because of how s-l-o-w-l-y little one eats? Mealtimes can be tedious if you’ve got a slow eater on your hands, especially if you’re out for dinner, etc. Nevertheless, your little one needs some understanding. Slow eating is a common phase that all toddlers and pre-schoolers go through.

Here are some features of a slow eater:

  • Plays with food
  • Meal looks untouched despite eating for close to 30 minutes
  • Places a spoonful of food in mouth for a long time, without chewing
  • Chews, but does not swallow
  • Drinks after each mouthful
  • Needs reminder to swallow or chew

Here are some possible reasons for your child's behaviour:

  • Distracted
  • Too full
  • Exercising independence

Your slow eater can make mealtimes a pain. How you react during these times can potentially impact his relationship with food and even, impact your partner who might feel irritated. Reacting in a angry manner can make your child despise eating entirely. First, find out what’s making your little one eat s-l-o-w? Is anything well within your control?

Here are some things to consider for your slow eater that can help eliminate this habit:

1. Is the food child-friendly?

Sometimes slow-eating isn’t the fault of our children. There are times when the food is too hard and too big for the child to chew or swallow. Hence, it’s natural for the child to lose interest in the food. To help your little one, try cutting the food up into smaller pieces or cooking it till it softens.

2. Is the child full?

We all know the downsides of eating too much snacks. Which kid doesn’t love snacks? Is your child grazing throughout the day? To manage your child's eating habits, set up a routine with three meals and snacks at regular time every day.

If your child simply can’t resist snacks in between, always allow two to three hours between meals and snacks. Don't allow your child to skip regular meals for snacks - they usually don't last long in combating hunger and your child will be requesting for more snacks sooner than you know it.

3. Is the child distracted?

Screen time might seem like an easy remedy when he refuses to eat. Hey, surely, I could feed more and be more successful with meal times if my child is absorbed in some TV shows right?

Ironically, distractions are often the reasons why children refuse to eat. As a rule of thumb, children eat and digest better under a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. So, remember to switch off that screen!

4. Is it too much?

A giant plate of food can cause stress to the child. Try breaking down the amount of food and only giving him/her more food when he expresses such a desire.

You could even try some games with the food! Introduce fun to your child with simple intriguing questions like: "How many spoons of food do we have on our plate?"

5. Is he still interested in the food?

If your child exhibits signs of disinterest in the food, it usually means that he/she feels full. Avoid asking children to eat faster or to eat more by bribery.

A forced meal is never a good meal.

Don't worry about your child being hungry! You could always catch up with some healthy snacks later. Also, maybe he’s just a different kind of eater. For instance, do you eat three square meals or graze? Consider these issues too and the kind of eater he might be.

Slow eaters are just going through a perfectly normal phase. Be mindful of the above to see if you are aggravating the situation. Don’t turn mealtimes into a war zone between you and your little one, but observe his behaviour and work out ways to help him find pleasure in eating.


KidzMatters is an online resource on all matters regarding parents and infants to 6-year-olds. Subscribe to KidzMatters for more news, tips, updates and activities!


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Topics: Caring For Your Children


Written by KidzMatters

KidzMatters is your one-stop resource on matters about your kids, parenting and more. Created by SEED Institute that draws on 30 years of training early childhood educators in Singapore, together with the up-to-date knowledge from our pool of quality early childhood and family education experts, KidzMatters presents relevant content in an engaging and accessible manner. Sign up with KidzMatters for more news, tips and parenting resources.

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