Why My Daughter goes to Bed Without Dinner Most Nights

Picky eater at Pizza express

Girl Child has always been a picky eater. When Boy Child was a baby, he would eat anything he was given. Not so Girl Child. Both of them were weaned with baby led weaning (because I’m too lazy to purée). Both of them were breastfeed until they were 13 months (because I’m too lazy to sterilise bottles). However, while Boy Child went through a picky phase as a toddler/preschooler, he has gradually widened the range of foods he eats and will now (aged 8) eat whatever I cook most nights. Girl Child is 6 now and her diet is still significantly restricted.



As a baby, I offered her a wide range of different foods. While she was quite keen on fruit, I’m not honestly sure she has ever consumed a vegetable that wasn’t in a sauce. She liked yoghurt, cereal, cheese and would eat some meats. She loved bread but wasn’t really interested in other starchy food like potatoes, rice or pasta.

As she got older, the range of food she would eat got narrower and narrower. Meat was soon dropped and starchy foods other than bread wouldn’t be touched. In desperation, I tried offering her what we call “crap from the freezer”. When Boy Child went through his fussy phase it was all he would eat. I imagined she was going through the same phase. She wouldn’t touch it. No chips, no potato waffles, no fish fingers, no chicken nuggets, no frozen sausages. For a long time she would eat salmon (typical she would choose the most expensive thing to carry on eating) but eventually that was dropped too. When she was around 4, we reached the point where the only dinner food she would eat was cheese and tomato pizza. And that’s where we’ve been ever since.


What She does Eat

I comfort myself with the thought that she eats well at breakfast and lunch time. She loves cereal and porridge and will eat a big bowl of either in the mornings. One of her staple foods is hummus which is at least pretty nutritious and that usually features in her lunch. At school she has a hummus sandwich, a packet of crisps or a yoghurt, a malt loaf and some strawberries. Strawberries are the only fruit she will reliably eat now but she will occasionally have an apple or a satsuma (and by have a mean eat two bites then leave it laying somewhere for me to find).

Eating out is a problem, particularly as we all love eating out. We are limited to places that have pizza on the menu and you’d be surprised by the number who don’t. Poor Boy Child is thoroughly sick of Pizza Express and Pizza Hut (and so are we). After a recent swimming lesson, traffic in town was gridlocked so we decided to walk to MacDonalds for dinner. I can’t imagine what the staff thought when the order for a cheeseburger with no burger came through. She claims to like the fries there but in reality only eats a few before declaring she’s full.


Our Approach

We’ve tried all of the usual advice but with no success. Snacks have always been strictly limited. She often helps me cook but still has no interest in the finished product. We’ve tried taking her to shop and letting her choose things she’d like to try. Our approach to this whole thing has been to keep the pressure off. I can’t say that it’s worked because she’s still as limited as she was two years ago but she will still try new foods and I feel that if we pressured her, she wouldn’t even be doing that.

When she started school she decided to have school dinners on pizza day. Unfortunately the dinner lady suggested she try some pasta and for her that felt like too much pressure and so she’s packed lunch everyday now. When she does does try new food, we don’t make a big deal out of it, we just say good girl for trying and move on. Most often she declares it delicious and then changes her mind after the second mouthful.

I refuse to give her pizza everyday. Partly because it’s not very healthy and partly because I’m terrified that if she eats it too often she’ll decide she doesn’t like that either. She has pizza twice a week and on the other nights she is offered what we’re having or a slice of bread and butter. She inevitably chooses the bread and butter but rarely eats more than a couple of bites. And so she goes to bed with no dinner. It sounds terrible but in all this time she’s never complained that she’s hungry and she remains at a healthy weight, so I try not to worry about it too much.


Will it Ever get Better?

In the future I hope that things will improve. The fact she still tries new foods gives me hope. The fact that she likes bacon and cheese gives me hope (she clearly has functioning tastebuds). For now I’ll keep offering her what we eat and hope that one day she’ll discover the same love of food the rest of the family shares.

Why my daughter goes to bed without dinner most nights - little girl eating babychino foam


  1. January 8, 2019 / 2:10 pm

    I enjoyed reading this, although I do feel for you! I have 3 and 5 year old boys and the 3 year old Charlie is becomming very fussy with his food where not that long ago he would eat anything. Its very disheartening but we just have to hope its a stage he will move past at some point!

    • Jo
      January 8, 2019 / 9:12 pm

      Fingers crossed it will be a short phase!

  2. January 10, 2019 / 4:38 pm

    I’m so glad I read this, my 3.5 year old is so fussy and it really worries me. He eats “crap from the freezer” and pasta/beans on toast for dinner. Luckily he eats a good breakfast and lunch (albeit it exactly the same every day), but I’m really hoping watching his friends eat school dinners in September will kickstart him into trying new things. If not, I despair!

    • Jo
      January 10, 2019 / 8:19 pm

      I know a lot of parents who’ve found school dinners have helped, not that the kids will eat at home what they eat at school of course, but it’s a start! Fingers crossed he’s inspired.

  3. Stephanie
    January 10, 2019 / 10:56 pm

    Good to know I’m not the only one ordering a happy meal minus the burger in the middle!
    My 4 year old is super picky too and will quite often go without. She’s always been vegetarian out of choice and dislikes any kind of sauce…it’s tough but hoping this will pass too.

    • Jo
      January 11, 2019 / 8:35 pm

      Hopefully she’ll eventually discover the great joy that is sauces!

  4. January 11, 2019 / 3:04 pm

    Kids will eat when they are hungry. There you go. #thatfridaylinky

  5. January 11, 2019 / 5:34 pm

    I’m a teacher of young children and this is very common, believe me! When they are with me at school, I don’t make a big deal of it but praise children who do try new foods. The fussier ones then tend to try the foods too! Obviously this doesn’t always work at home as our children know how to push our buttons don’t they? This maybe connected to a sensory issue. Is she very particular about textures? It may physically hurt her to eat textured foods you see so she has learnt to stay away from them. It could also be connected to her jaw muscles; they are very sensitive? Some children are very sensitive to light/noise/taste being under or over sensitive. Hope you find some different foods for her to try soon. #thatfridaylinky

    • Jo
      January 13, 2019 / 2:35 pm

      That’s interesting, I will have to have a think about weather she shows any signs of issues with texture.

  6. Issy joslin
    January 11, 2019 / 6:59 pm

    Oh it’s so hard having fussy eaters isn’t it. Mine go through fazes. Sounds like you are doing a great job managing it xx

  7. January 11, 2019 / 8:11 pm

    I guess I am very lucky that my little one isn’t really picky. But she still goes through times where she doesn’t really want much to eat. I am sure that it all works out in the end. I’m of the mind that little ones haven’t got the ability to overeat or undereat just yet, their systems are good at realising what they need. I am sure your little one will work it all out. #ThatFridayLinky

    • Jo
      January 13, 2019 / 2:36 pm

      Yes, I agree, I think upif she was hungry she’d eat the bread and butter.

  8. January 11, 2019 / 9:11 pm

    I think the key here is that she has energy, and she’s a healthy weight. I’m sure in time the kinks will work themselves out xx

    • Jo
      January 13, 2019 / 2:34 pm

      Thanks Kerry, that’s what I try to focus on. X

  9. January 12, 2019 / 7:34 pm

    Getting children to eat can be tough, but I think as long as you’re doing what you think is best that’s all you can do. Thanks for joining in with #ThatFridayLinky

  10. January 12, 2019 / 9:26 pm

    Really interesting read and feel for you thankfully our 6 year twin girls are good eaters. Hope it improves for you. Thanks for linking to #Thatfridaylinky hope to see you next week

  11. January 13, 2019 / 9:18 am

    I have the same attitude! Not faffing about with different dinners when there are other people in the world that are starving. Great post!

    • Jo
      January 13, 2019 / 2:37 pm

      Yep, it’s the attitude my mum took and I’ve stuck with it.

  12. January 17, 2019 / 6:33 pm

    This sounds like a nightmare! My 3 pretty much eat anything – no idea how I’d cope with a fussy eater – or 3! #ThatFridayLinky

    • Jo
      January 18, 2019 / 12:40 pm

      Kids that eat anything… sounds like heaven!

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