My child takes so long to eat

How long should you give your child to finish their dinner? Many parents say their child takes a long time to eat – over an hour in some cases.

Feeding expert Ellyn Satter has the following tactics parents can try

1. Consider if you have an agenda for your child’s eating. Do you keep him at meals until he’s finished a certain amount, or cleaned his plate? Slow eating can be a way for children to put off eating food they don’t want to eat, but as parents we worry that our child isn’t eating enough so may continue to pressure him to keep going.

2. It may be counterintuitive, but avoid saying ‘hurry up’, ‘stop talking’ or ‘finish your meal’ – research shows us that any form of pressure can worsen eating.

3. Provide a bedtime snack, even if it’s just an hour after dinner. If the slow eating changes, your child was concerned about having to go hungry through the night.

4. Build in some one-on-one time for a couple of weeks. Your child may have been using eating to get some attention.

5. Avoid distractions at mealtimes – toys, TV, electronic devices – and ensure this applies to everyoneat the table.

6. Verbally set a time limit “We have 30 minutes for dinner” and give everyone a five-minute reminder before the end of the meal. Then as a family put food away and tidy up.