HELP, 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? Slow eating can be a way for children to put off eating food they don’t want to eat.


  1. Avoid saying ‘hurry up’, ‘stop talking’ or ‘finish your meal’ – any form of pressure can worsen eating.


  1. 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.


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


  1. Avoid distractions at mealtimes – toys, TV, electronic devices.


  1. Verbally set a time limit “We have 30/45/60 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.

Do you need more help?

Take a look at my Kids Eat, Kids Thrive personalised program.

“I now feel the stress at meal times has disappeared.”

Jean,Randwick North

Jenny Boss, Nutritionist