Mommy, Im Hungry! was what Id hear my 3 year old saying what seemed to be every 30 minutes. Id go and fix him a snack, set him up at the table, only for him to take one nibble and be done. Another plate of food wasted. I was getting so frustrated with him for asking for food and then wasting it. Wed argue and nothing would change. The same thing happened every day all day. Just as soon as I sat down to nurse my other son, or as soon as we got in the car, or right after having breakfast, mommy, Im hungry! I knew something had to change, we simply couldnt afford to waste so much food and food was one battle I did not want to have with my children.
The solution: a snack schedule. Now, I am not one who does well with strict schedules. Kids change everyday and some days we run late, some days we wake up late or early and since Im home with my kids I like to roll with the punches sometimes. So dont let the idea of a schedule scare you, its not as strict as it sounds. Just decide what kind of meal plan works for your family and have those snacks/meals in a particular pattern through out the day.
For example, we do breakfast, snack, lunch, sometimes snack before nap, wake up from nap, snack, dinner shortly after, and if they are still hungry before bed, we do one last healthy snack like a banana, apple or a cup of pistachios before bed. Now these dont necessarily happen at the same time every day but we do our best to have them in that order.
At first this was a hard adjustment for my son. He was used to being able to have food whenever he wanted. I explained to him, it is breakfast time, if you do not eat what you have thats fine, BUT the kitchen is closed until snack time. This expression helped him understand that there were no food options in between meals and snacks. Since he had options of healthy snacks often through the day, we did not have to argue about finishing every bite on your plate. There were many times that he cried and had a tantrum but we played outside or did something to distract him from his desire, for me to give in and give him endless snacks.
We pushed through and it worked! He started to eat what I originally gave him for the snack/meal and was actually hungry when it came for the next time to eat which was a triple down effect causing him to finish that meal too. Now of course, we have slip ups and I have to give him some crackers at the food store or in his stroller, and it does throw him off a little but my ears are not consumed with Mommy, Im hungry every day all day. And now he is not using food or hunger as a way to get my attention.