How to Encourage Children Who Are Very Slow Eaters to Eat Faster

Updated April 17, 2017

Some children can take up to an hour or even longer to finish a meal, which can become frustrating for parents. When a child takes a long time to finish a meal it can indicate that the child is not hungry. Other times it may be just a child acting stubborn. There are ways to keep children focused on their meal and not other distractions around them.

Encourage your child to play with his food. Enticing your child to play with his food will get him to eat faster. Use different colours of the food to decorate it into various shapes like hearts, stars or circles. Use cookie cutters to shape the food before presenting it to your child. If you have your child help you with making dinner, make it enjoyable and he will be more willing to eat it quickly.

Implement a rewards system that will benefit the child if he eats his food. When your child eats his food within 30 minutes or less, reward him with a sticker. Place the sticker on a chart to keep track of how many times your child accomplishes the task. Set an amount of stickers that the child must reach before they receive a treat. For example, when your child gets 60 stickers, he gets to watch a movie. If he reaches 100 stickers, buy him a new movie or small new toy. Having something to work towards can encourage positive behaviour.

Use a timer. Tell your child that she has 15 minutes to eat and then take her plate away. Set the timer for 15 minutes and if you give her a time frame to finish up her meal she may focus on the task at hand. Kids love a good race.

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