Sent to bed without dinner
Sent to bed without dinner

Every parent takes a different approach to tackling the fussy eating battle.You might force them to stay at the table until they finish, make them something else, or send them to bed without anything. 

No dinner, straight to bed

A friend of mine – we’ll call her Lily – wrote this message on Facebook a little while ago. Her 16-month-old daughter was refusing to eat the egg on toast Lily had cooked for her. So she sent her to bed with nothing. “There was something else in the fridge that I know she would have liked but I am tired of the fussiness,” she wrote. “She wasn’t going to starve overnight and I think it’s important that she learns to eat everything we give her.” However, she added “I felt absolutely bloody awful.”

No dinner, straight to bed #2

Another friend, Kate, has two boys aged 9 and 11. Kate’s a single mum and had just spent an hour cooking her two boys a lovely meal of grilled meat, veggies and polenta. The boys were being, well, boys and were horsing around, refusing to eat, even flicking each other with their napkins and cutlery. You all know the feeling: long day, short patience. When the younger boy ended up accidentally knocked his plate to the floor and broke it, Kate’s temper broke with it. Both boys went to bed with nothing.

The soft touch mum.

Me? I’m a soft touch. Probably too soft. If my son doesn’t eat what I give him… I usually insist he eats a certain number of bites and then let him leave the rest on his plate. When he asks for a sandwich an hour later… yep, I admit it, I give in. Luckily I’ve managed to work out a pretty solid schedule of what he will and won’t eat so he generally eats the lot but… gah. I reckon I need to toughen up, right?

Tell us what you do!

I could ask experts to add their opinion to this discussion. There are plenty of opinions out there – psychiatrist Joshua Sparrow told The Washington Post that food should be about “nourishment, health, the pleasure of being with people. Avoid turning it into a battleground for power struggles.” In the same article paediatrician Jennifer Shu says, “In general, we don’t want to link rewards or punishments to food.” But then she goes on to say sending a kid to bed without supper isn’t really going to hurt them. This is what happens with experts. Everyone’s got a different opinion.

What do you do when your kids won't eat what you make them?

This article was written by Alexandra Carlton for and has been adpated for

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