Help - my five year old is sneaking food in the middle of the night!

United States
May 27, 2009 7:24am CST
My five year old has been sneaking into the fridge and pantry in the middle of the night - usually between midnight and 4am. She is very small for her age, like the rest of our family, and is not likely to have a weight problem, so that is not my concern. Most nights it is difficult to get her to eat more than a few bites of dinner. Last night she finished a very small portion of chicken & veggie pasta - it took her an hour and a half. I have tried just about everything to get her to stop doing this, but nothing has worked so far. I don't usually have treats/junk food in the house, but she will eat any cheese in the fridge, yogurt, cottage cheese, fruit, lunchmeat, pickles, and from the cabinet cereal (non-sugary - she ate dry wheatabix one night when she couldn't find anything else), bread, peanut butter, crackers, and even dried pasta. Obviously if there is anything remotely like a treat (cliff bars, crackers, bagel chips) she will go for those first. I stopped buying parmigiano because she would find it and eat the whole wedge. I found the dried rinds under her bed. I'm at my wits end here. i have tried locking the food up but she can get into the baby locks. I have tried punishment, sticker charts, rewards, early bedtimes, later bedtimes, more snacks before bed, no snacks before bed, and cannot for the life of me figure out how to make it stop. I would be grateful for any help that any of you have to offer.
5 responses
@meandmy3 (2228)
• United States
27 May 09
You have a couple options, get a baby monitor and place it in her room so you hear her when she gets up. I know they are annoying but this is for the best of your child. You could also give her a healthy snack right before she goes to bed, as you have said she is not eating dinner well so she could really be hungry, by providing her with a good healthy snack prior to bed time maybe she will not wake up in the middle of the night to eat something. Leave a good healthy snack out for her, and tell her she can eat only this. If she eats something else she loses a privilege, does not get to go to her friends party, etc. Sign her up for an activity, sport, gymnastics, dance, something that will get her active so that she is exercising.
• United States
27 May 09
thanks, but i have tried the snacks right before bed thing and it doesn't seem to have any impact. she is also already very active during the day at preschool, and by the time i get home from work (single parent) there is no time for further classes/activities
@tashakau (132)
• Canada
28 May 09
For dinner time you could inlude her in helping and deciding what to eat for supper and set a time where noyone in the house is aloud to eat after that time. For example my kids eat supper around at around 5:30pm and after they have a small dessert. Theyre bedtime is at 8:30pm and at 8pm I remind them if they want to eat anything because after that they are not aloud to eat since they have to brush their teeth and it is close to bedtime. This has worked well for me and my children are not hungry afterwards. You should also see if what you are feeding your daughter is enough, try to include protein during the day. I hope this will help you to get a better sleep at night for you and your daughter.
@subha12 (18453)
• India
28 May 09
I think she ha sgrown a habit of sneaking food. I had a cousin like this. she would eat anything she can see. May be she is hungry at night. see her a doctor.
@bing28 (3798)
• Philippines
28 May 09
It becomes a habit already for the child maybe, that's why a little hard for her to be controlled. You can perhaps prepare a sandwhich and drinks for her or a pasta and tell her before she go to bed, that in case she'll get hungry she can just get it. Keep out everything she could reach for the meantime or lock her bedroom( with somebody of course inside) until she'll be used of eating only what was prepared for her.
@jayrene (2713)
• Philippines
27 May 09
my son is like that but he is already 7. even though he would eat dinner, he would still get hungry in the middle of the night or early mornings... he would eat anything that he thinks he can eat. last time i saw him mixing cocoa, milk and sugar, he just ate them and did not add water, he said he's hungry... what i did was i made sure we always have bread here at home, so when it happens he has something to eat. sometimes i let him drink milk before going to bed, sometimes it works and he dont get hungry afterwards and would just wake up in the morning, but sometimes it doesnt work... yours is a bit different because your child dont eat that much dinner, that's the problem. i would suggest that you ask her what she likes for dinner and give her that, so she will eat plenty, and no snacks before dinner.