For many children, grazing or eating small amounts very frequently is very common and this is the number one reason many children have poor appetites.
For many children their preferred foods are finger foods such as crackers, cheese and fruit. This may mean they are less likely to eat other types of food particularly wet or mushy foods such as soup.
In addition, if our children are frequently snacking, they probably are not hungry to eat a meal and may request another snack shortly after the meal and therefore the pattern of frequent snacking continues.
Generally 3 meals and 2 snacks is a good guideline for the number of times children should eat during the day. However it depends on the individual child and their age. Having more structured eating means there are eating times (i.e. meals and snack times) and then there are times for other activities like play.
The timing of this looks different for different families, for example, some families have their main meal just after school or in the evening.
The aim is to have no more than 5 eating times a day or possibly 6 including a bedtime snack. Ideally there is at least 1-2 hours between eating which allows our children sufficient time to get hungry again.
One way to do this is to start increasing the gap between meals and snacks slowly by a few minutes every day until our children are hungrier for mealtimes.