Inside: Ramadan Fasting for children, why you shouldn’t let a child Fast before they are the right age, what can go wrong and how to cope. Sample Intermittent Fasting Plan for little children plus a book to help you talk to your child.
Do Children Fast in Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month of fasting and worship but children, pregnant or feeding mothers and the sick or old are exempt from it. Fasting becomes obligatory after a child reaches adolescents, that is around the age of 14 or 15 years. Before that, you may train them to fast and teach them gradually to accustom themselves to fasting the whole day.
Many parents start around 9 or 10 years old. They let them fast a day or more in the beginning or on the weekends. By the time they are in their teens, they may have learnt to fast more easily.
Some parents let their children fast before that age too because as you know, children while watching their adults, want to imitate them. It is more about culture than about religion really, but it may be a bit hard on the child to be able to do it. Fasting without food and water is not easy. Depending on what part of the world you are, it may be anything between 15-18 hours before you can eat.
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A Book for Children Who are going to Fast for the First Time…
We all have children who want to imitate the adults. They want to fast in Ramadan and be grown up. I sometimes feel that it is easier to convince toddlers and preschoolers to not fast than it is to talk to tweens!
Bharat Babies sent us the book Amal’s Ramadan last year. It was perfect for my 9 year old who was preparing to fast for the first time.
Amal’s Ramadan is written by Amy MaranVille and is from the same series as Amal’s Eid. The story is about a young 11 year old boy named Amal who keeps his first fast on a day he has to go on summer camp and what happens later.
The story was perfectly relatable to my son. It was a good conversation starter for us to make him understand fasting. My son had been going to Summer camp himself and had fasted even though we had told him not to. Reading this book helped him see why his fasting that day wasn’t a good idea but in the future he could try again.
When you’re fasting you have to take care about how you spend your energy. You cannot be like everybody else. You may not be able to do many things.
If your child is at the age to start fasting, I highly recommend that you read Amal’s Ramadan with them. It isn’t exactly from an all Islamic point of view but a light weight story that tells a child, in a matter of fact tone, what it is like to fast and the possibility of what can go wrong.
I liked this story. There have been a few family and friends who have asked me if D didn’t fast this year and I had been really put in an awkward position telling them politely that he still wasn’t of age. Many people responded with ‘oh but I fasted at that age’, which was even more awkward.
Fasting is for adults. It isn’t about abstaining from food and drink only. You have to be devoted and fully aware of your actions as well as spend the entire time in prayer and remembrance (adhkaar). I feel it as being harsh to let a child fast the entire day. There is a reason why God exempted them!
A child will run and be active. He will find it difficult and beyond his understanding as to why he should not do certain things. He may even grow an aversion to the act of fasting. He may grow up thinking it to be a burden or difficult. Fasting is for adults.
Of course ,children love this time of the year. You may think that by allowing them to fast the whole day, you are making them love Ramadan but in fact it may be the contrary. There are many other ways to involve them in the spirit of this blessed month.
I personally do what my parents did. We go for two fasts a day when they want to fast. It makes it easier for me as a mom and for them as children learning the steps to fasting.
Ramadan Fasting for Children – Step by Step Intermittent Fasting Plan
One of the best way to help children learn to fast while they are still young is to try the Intermittent Fasting Plan.
What is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. Like skipping breakfast or lunch (as in dieting) or even fasting on certain days of the week for example. There are several different ways to intermittent fast.
Ramadan fasting can be called as Intermittent Fasting too as we are fasting for a fixed period and then eating again. Other religions follow some form of Intermittent fasting too.
Is Intermittent Fasting safe for children?
Yes it is. Read this post by The Primal Parent, where they discuss why this type of fasting is actually good for children.
For one, you are training and discipling their eating habits. Then there is health benefit. Intermittent fasting has the power to increase longevity and quality of life by reducing brain insulin signaling, lowering triglycerides, fighting cancer cell rejuvenation, stimulating the production of growth hormone, and kick starting cell repair and waste elimination.
Can children handle Intermittent Fasting in Ramadan?
You mean won’t they be starving hungry?
Umm… no. We aren’t actually keeping children hungry for that long. It is more like putting them on a routine with their permission. 😉
Since they are interested in Fasting (like adults), you can help them keep short fasts. They won’t really be missing meals because the time between the noon and afternoon prayer is hardly 4 hours. They are having breakfast a bit early and then going back to complete their sleep. When they wake up, they eat in a fixed time limit. (This will train those lazy eaters to hurry up!) and then no snacking or munching for the next three hours. After breaking their fast and quickly getting ready for the next one, they are ready to not eat (snack!) for two hours.
Sample Intermittent Fasting plan
Here is a sample Intermittent Fasting plan that most Muslim parents follow:
Training Kids to Fast before the age of 8 years.
Before the age of 7 years, we let them fast three fasts a day. That is:
- Wake them for suhur and let them eat with you. They will play for a while and sleep. This quenches their curiosity and power struggle to help them do suhur with you. Also, they will let you sleep. 😀
- Wake them at around 11am or an hour before noon (Dhuhr) to break their fast and eat again for the next round. They stop eating and drinking at Noon (Dhuhr Prayer).
- Again they break their fast at Asr (afternoon prayer). Eat and drink and then help mom and dad cook. Someone has to test (taste) the goodies and make sure everything is all yummy and tasty, right? 😉 They get to be the Chef in training.
- Everybody breaks fast at Maghreb (sunset).
And ta da! Your little one has fasted with you.
Training kids to Fast in Ramadan between the age 8-10.
- Wake them for Suhoor (before sunrise). Let them eat and drink. Teach them the essentials of staying hydrated and importance of praying etc.
- They break fast at Dhuhr and reenergize to fast till Maghreb. If they do pull it off, awesome! Or else, they go back to the Chef in training mode. 😀
- Everyone breaks their fast at Maghreb (sunset).
The important thing is to remind them to pray and do Dhikr (remembrance) and worship because Ramadan time is more about spirituality than about eating and drinking.
Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting its fourth annual Ramadan & Eid for Kids blog hop, where bloggers come together to share ideas for teaching kids about and honoring Ramadan & Eid. Don’t forget to check out our blog hops from last year, 2016 and 2015. Be sure to follow our Ramadan & Eid boards on Pinterest for even more ideas and link up your own posts below!
A Crafty Arab