If your toddler is turning away pretty much everything that you serve on the plate, you may have a picky eater on your hands. It certainly is worrying when your little one creates a fuss about eating on a regular basis.
A decrease in appetite is a common woe for many parents that can leave you cooking up some creative ways to serve regular food. When this doesn’t work its magic too, you are left to worry about how your child will receive his share of nutrients for the day.
What Is Appetite Loss?
Appetite loss is the lack of hunger or the desire to eat anything. This is common in children between the age of two and six. This usually happens because your kid’s growth rate slows significantly after the first year. In the first year, your child may have put on about 5 to 6 kg in weight. However, between one to six years, they will put on only about 2kg per year. They may even go for three to four months without gaining any weight.
The child’s brain has an appetite centre that regulates the food intake and directs the child to eat as much as they require to grow and conserve energy. Since they aren’t growing as fast anymore, they tend to have a weaker appetite, which is also called as psychological anorexia.
What Are the Major Causes of Appetite Loss In Toddlers?
While a slow rate of growth may be the leading cause of loss of appetite in toddlers, there may also be others reasons.
If your child is sick and has a fever, a sore throat or other symptoms, there may be a decrease in appetite during the process of recuperation.
- Depression Or Stress
Sudden changes such as instances like loss of a loved one can cause stress to kids and trigger a loss of appetite in kids. It can also cause them to become more anxious and aggressive towards others.
- Eating Junk Between Meals
If your toddler has access to junk food in between meals, then his appetite is bound to drop during meal time. This might also lead to a variety of health problems along with obesity in children.
- Excessive Intake of Juices
Drinking too much liquid, except water, in between and during meals can cause a loss of appetite as your child will feel fuller.
If your child has iron deficiency anaemia, then he or she may feel weak and see a decrease in appetite.
- Lack of Physical Activity
When your toddler isn’t physically active and is spending too much time in front of the TV or sitting, then it will hamper his digestion, causing a loss of appetite.
How Much Food Is Sufficient for Toddlers?
You may sometimes mistake your toddler’s nature decrease in appetite as lack of appetite. Here is a chart of nutrients that your toddler needs on a daily basis.
|Food Type||Two-year-old||Three year old||What can be given (example)|
|Fruits||1 cup||1 to 1 ½ cups||· Fresh juice
· Fruit puree
· Whole fruits
|Vegetables||1 cup||1 to 1 ½ cups||· Mashed or chopped vegetables
· Raw green leaves
· Vegetable juice
|Grains||85 grams||100-150 grams||· Bread
· Rice or Daliya(porridge)
|Protein Foods||55 grams||85-100 grams||· Cooked meat, chicken, seafood
· Cooked beans or peas
|Dairy||2 cup||2 ½ Cups||· Milk
How to Increase Appetite In Toddlers?
Increasing appetite in toddlers involves a lot of patience and observation. Once you identify the reason for the lack of appetite, you can cater to the solution accordingly.
Tips to Boost Your Toddler’s Appetite
In case your child is a picky eater you can follow the following tips and home remedies to increase appetite in toddlers.
- Let your child decide the quantity – Rely on your child’s appetite centre in the brain and let your toddler eat how much he or she prefers.
- One snack per day between meals – Do not allow more than one snack per day between meal times. Loading up on snacks with decrease your toddler’s appetite.
- Limit fluid intake – Put the cap on fluid intake at 480ml per day as fluids contain calories that can make the child feel full.
- Serve different varieties – You can rotate the menu and add new recipes to keep your child interested and also learn about his or her food preferences.
- Get creative with the presentation – Make food fun with creative shapes and colours or even fancy little plates and cutlery.
- Serve small portions – Smaller portions are less overwhelming to finish and your toddler can get around it faster. He or she may even ask for a second serving.
- Fix meal time – A fixed meal timing can regularize your toddler’s appetite and prepare them for meals.
- Make meal times a fun family experience – Interact with the entire family during meal-time and make it fun, this can help you toddler look forward to it. Do not eat your meals in front of the TV.
- Do not extend your mealtime – Extending meal time beyond certain duration will cause your toddler to associate negativity with it.
- Try giving more finger food items – Finger foods are easier to get a hold of even for kids who haven’t learned to use a spoon.
- Don’t spoon-feed – If your child knows how to eat with a spoon, don’t get tempted to feed if he or she isn’t eating. It may come across as force-feeding and will further cause a slump in appetite.
- Avoid conversation about eating – Don’t discuss or complain about your child’s eating habits in front of your child, it may fuel a further loss of appetite.
- You may consider giving your child daily vitamins – If you are worried about your child’s daily food intake, you can check with a doctor about small doses of vitamins for your child.
What Should You Not Do?
In the attempt to boost your child’s eating, do not engage in the following,
- Don’t offer snacks to your toddler at short intervals and don’t allow more than one snack per day.
- Ensure that the snack is reasonable and not larger than the meal.
- Do not force feed or spoon feed.
- Never wake your child from sleep to feed him or her.
- Don’t threaten your child to eat.
- Don’t embarrass or make your child feel guilty.
- Don’t force your toddlers on the high chair for long durations after a meal is over if he or she hasn’t finished the meal.
When to Consult the Doctor for Toddler Appetite Slump?
If you notice the following, you may need to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
- If your child is losing weight
- Your toddler hasn’t gained weight in the past six months
- In case your toddler is sick with conditions like diarrhoea or fever
- If certain foods make your toddler vomit
- If he or she hasn’t urinated in over eight hours
It is possible that every often parents misunderstand the child’s changing needs for a serious loss of appetite. This I when they tend to fuel the problem by forcing the child to eat or complaining that their child doesn’t eat. It is essential that you exercise patience if your toddler isn’t consuming the normal amount. Check his or her weight and height against the age and you’ll usually notice that there is little to worry about.