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Monday, July 22, 2024

Is your child eating less? Know why kids lose appetite and what you can do about it

Your child is skipping meals and you are worried. Find out why kids lose their appetite & what you can do to get them eating healthy again.

Almost all parents have experienced this: it’s dinnertime and your little one looks at their plate full of boring veggies or whatever you cooked for them. Mealtimes turn into a battleground, and frustration levels rise faster than the soufflé you hoped they’d enjoy. Before you throw in the dish towel (and maybe that undercooked soufflé), let’s take a deep breath and explore why kids lose their appetite.

Knowing the Common Culprits

Children have their own reasons, just like adults, for missing meals. Some of the usual suspects are listed below:

  • Gear Shifts and Growth Spurts: Do you recall the days when you could devour an entire pizza and still have room for dessert? Yes, that is not a luxury for toddlers. Infancy and toddlerhood rapid growth spurts are frequently followed by periods of diminished appetite. They don’t need to store as much fuel since their tiny bodies are growing more adept at utilizing nutrients.
  • The Parade of the Picky Eater: Ah, the maligned “picky eater” stage. For toddlers (ages 1-3) expressing their independence, this is a typical period.

They could become superawesome at avoiding anything green and have laser focus when it comes to chicken nuggets.

  • The Little Curveballs in Life: A cold or earache, for example, can suppress a child’s appetite. A change in routine, such as traveling, enrolling in a new daycare, or having houseguests, can also cause havoc with their eating habits, just as it does with yours when a workout companion abruptly cancels.
  • Emotional Tricks: Certain meals have different textures, odors, or tastes that some youngsters find more sensitive to. If you are uncomfortable with mushy textures, picture yourself facing a platter of mushy peas!
  • Overindulged and Disappointed: Unbelievably, giving a toddler too much food can overwhelm them and actually make them less hungry. Comparable to piling your phone with too many apps, it becomes sluggish and glitchy.
  • Unexpected Health Problems: A medical problem may occasionally be the cause of an appetite loss.

Red Flags on the Dinner Table:

While a smaller appetite isn’t always a cause for concern, there are some signs that might warrant a chat with your pediatrician:

  • Weight Loss Woes: If your child is consistently losing weight or falling off their growth curve, it’s important to get them checked out.
  • Fatigue Fighter Woes: A child who isn’t getting proper nutrition might be constantly low on energy. Think of them as a phone with a dying battery!
  • The Sick Cycle: A healthy diet is essential for a strong immune system. If your child seems to catch every bug going around, their appetite could be a contributing factor.
  • Picky Eating on Steroids: Some food preferences are normal, but if your child consistently refuses entire food groups, they could be missing out on key nutrients.

Turning the Tide: Mealtime Makeovers

Now that you have a detective’s eye for the reasons behind your child’s appetite woes, here are some tips to get them excited about mealtimes again:

  • Offer, Don’t Force: Mealtimes should be a positive experience, not a battlefield. Offer healthy options, but ditch the pressure to clean their plate.
  • Fun is on the Menu: Get your little chef involved in meal prep (age-appropriate tasks, of course!). Let them help set the table or stir the batter. Create a pleasant atmosphere at the table, free from distractions like screens.
  • Right-Size Those Portions: Tiny tummies don’t need giant portions. Offer smaller servings and let them ask for seconds if they’re still hungry.
  • Lead by Example: Kids are copycats. Make healthy choices yourself and enjoy meals together as a family. Seeing you savor your veggies might just make them curious to try a bite.
  • Variety is the Spice of Life (and Lunchboxes): Introduce new foods alongside familiar favorites. Don’t be discouraged if a new food gets a thumbs-down at first. Keep offering it in different ways over time – maybe roasted instead of steamed, or chopped into fun shapes.
  • Snack Time Strategies: Healthy snacks can bridge the gap between meals and prevent overeating at mealtimes. Think fruits, veggies, whole-grain crackers, or yogurt.
  • Patience is Key: Remember, changing eating habits takes time. Consistency is your secret weapon. Stick to routines and positive mealtime practices, and eventually, your little one will be back to exploring the world of delicious food.

Remember that every child is different. There isn’t a single answer that suits everyone. If you have concerns about your child’s eating habits, don’t be afraid to consult a trained dietician or your pediatrician. They can offer tailored guidance and encouragement to help your child reestablish a healthy diet.

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