Appetite slump in toddlers
Why does my toddler not want to eat?
Your baby used to enjoy everything you offered, and now she hardly eats anything! You have tried offering variety of healthy foods but she never appears to be taking more than a few bites. What could be wrong?
Appetite slump in toddlers is quite common. You must realise this by observing that every second mom if not every mom complains about appetite slump in their toddlers.
Growth slowdown -Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
This is a fact that toddlers do not grow at the same rate as babies. Babies double their weight by 6 months and then almost triples by 12 months. Between 1-3 years, children do not gain weight at this rate, hence their energy needs too go down. This is a normal slowdown by body. Even though they appear to be always active and you have no idea where the energy comes from, probability is she is taking in just enough.
New-found Independence and Identity – Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
Gone are the days when your baby used to look at you for everything. The toddler knows she is capable of doing a lot herself. She is also testing her limits by refusing just about everything, even things they definitely want. It is their way of asserting their independence and forcing usually makes matters worse.
Do check out Nutrition guide for Toddlers
Toddlers are very active – Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
Activity levels of toddlers increase manifold and sitting down for having a meal is not a vey attractive idea according to them. They would rather play and explore the world than get stuck at the table to eat. This is the reason you will see many care-givers of toddlers feeding them on the go while in the park. Whether it is a good practice is debatable. It is best to make them sit comfortably in a high chair and then either feed them or let them feed themselves.
Too much Milk/ Milk products – Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
Many children love milk and often fill themselves up with dairy to the extent that they do not have any inclination for solids. Experts recommend no more than 2-3 cups of milk a day for toddlers. If you feel your child is having too much milk, it could be one of the reasons of not eating enough.
Too much junk food – Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
Toddlers often start sampling junk food like chips, chocolates etc. which fills them up and they have no appetite for real foods at meal times.
Illness – Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
If you child has caught some bug or has cold, she may show an appetite slump, which is expected. This will be temporary and most likely your child will make up for lost time as soon as she is better.
Read here how food can help boost children’s immune system naturally
Indigestion/ Gastric issues – Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
If your toddler has problems with indigestion, she may show less interest in eating. You may use some simple remedies to counter these.
Intestinal worms – Reasons for Appetite Slump in Toddlers
Intestinal worms or stomach worms are also a reason which may cause appetite slump and is quite common in toddlers and young children. It is recommended to deworm children once in 6 months to 1 year to ensure. Do check with your doctor before deworming.
There are many home remedies to avoid and control stomach worms. Do check out the detailed article on
5 Home Remedies to Deworm Children
How to improve appetite in toddlers/ get them to eat more?
Avoid Feeding Battles/ Accept that your child is eating what her body needs
Who likes to be forced to do anything? It is an oft-repeated advice but it is true. I have personally experienced it with my daughter. She has always been lean, so even a few days of her not eating well used to leave me worried. Once I accepted the fact that it is her constitution and she is actually eating healthy, wholesome meals, I stopped forcing her to finish everything and it worked. She eats three wholesome meals along with 2 snacks and I have decided to be happy with it, even though she still is lean.
Make food attractive – How to get kids to eat more
This goes a long way in enticing toddlers to the dining table/ feeding chair. Give variety of foods. You do not have to break your back for it. Tweaking the same food a little bit can make it so much more pleasing for children.
Cut the parathas/ chapatis into lovely shapes using cookie cutters, serve idlis/ dosas in a slightly different manner and they are more likely to try them. In my experience if you make anything smaller and bite size they are more likely to sample and finish them.
Here are 50+ Kids friendly breakfast ideas
Finger Foods Work for Toddlers – How to get kids to eat more
Because Toddlers like assert their independence, finger foods which they can manage on their own and decide how much to eat work for them.
Do check out Finger food ideas for toddlers
75+ finger food ideas for babies, toddlers & kids
Involve them in the buying/ cooking process- How to get kids to eat more
Toddlers have a very active imagination and are always looking out for new experiences. If you want them to be more interested in food, give them those experiences.
- You may take them along when you go shopping, let them choose their favourite fruits and vegetables.
- Allow them to be a part of the cooking process. I used to let me daughter roll her paratha and then cut it with a cookie cutter and she would finish it all because she made it.
- You may also allow
Add yogurt/ curd to child’s diet – How to get kids to eat more
Yogurt or curd is a natural probiotic and helps in keeping our gut and digestive system healthy. Include curd in your child’s meal in some form. Many people give probiotic drinks to their children every day, but I feel natural is the best. You can add curd in the form of lassi, buttermilk, curd rice, kadhi, raitas etc.
Home remedies for improving digestion and increase appetite
Many spices commonly found in Indian kitchen help in aiding in digestion and relieving gas, thus increasing appetite in kids and adults.
Include ajwain( carrom seeds), hing( asafoetida), jeera (cumin seeds), saunf( fennel seeds) and tulsi in regular diet of your child.
- Ajwain seeds can be given as ajwain water, in paranthas and in curries.
- Jeera is generally used in most Indian curries. You may also add them in paranthas, buttermilk etc.
- Saunf is very good to aid in digestion and relives flatulence. It is also great to relieve colic pain in babies. You may add saunf powder in paranthas, breads, cupcakes, curd, buttermilk etc.
- Tulsi or basil leaves can be given in water, paranthas, breads etc.
- Dalchini or cinnamon is great to improve digestion. You may add it to applesauce, breads, put on toast along with honey.
When to consult doctor?
If you are still unconvinced that your toddler is having a normal appetite and if you see that your toddler is losing weight, be sure to see your child’s doctor and mention it. Doctor may advice or accordingly and may also give supplements if he/she deems fit.