If Your Child Doesn’t Eat Enough: Reasons and Tips for Parents of Small Children

Parents of small children often worry that the child eats very little and has a poor appetite in general. Out of the best of intentions, parents try to force-feed the baby. But this can be detrimental to the child. Small children need a special approach that many parents do not know about.

Why a baby doesn’t eat well – causes

Poor appetite in a child can occur for many reasons. Perhaps the child has caught a virus or has a stomach ache. Caprices are also not uncommon – a child requires delicious food and refuses everything else.

Often parents worry too much about their child’s poor appetite and tell their child how important it is to eat a lot. In this case, the child may refuse to eat in spite of the parents.

Many parents make mistakes in the organization of food and force their children to eat by the hour, eat all the food on the plate, and eat food they do not like. To get what they want, parents can resort to yelling and threats, ultimatums, and tantrums. Then the process of eating will become a stressful situation for the baby and appetite problems may worsen.

Advice for parents, if the child does not eat well

  1. Do not constantly tell your child how important and healthy it is to eat – it is unnatural.
  2. Never show your child that his desire or unwillingness to finish eating food is important to you. You can categorically not force your child to eat using blackmail, threats, yelling, or rewards.
  3. Forced food is not digested normally, because the stomach has not produced enough acid to digest it. Allow your child to eat as much as his appetite allows, but no more.
  4. If the child becomes distracted during a meal, turns away from the spoon, or straightforwardly says that he does not want anymore, it is worth stopping the meal.
  5. If you have problems with appetite, you need to make sure that the child can not find food on his own between meals, and you should also eliminate snacks.
  6. At the menu stage, you can ask the child what he/she wants more. But if the child after serving the meal demands to replace the dish – you can’t give in. The child should respect someone else’s work.
  7. Simple ways to stimulate appetite are to reduce portions, increase the intervals between meals, or make the food more liquid.
  8. Sweets blunt hunger, so a child with a poor appetite should only be given sweets after a meal.
  9. For a child to “wake up” its appetite, it needs to move around more. It is unlikely that the child will want to eat if she lies in bed all day.
  10. It is important to make sure that the child does not want to eat, but can. Poor appetite is not dangerous, but if it hurts to eat, you need to see a doctor right away.
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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