- It is normal for children to lose their appetite time to time, and generally there is no need to worry.
- You absolutely do not need to rush to a doctor when your child refuses to eat. However, if this situation continues more than few days, there are any other symptoms of a disease, then you may need to consult a doctor.
- Your child didn’t eat his or her food and wants to play? No problem, you can later prepare something to eat.
- The growth rates of children decrease after they have started school, and so their appetites also decrease. Don’t worry if they are not hungry or they do not finish their food. If they are dynamic and healthy, it means they are taking in the necessary nutrients. If your child is losing weight or needs a special diet, then consult a doctor.
- Small children generally like to eat 6 meals a day.
- If you don’t push them, the child will eat as much as they need. Healthy children eat when they are hungry. When they have received the necessary nutrients, they stop eating.
- You should decide the meal hours of your children. And you should let your children decide how much they will eat from each of the alternatives you offer.
- The meal hours should be flexible, so that your children can understand when they get hungry and when they are full.
- If you force your children to eat more, they will get fat. And if you don’t offer them enough food, then they may eat a lot during the next meal as they will be hungry. This is all also true for adults. If you skip breakfast, you will eat much more at lunch.
- Your children will imitate you. If you eat a lot, your child will come to do the same. Keep the portions small and eat only when you are hungry. Eat slowly. Taking care of yourself means taking care of your child.
- Offer small portions.
- Give time, that is, don’t rush, and feel when your child is full.
- Take their plate away, when your child stops eating.
- Do not offer a lot of food when your child says they are very hungry.
When should one consult a doctor?
If the child has a loss of appetite over a long period of time and they start losing weight, then consult to a doctor.
Tips for children who are choosy eaters
- Ask your child’s opinion when buying food. Apple or orange?
- Use your creativity and make the meal hour into a time of joy. Cut the breads in different shapes, create a face on the plate with the child’s vegetables, use cute plates, forks, spoons. Prepare healthy sauces like yogurt for the child to dip the vegetables in.
- Tell your children the origin of foods and take them to places such as dairy farms and orchards. They may not fully understand it all, but they may start to eat the foods they formerly rejected since these places will have attract their attention.
- Fruit juice is healthy and the fresh fruit juices that you squeeze yourself are much healthier than pre-packaged fruit juices. Even though they are introduced as “natural”, the pre-packaged ones generally include fructose or similar sugars which can cause tooth decay. And since they may be high in calories, they can pre-maturely satisfy the appetite of your child. You should prepare your own fruit juices and offer them after meals. If you are using concentrated fruit juices, then pour in at least half as much water again, but don’t forget that tooth decay may occur if your child has juice too often throughout the day.
- Prepare fruit yogurt/milk by mixing the fruits with fresh milk or yogurt. If your child doesn’t like them this way, you can then offer it to your child as an ice-cream by freezing this mixture in a small container.
- You can make fruit or vegetable muffins from whole-wheat flour or oat flour .
- You should decide but be honest about it since your child may overreact if they realizes this.
- Let your child eat by themselves by preparing foods that they can easily hold in their own hand.
- Set a good example for your child by keeping a balanced and healthy diet. The child will like it more, if you eat as a family.
- Fun is important! Make meals and foods enjoyable. If you insist a lot for your child to eat, this may actually create adverse effects on your child, and they may end up not liking to eat. Time to time you may offer sugar and chocolate, but this should not replace a normal, healthy meal.
For older children
- Don’t convert the meal hour into a struggle of power. This won’t be effective and it may well make your child more stubborn.
- Try not to change the meal and snack hours and make sure that you have one meal as a family.
- Try to offer beverages such as fruit juice not before or during the meal, but afterwards.
- Try to avoid snacks which have high calories but low nutritional value . Children who are choosy eaters may lose their appetite after even the smallest snack.
- Talk with your children and learn what they like and dislike. The child will feel better, if they get to decide what they will eat.
- Don’t offer them food while they are watching television. Although it is not generally harmful for the family to gather around and eat while watching television, as the child will be distracted they may eat less if you always eat in front of the television.
And finally let’s cheer you up: We all worry about this, but childreneat as much as they need. Most of the children who are choosy eatersdevelop normally, and are healthy and energetic. However, if you haveany real concerns about the height or weight of your child, you shouldconsult to a specialist.
The frequently seen reasons for poor appetite in children:
- They may have a cold or get sick. Don’t force your children to eat. Check for skin rash, fever, pain. Offer liquid foods (soup, fruit juice etc.). Offer your child food that they can digest easily. Your child’s appetite will return to normal when they start feeling better.
- Your child may eat sweets, snack a lot or drink milk, fruit juice, soda etc. These may each cause your child to lose their appetite. If you offer snacks between meals, then offer well before the meal time so that your child doesn’t lose their appetite. Choose light foods such as vegetable sticks as snacks.
- Your child may be stressed. If you suspect that your child is stressed, try to find the cause. Children are very sensitive about problems at home and school. If required, obtain support from a specialist.
- There may be iron deficiency, zinc deficiency (these two mainly appear at the same time) or an intestinal parasite. These disorders may each cause long term appetite loss.