Parents often complain about the loss of appetite in their child. You may worry that your child is not eating as much as he or she was and this can affect their mental and physical growth. But the fact is that it is common for children aged 2 to 6 years to have fluctuations in their appetite depending on their energy needs and activities performed. So it is pretty normal.
If you notice that with loss of appetite there is a substantial loss of weight in your child then consult your paediatrician to know if loss of appetite is a symptom of any other illness prevailing in your child and follow the treatment plan accordingly.
Loss of Appetite in Children: Causes & Tips to Increase Appetite
Causes for loss of appetite
The common causes for loss of appetite in children are:
Difference in their growth rate
During the first year, the growth of the child is drastic and thus he or she requires high diet to meet the energy demands. After this as the growth rate slightly decreases over the years, the appetite of the child too slumps.
Read More: baby growth and development
If your child is sick due to certain illness such as sore throat, fever, diarrhoea, headache, etc he or she may show loss of appetite. Once the illness is corrected the child successfully regains the appetite.
It is one of the prime reasons for loss of appetite. If you notice your child having bowel problems and is having trouble in defecating for two or three days at a stretch then he or she would have loss of appetite as there are problems in the digestive tract. Once the bowel movement resumes its regular course with the right medication, the child would regain the appetite.
Stress in children are a good enough cause for loss of appetite. If you notice your child having difficulty in sleeping, losing interest in certain activities they enjoy or loss of appetite then it could be due to stress. Talk to them and alleviate the problem. Generally it could be due to bullying or academic pressures or unrealistic expectations of the parents concerning the child, etc.
It is a psychological aversion to eating. The child may be a subject for bullying or want to look like the models the TV projects, then he or she may stop eating food for a long time and even if they eat, they eat very less and choose fat free food and even then feel guilty for eating. They may also start exercising compared to what’s more than normal. In such a case its best to consult an eating disorder specialist.
Anaemia is generally undetected although it affects a large population. It can cause your child to feel lethargic, irritated and easily fatigued. It could also case loss of appetite, difficulty in concentration and memorising. If left untreated, it can cause poor scholastic performance and also interfere with the child’s development.
If your child is on antibiotics then loss of appetite is one of the symptoms caused by the antibiotics.
The prime symptom of infection with intestinal worms is loss of appetite. The worms lay eggs in the digestive tract that multiply rapidly and live as parasites causing intestinal bleeding, dysentery, symptoms due to deficiency of certain vitamins, etc.
Depression as a whole is ignored saying it’s just a feeling of sadness that passes away after some time. But this feeling persists in people suffering from depression over a long time. Depression in children is thought of as non-existential but in reality, it does exist. It may start as stressful periods and moments of breakdown until it develops into full blown depression. You need to be attentive to behavioural changes, changes in sleep, changes in appetite in your child and consult your paediatrician if you notice these.
Read More: 12 Best Foods to Make your Child Taller
How to improve your child’s appetite
You can follow certain tips if you wish to improve your child’s appetite:
- Advise them to take water 30 minutes before meal time and not just prior to starting the meal.
- It is better to eat every two hours in small portions instead of the standardised three meals a day.
- Make the meals look attractive by spending some time to decorate it with smileys.
- Do not use to serve food as an excuse for reward or punishment.
- Encourage your child to make healthy food choices from a young age.
- Encourage your child to indulge in physical activity.
- Do not force your child to eat when they are not hungry.
- Do not demand them to finish the entire food on their plate.
- Replace the snacks with meals. For example, instead of a cookie serve a healthy sandwich.
- Don’t make milk a meal. It can kill their appetite as it provides a sense of fullness. You can indulge your child in other dairy products such as cottage cheese, cheese, etc.
- Encourage your child to indulge in yogurt. You can also provide him or her with various flavoured yogurts available.
- Don’t make them consume a lot of oily food. A lot of ghee and oil in traditional Indian foods can kill their appetite.
- When kids feel too warm they tend to eat less. So make sure they are in a comfortable environment.
- Avoid talking about topics that can stress your child during meal times. Talk about happy things.
- Encourage your child to consume fruit based desserts such as berries, grapes etc at the end of the meal. Psychologically they are proven to boost the appetite.
Children do not generally express their problems and it is the parents who have to notice these changes and address them. Loos of appetite can be a normal thing to happen as it is common in children but if there is also a substantial loss of weight then it is best to consult your paediatrician. Follow the above given tips to boost your child’s appetite.
Hope this article was of help for all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!