You’ve scoured grocery store shelves for the yummiest foods Baby can’t resist, asked your friends for recommendations, and created the best dishes from the different recipe books that guarantee a 100% appetite-boosting outcome.
The result? Zero. Nada. Your tot still refuses to eat well, and you’re concerned that they isn’t getting the nutrition they need.
A toddler’s small and ever-changing appetite can be frustrating for parents. Every parent wants to give their child the nutrition they need every day in order to thrive, and if they just won’t cooperate, it can start to cause problems. Normally, a child’s appetite is disrupted once they reach a year old. You probably noticed that Baby became more active, but started eating much less than before. This is all part of toddler development, and is usually not a cause for worry, but sometimes, there are factors that contribute to this slump, and that can be addressed.
Eating too much in-between meals
Snacks are good, but eating too much and too frequently in-between meals can spoil your toddler’s appetite when it comes to more nutritionally-rich mealtime food. A toddler’s stomach is small, and it gets filled up quickly. Snack times not long before a meal should be small, and healthy enough that even if your little one doesn’t eat much at the next meal, you’ll know they are eating nutritious foods.
Drinking too much in-between meals will have the same effect – you can help boost your toddler’s appetite by having them go easy on the liquids, especially sugary drinks like juice, which they shouldn’t be having much of at this point, anyway.
Forced to eat food that they don’t like
Liver pate is good for toddlers because it is high in Vitamin A, but its taste may not sit well with your little one. Forcing a child to eat foods that they doesn’t like will have a negative effect on how they react to meal time.
This doesn’t mean that your favorite foods that Baby doesn’t like are off-limits forever – a child’s food preference will change over time. What Baby hates now might be their favorite in three or even five years’ time, when their palate has evolved. In the meantime, try to make sure to offer healthy foods that they're fond of for now.
Overwhelmed by the serving
Toddlers can be easily overwhelmed by the amount of food that is placed in front of them. They’re also often not big fans of mixed-up or blended foods, or foods with many ingredients, like ratatouille – instead, they often prefer items that are separated, and even set apart so they don’t touch each other – that’s why so many toddler dishes include a sectioned plate to keep different foods apart from each other!
Toddlers who are still drinking formula milk regularly will eat less than children who are breastfed. This is because the casein component of formula milk makes it less digestible, leaving your child feeling full for a longer period. You can try to wean them off the bottle by slowly decreasing the amount of formula you offer, or just save the formula until after they have already had the chance to try the rest of their meal.
Toddlers often go through periods where they eat less, or are less interested in food, and as long as they still seem healthy and energetic, there’s generally nothing to worry about. But if feeding problems go on, if your child feels weak all the time, or starts losing weight, it’s important to have them evaluated by the pediatrician.
- Elana Pearl Ben Joseph. “Breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, February 2015. Retrieved November 1 2017. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breast-bottle-feeding.html#.
- Sheila Jacobson. “Appetite slump in toddlers.” About Kids Health. The Hospital for Sick Children, June 4 2010. Retrieved November 1 2017. http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/HealthandWellness/Nutrition/Pages/Appetite-Slump-in-Toddlers.aspx.
- “Toddler – Food and Feeding.” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved November 1 2017. https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/HALF-Implementation-Guide/Age-Specific-Content/Pages/Toddler-Food-and-Feeding.aspx.