Adults or kids, when we fall ill, we lose our appetite. But there are times when parents struggle with their child’s appetite even if they are not ill. They may come up with excuses to skip meals or they simply refuse to eat foods cooked at home. Their body goes through growth and development during this stage, so you have to make sure that they get all the essential nutrients. If your little one is a picky eater, let us tell you how to increase a child’s appetite.
Children often lose their appetite when they are sick, but there other causes too, says general physician Dr Sanjay Singh.
• Anxiety, stress or any emotional issue can affect your child’s appetite.
• During growth periods, appetite may temporarily decrease.
• Irregular meals or picky eating.
• Conditions like food allergies or digestive issues can impact appetite.
• Being inactive may reduce hunger.
• Home environment and meal time dynamics can influence appetite.
• Children’s taste preferences can affect what they are willing to eat.
• Changes in routine can disrupt eating habits.
To fix your child’s appetite, you can try the following tricks!
Spinach and bitter gourd are very nutritious, but cooking one or two vegetables almost every day will make your child turn away from food. Provide a diverse range of nutritious foods to make meals more appealing, says the expert.
Right from breakfast to lunch to snacks and dinner, you need to have a schedule. Consistent meal and snack times can help to regulate appetite.
If you are coming back from office in the evening, at least try to have dinner with your family. Eating together promotes a positive atmosphere around food.
Sometimes meal times can be stressful, especially if you choose the moment to discuss poor performance in school. Make meal times enjoyable and stress-free so that your child doesn’t avoid eating.
Children often mimic their parents’ eating habits, says Dr Singh. So, make sure you don’t skip meals or eat only unhealthy foods.
Watching TV and eating? It is time to give up this habit, as minimising screen time and other distractions during meals can make your child focus on food.
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Eating snacks in between lunch and dinner is fine, but too many snacks can spoil a child’s appetite for meals.
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Involving children in food preparation can make them more interested in eating.
You want your child to eat foods full of nutrients, but don’t force them to eat all foods. You need to respect their likes and dislikes when it comes to food.
Before you give supplements to increase your child’s appetite, weigh in the pros and cons.
• Supplements can provide essential nutrients if your child has deficiencies.
• Supplements may help during periods of low appetite due to illness or other factors.
• Some supplements can have adverse effects if not used correctly. For example, excessive vitamin D supplement intake can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting and weakness.
• Supplements may hide medical conditions that require treatment.
• Relying solely on supplements isn’t a sustainable approach to improving appetite.
Supplements to increase appetite in children should only be used under the guidance of a doctor and as a complement to a balanced diet.