How to Increase Appetite in Children

You set the table for lunch or dinner for the entire family. You have tried hard to make healthy meals. The lunch begins and after some time, you see that your child has not even finished half of his serving. He is picking at his food and seems to be lost in his own world. You reprimand him and force him to finish his meal quickly. You will surely be bothered if this is a daily scene in your home during meals. Your child is clearly suffering from loss of appetite.

There are several reasons that can lead to lack of appetite in children. If your child keeps on munching snacks or candies after every hour, he will not have an appetite to have a full meal. Having soft drinks or aerated drinks in between meals also fills up the stomach quickly, causing a drop in appetite. Secondly, lack of physical activity or having a sedentary lifestyle is another reason for causing loss of appetite. Thirdly, suffering from any disease or disorder, or even common cold is another reason why the child eats less. Let us now take a look at the tips on increasing appetite in children.

Tips to Increase Your Child’s Appetite

If loss of appetite in your child is due to any sickness (like due to common cold or flu), it will subside as soon as the illness is treated. On the other hand, if it is not caused due to any serious problems, you can undertake the following methods to increase appetite.

  • Lack of energy is one of the common reasons for causing lack of appetite in children. Therefore, in order to increase appetite, children should be encouraged to undertake some physical activity or sports. Only when the calories are burned, will the child feel hungry and eat more. Toddlers should also be encouraged to play indoors or outdoors every day.
  • The second most important tip is to have meals at regular times every day. The human body adjusts itself to regular schedule of eating and sleeping. Therefore, if the child has meals at specific time daily, he will feel hungry at that time. You, as a parent, should set an example of having meal at regular time so that the child will follow.
  • You should not encourage the child to consume snacks like chips, cookies, soft drinks, etc. 1 hour before meals as it suppresses appetite.
  • You should not force your child to have large amounts of food. Start with smaller serving of food, let the child finish it and then serve more.
  • The type, quality and appearance of food will also play an important role in making the child eat meals heartily. If your child does not eat properly, try to include at least one food item of his choice in the meals. Have pizza or pasta for dinner, but, make sure to include a lot of vegetables in it.
  • The appearance and texture of food should also be made attractive to increase your child’s appetite. For e.g., cut sandwiches in different shapes, make pasta in different styles to tempt your child to eat.
  • Meal times should also be made enjoyable, and preferably the entire family should eat together. You should avoid scolding the child at dinner table; rather encourage him to follow example of others and finish his meal.
  • Lastly, if your child insists on eating unhealthy food, relent for sometime as it is better for the child to eat something than nothing at all. However, make sure that the unhealthy food is accompanied with some healthy food.

These methods will definitely help in increasing appetite in children. Lastly, note that if none of these methods work, consult the doctor to know the cause of the condition and get it treated immediately. Take care!