Factors affecting appetite:
A child’s appetite may vary a great deal. Nobody’s appetite is always the same. Especially flu and other illnesses curb hunger but the appetite gets better once the child gets better. Allergies and stomach ailments may stop the child from having certain foods. Mostly children are a bit cautious of new foods. It may take up to 10 to 15 tries and the proportions may be very small.
- Adults ensure healthy and tasty food and balanced diet for the child. The child, however, decides how much she eats and she should not be forced to have more than she wants.
- By not eating or being very demanding a child can compel others to do as she wants them to.
- Mealtimes are also interaction, a child’s mealtime challenges may be difficult to cope with.
- The atmosphere at mealtimes has a lot to do with a child’s eating; how much the child eats and which foodstuffs she will learn to like. Remove any distraction from mealtimes; for instance, games and mobile phone.
- Adults’ consistency and example make mealtimes safe for children.
- Food limitations help to balance a child’s choices.
Tips for mealtimes:
- Keep to regular mealtimes.
- Protect the dinner table and floor around it, especially with a toddler on her second year.
- Let the child try to self-feed first and assist her only afterwards.
- Eat together, at the same time, do not ask your child to have a meal alone.
- Allow a few minutes for the child to finish their game or play before mealtime.
- If the child is cranky, calm her by talking and holding her on your lap.
- Introduce new foods gradually by giving just a bite of a new one while the rest of the meal is familiar tasty food.
- Give only a small portion at a time on the child’s plate, give seconds as necessary.
- Calm the mealtime exclusively for eating and friendly conversation.
- If the child does not eat, do not make not a big deal of it. Take the plate away with others’ plates.
If the child’s appetite is poor, the following things should be looked into:
- Is the child in good health?
- `What did the child eat during the past week?
- Is the child hungry at mealtimes? Pay attention to times when she eats at home, in day care or at school.
- Was the food unfamiliar or the taste new to her?
- Is loss of appetite part of a new developmental phase?
- Was mealtime too busy with too many distractions?
- What do the parents do if the child does not eat?
- Pushing food to her.
- Coaxing with treats or other bribes.
- Threats and “detention”.
- Arguments and bickering at dinner table.
- Comparison to other children.