How to Increase a Baby's Appetite

Babies have only a few needs -- food, shelter, sleep and, of course, lots of love. The essentials are basic, but parents often fret over their baby's eating habits. Fortunately, healthy babies are very good at communicating hunger. As long as your baby has regained his birth weight by three weeks after delivery, gains at least 1 pound a month for the first four months and doesn't make a dramatic drop on the growth chart, there's no need to worry, according to Johns Hopkins University. Do what you can to make feedings relaxing and pleasurable for your baby. Discuss concerns about nutrition and weight with your pediatrician.

Mother speaking to baby in feeding chair. (Image: SW Productions/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Step 1

Change the feeding routine. Babies have highly developed internal hunger and thirst regulatory mechanisms. Your baby will let you know when he needs to eat by sticking out his tongue, puckering his lips, opening and closing his mouth, nuzzling against you or crying. Rather than fight to have your child eat at set times, watch him closely and offer the bottle or breast when he seems interested.

Step 2

Experiment with environment. Some babies are very distracted by light and noise and will fight feedings even when they are hungry. If your baby rejects the breast or bottle and strains to look around, try turning off the lights and turn on a fan for white noise. On the other hand, your little one may enjoy seeing your face and interacting with you while he eats. Find what works best for your child.

Step 3

Change positions. If your baby is breast-feeding, he may fight nursing because he has difficulty with the direction of the milk stream or the shape of your nipples. Try holding him differently. For instance, you might switch from a cradle to a football hold. Consult with a lactation specialist to ensure your child is latching properly.

Step 4

Play with your baby. Tummy time with toys is a good activity for little babies. As your child gets older, get on the floor and crawl with him or go outside to play. An active child is likely to eat more.

Things You'll Need

  • Fan, if needed

  • Toys

Tip

A healthy newborn averages eight to 12 nursing sessions or 14 to 31 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period. By age 6 months, feedings have dropped dramatically to six to eight sessions per day. The baby still averages 24 to 49 ounces, but a parent may worry that the baby's appetite has diminished because he is eating less often. In fact, your little one has just become more efficient at getting the food he needs.

At around 6 months, your baby will start solid foods. One or 2 teaspoons of fruits, vegetables or cereal is a perfectly normal serving for a 6- to 8-month-old. Offer more if your baby opens his mouth and smacks his lips, but don't force him to eat.

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