As a parent or caretaker, you may notice a decrease in your child's appetite. This may not be cause for alarm as many children experience changes in appetite. Some children eat more during the winter months and less when the weather is warm as they would rather be playing outdoors. Other children may be finicky eaters and have a decrease in appetite because they are not excited about the food they are being served. In many cases this is normal; however, if a decrease in appetite is accompanied by weight loss or symptoms of illness, seeking medical attention from a pediatrician is recommended.
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Your child may be developing a cold or fever, which can cause significant loss of appetite. If this occurs, provide him with plenty of fluids such as soups, broth and water to keep him hydrated. The easier the food is to digest, the higher the chance is that he will eat it. Allowing your child to eat an abundance of sweets such as candy and soda can also lead to appetite loss. Take into consideration that the child simply may not be hungry and while you should encourage him to eat, do not force him as this can lead to a further decrease in food consumption.
Precautions and Solutions
Eating too many snacks between meals and having a sporadic eating schedule contribute to appetite loss. Some children do not like eating in large quantities or heavy foods. It can cause them to feel full quicker, causing them to have no desire for food. Allowing your child to pick his meal from a menu of healthy foods that you prepare may help. Also, cut back on snacking between meals, as one small snack should suffice and establish a regular eating schedule. Be conscious of the types of food that you prepare and how much you are serving; sandwiches and finger foods may be more enjoyable for him. Remember to acknowledge that he has finished his meal. If the child feels a sense of accomplishment, he is more likely to continue this behavior.
Multi-vitamins and appetite stimulants may be an option for your child. Many come in liquid form and are designed specifically for children. Vitamins C, D, zinc, calcium and B12 are all essential to a child's growth and development. Consult with your doctor for a professional recommendation on the the best vitamin for your child.
Stress can have many negative effects on the body, including loss of appetite. If a child is troubled due to bullying at school or difficulty with certain subjects, for example, he can become stressed and experience severe loss of appetite. Trying to cope with the loss of a loved one can also contribute to this problem. Depression, psychological and emotional stress can hinder a child in many ways, so do not be afraid to ask questions and offer advice. Encourage him to participate in sports, as physical activity helps relieve stress and acts as an appetite stimulant.
If your child is taking medication, consult with your pediatrician about lowering the dosage. ADHD medications, for example, can cause a disruption in a child's appetite. According to ADDitute magazine, psycho-stimulants such as Ritalin can cause a decrease in appetite within 30 minutes of consumption. Talk openly with your pediatrician about what you are experiencing and follow the professional recommendation.