Why is my toddler not eating suddenly?

Is it normal for a toddler’s appetite to slow down between the age of one and five years old?

As a mother are you constantly worried that your baby doesn’t eat enough? Or your baby is never hungry. Are you always spoon-feeding your child?

If this is your constant worry, let’s understand why this happens?

Babies gain an average of 15 pounds during their first year. After the first year, when the baby is a toddler and in preschool stage, babies normally gain four to five pounds a year. It is also normal for children in this age group to go without any weight gain for three to four months.

Again, should this be a point of concern or worry?

The answer is NO. Because during this phase, they are not growing as fast. Therefore, they need fewer calories. Hence, we assume that they have poor appetite.

In medical terms this is called ‘physiological anorexia’.

What is physiological Anorexia?

This happens approximately around 18 months of age. Most toddlers show a decreased nutritional need. Thereby resulting in a decreased appetite. This leads to picky and fussy eating.

So what controls the child’s eating habits. The amount of food a child chooses to eat is controlled by the appetite center in the brain. Most children eat as much as they need for growth and energy. As parents we tend to force feed our child assuming that the child might have vitamin deficiency. As a result she might fall sick.

Is this true? Should you force feed your child?

The answer is NO. In most cases, force feeding actually decreases a child’s appetite. You must have noticed that the more you give importance to meal time or food or force feed, the more the rejection from the child. Because, mealtime for the child has now become a punishment.

It is a natural process. You will notice that your child’s appetite will improve when they become older. And the brain automatically sends signals that they need to eat more for growth.

This happens around the age of five years old or when they are starting kindergarten.

So, how to survive this ‘baby not eating’ phase?

There are a few points to remember if you are in this kind of situation.

Make meal times pleasant. Rather than making meal time a time for struggle over food or criticism.

Second, don’t discuss how little your child eats.  At least not in front of the child.

Remember, your child will go through this fussy eating phase and over come this phase too by kindergarten stage. Most of the time the child is only doing what the body does naturally, that is, slow down the intake when body needs less energy or growth.