How to increase a toddler's appetite

How to increase a toddler's appetite

June 10, 2019

Most toddlers are hard to keep up with because they are mischievous, and have a lot of energy. Therefore, it's disheartening when your toddler is doing so much and not eating. If you are experiencing this with your tot, do not be alarmed. Here are some Do's and Don'ts of feeding a toddler you can use to improve the situation.

  1. Set a good example

Since your toddler is following you around all the time, why not put that attention to good use? It will likely change their attitude at the table when eating.

Make sure you eat something nutritious as your child watches. He/she will most likely be in your face asking for some. Eat fruit salad, have some fish fingers, drink some chocolate milk or yogurt. The focus should be on sharing your joy on delicious and nutritious foods.

  1. Do not force feed

Purchase a variety of healthy foods and let your child choose some favorites. Then you can do meal planning with their preferences in mind. Most toddlers are independent, and they want to feel they have picked something for themselves.

When you allow your child to pick foods or snacks, they are likely to eat them often. Offer healthy options such as sweet potato fries, bananas, some greens like broccoli, carrots, and cucumbers, among others. 

  1. Portion control

Instead of giving your child a big bowl or plate of food, why don't you give him or her small portions? Toddlers are picky eaters and often shy away from large meals but will readily eat food in small portions.  It's also easier on their digestive systems and prevents discomfort from a full belly.

  1. Associate food with great experiences

If a toddler associates a type of food with a lousy experience, it ruins it for them. Food preferences are often created this way.

Offer foods when your child is in a good mood, in a chill atmosphere. If they are cranky, they don't have to eat they can do it later. When they are relaxed, offer them a banana, a sandwich, some fish fingers, etc. as they wander around. By the end of the day, your child will be well-fed.

  1. Eat together

When you eat as a group of friends or family, your toddler will likely join in.  You can also seat your child with some older kids so he/she can mimic their actions as they eat. Most times, when kids are in the presence of others, it makes mealtime fun, and they eat well.

  1. Food layout

Make your child's food pretty with lots of colors and shapes. Use cute cups and plates with pictures of their favorite characters. Your child will likely enjoy eating fun-food plated in interesting ways and eat a lot.  A fun trick is to use cookie cutters to cut food such as pancakes into different shapes. There are a ton of videos and pictures to get ideas about making food fun and entertaining.  Start by copying easy ones and enjoy the fun experience with your toddler.

  1. Aim for one nutritious meal

Depending on when your child is in their best mood, sneak in one great meal a day. Remember, it's more about their needs than wants. They may want to eat snacks all day, but they need at least one healthy meal.

Research on nutrient-dense foods, prepare healthy meals and give your child these foods at least once a day. That way, even if they eat little, they get lots of nutrients to make them healthy.

  1. Keep them active

It's a good idea to engage your child in fun activities every day. Let your child dance, play with the dog, go out for fun in the park, or spend time at the beach. When kids are active, it increases their appetite, improves their mood, and allows them to sleep soundly. Try it!

  1. Check for other problems

Sometimes there may be other problems why your toddler avoids foods. Try and investigate since you know your child better than anyone. Keep a food journal if necessary. It could be constipation, and they may need more water. Maybe he/ she is ill and needs a doctor. Taking a close look before you get harsh or despair will give you some useful answers.

These are some do's and don'ts you can use to help your toddler eat better. Please do not be hard on yourself or your child. Things generally get better as they grow older. Remember that food is an enjoyable experience meant to be shared as a family, be flexible and have fun!


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