How do I stimulate my child's appetite?

Some children devour their food while others never seem to be hungry. If your child doesn't eat a lot but is strong and healthy, don't worry – everybody has its own needs. However, if he suddenly loses his appetite, sometimes a few changes to your routine can help focus his interest on eating.

Eating meets children's nutritional requirements but also their emotional needs. When babies lose their appetite the reason may be physical (coming down with something, feeling upset, etc.) but it may also be a call for psychological attention (difficulty adapting, jealously, lack of affection, etc.). The important thing is not to panic and to calmly let the situation resolve itself if it is temporary. If it continues, as well as seeing your paediatrician, you can use some of the following strategies:

• Eating with your child: Sometimes this is difficult, especially with very young children. However, if the family eats the same food and, if possible, at the same time every day, your child will enjoy eating more and find mealtime less stressful.

Follow an eating routine: There is no greater appetite stimulant than setting a time to eat, eating at the same time every day and, if the child is old enough to understand, having a preset menu. Also, always eat in the same place, whether this is the kitchen, the dining room or somewhere else.

• Don't use distractions: Television, tablets, games, books, singing – all of these things will occasionally lure your child into eating absently but in the long-term, they work against appetite as they don't let your child focus.

Monitor snacking between meals: Children's hunger works differently to adults. An appetizer stimulates an adult's appetite but satisfies the appetite of a child. It is preferable to bring a meal forward rather than give your child something to tide him over because later, at mealtime, he will be full.

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