But my Child is Never Hungry!
Sometimes I have parents worry that their child never seems to be hungry or seems to eat “like a bird”.
If you have a healthy child who is following their growth curve and gaining weight adequately, I am not usually concerned. However, there may be things that are affecting their appetite for healthy foods or may be impacting their hunger at meal time. Here are 3 tips I have for the child that never seems to be hungry.
- Avoid caloric or sweetened beverages on a regular basis. The healthiest drink is water. Especially for picky children, I recommend avoiding juice, milk or other beverages besides water between meals. Children who are very in touch with their hunger and satiety signals may become sated and not be hungry for real food when they consume these beverages on a regular basis.
- Offer food if the child is hungry between meals, but provide healthy choices and eliminate distractions. There doesn't have to be a difference between “snack” food and meal food. If your child tends to be ravenous by 4 and the family usually eats at 6:30, then consider allowing the child to eat his/her dinner early. Or another option is to provide fruits and vegetables between meals in the whole form, not juices to tide the child over until dinner time.
- Respect your child’s intuition and metabolism. Toddlers are notorious for having days when they eat nonstop and other days when they are hardly interested in food. They are likely listening to their hunger signals. There are also some children who eat more at some meals than others; this is completely normal. If your child is otherwise growing normally and is healthy, there is no need to worry. Remember to never force a child to eat.
If you have a child who is losing weight, has symptoms of chronic illness, or you suspect could have an eating disorder, please go see a medical professional right away. Otherwise, try these tips and see if they help.