My Child is Not Eating
Around age two or three, your toddler’s growth slows down, and his appetite follows. It’s no coincidence that this is right around the time that picky eating begins.
This is a common reason why your child won’t eat. This goes for school-age kids too—they are steady growers and their appetite stays fairly steady. Thinking that they will be fast growers at this age is simply not true.
It’s not out of the norm for toddlers to be picky eaters, as this phase is part of the developmental phase nearly all children pass through. You can make this phase drag out by nagging your child to eat, bribing him with dessert, or taking away privileges (or food) if your child won’t eat.
3. Your Child Experiences Too Much Pressure
Research shows that children who are pushed to taste food or take another bite may eat less well and less healthfully. Or they may do the opposite, and eat really well—beyond their appetite, and perhaps too much.
If your child is in a picky eating phase, pressuring her may shut down her appetite, causing early fullness. Nagging your child to eat often gets the same results.
Some children don’t eat well with food allergy, especially if they have multiple food allergies. With potentially many food restrictions and diet limitations, these children may be bored with their daily diet and eat less well.
The taste of bitter is heightened in some children, especially for the super-taster and can result in selective eating, especially of vegetables. Pushing veggies may worsen the situation.
Your child may be leery of certain textures, like mushy, wet or slippery foods, and avoid them. Or she may be sensitive to the appearance or smell of food. Sensitivities to food can limit the diet, leading to poor eating and nutrition.
Your hot dog loving preschooler may be on a food jag, getting stuck on a few favorite foods. This can appear like “not eating,” but most likely your child is eating enough, just not enough variety of food, and perhaps, nutrients.
When your child fills up on snacks, he or she simultaneously fills up his or her belly. This can easily lead to eating poorly at meals.
Some kids fill up on food, while others fill their bellies with juice or milk. Any of these are filling and can interrupt your child’s appetite for meals. The pitfall with the snacker is the lack of, or limitations around, nutrients.
Your child or teen may try to cut back on eating to lose weight, emulate their peers, experiment, or do so out of body dissatisfaction. Disordered eating, like skipping meals, cutting out food groups, or dieting, may lead to an eating disorder.
According to a 2011 study published in The Archives of General Psychiatry, the rates of eating disorders among over 10,000 teens aged 13 to 18 years were: anorexia 0.3%; bulimia 0.9%; binge eating 1.6%; sub-threshold anorexia 0.8%; and sub-threshold binge eating disorder 2.5%.10. Your Child has Too Many Distractions
Your child may be easily distracted by TV or toys at the table, and this ultimately may have a negative impact on eating. It’s best to let your child focus on food and eating at the table—he can get back to playing or TV time later.
At the end of a long day, your child may be too tired to eat. This may be true with young athletes and toddlers, or the child who has had a busy day of events and school.
The good news is that most children are good at making up the difference in their food consumption when one meal is less than stellar, eating more at the next meal or snack.
When your child is sick she tends to eat less well, mainly due to reduced appetite. This is generally not a worry, as the appetite comes back when she starts to feel better. Preventing dehydration is the most important aspect of managing your child’s illness.