My friend was telling me about her 2-year-old daughter. Her fussiness towards food gives the mom a headache every day. The little girl is not interested in fruits, cereals, or vegetables. Instead, she loves the deep-fried items like sev, chips and namkeen. “Those deep-fried snacks are the only eatables she is interested in. She doesn’t seem to be hungry at all. God knows why. I am really worried” told this mom.
Most of the parents are not sure about how to increase the baby’s appetite. Well in this post, I will give you detailed information about low appetite in babies, toddlers, and the foods which are appetite boosters.
Causes of low appetite in babies, toddlers, and kids:
There can be many reasons for poor appetite in babies and toddlers. Fever, cold, and cough are the main culprits.
Even though the body recovers from fever or cold, the digestion process takes a bit longer to get back in track, resulting in tastelessness and low appetite.
Let’s see the other reasons for less appetite in babies, toddlers, and kids.
- Low level of Zinc
According to Science, low appetite has been linked to Zinc deficiency in your body. Zinc produces hydrochloric acid which is required for proper digestion of food. A low level of Zinc produces less HCI which leads to poor appetite.
You can increase the levels of Zinc by providing chicken, wheat bran, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds in your little one’s diet.
- Unbalanced Agni or digestion
According to Ayurveda, the ‘Pakwagni’ or the fire helps us to burn the food in the tummy and convert it into energy required by the body. Indigestion, gas and flatulence are all caused due to imbalance in this Agni.
In babies and toddlers usually, the Agni or digestion process goes seemingly slow due to illnesses like fever, cold, or cough.
- Appetite slump
In toddlers, there can be a constant weight for about 3-4 months. Their growth has slowed down; calorie requirement is less during those months and hence low appetite results.
- Failure to thrive
Babies can also have a constant weight or no increase in weight for a few months. It’s known as ‘failure to thrive’ which is again caused as a result of infections, fever or any other serious illnesses.
- Inadequate gaps between meals
When food is given without a proper gap of 3 to 4 hours, it won’t digest properly. In such a case, the baby or toddler won’t feel hungry for a long time.
- Whole grains
Whole grains can make the tummies of babies and toddler full for long as it is rich in fiber. It might also cause low appetite.
- Too much of milk/ dairy products
You read it right. Too much of cow’s milk or formula can result in low appetite among babies and toddlers. In case of toddlers, limit the cow’s milk or dairy products to 2-3 cups a day.
Top 8 tips to improve baby appetite naturally
When it comes to healthy eating your baby can become very picky. Moreover, with such a small appetite, your child often struggles with eating or might find the food unpleasant. It will lead your child to find excuses to skip meals. At the same time, it is also important to ensure nutrition consumption during their growth years. During the phase of physical and mental development, your child requires all the necessary nutrients in their food. However, it becomes quite difficult, especially when they have a small appetite and plenty of excuses to skip their meal. To get rid of this problem, there are several natural tips to improve your baby’s appetite.
Here are several ways to improve baby appetite naturally:
- Make breakfast compulsory:
Breakfast is the most important part of the day that helps our body to function effectively throughout the day. Breakfast is equally important to everyone i.e. kids, adults, toddlers, and infants. After a long night break, breakfast works best by providing the energy for your kid to keep them active for the rest of the day. A balanced and healthy breakfast will help to improve baby appetite naturally.
- Ensure iron in the food:
Like other nutrients, iron also plays a major role in boosting your child’s appetite. Children starting from the age of 1 to 9 need 7 to 10 milligrams of iron every day while those more than 10 require 8 milligrams of iron on a daily basis. You should make iron-rich foods compulsory in your house to improve the baby’s appetite naturally as well as other family member’s appetites. Some of the iron-rich food include eggs, spinach, lentils, and much more. However, according to studies, a lack of iron in food can result in anemia among toddlers. To avoid this, make your little one habitual of iron-rich foods.
- Give them water 15 minutes before the meal:
According to studies, drinking water before the meal helps in activating the digestive juices and enzymes and will help your baby eat better. Prefer offering water to your child 10 minutes before the meals and even before drinking milk. It is a scientifically proven method that helps to improve a baby’s appetite naturally and boosts the digestion of your child.
- Offer more zinc-rich food:
Similar to iron-rich foods, zinc is one of the most important minerals that help in boosting your child’s immunity. In addition to this, iron-rich food promotes regulating the functioning of various antioxidants, growth, and development. However, if zinc is not provided to the babies, then it can lead to a deficiency of zinc and result in several health problems including weight loss, reduced appetite, infections, and diarrhea. To get rid of this, feed your baby more of the zinc-rich food such as spinach, nuts, beans, pumpkin sweets, and mushrooms.
- Feed them every two hours:
Offering food to babies every two hours helps to stimulate their appetite and eat better. As children need a lot of energy to play, study, and be active throughout the day, three times of big meals may not help them. Moreover, if your child is a fussy eater, try and give them a meal every two hours and offer light snacks or nuts between the meals. Giving them small portions of the meal often will help in boosting their appetite and remain energetic throughout the day.
- Offer snacks as a meal:
Light snacks can be a good meal for your child to keep them active all day and improve baby appetite naturally. Instead of offering chips, and cookies to your child, prefer giving them a sandwich, cereal, or muesli that will offer them all the necessary nutrients and improve their appetite. Try these healthy replacements of snacks to make your child a better eater.
- Include peanuts in their food:
Peanuts are not any ordinary nuts. It holds protein building and appetite boosting properties. It is often called the king of nuts because it is associated with offering various health benefits. Ensure to give peanuts to your child either in the form of peanut butter or by simply frying them to make it a crispy snack. Fried peanuts are a good option when your child demands a crispy snack.
- Offer favorite foods:
Like every adult, toddlers also have their likes and dislikes when it comes to food. If your child is constantly avoiding to eat a particular food or fusses over every meal, then he might be wanting his favorite food. Offering good food, in the beginning, can help in boosting your child’s appetite and get their metabolism running. Once they become a good eater, then you can try on giving other foods.
20 Foods to increase appetite in babies, toddlers and kids:
Here are the 20 foods that can help to increase appetite in babies, toddlers and kids naturally.
Ajwain or omam is an excellent appetite booster. You can give it to babies of 6 months and above in the form of ajwain water, parathas or as the tempering or tadka in food.
You can also refer to the 4 ways by which ajwain can be used to treat cold and cough in babies and kids.
Hing, kayam or asafoetida is the anti-flatulent known to increase appetite in babies and toddlers. You can add hing to baby foods like khichdi, butter milk, khadi or rasam.
You can also read how asafoetida worked wonders for my daughter’s gas problems.
Ashtachoornam is an Ayurvedic powder made of ‘ashta’ or eight herbs. It can help to increase the appetite in toddlers and kids.
You can mix Ashtachoornam in warm ghee and rice for your toddler. It can also be mixed with buttermilk or warm water for your toddler every day.
Ashtachoornam can be started from the age of 1.
#4. Basil or tulasi
Basil or tulasi can help to improve digestion process and increase appetite in babies above 8 months.
Cinnamon can increase appetite in babies, toddlers, kids and even adults. It contains ‘hydroxy chalcone’ which increases appetite.
From the 7th month, you can add cinnamon powder in porridge, mashes and kheer for babies and kids. For older kids, you can add cinnamon powder in homemade cakes, toasts, pastries, and hot chocolate drinks.
Chyawanprash is an effective remedy for loss of appetite in kids. It can also help in the proper digestion.
Chyawanprash can be given for kids of 6 years and above.
#7. Rajanyadi Choornam
Rajanyadi Choornam has turmeric as the main ingredient. It is very beneficial for worm infection, constipation, low appetite, indigestion and improving strength in babies. The quantity can be 1-4 gm mixed with ghee before meals twice a day.
It can be started for babies from 6th month.
Ginger can help to increase appetite in toddlers and kids.
Crush ginger with a pinch of salt. Add in the buttermilk or chaas given to your toddler every afternoon. This can help to increase the fire/agni which can improve the appetite in toddlers above 1 year.
You can also read about dry ginger coffee for babies and toddlers during cold and cough.
Musthaarishtam is a tonic that can help to increase appetite in babies, kids and adults as well. It can be started for toddlers above 1 year.
Oregano is another spice that can improve appetite in toddlers and kids. Add in homemade pizzas, breads, omelets, and pasta.
Rasam is a herbal soup made in South India. It can boost appetite in babies and kids as it eases the digestion process while boosting immunity.
Rasam can be given for babies of 7 months and above.
Thyme can also boost appetite in babies and kids. You can add in rice and dals.
Peanuts contain zinc. As I mentioned before, zinc aids digestion and improves appetite. However, avoid giving peanuts to kids younger than a year. This is because peanuts can cause an allergic reaction in some kiddos. When you introduce peanuts, make sure you follow the 4 or 7-day rule, to ensure that your child isn’t allergic to it.
If not, you can use peanuts in chutneys, give roasted peanuts as a snack, give it in the form of chikki or even give some peanut butter for them to relish.
#14. Carrot juice
This is something my mother has tried for me. Apart from the countless benefits that carrot has to offer, stimulating appetite is one thing that made my mom fall in love with it. A small glass of carrot juice half an hour before meals helped to increase hunger. Try it out to see the results for yourself.
#15. Pumpkin seeds
This may look a bit confusing to you, as pumpkin seeds are used to curb hunger as well! So wondering how it found its way to this list? The answer is – zinc. All you have to do is, limit the amount of pumpkin seeds that you give your child. Too much can make your child feel too full to eat anything else.
#16. Curd with mint
Drinking too many glasses of milk can hamper your child’s appetite. If your child’s appetite is low, then skip the glass of milk and give some curd instead. Add some mint leaves and blend well. Season it with some salt and give it to your child. You can give it to kids older than 8-9 months.
#17. Curd with fenugreek powder
Swap the mint for a pinch of roasted fenugreek powder and you can see a change in your child’s appetite.
If you happen to stay someplace where you can get your hands on this yummy fruit, then rejoice, for peaches are good to boost the appetite.
This is another fruit that can be given to your kid that will help to boost the appetite. The best part about plums is that, most kids love the taste.
#20. Lemon juice
If your kid loves juice, then give him a glass of lemon juice. This also helps to boost the appetite.
You can consult your pediatrician if your little one’s low appetite seems to continue for months. The pediatrician might prescribe Aptivate syrup or any other appetite booster medicines.
However please DO NOT try these medicine without the consent of any pediatrician. In the case of Ayurvedic medicines, it’s better to consult an Ayurvedic doctor before starting any tonics or choorna as he will give you the right quantity to be given for your baby as per the age and physical attributes.
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Hope you liked this post on foods to increase appetite naturally in babies, toddlers, and kids. Is your little one fussy about eating foods? What do you do to increase his/her appetite? Share with me in the comments.
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