What to do if a child at age 3 is not eating well

Often a mother perceives a child’s refusal to eat as anxiety, and worries that his body is not getting enough vitamins and nutrients for growth and development. Each meal is a real test for the nervous system of both. Let’s try to figure out how to feed a “little girl” and whether it is necessary to do it.

What to do if a child at age 3 does not eat well

Different types of appetite

Everyone understands that it is impossible to live without food, but it is not always the case, as many claim, appetite comes with food.Let’s try to understand what types of appetite there are.

  1. Natural. It occurs when the body needs energy to replenish energy reserves.

  2. Selective. This type of appetite often accompanies modern people. A child, and often an adult, wants to eat cookies, but does not want to eat porridge.

The real picture of needs selective appetite gives only in early childhood. A 9-month-old baby may refuse soup in favour of dairy products because calcium is more important to him now, not because soup is unpalatable. At one year of age, for the same reason, the baby refuses meat in favor of vegetables. Just in this period, the child’s body is most important to get vegetables, fruits, cottage cheese. The child understands this at the level of intuition. But if children at age 3 refuse mashed vegetables and demand sausage and chocolate, it’s not a matter of selective appetite. The problem lies in the pedagogical error of the parents, and there is no need to look for the cause in the disease and take tests for examination.

Is it really a bad appetite?

Before making the decision to increase your appetite, you need to figure out if it is really bad. Perhaps it’s only a mother and grandmother think that the baby should eat more. Maybe he gets enough of the amount of food he eats during the day.

Parents don’t always consider such a thing as a jumpy appetite; it can go from one phase to another. The most active growth of a child occurs in the first year of life, so the appetite must meet his or her needs. In the second year of life, the baby is actively learning to walk, learn about the world, and his energy is expended to the maximum. Accordingly, the baby needs more food to replenish it.

At the age of 3, children enter a stage of stabilization. They don’t have active growth, so their nutrient needs are somewhat reduced. They do not need as much food. The next jump in growth and, accordingly, appetite is expected by the age of 5 or 6. Parents need to understand that the child at different periods of life has a different appetite. If he is active and moving, developing within normal limits, then let him eat as much as he wants. When your baby gets hungry, he will definitely let you know.

Causes for loss of appetite

What to do if a child at age 3 doesn't eat well

Loss of appetite is a condition in which a child does not want to eat anything, even though he has not eaten for a long time. If he misses one meal, with no snacks at all, no cookies, juice or yogurt, and at the next meal he swallows just a couple of spoonfuls. Here we are talking about a loss of appetite. In this case, parents need to understand what caused the behavior.

All causes of poor appetite are conditionally divided into 2 groups: caused by health conditions and character traits. Observe the child’s well-being; it is likely that the reluctance to eat is due to malaise. He may not want the food that is offered to him. In addition, we should not forget that 3 years – it’s a crisis age, when children tend to do everything against the.

The causes of poor appetite should be sought in the case when the baby does not have a selective refusal to eat, that is, he misses one meal, but willingly agrees to another with the proposed other dish. If the child does not eat anything during the day, then you need to get a consultation with your pediatrician, perhaps the cause lies in some disease.

The main reasons for loss of appetite at age 3:

  1. Individual intolerance to the food offered. It often happens that a child refuses some food, say, dairy products, at an intuitive level. Later it turns out that he is lactose intolerant. By refusing to eat milk porridge, the baby was protecting himself from something that would harm his body.

  2. Reaction to a new food. Usually at the age of 3 children are wary and distrustful of new food. It is as if they are afraid of everything unknown. And the more persistently they are offered a new dish, the greater will be the resistance. In this case, parents should be tolerant and not force the baby to eat in any way.

  3. Maybe the food offered seems too hot or too cold to the child, or has the wrong consistency.

  4. Offered large portions. Often, too many portions are given and this frightens the child. The baby is full, having eaten half a bowl of soup, and then there is a side dish with a cutlet. You need to find out what the child’s one meal a day is. Maybe the child is not being cranky and is already full. Don’t put too much on. It is better, if the child is not full, to offer him more.

  5. Lack of a daily routine. Already in the second year of life, you need to develop children’s food routine, food instincts. Perhaps not much time has passed between meals, and the child simply has not had time to get hungry.

  6. Snacking on sweets. If the child is fed cookies, juice or fruit between meals, it is likely that when it is time for a meal, he/she simply won’t want to eat.

  7. Little energy is expended. If the baby does not show motor activity, sits on the floor and enthusiastically deals with the construction set, then he is not wasting energy, he does not want to eat.

Perhaps the child is in a bad mood, feeling anxious, or something is bothering him. In connection with the nervous turmoil he loses his appetite.

When to consult a doctor

What to do if a child at age 3 is not eating well

If a child eagerly sits down to eat, then abruptly lays off the spoon, it means that something is bothering him. It is possible that he begins to manifest stomatitis or sore throat, or can suffer from gastritis. Often the cause of poor appetite is the presence of parasites in the body, although it is often the opposite, that the baby is infected with worms and thus has an excessive appetite.Situations that serve as a reason to go to the doctor:

  1. Weight loss without any apparent reason.

  2. No weight gain for six months.

  3. Diarrhoea.

  4. Fever.

  5. Vomiting after a meal.

If your child refuses to eat, look to see if he has inflamed gums, micro traumas in the mouth. Children at age 3 often “pull” toys, hands into their mouths, he may have scratched his gums, palate. It is not surprising then, because eating becomes unpleasant.

Pay attention to how the baby breathes, whether his nose is stuffy. Maybe he’s starting to get sick. After all, the child’s body begins to feel negative changes earlier. If children refuse to eat, perhaps a defense mechanism “turns on”. Hungry body is easier to fight infection or viruses, he does not need to waste energy on digestion. In this case, it is especially important not to force-feed. The child is doing well. But, if the baby has a chronic illness, the lack of appetite is a negative symptom. Well-known pediatrician Komarovsky argues that a sick child should not be fed until he himself asks for it. But providing water is the main task of the mother.

How to feed a child who does not eat much

If you have been examined, the pediatrician said that everything is normal, reduced appetite is not caused by internal body problems, now the mother has a difficult task, to cope with external causes. We have studied the recommendations of child psychologists and, based on them, give the following advice:

There is no need to put pressure on the child.He is very aware of his parents’ emotions, especially if they are negative. Under-eaten meals should be treated with calmness. Not eating means he does not want to eat. If this is not a problem for the child’s body, then there is no need to sound the alarm, no need to set a goal: to feed the baby at all costs. Did not eat now, do not allow any snacks, will eat at the next meal.

  1. Don’t force-feed your child, don’t threaten him or her with “if you don’t eat it, I’ll pour the food on your head”. You should not break the child’s will. Psychologists have noted that children who were forced to eat everything at the table, grow up to be weak, weak-willed people.

  2. Don’t scold a child for a bad appetite, a stain during a meal, a spilled compote or crumbled bread. Anything that causes negative emotions at the table is subsequently a source of poor appetite.

  3. If the baby closes his mouth, don’t force food, no matter if it’s a persuasion, “for mommy, for daddy, for the red car”, or threats, “if you don’t eat it, you won’t go to watch cartoons”.

  4. Don’t punish your baby with food.

It is important for parents to learn the difference between fretfulness and fullness. Do not be aggressive, offer sweet snacks only after the main meal. Your child will come up and ask for food when he is hungry.

Make a beautiful tradition out of the meal.If the same rituals are repeated day after day, your baby feels safe. Make a nice tradition out of an ordinary meal or breakfast; put a colorful tablecloth on the table, ask the child to put up beautiful dishes and napkins. Let him participate in the preparations. Try to eat dinner as a family. Remove distracting objects, turn off the TV. Make a tradition of talking over dinner, discussing the day before, and making plans. Let the baby see that eating is a calm, pleasant event. He will enjoy being a part of a family meal.

Set a positive example.If you want your child to have the right approach to nutrition, then do the same.

  1. Only eat when you are hungry.

  2. Try to make sure he eats at the same time.

  3. Have small portions.

  4. Avoid snacking.

  5. Limit the amount of time you eat, no more than 20 minutes.

  6. Favour a variety of foods.

  7. Watch out for enough vegetables, meat, fruit.

  8. Cook according to the age of the child.

Pay attention to eating habits. You can’t expect your child to eat right if you yourself snack on tea and cookies or chocolate bars.

Try laying out the same porridge beautifully on the plate, decorating it with berries.It does not take long to decorate a familiar dish nicely. Your child will love sausages with spaghetti hair, or cottage cheese mice with cheese tails and raisin eyes. You can get your own beautiful dishes for your baby. He ate everything on the plate, a funny picture appeared on the bottom.

Look for compromises.The baby refuses vegetables, leave it, offer a side dish with fish or meat, doesn’t want to eat stewed foods, bake the same foods. Take into account your baby’s taste preferences. He has the right to do so. There are times when the child just “gobbles up” pasta and a cutlet, while refusing to eat potatoes and fish. This will pass – let him eat what he likes.

Most importantly, have patience. Such caprices with food are not eternal. The task of parents is to form good eating habits. And here you can’t do without your own example.

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