5 Reasons Children Don't Eat And 5 Ways To Make Them

Is your little one fussing over food all the time? There may be many reasons like illness, a power struggle or may be he is a picky eater. Let us help you decode what makes your child lose appetite.

By Ashwin Dewan  • 8 min read

5 Reasons Children Don't Eat And 5 Ways To Make Them
Little girl frowning on seeing healthy fruits

One of the most distressing and difficult things for you is to see your child refusing food. Food provides nutrition, which is essential for proper growth and development of your child. We hear about overeating in children. But, what about a child refusing to eat? Have you wondered why that happens?

The article, What to Do When Your Child Is Not Eating Anything, published in Verywell, states that it is a known fact that children are picky eaters. Rather than eat a plate of healthy vegetables, they would prefer a big, juicy burger. However, it is not normal for growing children to refuse to eat food for a long period of time. Healthy children are usually hungry every few hours. So, if your child is refusing to eat, it may be due to an underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed.

In fact, there may be several reasons why your child is not eating her food. Take a look at 5 of them.

5 reasons your child may refuse to eat

1. Medical problems

Your child may be suffering from a medical problem, such as acid reflux, severe constipation or food allergy. Often, parents relate the child’s refusal of food to her being picky and do not examine a possible medical cause for the issue.

Let’s look at the common culprits closely: Acid reflux is a condition that mainly affects babies. It impacts older children as well, at times. In most cases, children are too young express their discomfort. Their expression takes form in the denial of food. Constipation is another reason for your child not eating her food. A child who is constipated may stop eating and be unable to explain why. Food allergy is also a major cause for children avoiding food. When restrictions are made due to an allergy, the child may get bored with his fixed diet and eat less.

2. Pressure to eat

Children who are pushed to taste food and eat more may start to eat less. Never try to force feed her, scold or threaten her. Children eat when they are hungry. When a child is stressed or unhappy, he may stay away from food.

3. Food sensitivity

Sometimes, if your child refuses to eat food, it may be related to food sensitivity such as celiac disease. WebMD says celiac disease is a disorder that is triggered when people eat gluten. This makes it uncomfortable, and even painful, for your child to eat.

4. Slow growth

This is one of the normal reasons for children to refuse food. Around the age of two or three years, your child’s growth slows down and his appetite reduces. It is also around this time that he begins to choose food and becomes a picky eater.

5. Dental issues

Dental problems may be one reason why your child refuses food. A painful tooth or ulcer can be a major cause. The pain, with each bite, will force her to stop eating. You should examine your child’s tooth from time to time.

5 ways to make kids eat

There is no need to worry yourself to death if your child is not eating. It may seem a hopeless situation but there are ways by which you can make them eat…again! Here are 5 ways might just help.

1. Do not impose restrictions on food

You may want to make your child eat only healthy food. However, restricting food will only make children lose interest in eating. It may even increase the risk of them developing eating disorders later in life. Instead of trying to prohibit them from eating foods which you think are detrimental to their health, talk to your child about the healthy food options available in the form of vegetables and fruits.

2. Make a schedule

Plan an eating schedule for your child where she will be able to eat every few hours. Not only will your child be less cranky but she will develop an interest for eating as well. According to Parents, you must serve meals or light snacks every three hours. This will keep your child satiated and, at a healthy weight by normalising hunger. While the focus should primarily be on breakfast, lunch and dinner, frequent meals at regular intervals will make your child look forward to food.

3. Introduce new foods slowly

Children take time to get used to a new taste. You may have to present a food item several times before he accepts it. Try to introduce changes in food slowly. You can start by using a flavour or texture that has already been approved by your child as a bridge to new foods. For instance, if your child likes chicken nuggets due to the crunchy outer layer, you can try offering the crunchy fish stick he likes and tell him the chicken nugget will taste just as good.

4. Involve children in cooking

If your child is slightly older, letting her cook with you is one way of getting her interested in food. Children love it when they are assigned a task as it makes them feel important. Supervise while she chops vegetables, breaks eggs or kneads the dough. Not only will she enjoy this activity but she will be eager to eat what she has helped to cook.

Note: Always supervise your child closely while she is in the kitchen.

5.  Be a role model and lead by example

One of the effective ways to make children eat is to lead by example. You can eat a variety of foods while your child is watching, and new dishes once in a way. If your child sees you munching on an apple or a banana, they would want to do the same.

Remember, refusing to eat is not a behaviour that your child will exhibit for long. However, if you do not want him to miss out on vital nutrients, it is important for you to identify the reasons behind his refusal to eat and look for solutions to them.

About the author:

Written by Ashwin Dewan on 6 September 2017.

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