Skip to Content
chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up chevron-right chevron-left arrow-back star phone quote checkbox-checked search wrench info shield play connection mobile coin-dollar spoon-knife ticket pushpin location gift fire feed bubbles home heart calendar price-tag credit-card clock envelop facebook instagram twitter youtube pinterest yelp google reddit linkedin envelope bbb pinterest homeadvisor angies

benefit from.

As parents, we’ve all experienced the frustration of preparing a meal that our child devours one day, only to refuse it vehemently the next. It’s a common scenario that often leaves us scratching our heads and wondering, “What happened to their appetite?” Rest assured, fluctuations in children’s appetites are perfectly normal and actually quite common during their early years of development. As a Registered Dietitian, I’m here to shed some light on this appetite rollercoaster and provide you with strategies to navigate it with ease.


Understanding the Rollercoaster Ride


First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that children’s appetites are influenced by a variety of factors, including growth spurts, developmental milestones, taste preferences, illness and environmental cues. During periods of rapid growth, such as infancy and adolescence, children may experience increased hunger and a greater desire for food. Conversely, during times of slower growth, their appetite may diminish temporarily. For toddlers and young children, it seems to be the most variable as they tend to grow in small spurts, increasing their food intake one week to respond to increased growth, and decreasing their intake the next week.


Additionally, children are naturally curious beings who are constantly exploring their surroundings, including the foods placed in front of them. It’s not uncommon for them to go through phases where they reject certain foods or insist on eating the same thing every day. These food preferences can change rapidly and unpredictably, making mealtime a challenge for many parents.


Strategies for Navigating the Rollercoaster


While it’s natural for children’s appetites to fluctuate, there are several strategies parents can employ to ensure they are meeting their nutritional needs:


Establish a Routine: Aim for regular meal and snack times to help regulate your child’s appetite. Consistency can help create a sense of structure and predictability, making it easier for them to recognize when they are hungry.


Offer a Variety of Foods: Introduce a wide range of nutritious foods to your child from an early age. Encourage them to explore new flavors and textures, but don’t force them to eat anything they don’t enjoy. Keep in mind that it may take multiple exposures before they develop a taste for certain foods.


Be Patient and Flexible: Understand that it’s normal for children to have preferences and aversions when it comes to food. Avoid pressuring them to eat or using food as a reward or punishment. Instead, focus on creating a positive mealtime environment where they can enjoy nutritious foods at their own pace.


Lead by Example: Children learn by watching and imitating their parents and caregivers. Be a role model by demonstrating healthy eating habits and attitudes towards food. Avoid making negative comments about your own body or food choices, as this can contribute to a negative relationship with food.


Consult with a Professional: If you have concerns about your child’s appetite or nutritional intake, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a Registered Dietitian or healthcare provider. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your child’s individual needs and circumstances.


Embracing the Journey


It’s important for parents to understand that fluctuations in children’s appetites are a normal part of their development. By approaching mealtime with patience, flexibility, and a positive attitude, you can help your child develop a healthy relationship with food that will serve them well throughout their lives. Remember, every child is unique, so what works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts as a parent and remember that you are doing the best you can to nourish and support your child’s growth and development.