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My toddler’s appetite has decreased. What should I do?



Like many parents, there may be times when you worry if your child is eating enough.  Read on to get information and tips that can help put your mind at ease.  Toddlers are very good at responding to their feelings of hunger and fullness.  It is important to trust your toddler’s appetite.  It is normal for your toddler’s appetite to change from day to day and from meal to meal. How much your toddler wants to eat can also depend on how active, excited or tired he is, or where he is eating (at home or at day care, for example).  Look at eating patterns over the week rather than each day to see how well your toddler is eating.  As long as your toddler is growing and healthy, he is getting enough food.

Follow these tips to help your toddler eat well:

  • Let your toddler decide how much to eat from the foods you offer.  Do not force him to eat or restrict the amount of food you allow him to eat.
  • Set regular meal and snack times.  Offer 3 meals and up to 3 snacks at regular times each day. Avoid offering snacks too close to mealtime.  This will help your toddler come to the table hungry.
  • Offer water between meals.  Sipping on milk or juice between meals leaves less room for other foods.  If you give your child juice, offer 100% fruit juice and limit it to 125-175 mL (4-6 oz) a day.
  • Set a good example.  Your toddler may be more likely to accept healthy foods if he sees you eating them.
  • Keep mealtimes pleasant and relaxed.  Turn off the TV and remove toys and other distractions during meal and snack times.
  • Encourage playing each day. Physical activity can help increase appetite.     
  • If there is a sudden decrease in your toddler’s appetite or if you have concerns about his growth, contact your child’s family doctor.

If you have any questions about your child’s eating, call EatRight Ontario to speak with a Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-5102 or send an email.

You may also be interested in

Sample Meal Plan for Feeding Your Toddler (ages 1 to 3) 
How to Build a Healthy Toddler (12 to 36 months) NutriSTEP
How can I help my Child Gain Weight?

Last Update – October 9, 2016

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.