Children are constantly growing, so they need food every few hours. So, if your child suddenly stops eating, it can make you very worried, particularly if your baby is not sick, yet refuses to eat anything.
You shouldn’t get yourself worked up if your child is not eating like before. It’s is not unusual for toddlers and growing children to turn down food for an extended period of time. Though in some cases, when your child stops eating, it may be a sign of a underlying medical condition which requires the diagnosis of a certified pediatrician.
If your child is not eating like normal, such that you have to coerce or entice your child to eat food, then this isn’t normal. Even if your child manages to eat food after the coercion, then it means something is definitely wrong and you ought to confer you’re your child’s pediatrician.
Why my Child is not eating like before? – Possible Causes
There are many reasons a child could lose all appetite and stop eating entirely (or only be able to take very few bites). Some of these causes include:
Food sensitivity can make your child not to eat: Your child may not be eating because he or she is sensitive to certain food. Food sensitivity like celiac disease, where a child reacts to protein gluten in barley, rye, and wheat makes it uncomfortable for your child to eat.
A virus can make a child stop eating suddenly: Your child may have pretty good appetite before suddenly declining foods. Another reason why your child may stop eating suddenly is stomach bug. Apart from lack of appetite, some signs and symptoms of stomach bug in children includes:
- stomach pains and cramps
- sore throat
Constipation: One of the factors that may cause your child to stop eating suddenly is constipation (difficulty in making bowel movement).
Eosinophilic esophagitis: This medical condition can also cause your child to stop eating suddenly. It is caused by the accumulation of a particular type of immune system cell in the oesophagus due to food sensitivities or acid reflux. This painful condition causes the throat to swell such that swallowing food becomes very uncomfortable.
Eating disorders: Eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa can make a child to stop eating suddenly. Apart from teenagers, children as young as 6 years also suffer from Anorexia nervosa.
Other underlying medical conditions including liver, and kidneys diseases can be responsible for your child’s inability to eat food.
Medical reasons why children stop eating suddenly is mostly overlooked. The eating pattern of children who are ill will likely be affected. Two of the most common medical reasons why your child is not eating like before are constipation and acid reflux, though other medical conditions can be responsible too.
Acid reflux is mostly common in babies, but it can also affect older kids, particularly if they weren’t affected by this condition during their infant stage. Acid reflux mostly goes unnoticed in children because they are unable to put into words or explain the symptoms they are feeling.
Could my Child Be a Picky Eater?
If your child is a picky eater, then he or she may crave for unhealthy foods like fries when you are serving healthier options.
However, if your child refuses to eat any food and the issue has persisted for long, then it is best you seek advice from a pediatrician for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Tips on How to Make Your Child Eat
There are some use tips on how to get your child to eat like normal, provided the cause of the lack of appetite in the first place isn’t medical related. If it’s minor cases like picky eating, then you can do the following things to restore back your child’s appetite.
- Make food to be fun. You can achieve this by cutting the food into attractive shapes using cookie cutters. Also, it also helps to present the food in a cute way on your child’s plate. You can allow your child give unique names to their choice foods.
- Offer your child choices. It would help boost your child’s appetite to allow them make their choice between two selections. For instance, you know vegetable is vital for the growth and development of your child, so you can ask them to make a choice between cauliflower and broccoli.
- Mix new with old. Instead of giving your child a totally new food to try, it would be easier to serve new foods together with favorites. This would stimulate their taste buds into trying the new food.
- Let your child dip. Dipping like hummus, low-fat salad dressing, or yogurt would cheer your child to try new fruits or vegetables.
- Let your child help. Allow your child to choose foods in the grocery store and look for a way he or she can help prepare the meal or set the table. Taking part in the different parts of the meal can help trigger their appetite.
- Set up a routine.Children like it when mealtime follows a regular pattern. They lit to sit in their favorite position on the dining table for every meal.
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Your child not eating as before may be caused by different factors, including medical conditions. However, if your child is refusing to eat simply because he or she is picky, then you can use the tips we discussed above to stimulate their appetite.
Don’t force your child to keep eating until his or her plate is empty. You should allow your child to stop eating when they are full because forcing them can meddle with their natural cue that hint them when they are satisfied.
Unlike adults, toddlers don’t eat enough in a single meal to remain full until the next meal. Hence healthy snacks like apple slices or strawberries, lean turkey slices, low-fat string cheese, whole grain crackers, or yogurt can keep them full till the next meal. Feed your child with at least 2 snacks on daily basis apart from the 3 compulsory breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You can skip giving your child snacks if it would only take you few minutes to fix the meal. If your child eats snacks few minutes before the next meal, he or she may still be full and may not eat much.
If your child still refuses to eat or exhibits any of the symptoms discussed above, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.