Managing Appetite Drop in 1-Year-Old Toddlers Day 1: Appetite Drop in 1-Year-Old Toddlers: How to Manage It?

Managing Appetite Drop in 1-Year-Old Toddlers

After babies turn 1, there can be a drop or change in their appetite, which may worry parents. This loss of appetite is usually a common phase, affecting about 25-35% of toddlers and preschoolers! There are physiological changes and growth-related reasons for their changing eating habits.

Common Signs of a Drop in Your Toddler’s Appetite

  • Your child may start turning their head away from food.
  • They may resist coming to the table and sitting down for meals.
  • Even foods they once loved may be refused or not enjoyed fully.
  • They may be easily distracted and have difficulty sitting at the table for more than a few minutes.
  • They may only eat if they are spoon-fed by a parent.

As long as your child maintains normal energy levels and continues to grow as expected, their decreased appetite is likely a natural part of their development.

Reasons for Drop in Appetite Post 1 Year

1) Decreased growth rate: Toddlers don't need as many calories as babies because their rapid growth slows down after the first year. This reduced growth rate leads to a drop in appetite. Babies are intuitive eaters, and will eat what they need.

2) Development of preferences: As babies grow, they start forming their own likes and dislikes. This can lead to some picky eating or appetite fluctuations. Even if they eat different amounts throughout the day, their total energy intake will average out over the week.

3) Fear of new foods: After their first year, toddlers often enter a phase called "neophobia," where they become hesitant to try new, unfamiliar food. But, if you keep offering them these foods many times (without pressure), it could help ease their fears.

4) Excessive intake of beverages and sweets: When babies consume too many beverages or sweets between meals, it can reduce their appetite and not leave space in their tummy for nutritive food.

5) Attention-seeking behavior: Some children refuse food as a way to seek attention.

6) Inappropriate feeding techniques: Feeding techniques like scolding, pleading, punishing, threatening, bribing, or distracting can also lead to a drop in appetite.

7) Learning by watching: Toddlers at this stage are like little sponges, soaking up everything they see around them. If they observe another family member or sibling refusing to eat a certain food, they might imitate that behavior..

8) Mealtime atmosphere: A positive mealtime atmosphere with light, stress-free conversations can positively influence children’s eating behavior.

How Can You Navigate This Phase Better?

1) Pinpoint the root cause. Suppose constant snacking is the issue, then reduce the number of snacks between meals so your baby is hungry at mealtime. Avoid juices that fill them up.

2) Let your toddler decide how much they eat. Trust that your child's brain will guide them to consume the right amount of calories for energy and growth.

3) Encourage self-feeding so they are engaged with their food. Avoid running behind them to feed them.

4) Limit milk intake to 500 ml per day. Excessive milk can reduce appetite and prevent iron absorption.

5) Serve small portions even if it seems less at first for you. Big portions can be daunting for little ones.

6) Have mealtimes with family if possible, as this gives toddlers a positive social experience. Have light, positive conversations. Avoid power struggles, bribing, or threats, as they create negative feelings about food.

7) Avoid distractions like toys, books, and phones during meals. Encourage them to eat mindfully. Show them by doing it yourself.

8) Keep mealtimes short, about 15-20 minutes. Avoid prolonging mealtimes in the hope that they will eat more.

9) Avoid medications and special formulas unless advised by a doctor.

Food refusals in 1-year-old toddlers are common and usually resolve on their own within a few weeks if you maintain a consistent mealtime routine. However, if you notice signs of your child's health being affected, such as frequent illness, inadequate weight gain (as per the growth chart: click here for a recap), or issues like gagging or vomiting during meals, it's wise to consult your doctor.

Stay tuned for our upcoming article tomorrow, where we'll delve deeper into this topic.

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