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Appetite Loss in Toddlers

Most of the time, a decrease in appetite in toddlerhood is normal, but if your child is pale, lethargic or tired all the time, it might be time to see a doctor. Here are a few things to look out for.

Parental Perceptions

If you’re expecting your toddler to keep eating like he did the first year, you might interpret a normal decrease in food intake as a lack of appetite. The average toddler needs just 30g per day of a protein source, 85g ounces of grains, 1 cup each of fruits and vegetables and 2 cups of milk at age 2, according to KidsHealth. Fruit juice counts as part of his fruit intake. If you add up everything he eats during the day, you might realize that he’s getting the nutrition he needs, even though it doesn’t seem like he’s eating much.

Normal Appetite Loss

Your toddler might simply be too busy to want to eat. The world begins to open up to a toddler, who’s generally mobile under his own steam. With rooms to explore and mischief to make, your toddler might be more interested in keeping going than stopping to eat. Make it easier to keep up his calorie intake by putting out a mini-smorgasbord of food that he can eat on the run. Use a muffin tin to hold cut-up vegetables, healthy cereals, pieces of fruit or tiny sandwiches. Toddlers often do better with grazing than sitting down to a full meal.

Other Causes

The most common medical cause of appetite loss in toddlers is iron-deficiency anaemia. A low iron count is common in toddlers who don’t eat enough iron-rich foods, such as meat or fortified cereals. Anaemia can cause lack of appetite as well as a decrease in energy and paleness. A blood test can diagnose anaemia. If he’s still drinking bottles, he might be getting too many calories from cow’s milk, which contains no iron and also decreases his appetite for other foods. Too much juice can have the same effect; limit juice intake to 250ml per day and milk intake to 700ml per day.