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Children And Appetite

Here are some facts parents need to know that will help them understand the child?s attitude to food.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON JUL 25, 2003 08:30 PM IST

Some common complaints mothers of children under ten years of age make:

My child is not interested in food. Children of her age eat twice as much as she does.

Lunch box she takes to school comes back, food intact.

What my child relishes today, he refuses to eat tomorrow.

What he says he does not like at home, he manages to eat at his friend’s place.

Doctor’s say that children will ask for food when they are hungry. But they do not. They only get cranky and eat up junk food they can lay their hands on.

My child is happy to drink milk or juice. He only resents eating rice or chappathis.

Even today my child takes such a long time to eat. Rather than watch his plate for an hour, I prefer to spoon feed him myself.

My daughter hates milk.

My child will not eat nutritious food. She prefers chips, aerated drinks and chocolates.

Most paediatricians are convinced that these are common behaviour patterns and that parents need not worry as long as the child’s weight is normal and activity level is good.

Some facts parents need to know that will help them understand the child’s attitude to food:

Appetite slow down

A child’s growth happens in spurts. In the first year of his or her life the child seems to gain about 15 pounds. Thereafter the child may gain only 3-4 pounds a year for a while. As growth is slower, children seem to need less calorific intake. Even “less” is difficult to quantify. Some kids need more and some less. As long as children are active and within the normal weight range, the quantity of food they consume need not be a yardstick of their health.

Children who get frequent colds, mouth ulcers, throat infections or worms often show disinterest in food. These problems have to be tackled first to get the child to eat properly.


Childhood is a time of discovery and amazing mental growth. Children are often impatient with routine and are haring off to play or meddle around in their process of learning. Many of them would rather down a glass of milk or juice and get back to whatever they were doing rather than eat spoon by spoon of solids. Two or three glasses of milk or juice can give the child the basic amount of calories he needs in a day and he may not show much interest in a proper meal.

Three glasses a day is often recommended. But some kids hate milk. Curd could be used as a substitute.


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