Babies not eating food

Why Your Baby Won't Eat

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 23, 2022

It's just a fact of life: "Children come equipped to reject new foods," says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler. To help your baby accept new foods, start with tiny portions. Also try to make new food look similar to a familiar favorite. If they like pureed carrots, try pureed sweet potato.

Cereal on the floor and peas in baby's hair? Congratulations, your little one is showing signs of independence. At about 9 months, many babies start wanting to control feeding time and where they put their food. While it may be hard to sit back and watch the mess grow, take heart, this is an important step for your baby's learning, growth, and self-reliance.

It's normal for babies to spit up a little, especially newborns. Babies' digestive systems are still developing. Babies can also get reflux, which is when food in the stomach backs up into the esophagus. To help manage reflux, try feeding your baby more slowly or feed them less at each sitting, loosening their diaper, and keeping them upright after they eat. Reflux almost always resolves without treatment by 12-14 months of age.

You offer your little one a bit of food and they turn their head, swat at the spoon, or clamp their mouth shut. Babies refuse to eat every now and then for lots of reasons: They're tired, sick, distracted, or just full. Don't force-feed your baby, but do talk to your child's doctor if you're worried.

While picky eating may linger for weeks, even months, it rarely lasts. Your baby can become a picky eater for lots of reasons, says Ward. When babies aren’t feeling their best -- like when teething -- familiar foods provide comfort. Or maybe your baby just isn't ready to try a new food. Make sure you don't give the baby junk food just because that's all they want. Offer healthy foods, and a hungry baby will eventually eat them.

Up to 8% of children have food allergies. Symptoms such as rash, diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain can show up suddenly. Though kids can be allergic to any food, milk, nuts, eggs, soy, wheat, and shellfish are the most problem foods. Food intolerances are more common than allergies and may cause gas, bloating, and belly pain. If you suspect a food allergy, work with your child's doctor to find safe foods.

As many as 2 out of 5 babies cope with colic -- crying for hours at a time. Colic can start when a baby is 3 weeks old and usually goes away by their 3rd month. While colic won't affect your baby’s appetite or ability to suck, a colicky baby may need time to calm down before they eat. And they may be inclined to spit up a little once they do. However, call their doctor about vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, or blood or mucus in their stool. These are not symptoms of colic.

Diarrhea can quickly lead to dangerous dehydration. Signs include dry mouth, decrease in urination or wet diapers, no tears with crying, weight loss, lethargy, or sunken eyes. All are worth a call to baby’s doctor.

Babies are rarely constipated. And it can be hard to tell if they are because how often babies have bowel movements can vary. For example, babies who only breastfeed may have a firm stool just once a day. Signs of constipation include hard stools that can be large and painful, and blood around the stool. Before trying home remedies, talk to your baby's doctor.

Is jarred baby food the cause of your baby's digestive issues? It could be if you feed them directly from the food jar and save the leftovers for another meal. Doing that can introduce bacteria from your baby's mouth into the food where it waits until the next time your baby eats it. When baby eats the leftover food it can lead to tummy trouble such as vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

Sometimes mom and dad may be the source of baby's feeding problem. "There's a temptation to give older infants the same foods you're eating," says Ward. But that's never a good idea if what you're eating is junk. Start giving baby sweet, salty, or fatty foods now and it'll be hard to keep break your child's unhealthy eating habits when they are a toddler.

A baby's undeveloped gastrointestinal system can't deal with some foods that an adult's body can. Honey, for example, may lead to infant botulism, which can be fatal. Always steer clear of chunky foods that pose choking hazards such as popcorn, hot dogs, raw fruits and veggies, raisins, and meat or cheese chunks.

Because so many things could be causing your baby's feeding problems, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor if you're worried. Always call your child's pediatrician right away if your baby is losing weight; if they gag or vomit when they have certain foods; if you suspect diarrhea, dehydration, or constipation; or if you think they have reflux. You shouldn't feel shy about talking with your child's doctor if you have any questions or concerns.


1)    Pixtal Images / Photolibrary
2)    Christoph Ermel / iStock
3)    Julian Winslow / Ableimages
4)    Harald Eisenberger / LOOK
5)    Ryan McVay / Stone
6)    Kevin RL Hanson / DK Stock
7)    Terry Vine / Blend Images
8)    SimplyMui Photography / Getty
9)    Betsy Van Der Meer / Taxi
10)  Peter Cade / Iconica
11) Jason Edwards / National Geographic
12)  Purestock / Getty


Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, registered dietitian; author, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler.
Piette, L. Just Two More Bites: Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food, Three Rivers Press, 2006.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, Bantam Books, 2009.
Children's Hospital Boston: "Newborn Gastrointestinal Problems."
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institutes of Health: "Gastroesophageal Reflux in Infants."
National Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition:  “Pediatric Gastroesophageal Reflux Clinical Practice Guidelines.”
Mackonochie, A. The Practical Encyclopedia of Pregnancy, Babycare and Nutrition for Babies and Toddlers, Lorenz Books, 2006.
National Institutes of Health: "Food Allergy."
American Academy of Family Physicians: "Feeding Problems in Infants and Children." "Your Colicky Baby."
ADD American Academy of Pediatrics, "Diarrhea" and "Constipation"
Children's Hospital Boston: "Newborn Gastrointestinal Problems. "
American Dietetic Association: "Don't Feed Baby from the Jar," "Introducing Solid Foods."
Dr. "Honey and Infant Botulism."
The New York Times: "Labels Urged for Foods That Can Choke."
Children's Physician Network: "Picky Eaters."

© 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info

5 Reasons Your Baby Refuses to Eat

When your baby refuses to eat it can be very stressful. One thing that will ease your stress is understanding why your baby isn’t eating.

Food refusal in infants and young children is a tough reality for parents to accept. I see 5 common reasons why babies taper off in their eating.

Here, you’ll learn why your baby is refusing to eat and how you can help.

I’ll cover:

  • Constipation in babies
  • Boredom with the same food options
  • Pain
  • Feeding practices that are counter-productive
  • Readiness to eat
Photo by Donnie Ray Jones

Why is My Baby Not Eating?

Your baby ate yesterday. And the day before.

But, today, she’s not having food. What’s going on?

One of the most worrisome issues I see new parents face is when their baby refuses to eat.

From being sick to being extra sensitive to texture in food, there are several reason why your baby won’t eat.

When your baby is not eating, it can be a temporary thing, or it can develop into a concerning pattern.

Many babies have a good appetite in the first year or two of life.

They grow at a rapid pace. Their bodies lengthen and they gain weight.

Even their brains are getting bigger and learning is taking off at quite a clip.

All of this infant growth and development takes energy.  

As a result, babies generally have a good appetite and a natural drive to eat.

Yet, sometimes babies just won’t eat as well as expected, or as well as they used to.

You’ll need to discern whether this is a temporary phase, or a pattern that’s developing.

Most babies who are in a temporary food refusal phase will show interest in eating and get back on track within a meal or two.

If your baby is not eating and it’s becoming a pattern, he may need more help.

If baby is losing or not gaining weight, appears dehydrated, or is regressing to the bottle and not regaining interest in eating food, then it’s time to see the doctor.

Common Reasons Your Baby Won’t Eat

I’ve seen many babies who won’t eat in my career as a pediatric nutritionist.

Often, by the time I see them, they’re in a pattern of not eating enough and growth is faltering.

When we get to the root of the challenges, several things have come together to create the issue.

In other words, it’s not usually one thing, but a few things that have created the “perfect storm.”

Let’s take a look:

5 Reasons Your Baby Refuses to Eat. #babyfood #firstfoods #startingsolids #healthyeating Click To Tweet

#1: Your Baby is Constipated

When babies transition from a liquid diet and start to eat solid foods, constipation can set in.

Liquids such as breast milk or infant formula are fairly easy to digest and absorb in the intestines.

But add in solid food and the gastrointestinal tract has to do more work.

This can slow things down.

And this can cause baby losing appetite.

I had a similar experience with one of my kids.

When my first born transitioned from breast milk to solids, we had a heck of a time with constipation.

In part, her digestive system was getting used to solids and a new baby feeding schedule.

When babies are constipated, it causes a feeling of fullness.

If the intestinal tract is full of stool, the stomach may fill up, and this may lead to a lost appetite and less eating.

You can help your baby if he’s constipated with home remedies such as diluted prune juice, but take care to use only those that are appropriate for an infant.

Talk with your pediatrician if you’re worried.

Also, as your baby grows, you’ll want to incorporate more fiber into her diet.

#2: Your Baby is Not Eating Because He’s Bored

Recently, I met a child who, at the age of 22 months, was still eating baby food.

You could say by this point, he was hooked on smooth purees and was very disinterested in textured food other than crunchy crackers and cereals.

He was also delayed in his self-feeding skills.

Pureed foods are great and many babies love them.

Some babies love them too much, getting hooked on them.

Others don’t get challenged with more texture, receiving “safe” purees and familiar flavors.

After you introduce solids, and by 7 months, most babies should be moving on to more texture, flavor and food experiences. In other words, this is the typical age for an upgrade.

Babies and young toddlers are naturally curious. They want to explore and try new foods.

Holding them back when they are developmentally ready to move on can delay their overall developmental progress, including language skills, self-confidence and of course, nutrition.

One study showed that children who didn’t move on to more textured foods like chopped table food and finger foods by 9 months showed significant picky eating later on at 7 years of age.

If your baby is refusing purees and spoon-feeding, or stuck on baby food pouches, he may be bored with food.

Skip to chopped table foods or try a baby led weaning approach, instead.

Boredom may be a sign your baby needs more texture, flavors, and more autonomy (Hello, finger foods!) with self-feeding.

#3: Your Baby Won’t Eat Because She’s in Pain

Teething is a common culprit for a baby not eating. His mouth hurts.

But there are other reasons for pain that may be contributing to why your baby won’t eat.

An illness involving a sore throat or ear pain may cause short-term food refusal.

Reflux (a condition where baby’s stomach acids creep up into the esophagus) can cause pain and impede interest in eating.

If this is chronic, your baby may associate pain with eating and develop a pattern of disinterest.

Colic and other digestive problems including gas, cramping or other symptoms can be problematic.

Food allergies or intolerances such as esophageal esophagitis, (EoE), oral allergy syndrome (OAS) or a food allergy to one of the Big 8 (ie, milk, egg, wheat, etc) can cause pain, discomfort and reduce food intake.

An acute illness like a cold can turn any baby off from eating.

However, most babies will resume eating when the illness passes.

If you suspect a more involved, underlying medical condition is the root of your baby’s refusal to eat, see your doctor.

#4: You’re Using Negative Feeding Practices

Feeding should always be a positive experience, for any child, at any age.

When it’s not positive, young children can make negative associations with eating.

For example, if your child is eating with a baby-led weaning approach and is gagging frequently, this could be negative for him.

The same goes for spoon-feeding your baby.

If you force bites of food when your baby is full and doesn’t want any more, you could trigger a negative association with coming to the highchair to eat.

While most babies will recover from minor incidents like gagging, some babies who are more sensitive to their environment, transitions and changes, or a have a sensitive temperament may imprint these negative experiences.

You can imagine, this can make a baby withdraw from food, or at least negatively influence her desire to eat.

To avoid this situation, brush up on your feeding style and feeding practices so they are positive, connected and responsive – this will help you create a positive feeding experience for your baby.

You can learn that and more in my book, The Smart Mom’s Guide to Starting Solids.

Grab this on Amazon

#5: Your Baby is a Late Bloomer

Babies are unique and have individual characteristics, but they all follow along a developmental scheme.

Tackling the different stages of development happens at different times and reflects what we call developmental readiness.

We have stages of readiness for solids, which is a guideline to help you know when your child is ready to take the next step.

For example, babies are generally ready to begin first foods around 6 months.

Some are ready earlier, some are ready later.

It’s important to watch for the signs. (Read more about those here.)

Some babies are slower to show signs of readiness for solids.

They are late bloomers, if you will. Kind of like my late readers!

No matter how much we practiced reading skills, they weren’t early readers. They learned on their own time table.

Some children are poorly coordinated in their ability to chew and manipulate food in the mouth. They need more practice.

Some find textures offensive and need more time and experience with them to warm up.

Other babies are more sensitive to the sensory characteristics of food. They may gag when they see, touch or taste food.

This may be why your baby refuses to eat. Don’t fret too much if your baby is a late bloomer.

Stay alert to signs of readiness and provide opportunities for more experiences with food.

One thing you can do is plop a spoonful of puree on the highchair or a spoonful of chopped food and just let your baby mess around with it.

If your baby is holding or touching food, show him how to bring his hand to his mouth.

Remember, keep it positive and let your baby lead. No forcing!

If your baby isn’t ready and you force it, this won’t be fun or pleasant and may lead to disinterest or a situation where your baby refuses to eat.

[Watch our YouTube video about Baby Feeding: Which Mistakes to Avoid]

Get More Help if Your Baby is Not Eating

How long should you wait to do something when your baby refuses to eat? Should you wait it out?

At what point is waiting it out potentially causing more challenges down the road?

In most cases, your baby will sort things out on his own, provided you offer regular, balanced meals and snacks, have a positive feeding environment, and stay relaxed.

Here are the Signs You Need to Visit the Doctor

It’s time to head to the doctor’s office if your baby:

  • isn’t moving on to more textured food by 9 months
  • still refuses to eat
  • shows little interest in eating
  • seems distressed with eating
  • appears dehydrated
  • is losing weight

In this case, it’s best to further investigate the root issues, such as a food intolerance or allergy, digestive problems, or sensory challenges.

Perhaps your baby needs a feeding evaluation, or you need a dietitian to evaluate your feeding approach including the feeding schedule, food offerings and feeding interactions.

Help Your Baby Love Food!

Feeding your baby should be a positive, learning experience.

For more resources and support in this area, check out the following materials:

Try New Food Workbook is a very helpful resource for parents who may be entering into the picky eating phase.

It’s also a great way to learn how to prevent picky eating!

Listen to The Nourished Child podcast for free information about baby nutrition and feeding.

Tune in to these podcast episodes for more inspiration!

Simple Tips for Adding New Foods

Reasons Your Child Won’t Eat (& What You Can Do)

You may also want to read:

  • 11 Stool Softener Foods for Kids
  • My Favorite Children’s Books about Nutrition
  • 25 Allergy Free Snacks for School


Watch this video on YouTube

This post was updated on January 17, 2021 to include more resources.

Nine reasons why a child does not want to eat

Komsomolskaya Pravda

House. FamilyMom and babyMom and baby: HealthHealth: parental advice


October 18, 2013 19:10

Small-minded or capricious? Are you afraid or just don't like it? Protests or never been hungry? We are sorting out with a psychologist why children may not have an appetite

- I will not eat your porridge until you buy me a hundred thousand Barbie dolls!0004

“A spoon for mom, a spoon for dad… Eat porridge, otherwise you won’t grow up… If you don’t eat, we won’t let you watch a cartoon…” With persuasion, threats, cunning, with songs and dances, parents try to feed their kids. Studies show that 20 to 60 percent of preschool and school-age children have nutritional problems. More than half of 4-5-year-olds are considered small-toddlers, and among nine-year-olds, 48 ​​percent of children do not eat well.

Feeding problems in childhood can lead to growth failure, eating disorders, and learning difficulties in the future. Why don't they eat? Someone doesn’t need much, someone is bored or anxious at the table, someone plays on mom’s nerves like that, and someone can’t do without the help of a neurologist. Together with psychologist Natalia Petrovna GRISHAEVA let's try to figure out what problems can deprive a child of appetite?

REASON 1 Classic little baby. He is thin, all in the parents. And he doesn't need a lot of food. WHAT TO DO: Watch your weight, consult your pediatrician and try to “invest” all the necessary vitamins into that small amount of food.

REASON 2 Protest. The most common reason. Even adults express their protest by hunger strike. The subtext is simple - I will die if you do not do what I want. Children have similar blackmail - pay attention to me! But the reasons for the protest may already be different: - The child attracts attention. Perhaps the situation in the family is not easy - mom and dad are arguing, or divorce, or parents are always at work and devote too little time to the child. "I'll stop eating and they'll notice me." - The child in the family is adored and pampered. He is capricious, selfish and used to being able to behave as badly as he likes, they will forgive him anyway. But children have a sense of inner justice. And in the soul, the child wants to be paid attention to his leprosy, so that everything is “like with people” - he was guilty - punished. He knows what disobedience, like refusing to eat, parents will not be able to forgive. - In the family, the heir is treated too strictly or even cruelly. Everything is forbidden to him, he is scolded for everything. How can a child punish a parent? In their own ways - do not sleep, "walk" in your pants or not eat.

WHAT TO DO: Don't be scared, don't beg, don't do everything he asks, don't threaten, but figure out why the child is protesting? What's wrong?

REASON 3 The child is not comfortable at the table Maybe he is forced to eat with a knife and fork, or he is constantly scolded for eating ugly or carelessly. Maybe someone at the table is chomping, and it’s just unpleasant for the baby to watch - the appetite disappears. Maybe at the table, mom and dad usually start to sort things out.

WHAT TO DO: Take care of yourself and postpone all quarrels, do not scold the baby when he squishes, but praise him when he holds the fork beautifully. If the baby is uncomfortable eating with someone who is squishing, feed him separately, it's okay. And do not scold the little one if it gets wet or dirty - it’s better to put an apron on the eater in advance, cover your knees with a napkin - let him enjoy the taste of food without worrying about the rules of etiquette yet.

REASON 4 Used to eating with entertainment While the child is picking pasta in the plate, dramas and comedies are played out at the table by mom-dad, grandparents. Songs, dances, puppet theater, cutlets are drawn on the board and crossed out with each bitten piece. The child gets used to being entertained, and simply eating is no longer interesting for him. The same with cartoons. Of course, it is easier for parents when a child, having looked at the TV, crushes everything without looking. For children, the process of eating may seem boring - you have to sit, you have to try to wield spoons and forks, it seems to them that they are just wasting time, and it is much more fun to “spend” it with cartoons.

WHAT TO DO: Do not distract from food and do not eat in front of the TV. It is better to chat during lunch or dinner, come up with a ritual, for example, you tell each other about your best moments of the day at the table, or give each other advice. Doctors are sure that it is important not to be distracted from food so that it is properly digested, and you get all the energy you need.

CAUSE 5 Fear As a rule, these are neurotic reactions caused by some events that frightened the child while eating. For example, a fish bone is stuck in the throat or the baby vomited when he ate something, etc. The child may not remember what exactly scared him, but the “sediment” remained. WHAT TO DO: Do not force, do not shame, do not scold. Understand, look for the cause. And then, it is desirable to get rid of fear together with a psychoneurologist.

REASON 6 Not tasty Such children are called capricious, but perhaps they eat only the usual food - pasta and sausages or potatoes and chicken... Arriving at a hotel or visiting someone, the baby does not find his own food and can refuse any other. WHAT TO DO: Try to regularly introduce your baby to new products from childhood. Do not bring sausages with you to visit, look for a compromise. Patient and playful. Invite your child to look in the refrigerator and choose their own food. He doesn’t like vegetables - make soup puree, try to cut out figures from cucumbers and carrots, fruits can be turned into cocktails, come up with funny names for everything, involve even the smallest gourmet in cooking. Very often, children agree to try a new unfamiliar dish at a party, when everyone else eats it with appetite.

REASON 7 Doesn't eat to please mother. For example, it’s time for mom to go to work, but she doesn’t want to, and she says this: “I can’t send Petya to kindergarten, he DOES NOT EAT ANYTHING, I will have to sit at home with him.” And Petya shakes his mustache and does not eat, as his mother “programmed”. Or another option - the mother wants to show everyone that her child is special. WHAT TO DO: Parents to deal with their own fears and complexes.

REASON 8 The cult of food in the family Meals in your house are given too much importance. Mom cooks dinner, and this is an event. Did the child not eat? Catastrophe! Ate? Happiness! The kid quickly realizes that since food is so important, he can control his parents with the help of ate or did not eat. WHAT TO DO: Do not pay so much attention to whether the child is full or not, do not turn lunches and dinners into events. Snack on the road, sometimes skip meals, like all normal people.

REASON 9 Never been hungry The child does not understand that food can bring joy, he was never hungry, did not wait for dinner, did not dream of soup, because his parents constantly push food into him before he gets hungry. WHAT TO DO : Try not to feed your baby. Accept his food refusals. Wait until he asks for food. Or create an unexpected situation - an empty refrigerator, there is nothing to cook for dinner. There is only, for example, potatoes. The child will want to eat and learn to appreciate the simplest dishes.

Age category of the site 18+

The online publication (website) is registered by Roskomnadzor, certificate El No. FS77-80505 dated March 15, 2021.



Messages and comments from site readers are posted without preliminary editing. The editors reserve the right to remove them from the site or edit them if the specified messages and comments are an abuse of freedom mass media or violation of other requirements of the law.

JSC "Publishing House "Komsomolskaya Pravda". TIN: 7714037217 PSRN: 1027739295781 127015, Moscow, Novodmitrovskaya d. 2B, Tel. +7 (495) 777-02-82.

Exclusive rights to materials posted on the website, in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation for the Protection of the Results of Intellectual Activity belong to JSC Publishing House Komsomolskaya Pravda, and do not be used by others in any way form without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Purchase of copyright and contact with the editors: [email protected]

what to do at home and why it happens from time to time, but constantly. The fidget has to be persuaded to eat an extra spoonful of porridge, come up with new, unusual dishes and games so that the baby leaves the table full. "Komsomolskaya Pravda" deals with the expert, because of what you should and should not worry and how to increase children's appetite.

How much a child should eat at different ages

There are nutritional standards developed by scientists (1). It is important for parents to know the recommended numbers, but following the norms for grams will be a big mistake. It is better to focus on the common sense, well-being and mood of the baby.

The volume of breast milk or formula for newborns in the first 10 days of life depends on weight. If the baby was born with a weight of more than 3200 g, he should eat a volume of milk per day equal to the number of days lived multiplied by 70 (2). A child 5 days old eats 350 ml. If the baby's weight was less than 3200 g, the number of days lived is multiplied by 80.

From 1.5 weeks to 2 months: WHO recommends 1/5 of the baby's weight as normal (3). That is, with a weight of 4 kg, he should eat 800 ml per day.

From 2 to 4 months, mother's milk and formula are taken in the ratio of 1/6 of the baby's weight. You can calculate according to the formula - weight in grams divided by height in cm and multiplied by 70.

Babies from 4-6 months old eat 1/7 of their own weight. For 6-8 months, the norm will be about 1000-1100 ml of food per day, and for 8-11 months - 1200-1300 ml.

From 1 to 2 years old, children usually eat 1300-1400 ml of food per day. After 2 years, the Union of Pediatricians of Russia advises parents to switch to a full three meals a day with two intermediate snacks (4). On average, a child of this age eats 1500 ml per day.

After 4-5 years, the amount of food increases to 2000 ml per day. It is recommended to distribute the calorie content of food as follows: breakfast - 30%, lunch - 35%, afternoon tea - 15% and dinner - 20%.

Nutritional norms for children at different ages according to WHO recommendations


Appetite in children depends on the state of health, genetic characteristics, maturity, growth phase, mood and even the time of day. It is necessary to distinguish between painful manifestations and cases that most parents have to deal with.

Complete refusal to eat is called anorexia. If a child experiences a painful reaction to some food or dish, this is a state of idiosyncrasy. Most often, adults deal with hyporexia - a decrease in appetite. Let us examine in more detail each reason why a child refuses to eat or eats too little.


No feeling of hunger

The simplest and most obvious reason for poor appetite is that the baby is full. We try so hard to feed our kids that they just don't feel hungry and therefore have a hard time identifying it.

What should parents do? Don't be nervous, stay friendly and let your baby get hungry. Remove from your reach any foods and snacks that can interrupt your appetite - sweets, cookies, sandwiches, buns, juices, compotes and fruits. Offer your child food, but be prepared for him to say no. Wait until the baby himself offers to dine or agrees to your offer.

Interest in something or a game

Often children are so engrossed in a new toy that they forget to eat. An enthusiastic fidget does not want to give up an interesting business and break for lunch, so the calls of adults can be met with refusal or even whims.

Selective appetite

If your child does not want to eat the main food and prefers to "bite", he may simply not like the taste and appearance of the dishes you prepare. Try to choose other recipes, experiment with salt and spices. Perhaps the child does not want to eat too hot or cold food.

Intoxication during illness

When children feel unwell, they refuse to eat any food. This happens with SARS, stomatitis, otitis and other ailments. In infancy, appetite may decrease during teething.

When a child is sick, the body is not able to adequately perceive food. All forces are spent on eliminating the source of pain, so the brain does not send signals about hunger. As soon as health improves, appetite returns.

Effects of vaccinations

After vaccination, the child may lose his appetite. This is especially true in children in their first year of life. In preschoolers and children of primary school age, problems with eating after vaccination occur in 15-20% of cases. Don't despair - it won't be long!


Appetite disorders may be caused by allergic reactions. For example, babies with atopic dermatitis often refuse to eat. When skin itching bothers, appetite fades into the background.

Few movements

Children of the first years of life are very active physically and rarely sit still. Natural mobility and outdoor play are the best way to work up an appetite. Some, on the contrary, spend a lot of time in front of the TV and at the computer, move little, and therefore do not experience a strong feeling of hunger.

Consequences of a child's poor nutrition

Regular malnutrition leads to the fact that the child's body does not receive enough nutrients for normal functioning. The child appears lethargic, drowsy and lethargic. With poor nutrition, there is a risk of underdevelopment of the brain, decreased learning and low immunity. Improper nutrition in childhood can lead to serious health problems in adulthood.

Parents are not in vain worried about the baby's poor appetite. Refusal to eat can be caused by serious chronic diseases, such as hormonal disorders.

For which symptoms should a child be seen by a doctor? If loss of appetite is accompanied by high fever, vomiting, rashes appear in the mouth or on the body, urination and stool become frequent. When a child loses weight, does not want to drink, or does not sleep well.

How to increase a child's appetite

Everyone has their own appetite. Some children like to eat more often, others refuse to eat, even when it's time to feed. However, there are ways to increase a child's appetite without violence, lectures, threats and blackmail.

Up to 1 year

A newborn child is completely dependent on the mother and sensitively reacts to her mood. In order for the baby to grow up happy and active, the mother must feed him in a good mood. It is necessary to apply to the chest in a calm environment, without loud, annoying extraneous sounds that can distract from eating.

There are many problems with breastfeeding that cause the baby to eat poorly. Causes of poor appetite can be improper attachment to the breast, inverted nipples of the mother, pain and excess gas in the abdomen of the crumbs. Sometimes lactation changes - there is little milk or, on the contrary, it pours excessively. From the mother's diet, breast milk can change the taste. When formula feeding, refusal to eat is sometimes caused by an incorrectly selected bottle or nipple.

In the first year of life, it is important that the child is monitored regularly by a pediatrician. Some children eat poorly because they are lactose intolerant, so milk is removed from their diet as early as possible. Sometimes the appetite increases from the introduction of complementary foods or the replacement of formula.


1-2 years old

At this age, the child likes to repeat after others, so it is important that he observes how adults, older brothers and sisters eat. A good way to develop eating behavior is playing with a spoon and a plate. An active interest in food is caused by joint table setting, shopping trips and products that the baby can eat with their own hands.

3-5 years old

Younger preschoolers like bright and unusual dishes, because food is also a game. Liven up cereals, soups and salads to make them look irresistible. Put food on plates with beautiful pictures. The child will want to finish eating quickly to see the “drawn story”. An effective way of teaching is the example of a peer. Take your little one to visit a baby who eats with appetite.

5-7 years

Older preschoolers are extremely inquisitive. Involve your child in cooking as early as possible. Children are happy to break eggs for scrambled eggs, make sandwiches, knead the dough and put it into molds. A dish prepared with your own hands is much more interesting and tastier!

Over 7 years old

Schoolchildren have many responsibilities during the day, so routine is important. A healthy appetite can be instilled as a habit. Remove all unnecessary snacks and set clear rules in the family when family members sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is worth walking more in the fresh air, playing sports and avoiding negative conversations during meals.

Popular Questions and Answers

How to establish a child's interest in food?

This question is answered by Natalia Pakholyuk, nutrition expert, naturopath, detox coach :

— The child should be taught to taste a variety of tastes, shown and allowed to try. For many parents, a bunch works in their heads: “cutlet-pasta-cucumber”. While children need fresh herbs, fresh vegetables and fruits, processed vegetables, cereals and legumes. Parsnips, beets, radishes, parsley, turnips, sweet potatoes - the younger generation has not heard of many cruciferous vegetables, much less tried them. But these vegetables are really tasty!

A child is not born with an understanding of the principles of healthy eating. All knowledge about food comes to children from their parents through their own experience. Of the prerequisites - the child must have a correct daily routine, including full meals and snacks. Nutrition rules should be clear. It does not happen that “today you can eat at night”, and tomorrow “you can’t”. Or “today chips are allowed”, at all other times it is “forbidden”.

I recommend that parents go shopping with their children and study in detail the composition of everything that is on the counter. Forming good eating habits is a process that never ends. Therefore, the child and the parent must be in constant communication: what can be eaten, what cannot be eaten, what should be added to the diet, and what should be removed.

Can a child be forced to eat?

“You can’t force or encourage children to eat more than they want, you can’t use food as a reward or make it a duty, you can’t regulate a child’s emotional state with food,” says trainer-nutritionist Elena Kostyuk . “All this not only leads to overconsumption and is associated with weight gain in later life, but also disrupts the self-regulation of eating behavior. Children are not machines that require more or less the same amount of gasoline per kilometer. "Clean Plate Societies" should be a thing of the past. The right of the child is not to finish eating, to eat as much as he wants, and even to completely refuse food. If the child is healthy, active, develops according to age, has weight and height within the age norms, there is no reason to think that he does not receive enough food. For more complex cases, there is a food diary, nutrition structuring, consultation with a doctor (pediatrician or nutritionist), help from a child or family psychologist.

When should I see a doctor due to lack of appetite?

— If the child has no appetite, do not immediately run to the doctor. It is necessary to analyze the psychological component of the question: could stress, fear or resentment be the provoking factor? It is also necessary to exclude the factors of taking drugs and dietary supplements, illness, an abundance of snacks.

Age Power Norma per day
from 1.5 weeks to 2 months 1/5 of weight Child
from 4 to 6 months 1/7 of the weight of the child
from 6 to 8 months 1000-1100 ml
1200-1300 ml 1200-1300 ml from 1 to 2 years 1300-1400 ml
from 2 to 5 years on average 1500 ml
older than 5 years on average 200131

Learn more