Loss of Appetite in Toddlers – Is it Normal and Top Tips to Deal With it

6 min read

Written by Smita Srivastava

Smita Srivastava

Loss of appetite in toddlers

Loss of appetite in toddlers can be a worrying concern for parents. As caretakers, we naturally want to ensure our little ones are receiving proper nutrition for their growth and development. However, it’s essential to understand that occasional fluctuations in appetite are a normal part of a toddler’s journey.

In this article, we will explore the causes of appetite loss in toddlers, the associated symptoms, practical tips to help regain their appetite, and when it’s appropriate to seek medical assistance.

In This Article

Is it Normal For Toddlers to Have Appetite Loss?

It's perfectly normal for toddlers to experience loss of  appetite.

It’s perfectly normal for toddlers to experience periods of decreased appetite. As they grow and explore the world around them, their dietary needs and preferences may fluctuate. Toddlers are known for being fickle eaters, displaying unpredictable behaviors when it comes to food. One day, they might gobble up their favorite dish, and the next, they may push it away without a second glance. This can be frustrating for parents, who may worry about their child’s nutritional intake.

However, it’s important to remember that these fluctuations are part of their development and do not necessarily indicate a severe underlying issue. Here are a few key points to keep in mind-

1. Growth and Development

Toddlers are constantly growing and developing, both physically and mentally. During these phases, their appetites may vary as their bodies and taste preferences change. It’s essential to trust their innate ability to self-regulate their food intake to meet their needs.

2. Individual Differences

Just like adults, each toddler has unique preferences and tastes. What one child enjoys, another may dislike. These individual differences contribute to the variations in appetite and should be respected. Avoid comparing your child’s eating habits to those of others and focus on providing a nourishing and supportive environment.

3. Patience And Consistency

It’s important to approach mealtimes with patience and consistency. Avoid pressuring or forcing your child to eat. Instead, provide a variety of healthy options and let them explore and discover their own preferences. With time, they are likely to develop a more varied and balanced diet.

4. Sensory Exploration

Toddlers are curious explorers who use all their senses to interact with the world, including taste and texture. They may go through phases where they become more selective or sensitive to certain foods. This is a normal part of their sensory development and doesn’t necessarily imply a long-term aversion to specific foods.

5. Intuitive Eating

Encouraging intuitive eating from an early age helps toddlers establish a healthy relationship with food. By allowing them to listen to their hunger and fullness cues, you’re fostering a positive eating experience that promotes self-awareness and a balanced approach to nutrition.

Common Causes of Loss of Appetite in Toddlers

Toddlers may lose their appetite when they're feeling under the weather.

There are several reasons why your toddler may start rejecting food. It will be helpful if you can identify these causes and work around them to encourage your toddler to eat. Some of the common causes of loss of appetite in your toddler are-

1. Teething Troubles

When those little pearly whites begin to emerge, it can cause discomfort and irritability, leading to a temporary loss of appetite. The pressure and sensitivity in their gums can make eating a less enjoyable experience for your toddler.

2. Illness or Infection

Just like adults, toddlers may lose their appetite when they’re feeling under the weather. Common ailments such as colds, stomach bugs, or ear infections can affect their desire to eat. In such cases, focusing on hydration and offering light, easily digestible foods is crucial.

3. Emotional Factors

Toddlers are sensitive beings, and various emotional factors can influence their appetite. Changes in routine, separation anxiety, stress, or even a new environment can impact their eating habits. Creating a calm and comforting mealtime environment can help alleviate these concerns.

4. Growth Spurts

Rapid growth can also affect a toddler’s appetite. During growth spurts, their bodies prioritize energy usage for growth, which may temporarily suppress their hunger cues. This phase is usually self-regulated, and their appetite will return as their growth stabilizes.

What Are the Symptoms of Loss of Appetite in Toddlers?

While occasional appetite loss is considered normal, it’s essential to recognize potential red flags that may require further attention. If your toddler consistently displays the following symptoms, it may be necessary to consult a healthcare professional-

  • Weight loss or poor weight gain
  • Lack of energy or lethargy
  • Frequent complaints of stomach pain or discomfort
  • Changes in bathroom habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Signs of dehydration, including dry mouth or decreased urine output

Top 5 Tips to Help Regain Your Toddler’s Appetite

Provide colorful and visually appealing meals to make eating more fun for your toddler.

If your toddler is experiencing loss of appetite or they are picky eaters, there are several things you can try to encourage them to eat. Some of the tips that may help you to make meal time exciting for your toddler and make them eat are-

1. Offer a Variety of Nutritious Foods

Introduce a wide range of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Provide colorful and visually appealing meals to make eating more engaging and exciting for your little one.

2. Maintain a Consistent Mealtime Routine

Establishing a predictable mealtime routine helps create a sense of security and familiarity. Aim for three main meals and two snacks per day, and avoid excessive grazing between meals, which can decrease appetite during mealtimes.

3. Make Mealtime Enjoyable

Create a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere during meals. Minimize distractions, such as screens or toys, and encourage family members to eat together. Engage your toddler in conversation and make mealtimes an enjoyable social experience.

4. Offer Small and Frequent Meals

If your toddler struggles with large portions, try serving smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This approach ensures that your child receives adequate nutrition without overwhelming their appetite. Opt for nutrient-dense foods that pack a punch in smaller portions.

5. Be Patient and Respectful

Remember, forcing or pressuring your toddler to eat can backfire and create negative associations with food. Instead, be patient and respectful of their cues. Offer a variety of options and allow them to decide how much they want to eat. Trust that their appetite will return when they’re ready.

When to Seek Medical Help?

If loss of  appetite continues for long period then it's better to consult doctor.

While occasional appetite loss is typically nothing to be overly concerned about, there are instances where medical intervention may be necessary. Consult your healthcare provider if-

  • Your toddler’s appetite loss is persistent and accompanied by significant weight loss or poor weight gain
  • They show signs of dehydration, such as decreased urine output or dry mouth
  • There are additional worrisome symptoms, such as severe stomach pain, lethargy, or changes in bowel movements

While occasional fluctuations in appetite are normal, it’s important to monitor your child’s overall well-being and seek medical assistance if necessary. By offering a variety of nutritious foods, maintaining a consistent mealtime routine, and creating an enjoyable eating environment, you can help your toddler regain their appetite and ensure they receive the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development. Remember, patience and understanding are key as your little one navigates this stage of their journey towards a lifetime of good eating habits.


1. Can Worms Cause Loss of Appetite in Toddlers?

Yes, intestinal worms can sometimes lead to a loss of appetite in toddlers. If you suspect this might be the case, consult your healthcare provider, who can conduct tests and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

2. How Long Can a Toddler go Without Eating?

Toddlers can usually go for short periods without eating. However, it’s crucial to address prolonged appetite loss and consult a healthcare professional if you’re concerned about your child’s nutrition.

3. Can Teething Cause Loss of Appetite in Toddlers?

Yes, teething can cause discomfort in toddlers’ gums, leading to temporary loss of appetite. Offering chilled teething rings or soft, cold foods can provide relief during this phase.

Read Also: Top Delicious Foods For Picky Toddlers

Smita Srivastava, Bachelors (BA) in Mass Media and Mass Communication from Delhi University
Masters (MA) in Mass Media and Mass Communication from Kurukshetra University

With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.

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