Loss of Appetite in Children: Causes & 14 Foods to Increase Appetite

Loss of Appetite in Kids – Causes and Remedies

Medically Reviewed By
Archana Shah (Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian)
View more Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian Our Panel of Experts

If your kid hasn’t been eating well, you may be wondering about why he has suddenly lost his appetite. Keep reading to know more about what causes a loss of appetite in children and the foods you can give to get your child’s digestive system back on track.

Video: 6 Effective Ways to Increase Your Child’s Appetite

Causes of Loss of Appetite in Children

Your child may lose his appetite for food due to:

1. Illness

If your child is suffering from stomach flu, diarrhoea or a fever, he may not feel like eating much.

2. Stress

Arguments and fights with siblings, bullying and unfortunate events like the death of a loved one can stress your child out and lead to a loss of appetite.

3. Depression

Did your little munchkin suddenly stop drawing and no longer wants to touch a pencil or play her favourite game? You may mistake it for temporary sadness, but if this goes on for a prolonged period of time, it’s definitely depression.

4. Tapered Growth Rate

Your child’s growth and appetite will vary based on their age, energy levels, nutritional diet, and environment.

5. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder where your child gets obsessed with losing weight and goes for long periods of time without eating.

6. Prescription Drugs

If your child is on antibiotics or prescription drugs, their side effects may make his appetite go down.


7. Constipation

Constipation is another factor that causes a loss in appetite. You may need to tweak your child’s diet and modify his lifestyle.

8. Lack of Exercise

If your munchkin hesitates to go outside and play, and wishes to be sedentary most of the time, he isn’t going to be very hungry at mealtime.

9. Snacking Between Meals

We’re sure you can’t see your child hungry and may give him a quick snack or two! But snacking between meals leaves kids feeling fuller for longer. The result – your child doesn’t finish the food on his plate.

10. Drinking Fluids and Juices

Sweetened (and natural) beverages are chock-full of calories. Drinking these beverages leads to a loss of appetite.

11. Distractions

If your child watches TV or a smartphone while eating, he may be less interested in the food on his plate.

12. Punishments

If you tell your child to finish the food even if he’s not hungry, he may begin hating food altogether. This, gradually, lowers the appetite.

13. Anaemia

Anaemia may be another reason for the loss of appetite in your child. Children suffering from anaemia look weaker, tired and more irritable than others.

14. Intestinal Worms

The presence of worms in your kid’s intestines can also make him eat lesser than usual. These worms can also lead to intestinal bleeding, dysentery, etc.

Ways to Cure and Prevent Loss of Appetite in Kids

You can treat as well as prevent a loss of appetite with these tips-

  • Give Many Small Meals

If your child can’t eat a lot at one go, split up three big meals into five to six small meals.

  • Change the Menu

Serve vitamin-B rich fortified foods and whole-grain products enriched with iron, folic acid and other nutrients. Serve fruit bowls for dessert and vegetable soups for the finale. Parents can offer colourful and attractive dishes like beetroot halwa or gajar halwa as well stuffed paratha with carrot, cabbage, and capsicum. They can make tikki or even make paneer or cheese vegetable stuffed pancakes. This way, parents can use different vegetables with lot of variety.

  • Avoid Force-Feeding

Allow your child to eat just as much as he wants. Don’t compel him to take a second or third helping.

  • Let Him Help Out in the Kitchen

When you teach your child about nutrition, and allow him to help with cooking, he will automatically start taking more interest in food.


  • Keep the Devices Away

Be strict and say no to TV and video games during mealtime. It’s a good practice for all the family members to eat together.

  • Serve Beverages After (and Not Before) Meals

Juices and drinks are loaded with calories. So. it’s better to give them after your child has had his meal. YES but this if made at home and without any sugar is healthy can be added in between meal.

  • Have Fun With Food

If he likes it, he’ll eat it! Play around with the arrangement of food. Arrange the food so that it’s visually appealing to your kid.

  • Encourage an Active Lifestyle

If your child has become a couch potato, enrol him in swimming classes or encourage him to go play with his friends in the park.

  • Don’t Allow Your Child to Skip Breakfast

Under no circumstances should you allow your child to go to school on an empty stomach. A hearty breakfast boosts the body’s metabolism and increases appetite.

  • Make Him Drink Water 30 Minutes Before Mealtime

Encourage them to drink water or offer them a glass (or two) of it before mealtimes. Make it a habit to make them drink water as soon as they wake up and before mealtimes and they’ll be feeling hungry in no time.

  • Replace Junk Food With Healthy Alternatives

Junk foods are high in sugar and calories. They reduce the appetite. Replace unhealthy foods with healthy alternatives for snacking.


  • Incorporate Spices

Spices like oregano, Italian herbs, coriander and cinnamon add aroma and flavour to meals. This makes the dishes more appealing to kids.

Some kids don’t like having foods with a strong smell or taste, for example, garlic. Try eliminating such ingredients from your child’s meals. Instead, you can use appetising spices like oregano, cinnamon and fennel seeds.

  • Keep Your Home Cool

Appetite decreases when the environment is too hot, sweaty or uncomfortable. Turn on the air conditioner or open up the windows and the mood to eat will naturally return. (please verify) YES

  • Destress

During mealtime, don’t ask your child about homework or the things that happened at school. Instead, put on some music and lighten the mood.

  • Consider Doing Away With Milk

If your child is facing a loss of appetite, it may be the ‘too much milk’ problem. When kids have milk as an appetiser or snack, there’s no space left in their tummy for food.

Foods to Increase Appetite in Your Child

It’s time to get to the foods that will skyrocket their appetite and keep them craving for more. Here are some healthy options-

1. Peanuts

Boosts metabolism, increases appetite, keeps them munching constantly. Need we say more?

2. Yoghurt

Yoghurt keeps the digestive system running and boosts appetite as a healthy probiotic. It contains B-vitamins, calcium and gut-healthy bacteria in their stomach.

3. Green Tea

For tea drinkers here, green tea increases metabolism and boosts appetite. Plus, it’s zero calories!

4. Avocados and Nut Butters

Fruits like avocados, pomegranates and nut butter like almond butter or peanut butter increase appetite and are calorie-dense. Perfect for bite-sized meals.


5. Chicken and Pumpkin Seeds

You can reverse the loss of appetite in children by giving them foods rich in zinc like pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, wheat bran and chicken.

6. Ajwain

Ajwain is excellent for boosting appetite and promoting proper digestion. You can add it to parathas, make infused ajwain water or incorporate in salads too.

7. Basil

Basil leaves are known to promote regular digestion and is the perfect remedy if you’re wondering how to increase appetite in toddlers.

8. Chyawanprash

Going old school helps where Ayurveda is concerned, and chyawanprash is frequently used for treating appetite loss in kids.

9. Ginger

Add crushed ginger to sandwiches, salads or soups for boosting appetite.

10. Thyme

Thyme is best used in salads, soups and sandwiches. Add it to eradicate appetite loss in kids.

11. Fenugreek Water

Having a glass of fenugreek-infused water helps to boost appetite in kids.

12. Mint Curd

Add some mint leaves to your curd before serving it to the kids. Perfect for 8 months to 9 months old children.

13. Peaches

If your kid enjoys fruits, adding some peaches to their diet will help boost their appetite.

14. Plums

Did you know that plums boost one’s appetite? Kid’s crave them so be sure to add it to their diet. 

Now, you know why your kid may have a loss of appetite and what you can do about it! It is essential for kids to get enough nutrition during their developing years, which is mainly through the food they eat. Use these remedies and help your child regain his appetite in no time!

Also Read:

Healthy Foods for Children
Calcium-Rich Foods for Kids

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