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How To Increase Appetite In Babies, Toddlers & Children

Published on: 26 June , 2019 | Ekta

8 out of 10 mothers complain about their babies not eating properly (even if they eat sufficiently). Every MOM has that feeling! Toddler are often fussy about what they eat & we have earlier seen how to feed you picky toddlers without blazing, bribing & begging! There are many healthy foods that help your child gain weight naturally. And today, we will discuss about How To Increase Appetite In Babies, Toddlers & Children.

Children often ape their parents and get hooked to junk food at a very early age. In earlier days, mothers used to pack boiled channa (sundal), aloo paratha, sliced cucumber and carrot or fresh fruits for snacks. But these days, for ease of making, most of the healthy food has been replaced by chocos, McCain Smileys’, bourbon cream biscuits, bread-butter-jam or chips and pasta or noodles for lunch. It’s obvious children get acquainted to junk food because our lifestyle is changing rapidly and we eat out a lot more than earlier. In the long run, this affects their digestive system & immunity easily.

Read: Shocking 14 junk foods you must avoid and why!

Causes Of Poor Appetite In Babies & Toddlers

Falling Sick Regularly – Main cause of low appetite in babies

Low immunity leads to children falling sick more often. Cold, cough, fever & flu causes weakness and the child loses interest in eating. As a result the child may eat 30% lesser than normal. So, ensure you know how to boost your child’s immunity and the foods that help you improve your toddlers immunity naturally.

Overdose Of Whole Grains & Dairy Products

It’s a well-known fact that whole grains are fibre-rich & do not make us feel hungry for a long time. Oats are a classis example of keeping your child’s tummy full. So, if your child’s diet is fibre rich, your child will cease to feel hungry for longer than usual. Similarly, even milk & other dairy products cause fullness in the stomach and curb the desire to eat more.

Indigestion In Kids

Indigestion In Kids

Improper digestion can be caused due to wrong foods, wrong timing or wrong schedule. Our body produces ‘agni’ the fire which aids in digesting the food and appropriate absorption to convert it into energy for further use by the body for various mechanisms. Flatulence, gas, colic in babies is a common phenomenon which slows down the digestion process as a result of which children do not eat enough. Read natural home remedies for indigestion in kids.

Insufficient Zinc Levels In The Body – What Causes Poor Appetite In Kids

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps in fighting infections, forming DNA & producing WBCs. Reduced dietary intake or inadequate absorption of Zinc by the body causes Zinc deficiency. The RDA(Recommended Daily Amount) of Zinc is 8mg per day. Our body contains about 2gms of Zinc and is essential for skeletal muscle development. It produces HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) which is required for normal digestion. The foods that are rich in Zinc are cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, legumes, nuts, dairy products, meat, eggs, whole grains & meat. Homemade cerelac is a healthy way to increase appetite as it contains legumes, nuts & cereals. Read, How To Make Homemade Heath Mix - Sathu Maavu: Ingredients & Recipe.

Untimely & Unplanned Meals

Many mothers have a tendency to over-feed the child. Let’s have a raise of hands please! We end up feeding our children more often than required. If we give our children heavy meals within 2-3 hours gap, the food consumed earlier doesn’t get digested properly. As a result you spend more time trying to convince you fussy child to eat and obviously get stressed about his inability to complete his meal and the child loses interest in food because of repeated forceful eating.

Slow Growth

They say that a baby’s weight triples in the first year. Sometimes, you may notice that you baby is not gaining much weight over 2-4 months and there is ‘failure to thrive’. Since the growth has slowed down, the energy required by the body remains the same & does not accelerate the need to consume more calories. This leads to loss of appetite. Frequent sickness may also be a major cause. Do you know about the 2nd Growth Spurt – A lesser known but CRITICAL Growth Opportunity For Your Child.

Skipping Breakfast

Your child cannot skip breakfast no matter how old. It is proven that children who eat healthy breakfast perform far better at school – their memory & attention span is much better than those who skip the first “break the fast” meal.

15 Foods That Increase Appetite In Babies, Toddlers & Children

Ginger – Best Foods to Increase Appetite In Babies

Ginger is a wonder food with multiple health benefits. You can either give a spoon of grated ginger juice mixed with honey in the morning or add grated ginger juice in buttermilk / sweet lassi / chaasin the afternoon to boost the ‘agni’ – fire in the stomach to aid the digestion process. Ginger with honey or peppermint relieves gas, flatulence & constipation. Garlic also helps in quick digestion. Also read the other health benefits of Garlic.

Carrot – Foods That Promote Digestion In Children

Carrots can be either consumed or as carrot juice. Rich in Vitamin A, it is not just good for the eye sight, but also helps in deworming as well. Carrot juice given 3-4 times a week helps increase appetite and is much better other juices as it does not require added sugar. Since it doesn’t have to be refrigerated to serve, it minimizes risks of causing cough or cold.

Curd / Yoghurt – How to Increase Appetite In Babies, Toddlers & Children

It’s a proven fact that curd and yoghurt are better than milk for the digestive tract to increase the child’s appetite. Curd is an amazing probiotic and can either be given along with juice of 4-5 mint(pudina) leaves or roasted fenugreek seeds powder. Mint cools down the body & accelerates the digestive process in toddlers and adults. You can also give cottage cheese (paneer) or cream cheese instead of milk to your child.

Cinnamon - Home Remedies To Increase Hunger In Child

Cinnamon has a plethora of health benefits including weight loss in adults, curbs sugar levels / bad cholesterol in body if taken every day on empty stomach early morning. “Hydroxychalcone” a component in cinnamon helps increasing the child’s appetite as it digests the food faster. Cinnamon powder is common household ingredient used in curries, garam masala, biryani, desserts like pies, tarts, pastries and beverages. For toddlers above 8 months old, you can use cinnamon in the home made health mix, mashes & porridge.

Carom Seeds – How Ajwain Helps In Digestion

      Carom Seeds is called Ajwain in Hindi & Omam in Tamil. Ajwain is an excellent ingredient used to cure cold & cough in kids. It can be soaked in water and consumed on empty stomach every morning. Alternatively, it can also be used in parathas or while kneading the dough or tempering (tadkas) in Indian gravies. It improves the digestion process significantly.

Lemon Juice – How Vitamin C Helps Boost Immunity

Lemons are rich in Vitamin C, which help boost immunity. Oranges also contain Vitamin C which help avoid cough & cold. Squeeze half a lemon in your water & drink it on empty stomach – this expedites the digestive process & clears your bowels faster. Young kids can be given lemon juice with sugar which is very refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.

Zinc Rich Foods For Babies

Some of the best Zinc rich foods are dairy products, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, nuts & meat. Zinc aids digestion. Peanuts – the “king of nuts” can be given in the form of peanut & jiggery chikkis or in chutneys with your South Indian Cuisine. You can even give boiled peanuts with a dash or lemon & salt as a snack to school. They will absolutely love it! Pumpkin Seeds & other dry nuts are also rich in Zinc who improves appetite in kids. Ensure they eat only a handful, else chances are they may skip a meal if they gorge on too many nuts.

Rasam – Best Ways To Increase Appetite In Babies

Rasam can be given as a soup or along with rice. Rasam rice is a popular Indian dish that is served as an accompaniment post lunch as it aids quick digestion. It is made of tamarind, tomato, black pepper & garlic as it’s main ingredients. It is tasty & easy to make. It can be given to toddlers after 6 months.

Thyme & Basil – Best Ayurvedic Herbs To Promote Digestion

They are wonder herbs that are widely used in Ayurvedic medicine since centuries. Crushed Thyme & Basil can be soaked in water or can be added to daals if your toddler is a fussy eater.

Chyawanprash – How Ayurveda Can Help Increase Appetite In Children

Chyawanprash is a popular herb given to ids above 5 years who are poor eaters & suffer from poor digestion. Consult your pediatrician for correct dosage before oral administration.

Choornam – Ayurvedic Herbs That Can Help Increase Appetite In Toddlers

Rajanyadi Choornam is an Ayurvedic herb that can be given to infants above 6 months of age. Babies often play on the floor and are habituated to putting everything in their mouth. This can lead to stomach infection and worms. Choornam can help in de-worming, strengthening the child’s bones & immune system and normalizing digestion. It can be given before feeding your child or along with lunch mixed with ghee and rice, in warm water early morning or in buttermilk. Recommended dosage – 5gms a day. Ashta Choornam is a mix of 8 herbs that also works in similar fashion and helps increase appetite. This can be given to children above 1 year.

Plums, Berries, Grapes, Apples & Peaches – Best Fruits To Improve Digestion

Many parents do not give adequate fruits to their children or stick to the basic banana & papaya. It is an uncommon fact that peaches, berries & plums also help in increasing your child’s appetite. Grapes are one of the best options for mid-day snacking. They are finger fruits children love to eat. They contain Chromium which is essential for development of the child.

Mustharishtham - Homeopathy Drops / Syrup for Increasing Hunger

This is an age old remedy for restoring appetite caused due to indigestion. It is generally administered on older kids above 1 year.

Asafoetida – How Hing Helps In Promoting Digestion

Every Indian household uses hing in daals (lentils / pulses) and gravies that cause gas or flatulence like chola / channa, rajma, moong daal, etc. Good digestion results in good appetite for successive meal. You can add it to khichadi, rasam, buttermilk, daal rice or any food along with lunch or dinner.

Tips To Boost Appetite In Babies


Water is the Elixir Of Life – it’s essential to give children a glass of water as they wake up and at least 30 minutes before every meal and not just before as it fills the stomach.

Offer Small Portions - Baby Loss Of Appetite at 6 months

Instead of giving 3 big meals in a day, break it down to 6 small meals. This builds appetite and boosts digestion. The child will also accept the idea of eating on his own if they healthy finger foods. Avoid stressful conversations while feeding. The tendency to stop eating is much higher as the child will want to move away from such serious discussions.

Avoid Strong Taste & Odour

Pungent smell, taste & odour are a big put-off for kids. Foods like ginger, garlic, vinegar, an overdose of haldi should be avoided. Instead use appetizing herbs like Oregano & coriander powder for garnishing in different cuisines help increase appetite in babies.

Get Active - Increase Hunger Naturally

Most kids these days are glued to the digital world. They should be urged to go & play outdoors. Physical activity will cause energy deficit in the body & in-turn the body will want you to replenish the energy. Your active child will drink plenty of fluids & will want to eat more.

Elevated Body & Environment Temperature

It’s a known fact that people eat more during winters to keep them warm. Hot soups and high calorie diet is preferred when the temperature is cooler outside. If your child is kept too warm or the temperature is hotter than normal, he / she will refrain from eating. Cooler temperatures, well-ventilated rooms, easy access to outdoors will make your child want to eat better. So make sure you keep your windows open and get a breath of fresh air.

Avoid Repetition Of Food Colours, Flavours & Textures

Children are always gravitated to colours, variety & taste. Try to shuttle between different colours, texture, shapes and sizes. Too much of the same thing can lead to boredom & the child may not take interest in eating it repeatedly. So change the meal size, meal structure & limit the quantity. Do not force feed repeatedly.

Do not make feeding a struggle for your & your baby; you may run the risk of setting a negative pattern or mood around mealtimes that can be hard task to overcome. All children are different. Your child may not require energy as much your friend’s child does. Every child’s metabolism & body mechanism works differently. As long as his/her growth (height & weight) are on track. Aptivate & Pediakid are few syrups given to babies for weight gain with consultation of the pediatrician.

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A doting mom to an angel, Social Media Specialist & Professional Blogger. She loves to share her thoughts with other parents in the same turbulent boat. She absolutely loves & adores her family & is learning to strike a good work-life balance. When she is not writing, cooking or busy taking care of her toddler, she probably is dancing to some good desi music!

Ramya Ravindra Barithaya 2021-01-24 16:34:27

Love the read

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Pranita 2019-12-21 12:29:42

You are the real grandmother of today's generation.

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Thank you for the comment!