Yummy Mummy Lakshika J. from Toronto, ON asks:
Hello, I have a 22 month-old, who does not eat. She will go days with just nibbling on food, and once in a blue moon she will have a good meal. She is under weight for her age, I am lost on what to do. Please help.
Nutritionist, Theresa Albert answers:
Hi Lakshika, let’s start with what NOT to do! Panic. Do not panic!
First ask yourself these questions:
Is she genetically pre-disposed to be tiny? Some kids don’t eat much because they really don’t need much to fulfill their genetic destiny. An external assessment of how much she should be eating can be way off. 22 month olds don’t generally need a ton of calories.
How much is she drinking? Milk/Formula packs a whole bunch of calories into a condensed and easy to consume liquid form. If she is drinking any more than 3 sippy cups a day, it may be crowding out other forms of nourishment. At this stage she should be well on her way to getting her nourishment in solid form. If she is drinking any liquid other than water, stop immediately. Even 100% juice can be so filling that the food doesn’t seem worth the effort.
Is your doctor worried? If you truly have a problem on your hands, your doctor should be involved and guiding you. If she is underweight or undernourished, you want to know. If she hasn’t stepped in, stop worrying.
Here are some things TO do:
Track all food silently and subtly to figure out how much she is truly getting. You may be surprised.
Be sure that all foods that do make it past her lips are working for her. Do not fall into the “at least it’s something” trap. Remove all treats, snacks and nibbles that are not fruit or vegetable.
Bump up meals by stirring truly nutrient dense foods into what you are already making. Here’s a list of a few I like. Kids deserve to be allowed to listen to their own hunger signals. External pressure to eat more over-rides the very same “stop” signal that they will need to confront a world of “eat bad food” messages. Mom gets to decide what goes on the table, kid gets to decide how much.
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