My Toddler’s Appetite Has Decreased. What Should I Do?

toddler eating dinner at the table
Like many parents, there may be times when you worry if your child is eating enough.  Read on to get information and tips that can help put your mind at ease.  
Toddlers are very good at responding to their feelings of hunger and fullness.  It is important to trust your toddler’s appetite. It is normal for your toddler’s appetite to change from day to day and from meal to meal. How much your toddler wants to eat can also depend on how active, excited or tired they are, where they are eating (at home or at day care, for example), or whether they are going through a growth spurt. Look at eating patterns over the week rather than each day to see how well your toddler is eating. Don’t worry if your toddler skips a meal here or there, as long as they are growing and healthy, they are probably getting enough food.

Follow these tips to help your toddler eat well:

  • Let your toddler decide how much to eat from the foods you offer. Do not force them to eat or restrict the amount of food you allow them to eat.
  • Set regular meal and snack times. Offer 3 meals and up to 3 snacks at regular times each day. Avoid offering snacks too close to mealtime. This will help your toddler come to the table hungry.
  • Offer water between meals. Sipping on milk or other beverages between meals leaves less room for other foods.  
  • Set a good example. Your toddler may be more likely to accept healthy foods if they see you eating them.
  • Keep mealtimes pleasant and relaxed. Turn off the TV and remove toys and other distractions during meal and snack times.
  • Avoid pressuring, praising or rewarding your child to get them to eat. 
  • Encourage playing each day. Physical activity can help increase appetite.     
  • If there is a sudden decrease in your toddler’s appetite or if you have concerns about their growth, contact your child’s health care provider.

Check out these kid-friendly, award winning recipes for lots of fun and nutritious meal and snack ideas your toddler will enjoy. 

How can a dietitian help?

dietitian will make sure your child is growing well and getting important nutrients like protein, fibre, iron and calcium. They can give you a personalized plan on how to develop lifelong healthy eating habits for your child. A dietitian can also help you with skills like meal planning and label reading. Connect with a dietitian today

Bottom line

It is common for a toddler’s appetite to vary from meal to meal or day to day. Look at eating patterns over the week rather than each day to see how well your toddler is eating. Follow the tips in this article to help build lifelong healthy eating habits. 

You may also be interested in:

Sample Meal Plan for Feeding Your Toddler (ages 1 to 3) 
How can I help my Child Gain Weight?
Say Goodbye to Picky Eating
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider. 

Last Update – June 20, 2022

Phone Icon

Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Want to unlock the potential of food? Connect with a dietitian.