Pediatrician Dr. Wanda Lopez – “How Can I Get My 17-Month-Old To Eat More?”

QUESTION:

Hi. I have a beautiful 17-month-old baby girl. My concern is that she doesn’t really have a big appetite. I have trouble getting her to eat. Is there anything I can give her to give her more of an appetite?

DR. LOPEZ’ ADVICE:

There is nothing you can give her to stimulate her appetite. Babies don’t eat as much as in their first year of life because they don’t grow as quickly. They don’t need much. She should be having 3 meals per day. Offer her milk only with her meals and only after she has eaten. Milk fills you up a lot. Give her a variety of foods for each meal–a source of protein (meat, cheese, or beans), vegetables and fruit. Limit juice to no more than 4 ounces per day–juice, even the Tropicana brand, has lots of sugar that gets converted into fat in the liver. Offer water instead. Never give her soda, Malta or flavored water.

Also do not snack her much between meals—no milk as a snack. For a snack she should have a piece of fruit or vegetable and water–no more than 2 snacks a day–one between breakfast and lunch and the other between lunch and dinner. Again the snacks should not be a lot and never milk.

Never force her to eat. If after 15-20 minutes she does not want to eat any more then stop. There will be days that she’ll eat better than others and that’s ok.

Never feed her in front of a TV and dinner should be quiet–no loud noises to distract her. If possible the whole family should sit and eat together and she should eat what the rest of the family is having. Your baby is probably going through what we call the normal toddler appetite slump. We as Hispanics tend to think that a fat baby is healthy which is not always true. We also think that they should eat a lot and are constantly stuffing them. If they are always eating how will they learn to feel hungry and eat only when they are hungry? Not doing so puts the child on the road to obesity. If your baby is healthy, happy, growing and gaining weight, well, then this is normal. Just go with the flow and enjoy your baby.

Take care,

Dr. Lopez

Wanda Lopez, M.D.

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