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Why does my toddler refuse to eat?

My toddler is refusing to eat at mealtime. What could be causing this?
Submitted by Parents.com Team

If we all ate like toddlers, we wouldn't need to diet! Even though toddlers eat very little, they usually eat what they need to and get their nutritional needs met. They may eat several small snacks throughout the day and only eat one really good meal. Or they may decide they are famished and chow down about every three days, but pick at their food the rest of the time. This is often maddening to a parent who is used to an infant chugging down breast milk or formula every few hours.
 
What you need to know: It's normal for children to grow more slowly after their first birthdays. As long as your child is following his or her growth curves, you don't need to worry. But it's important to avoid making the kitchen table a battleground for your control-seeking toddler. Keep offering nutritious foods at meals and if your toddler isn't interested, don't force it. And offer more nutritious snacks such as ham cubes or veggies with dip, since that's the time your child is more likely to eat!
 
If your toddler absolutely avoids eating, even at snacks, or is falling off the growth charts, then it's time to check in with the pediatrician. Occasionally, kids who had acid reflux as babies continue to have symptoms into toddlerhood. These kids may avoid eating because it hurts to eat.

Copyright 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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