Everything you need to know about anorexia in babies and children

Why does baby refuse to eat?

In most cases it is loss of appetite in a toddler is transient, short-lived and easily explained. “On the one hand, we must not forget that every child has their own appetite,” recalls Dr. Jean Lalau Keraly, pediatrician and nutritionist. On the other hand, it is necessary to check this regularly Weight and size chart of a baby. And in the case of a break, conduct investigations to find out whether the refusal to eat is not due to a allergyfrom a Cow’s milk protein intolerance… »

It should also be remembered that an infant’s thinness may be constitutional. If his parents are small and very thin, he might be like them, a matter of heredity!

A physiological cause

“The fact that a baby who has been eating well and suddenly eats less can be explained by the presence of feverfrom a rhinopharyngitisear infection, gastroenteritisfrom a teething…”, the pediatrician reassures. The loss of appetite will be very temporary.

A decrease in needs

Until the age of 5 to 6 months about the infant growth is extremely fast. It takes an average of 500 g per month and 2 cm ! Its weight is between 5.5 kg and 6 kg and its height is between 62 and 65 cm approximately.

“Then, around 5 to 6 months of age, the baby’s growth slows down, so his needs decrease,” warns Dr. Jean Lalau Keraly.

Food diversification and opposition phase

Growth slows further in the second year of life. “The little child eats less, that Food diversification has taken place and it is also in phase d’opposition ‘ the pediatrician explains. This phase of opposition has implications for eating.

“Indeed, the little child is against it when playing with food. That’s how he draws his parents’ attention to him,” explains the pediatrician. And this refusal to eat hits the mother all the more because she knows that she is a “nurse”.

True Infant Anorexia: What is it?

When it is estimated to occur 25 and 50% children meet Difficulty feeding, true anorexia in infants is rare. This eating disorder is characterized not only by a total refusal to eat, but also from a Effects on the weight and height curve of the child on which there is one break.

“That’s why it’s important to have your child’s weight and height checked regularly by the pediatrician,” the doctor recalls.

symptoms of anorexia

– Baby rejects her baby bottle : he squeezes his mouth so that the pacifier cannot be inserted, he pushes it away with his tongue, he spits out the milk.

– The withdraws.

– The turn your head to the other side.

“This situation is unbearable for a mother who loves her child and is convinced that her child loves her too,” emphasizes the paediatrician.

Anorexia in children: what are the causes?

The reasons why mental disorder are diverse. “Very often this refusal to eat is not due to a lesser love of the child for its mother, but a force food from the latter or fromNanny for example,” warns Dr. Lalau Keraly.

At this age there may also be other causes that can lead to one emphasize in the toddler. ” A postpartum depression the mother, a Change of nanny or criba Relocation, the Birth of a younger brother or sister… can have a negative effect on the child’s appetite,” warns the pediatrician.

What to do about infant anorexia?

First a little warning: “The mother always thinks that she is fineShe forces her child to eat and at the same time tries to distract him, but the pediatrician warns that it was a mistake. Then we get into a vicious circle and the child increasingly refuses to eat. A keyword to remember: Above all, never force a child to eat. “In fact, a child always takes the amount they need,” assures Dr. Lalau Keraly.

Baby food tips

A mother who breastfeeding don’t know how much milk your baby is taking in. And yet she doesn’t care.

It must be the same with the bottle. dr Lalau Keraly recommends “ feed the baby as needed, even from a bottle. When the infant empties his bottle, next time the amount is slightly increased; If he doesn’t eat it, the remaining milk is thrown away. Likewise, we don’t wake the baby up when he’s sleeping. »

We can better divide up his meals by giving him smaller amounts of milk more frequently.

It is often very easy to determine whether the toddler has breastfed enough: “Regularly wet diapers and frequent bowel movements are a good sign!” said the pediatrician.

Nutrition tips for toddlers

– At the age of nutritional diversification, the young child may value a new fruita new vegetables, it is normal ! “If he doesn’t like it, we take the food away, put it back in front of him the following week and, if necessary, start over several times,” warns the pediatrician. Sometimes it takes time Introduce a new food 8 to 10 times in a row so a child ends up liking it.

– “You have to vary the food of the toddler and Avoid monotony ‘ the pediatrician advises. So there is no point in preparing a kilo of carrot puree for the week. Or we freeze it in the freezer ice trays to offer a different flavor every day: carrots, leeks, zucchini, peas…

– “No matter how old the child is, we do not turn the moment of eating into a moment of play,” warns the pediatrician. So no rattle to distract the infant, no Peppa Pig cartoon for the 18 month old…

– A small child should too come hungry to eat. “We don’t give him anything between meals,” advises Dr. Lalau Keraly. Even if he has eaten almost nothing at lunchtime and wants something after an hour. “You have to make him wait until the taste. Especially since the snacks are often sweet and/or greasy and only provide “empty calories”. “From about 18 months, it is important that the meals are structured with 4 meals a day – breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner – and no more,” says the pediatrician.

– We also make sure that the meal doesn’t drag on: ” Count 20 minutes approximately, but no more,” recommends the pediatrician.

– Another important piece of advice: Don’t fret! “So if the mother, who is used to feeding her child, feels she is too upset, the best thing to do is ask the father or someone else to do it,” advises Dr. Lalau Keraly.

If the eating disorder persists despite following his advice, it is advisable to consult his pediatrician or family doctor again, or even a child psychiatrist.

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