How To Increase Baby Appetite| Foods for your Baby to Build Appetite


I have written earlier on how to stop fussing and the tactics to make your fussy eater eat properly. This time I wanted to write about the foods to increase appetite in babies, toddlers and kids.

My friend was telling me about her 2-year-old daughter. Her fussiness towards food gives the mom a headache every day. The little girl is not interested in fruits, cereals, or vegetables. Instead, she loves the deep-fried items like sev, chips and namkeen. “Those deep-fried snacks are the only eatables she is interested in. She doesn’t seem to be hungry at all. God knows why. I am really worried” told this mom.

Increase Baby AppetiteMost of the parents are not sure about how to increase the baby’s appetite. Well in this post, I will give you detailed information about low appetite in babies, toddlers, and the foods which are appetite boosters.

Causes of low appetite in babies, toddlers, and kids:

There can be many reasons for poor appetite in babies and toddlers. Fever, cold, and cough are the main culprits.

Even though the body recovers from fever or cold, the digestion process takes a bit longer to get back in track, resulting in tastelessness and low appetite.

Let’s see the other reasons for less appetite in babies, toddlers, and kids.

  • Low level of Zinc

According to Science, low appetite has been linked to Zinc deficiency in your body. Zinc produces hydrochloric acid which is required for proper digestion of food. A low level of Zinc produces less HCI which leads to poor appetite.

You can increase the levels of Zinc by providing chicken, wheat bran, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds in your little one’s diet.

  • Unbalanced Agni or digestion

According to Ayurveda, the ‘Pakwagni’ or the fire helps us to burn the food in the tummy and convert it into energy required by the body. Indigestion, gas and flatulence are all caused due to imbalance in this Agni.

In babies and toddlers usually, the Agni or digestion process goes seemingly slow due to illnesses like fever, cold, or cough.

  • Appetite slump

In toddlers, there can be a constant weight for about 3-4 months. Their growth has slowed down; calorie requirement is less during those months and hence low appetite results.

  • Failure to thrive

Babies can also have a constant weight or no increase in weight for a few months. It’s known as ‘failure to thrive’ which is again caused as a result of infections, fever or any other serious illnesses.

  • Inadequate gaps between meals

When food is given without a proper gap of 3 to 4 hours, it won’t digest properly. In such a case, the baby or toddler won’t feel hungry for a long time.

  • Whole grains

Whole grains can make the tummies of babies and toddler full for long as it is rich in fiber. It might also cause low appetite.

  • Too much of milk/ dairy products

You read it right. Too much of cow’s milk or formula can result in low appetite among babies and toddlers. In case of toddlers, limit the cow’s milk or dairy products to 2-3 cups a day.

Top 8 tips to improve baby appetite naturally 

When it comes to healthy eating your baby can become very picky. Moreover, with such a small appetite, your child often struggles with eating or might find the food unpleasant. It will lead your child to find excuses to skip meals. At the same time, it is also important to ensure nutrition consumption during their growth years. During the phase of physical and mental development, your child requires all the necessary nutrients in their food. However, it becomes quite difficult, especially when they have a small appetite and plenty of excuses to skip their meal. To get rid of this problem, there are several natural tips to improve your baby’s appetite.

Here are several ways to improve baby appetite naturally:

  • Make breakfast compulsory:

Breakfast is the most important part of the day that helps our body to function effectively throughout the day. Breakfast is equally important to everyone i.e. kids, adults, toddlers, and infants. After a long night break, breakfast works best by providing the energy for your kid to keep them active for the rest of the day. A balanced and healthy breakfast will help to improve baby appetite naturally.

  • Ensure iron in the food:

Like other nutrients, iron also plays a major role in boosting your child’s appetite. Children starting from the age of 1 to 9 need 7 to 10 milligrams of iron every day while those more than 10 require 8 milligrams of iron on a daily basis. You should make iron-rich foods compulsory in your house to improve the baby’s appetite naturally as well as other family member’s appetites. Some of the iron-rich food include eggs, spinach, lentils, and much more. However, according to studies, a lack of iron in food can result in anemia among toddlers. To avoid this, make your little one habitual of iron-rich foods.

  • Give them water 15 minutes before the meal:

According to studies, drinking water before the meal helps in activating the digestive juices and enzymes and will help your baby eat better. Prefer offering water to your child 10 minutes before the meals and even before drinking milk. It is a scientifically proven method that helps to improve a baby’s appetite naturally and boosts the digestion of your child.

  • Offer more zinc-rich food:

Similar to iron-rich foods, zinc is one of the most important minerals that help in boosting your child’s immunity. In addition to this, iron-rich food promotes regulating the functioning of various antioxidants, growth, and development. However, if zinc is not provided to the babies, then it can lead to a deficiency of zinc and result in several health problems including weight loss, reduced appetite, infections, and diarrhea. To get rid of this, feed your baby more of the zinc-rich food such as spinach, nuts, beans, pumpkin sweets, and mushrooms.

  • Feed them every two hours:

Offering food to babies every two hours helps to stimulate their appetite and eat better. As children need a lot of energy to play, study, and be active throughout the day, three times of big meals may not help them. Moreover, if your child is a fussy eater, try and give them a meal every two hours and offer light snacks or nuts between the meals. Giving them small portions of the meal often will help in boosting their appetite and remain energetic throughout the day.

  • Offer snacks as a meal:

Light snacks can be a good meal for your child to keep them active all day and improve baby appetite naturally. Instead of offering chips, and cookies to your child, prefer giving them a sandwich, cereal, or muesli that will offer them all the necessary nutrients and improve their appetite. Try these healthy replacements of snacks to make your child a better eater.

  • Include peanuts in their food:

Peanuts are not any ordinary nuts. It holds protein building and appetite boosting properties. It is often called the king of nuts because it is associated with offering various health benefits. Ensure to give peanuts to your child either in the form of peanut butter or by simply frying them to make it a crispy snack. Fried peanuts are a good option when your child demands a crispy snack.

  • Offer favorite foods:

Like every adult, toddlers also have their likes and dislikes when it comes to food. If your child is constantly avoiding to eat a particular food or fusses over every meal, then he might be wanting his favorite food. Offering good food, in the beginning, can help in boosting your child’s appetite and get their metabolism running. Once they become a good eater, then you can try on giving other foods.

20 Foods to increase appetite in babies, toddlers and kids:

Here are the 20 foods that can help to increase appetite in babies, toddlers and kids naturally.

#1. Ajwain

Ajwain or omam is an excellent appetite booster. You can give it to babies of 6 months and above in the form of ajwain water, parathas or as the tempering or tadka in food.

You can also refer to the 4 ways by which ajwain can be used to treat cold and cough in babies and kids.

#2. Asafoetida

Hing, kayam or asafoetida is the anti-flatulent known to increase appetite in babies and toddlers. You can add hing to baby foods like khichdi, butter milk, khadi or rasam.

You can also read how asafoetida worked wonders for my daughter’s gas problems.

#3. Ashtachoornam

Ashtachoornam is an Ayurvedic powder made of ‘ashta’ or eight herbs. It can help to increase the appetite in toddlers and kids.

You can mix Ashtachoornam in warm ghee and rice for your toddler. It can also be mixed with buttermilk or warm water for your toddler every day.

Ashtachoornam can be started from the age of 1.

#4. Basil or tulasi

Basil or tulasi can help to improve digestion process and increase appetite in babies above 8 months.

#5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon can increase appetite in babies, toddlers, kids and even adults. It contains ‘hydroxy chalcone’ which increases appetite.

From the 7th month, you can add cinnamon powder in porridge, mashes and kheer for babies and kids. For older kids, you can add cinnamon powder in homemade cakes, toasts, pastries, and hot chocolate drinks.

#6. Chyawanprash

Chyawanprash is an effective remedy for loss of appetite in kids. It can also help in the proper digestion.

Chyawanprash can be given for kids of 6 years and above.

#7. Rajanyadi Choornam

Rajanyadi Choornam has turmeric as the main ingredient. It is very beneficial for worm infection, constipation, low appetite, indigestion and improving strength in babies.  The quantity can be 1-4 gm mixed with ghee before meals twice a day.

It can be started for babies from 6th month.

#8. Ginger

Ginger can help to increase appetite in toddlers and kids.

Crush ginger with a pinch of salt. Add in the buttermilk or chaas given to your toddler every afternoon. This can help to increase the fire/agni which can improve the appetite in toddlers above 1 year.

You can also read about dry ginger coffee for babies and toddlers during cold and cough.

#9. Musthaarishtam

Musthaarishtam is a tonic that can help to increase appetite in babies, kids and adults as well. It can be started for toddlers above 1 year.

#10. Oregano

Oregano is another spice that can improve appetite in toddlers and kids. Add in homemade pizzas, breads, omelets, and pasta.

#11. Rasam

Rasam is a herbal soup made in South India. It can boost appetite in babies and kids as it eases the digestion process while boosting immunity.

Rasam can be given for babies of 7 months and above.

#12. Thyme

Thyme can also boost appetite in babies and kids. You can add in rice and dals.

#13. Peanuts

Peanuts contain zinc. As I mentioned before, zinc aids digestion and improves appetite. However, avoid giving peanuts to kids younger than a year. This is because peanuts can cause an allergic reaction in some kiddos. When you introduce peanuts, make sure you follow the 4 or 7-day rule, to ensure that your child isn’t allergic to it.

If not, you can use peanuts in chutneys, give roasted peanuts as a snack, give it in the form of chikki or even give some peanut butter for them to relish.

#14. Carrot juice

This is something my mother has tried for me. Apart from the countless benefits that carrot has to offer, stimulating appetite is one thing that made my mom fall in love with it. A small glass of carrot juice half an hour before meals helped to increase hunger. Try it out to see the results for yourself.

#15. Pumpkin seeds

This may look a bit confusing to you, as pumpkin seeds are used to curb hunger as well! So wondering how it found its way to this list? The answer is – zinc. All you have to do is, limit the amount of pumpkin seeds that you give your child. Too much can make your child feel too full to eat anything else.

#16. Curd with mint

Drinking too many glasses of milk can hamper your child’s appetite. If your child’s appetite is low, then skip the glass of milk and give some curd instead. Add some mint leaves and blend well. Season it with some salt and give it to your child. You can give it to kids older than 8-9 months.

#17. Curd with fenugreek powder

Swap the mint for a pinch of roasted fenugreek powder and you can see a change in your child’s appetite.

#18. Peaches

If you happen to stay someplace where you can get your hands on this yummy fruit, then rejoice, for peaches are good to boost the appetite.

#19. Plum

This is another fruit that can be given to your kid that will help to boost the appetite. The best part about plums is that, most kids love the taste.

#20. Lemon juice

If your kid loves juice, then give him a glass of lemon juice. This also helps to boost the appetite.

You can consult your pediatrician if your little one’s low appetite seems to continue for months. The pediatrician might prescribe Aptivate syrup or any other appetite booster medicines.

However please DO NOT try these medicine without the consent of any pediatrician. In the case of Ayurvedic medicines, it’s better to consult an Ayurvedic doctor before starting any tonics or choorna as he will give you the right quantity to be given for your baby as per the age and physical attributes.

Further reading:

Hope you liked this post on foods to increase appetite naturally in babies, toddlers, and kids. Is your little one fussy about eating foods? What do you do to increase his/her appetite? Share with me in the comments.

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About Author

Sangeetha loves balancing her personal and professional life. These days, the major chunk of her time is spent on listening to 'how to beat the Piggy from robloks'; thanks to her 8 year old daughter.


  1. Hi. This is nilofer from Chennai, TN. My dd is 19months old. She is refusing to take food… She didn’t eat the whole day but had just milk… Though she is hungry she spilts food when I feed her and asks for milk….

  2. Hi,

    My son is 2 years old and not having food properly since from 2 months and i’m changing food recipics too but couldn’t help. past 1 week 1 time also he is not having food apart from milk.(packet milk)
    could you please help me out

    Thanks in advance

  3. Lilian Onsarigo on

    Hello,my baby is turning 11 months soon,he has poor very poor appetite.he only loves breastfeeding. But he is very active and energetic. Please advice on what I can offer him to increase his appetite. THANK YOU.

  4. Kettelene St Louis on

    My daugther she’s 23 months old since she born .she’s not really eat what can I do for her.

  5. Ariffa Hussain on

    Dear Mam,
    This is Ariffa From Tamilnadu and I have a Son of 2 years old,who is not eating properly and he likes to have only milk and some times fresh juice.
    We are fed up with all types of foods and soups.I am very much worried about him and weight gain is also a big problem. He is also having constipation.Will you please help me Mam.

  6. Dear Mam,
    I am mom to my 16 month old toddler girl.She is weighing 9.4 kg and height 79 cms.fussy eater.Doc suggests Paediasure.But is it safe to give it her.She lost her weight with diahorrea ,which is good ?Paediasure or Horlicks?

  7. my baby is 19months old she doesn’t eat oats coz of texture no fruits too as she hates sweetshe is pale and has constipation . she is on bottle feed so she is always asking for milk n in solid she eats only rice and moong dal n rice powderpls advise

  8. My baby is two and half month old. He is suffering from loose motion 8 to 10 times in a day his stool is very watery n greenish. Plz suggest me any 1 how to control my baby stool instantly plz plzzz

  9. Hi
    My baby is about to turn 5 month.. i rarely give her top feed and try to feed her on my own but she dont take milk.. she feeds for about 4-6 minutes and then try to skip. She is active and playful but not gaining weight. Can u share any tip to increase her hunger

  10. kuhelika shit on

    My son is 4yrs old,and he is just 12.9kg. Not interested in any food. I m a working lady. PLEASE GIVE SUGGESTION.

  11. my breastfeede 2 and a half month baby has a smelly & seedy watery poop loose motion around 6-8 times a day from last 3 weeks . i consult with dr he advised for suprax 100 – 1ml 2 times a day & enterogimina once a day but he has no improvement . he is loosing weight my baby weight is 5 kg wat do please suggest me m so worried about my baby health

    • Meenakshi, since you are breastfeeding, keep doing that – its the best remedy for your baby. Babies and even adults lose weight during loose motion – which will be regained post the recovery. Keep a tab on making the baby hydrated via breast milk and do not offer any other solid foods other than the medicines as given by the doctor. Hope this helps.

  12. Hi sangita
    Aarfa here my baby boy two year he is not intrestest in any food
    Can you give advise for new food

  13. Every nice article…specially for NRI parents. My son just trun 1 year last week…he has same issue. He doesn’t like to eat. Recently we found out that he has very low hemoglobin. He was in hospital for five days for under hosipal observation. It was very stressful and painful days which my whole family faced.
    I have to increase his appetite.. anymore suggestion or opinion plz share with me. I will be very thankful.

  14. Hellooo mam plzz help me out from this prob my daughter is 10 months old n her weight is jst 6 kg she dont feel hunger at all she vomit frequently every day she dont even drink milk …I hav to forcefully feed her as she dont feel hungry plzzz suggest me some thing plzzz

  15. you just saved our lives.. will try these on my baby. will let you know the results.

  16. hello mam,
    i need help
    my 18 month ld daughter is only 8.5 kgs and doesnot eat at all please tell me something t incrrease her appetite

  17. Deepak Sharma on

    Hi. I am Deepak Sharma and my 3 and a half year old daughter is too fussy while eating and she is never hungry. Also she is not gaining weight. Although she is quite active.I want you to help me suggesting some herbal remedial medication for her. I would feel obliged.

    • Ashish,

      Take a cup of honey and add cooked n deseeded 10 amlas to it. Close the bottle and let the bottle rest for 10-15 days. Gradually the honey will seep into the amla and it can be had instead of chyawanprash.

      Once a day an amla eaten will provide immunity and boost appetite too.

      I hope your child is above 1 year old.

  18. I also suffered through same problem with my niece and this blog really helpful for any Beginner mom. I would also like to add one thing that Precautions is better than cure. So start taking all above solutions ASAP.

  19. Hi,my 15yr son doesn’t eat well.he just eat dal n rice as lunch N khichadi as dinner. N cup of cow milk in d morning. Plz suggest me some food,

    even he don’t like fruits

  20. Hi sangi , hope you are fine…
    my baby is gng to b 1 year by next month 7th…for te past 3 days she is not eating properly , whatever I gve her she is just spitting out …what shud I do ??
    Will tere b any prob in her stomach ….she is active .but not eating properly…I didnt stop feeding her..

  21. I share the same problem of low appetite, my Two n halfyears old daughter doesn’t eat much. she is an active child and I’m always worried about her weight . With the help of this article now I know what is best for her. Thanks a lot.

  22. Pingback: Increase Appetite in Babies, Toddlers and Kids with 12 Foods | KIDSBLOG.IN