My 4 Year-old Is Loosing Weight

Updated on March 09, 2009
Z.N. asks from Aurora, CO
9 answers

I have a 4 year old boy who is very picky about food. I have noticed that since November he has lost weight or not gaining any. He is 40 inch tall, his weight is 33.33 pounds. I was wondering if there is any safe medicine that I can give him to have appetite. When he eats, he just eats a small quantity and he says that he is full. I don’t give him any sweets or junk food. The only thing I give him between the meals could be like bananas or yogurt. Please help!

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So What Happened?

I called his doctor and she does not seem to be worried about his weight. He has been small since he was born and his chart shows that h is growing. She asked me to make an appointment in a month (since he just got a visist) and she will watch his weigh again. Thanks for all your responses!

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answers from Denver on

Medicine isnt alwasys the key. The only medicine I beleive in is antibiotics. Fatty foods are ok for kids just in moderation. I would ask him what his favorite foods are and have some more of those WITH some good ones too. It has alwasy workd with my kids and they love variety.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

You might like the books "My Child Won't Eat!" published by La Leche League and "The Family Nutrition Book" by Dr. William Sears. They are both in paperback and I'm sure you could find them cheap online.
My pediatrician said most of the small appetite problems he deals with can be traced to chidlren drinking most of the calories, often through cow's milk or juices in sippy cups. When the "recreational" beverages are replaced with plain ol' water, appetites increase.
All the same, I agree with the other posters' comments about screening for celiac syndrome or other trouble, if only to rule it out. This is probably worth a visit with your pediatrician. Best wishes!



answers from Boise on

My 4 year olds are not as hungry as when they were smaller, and their weight gain has slowed down. I think it is normal for their appetites to be small around this age. I read it somewhere - can't remember where.




answers from Denver on

DO NOT give him anything medical. Or even herbal, not tested on children and can be dangerous.

What you need to do is have him evaluated and have your Pediatrician tell you if there is a reason to worry.
I have a very petite little girl, she is right now 46 inches tall and 45 pounds, so I know how easy it is for us parents to worry when there may not be a problem. My daughter seemed to be so tiny and skinny for the longest time and now at 7 took off in height and had a big growth spurt recently. I follow her cues, she can either eat all the time a few days then not want much for another week. My Dr constantly told me not to worry as long as she moved upwards on the chart each time he wasn't concerned with how much.

As far as being picky, you need to now explain at his age what the different foods do for his body. Give him a chart with six things he does not like post it up and tell him that is fine, however he needs to try new foods and serve whatever you serve to him. He won't starve. Associating his food with "fuel" so to speak. You can get protein shakes with higher calories, pediasure where it is a lot of nutrition and so on. PLEASE talk to your Dr first, before you do anything as they can guide you even send you to a nutritionalist if need be.

If he is full, he is full. Kids know what they need. I wouldn't be so sure he is picky and don't cater to him being picky, serve what you serve and that is that. Get him involved in the meal planning, have him help you at the store and cooking. I know when my kids eat things they are all bragging about like salmon is "brain food" carrots are good for your "eyes" and all of that. I allow things I know they have tried and don't like however I really stress why foods of specific kind are important and so on.

I don't think it is okay NOT TO give him ANY sweets either, kids should be allowed junk food on occassion as long as they eat well otherwise. I feel strongly parents that don't allow it at all will regret it later. You don't have to give it to him all the time but it is kind of part of being a kid. Depriving him, will lead to him binging later, don't let that happen. I can personally attest to that, I didn't have anything in the house like that then when I went to a friends house I pigged out, got teased for it and gained weight in puberty years because of it.

Have things he likes as treats and even for rewards of eating a good balanced meal. My kids know healthy food is always the most important and the sweets and treats are a bonus and special. I see nothing wrong with offering a cookie, some pudding, popsicle, jello or something as dessert for eating a good dinner.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Talk to the doc to see if his weight is an issue (sometimes we worry too much and our kids are really ok). But if he is underweight and there are no medical issues causing it, the best bet is to feed him nutritious but calorie dense foods. Peanut butter, meat, eggs, etc. Even some pudding and ice cream are ok. (It's going to tend to be foods with higher fats. Just make sure they are healthy fats). It's a balance to get him eating enough calories but maintaining healthy eating habits. But you don't want to just pile on the butter or cook everything in bacon fat.



answers from Spokane on

Has your child always been picky about food? Kids will often have days or ever one meal a day where they eat well...then seem to hardly eat anything. Have you been weighing your son or does it just seem that he is not growing? I have a very petite little girl..34 inches tall and only 23 lbs. As long as your child is charting normal growth when you take him in to his doctor...he is fine. If you've noticed a significant change in behavior, appetite, or weight then it would be important to take him in to be seen by his pediatrician. It would be unsafe to attempt to alter his appetite on your own, other than making sure he is not eating snacks within 1-2 hrs before meals.



answers from Denver on

Have you talked with your son's pediatrician about his lack of appetite? There may be a medical reason why he's not hungry and why he's not gaining weight. Type 1 diabetes and Celiac Disease come to my mind. I'm not trying to scare you, hopefully it's just a stage, but I think it's best to figure out the reason. I know that weight and food issues are what we went through with my 3 yr old daughter, who we found out had Celiac Disease.



answers from Denver on

Hi Zohra - talk to your doc about his eating habits and his weight loss to rule out medical problems. You don't have to wait until his annual exam to discuss that.

One poster suggested celiac disease which is a gluten intolerance that affects the lining of the intestines and reduces the amount of nutrition one absorbs from food. Celiac has some specific symptoms to watch for like lots of bouts of abdominal pain with gas and diarrhea including frothy stools. It can sometimes be diagnosed with a blood test but often requires a biopsy of a tissue sample of the bowel which is quite invasive.

You might talk to your doc about acid reflux. My nephew struggles with that and his symptoms were much worse with a full tummy and it turned him into a very picky eater as well. His appetite is much much improved after starting a daily medication.

It sounds like there are things your son likes to eat, you could increase his intake by offering him small portions of those foods more often throughout the day. He may be one of those people who is a "grazer" and does best when he eats 6 meals a day. You might also observe how much he is drinking before a meal. If he has a big drink, even water, it will fill him up. You should also explore healthy calorie-dense foods that he likes such as pizza or mac-n-cheese. Continue to watch for sugar content to avoid him filling up on empty calories but at this point it is not a high priority to limit a food because of it's fat content.




answers from Denver on

Is he getting heartburn when he eats? Sounds like how a kids will act with reflux.

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