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How should I increase my child's appetite?

Q: My child is 14 months old and she has some chest infection. This happened when we visited India in October and ever since we returned to Australia she has been having severe cold and cough. We have taken a chest X-ray and are waiting for the results. The GP here has prescribed Amoxil drops but I am really not for it. Is there any other thing that I can try at home to help the cold? She has lost her appetite and is not putting on weight. She is weighing only 9 kilos for 14 months. Is there any other way that I can increase her appetite?

A:I realise your anxiety about the persisting cold. It is perfectly normal and correct practice to prescribe a best choice antibiotic for a chest infection, while we wait for the results of tests. So, kindly follow the advice given by your family doctor (GP). There is no virtue or science in withholding an antibiotic, when it might be required by your child. The current weight of your baby is quite alright. Hence, the intake should have been sufficient. Please realise that most children have an in-built and efficient appetite - satiety mechanism to monitor the food intake. If the child is active, playing well and not losing weight, presumptively, the child is getting enough food. There is no known medicine to increase appetite in normal children. Nor are they necessary. The art of increasing the appetite is little difficult to learn. Please try the following technique: Decide on the type of food that your tradition and preferences allow - think up all that you would want the child to eat in later life. Introduce each one of the varieties, one by one, now itself in the form of soup, stews, tender curries, mashes, etc. Choose the mealtime judiciously. The trick is to choose a schedule that you can follow. Snacks are good. When given after mealtime and after the child had taken adequate food, they increase the weight. Giving a snack ten minutes before the regular mealtime douses the appetite, and then expecting the child to eat again is not realistic. Do not commit that mistake. Withhold the snacks at least one and a half hours before the regular mealtime. Always, keep in mind that every child should go to bed early. A baby of 2 years may require around ten hours of sleep.

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