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Appetite During Illness: Decreased

Why is my child not hungry?

When your child is sick, he or she will probably not want to eat as much. A decrease in appetite is normal with most minor illnesses. This is not harmful. The seriousness or the cause of the illness cannot be figured out by how much or how little your child eats.

How can I take care of my child?

For a while let your child choose what he eats. Children with decreased appetites usually continue to drink enough fluids.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?


  • Your child is less than 2 months old.
  • Your child has not urinated in more than 8 hours.
  • Your child starts acting very sick.

Call during office hours if:

  • The poor appetite lasts for more than 1 week.
  • Your child is not drinking adequate fluids.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2010-06-03
Last reviewed: 2018-07-13
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2018 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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