List of Herbs or Foods That Will Stimulate a Child's Appetite

by Caitlynn Lowe
Rosemary and other herbs can be added to zinc-rich foods for maximum effect.

Rosemary and other herbs can be added to zinc-rich foods for maximum effect.

Nearly all children become picky eaters to some extent during their toddler years, with an accompanying decrease in appetite, and some kids more so than others. Natural appetite stimulants, including several herbs and zinc-rich foods, often help boost the appetites of adults and children alike, but some stimulants may work more effectively than others for a given child's appetite.


Dating back into early American history, many believed rosemary worked as an appetite stimulant, digestion aid and antispasmodic. Contemporary herbalists also use rosemary as an antiseptic treatment for colds. Rosemary is fragrant and appetizing, and provides the slightly astringent scent associated with the most kid-friendly Italian dishes. Crush the pine-needle like leaves and use them to flavor chicken, pork, lamb, potato dishes and soups. Boost pizza and spaghetti sauce with an extra shake of rosemary. Alternatively, bake rosemary into bread or use it in an herb butter.


Mint initially suppresses appetite, but the effects wear off quickly, causing hunger to return even stronger. Contemporary herbalists also use mint to combat upset stomachs, nausea, vomiting and colic in small children. Add a little mint to milk and serve it as a tasty snack thirty minutes before mealtime. Use spearmint, which is milder and sweeter than peppermint, for toddlers and small children.


In addition to stimulating the appetite, tarragon helps ease fatigue, toothaches and stomach cramps. According to the herbalists at, tarragon also helps fight intestinal worms in children. Use a small amount of tarragon in recipes featuring fish, chicken and eggs.


Use thyme to treat poor appetite, diarrhea and bronchial problems. Thyme also contains iron, potassium and zinc, among other vitamins and minerals. Most recipes using thyme revolve around lamb, but thyme also works well in chicken recipes, fish recipes, casseroles and stews. You may also add small amount of thyme to pasta sauces or meat marinades. Thyme is another seasoning that gives kid-beloved Italian dishes their characteristic zing.

Dips and Spreads

Moms and party planners alike know that the same platter of raw vegetables with sit untouched or quickly disappear depending on whether it's accompanied by something to dunk the veggies in. Serve raw vegetables with a creamy dip or spread a little peanut butter onto vegetables for a healthy snack that encourages a healthy appetite. A serving of chunky peanut butter contains up to 15 mg of zinc, a mineral linked to appetite stimulation, per serving. Also, a standard serving of oil-roasted peanuts contains 6.6 mg of zinc. Serve a handful of peanuts as an afternoon snack to encourage your child's appetite for dinner.

Oysters and Other Shellfish

Oysters contain the largest amounts of appetite-stimulating zinc, ranging from 16 to 182 mg of zinc per serving depending on the oyster. If your child dislikes oysters, other shellfish, like shrimp and crab, also contain high levels of zinc. Mince the shellfish into very fine pieces and mix it into your child's favorite vegetables during dinner.


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, red meat and poultry contain relatively high amounts of easily-absorbed zinc that helps promote consistently strong appetites. Accustom your child to eating these meats in order to promote a healthy appetite in the long-term. Prepare chicken with rosemary and thyme or mix beef into stews loaded with appetite-stimulating herbs to further stimulate your child's appetite. Spaghetti and meatballs with sauce is a high-protein combination that takes advantage of some of the best herbs and foods that stimulate a small child's appetite.

About the Author

Caitlynn Lowe has been writing since 2006 and has been a contributing writer for Huntington University's "Mnemosyne" and "Huntingtonian." Her writing has also been in "Ictus" and "Struggle Creek: A Novel Story." Lowe earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Huntington University.

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