Eating is a great way for toddlers to develop new skills and learn more about the world. They start to take a more active role in family meals. One of the most important jobs you have is trusting your toddler to determine how much and whether to eat from what you provide. When you do your job with feeding, they will do their job with eating. Let your child grow up to get the bodies that are right for them.
Tips for Feeding Your Toddler
• You decide what, where and when the food is served. Your child decides if they are going to eat and how much.
• Continue to offer a variety of foods from the 4 food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.
• Create a meal time routine with 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day.
• Do not let your toddler have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times.
• Expect a mess! Toddlers are learning how to eat and exploring the world with all of their senses.
• Set limits. Your toddler will start asking for unhealthy choices like pop or candy. It’s your job to say “no”.
• When letting your toddler feed themselves, make sure it’s safe for them. Your toddler is still learning how to eat.
Challenging Eating Behaviours
Your toddler will start showing some eating behaviour that may be challenging. Keep in mind that it’s normal. Your toddler may:
• Eat a lot one day and not very much the next day
• Refuse to eat food that that they’d always eaten before
• Want to eat the same food every day for a week
• Be easily distracted and take a long time to finish eating
• Play with their food.
You can help make meal times successful.
• Let your toddler feed themselves. Let them try using a fork or spoon.
• Never let you toddler eat while running around. If they sit while they eat, it will help prevent choking.
• Never force your child to eat.
• Make meal times fun!
• Be a good role model. Eating healthy foods yourself will make your toddler more likely to want to eat them too.
• Have set meal and snack times; don’t offer food on demand.