7 Tips For Encouraging Your Toddler To Eat Well

Any parent can tell you: the toddler phase (ages 1 to 3) can often be challenging when it comes to feeding.

There are good reasons for this as several developmental changes happen at this time.

Toddlers are striving for independence and control. And their growth rate slows down. With this comes a decrease in appetite.

These changes can make mealtime difficult.

But instead of giving in and only feeding your child chicken nuggets, it is important for parents to provide structure and set limits for the toddler.

Here are seven tips to help manage mealtimes so that your toddler gets the nutrition he or she needs:

  1. Avoid battles over food and meals.
  2. Provide regular meals and snacks.
  3. Be flexible with food acceptance as toddlers are often reluctant to try new things. If your toddler refuses a food, don't make a big deal out of it, and try again in a few days or weeks. 
  4. Be realistic about food amounts. Portion size should be about one-fourth the size of an adult portion.
  5. Limit juice intake. Encourage whole fruit instead.
  6. Dessert should not be used as a reward. Try serving it with the rest of the food.
  7. Make the food easy for your toddler to eat:

    • Cut food into bite-size pieces.
    • Make some foods soft and moist.
    • Serve foods near room temperature.
    • Use ground meat instead of steak or chops.
    • Use a child-size spoon and fork with dull prongs.
    • Seat your child at a comfortable height in a secure chair.

How GMC Can Help

Explore nutrition for the whole family at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Health (e) Library online, including toddlers, infants, teens and more.


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