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Many parents agonize over their toddler’s eating habits wondering if the’re losing out on good nutrition. Usually this is not the case but read on for tips on how to help your child become a good eater.

It takes time for a toddler to like a new food. They need to see the new food on the table and their parent’s eating it. Toddlers will eat a lot one day and hardly anything the next. Often they eat only one or two foods from their plates and not the whole meal.


It’s important to make mealtimes pleasant and reduce distractions. Your child needs to be calm, well rested, and hungry to eat well. Warn children that a meal is on the way and turn off the T.V. before eating. Always offer food in a calm, neutral way and don’t pressure your toddler to eat. 

*[Image Goes Here]*     As a parent you decide what food to buy and serve and the times for eating. Your child decides what and how much to eat if at all. Control the timing of meals and snacks so that your child has time to get hungry before meals. Children have small stomachs but high energy needs, so he should have three meals a day with snacks. Always put one food on the table you know your child likes (i.e. bread or milk) and don’t short order cook when they demand something different than what’s offered for the rest of the family.

Offer at least one food from each of the four food groups at every meal: a meat or other protein source, milk, a fruit or vegetable, bread or other grain product, and let your child pick and choose from what you present. A toddler can get all the nutrients they need from a helping only ¼ (one quarter) to 1/3 (one third) the size of an adult’s or one tablespoon per year of age up to 5 years.


Present foods in a way your toddler can handle. Make food moist, cut meat finely. Let your toddler look, feel, mash and smell the food, he’ll like it better. However sometimes toddlers just mess around to get you to react. Then it’s time to let him down from the table.


Children will often refuse new foods so don’t force them to eat something they don’t want. Take the mystery out of the food by talking about it and by letting them help prepare it. If a food is refused, calmly remove it then try serving it another day. It may take up to 10 attempts before a new food is accepted so be prepared for a lot of food waste.


Promising rewards for trying a new food is not a good idea. Your child may assume there is a need for a reward or that they’ll always be rewarded for eating that food. It’s also important not to use food to try to make your child feel better when he skins his knee, gets his feelings hurt, or is cranky. If you do, he’ll learn to eat when he gets upset.

Parents can help their children become good eaters. Be patient and try some of the tips above. If you need more food ideas or are concerned that your child is losing weight because they are not eating enough, speak with your family doctor or a registered dietitian.


For more tips on how to feed your picky eater, visit


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