Toddler Eating and Feeding
For many parents toddler eating and feeding is confrontational. Toddlers are fiercely independent, have minds of their own and want to do their own thing.
There will be foods and tastes they do not like and that's a personal right, just as it is for adults. Also, they have very small stomachs and only so many mouthfuls can be eaten at any one time.
To find out what they prefer, introduce them to a wide variety of nutritional foods and see which they naturally take to and like. A good time to do this is when you are introducing them to solid foods and are feeding them yourself.
Once they want to eat by themselves present meals of the foods they like in suitably small portions. Cut the food into small bite sized pieces to avoid choking and until they are able to cut up the food for themselves.
To encourage good eating habits your toddler should sit and eat meals with the family. But if they want to use their hands instead of cutlery let them, if they want to eat some dessert before the main course is finished let them.
Never get angry or show anger if they are not eating the way you would like. As toddlers they are constantly watching you for your reaction to the things they do. You don't want eating to be a time of confrontation.
You want them to eat nutritional food, so as long as everything is nutritious it isn't a major issue in what order it's eaten or how it's eaten.
When it's obvious no more is going to be eaten, clean hands and face and let them leave the table. If only a few mouthfuls are eaten that's ok, if the meal plus more is eaten that's also ok.
Outside of mealtimes have a selection of nutritious snacks available. Toddlers use up energy at different rates throughout the day and need a top up of fuel between regular mealtimes.
Some days a lot will be eaten and other days a little, but over a few days the average intake should balance out to the daily recommended intake. You can research the recommended daily nutritional needs via our
Toddler Nutrition page.
In summary, know the daily nutritional needs of your toddler and satisfy these needs by providing good nutritional food at regular mealtimes and as energy boosting snacks. Then encourage healthy toddler eating through calm, flexible, gentle persuasion.
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