Feature Articles: Children
Ten Tips for Feeding Your Toddler
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and
Health Education Specialist in Barton County
Feeding toddlers can be tricky. They have developed a mind of their own and the way you want them to eat may not always be the way they want to eat. Here are ten tips to help decrease your anxiety about feeding your little one.
- Have regular meal and snack times set for your
toddler. When children can count on food being offered
at specific times, they eat better. Toddler’s stomachs are
small so they need to have a meal or snack every two to
- Sit at the table with your children during mealtime.
Children who eat healthy meals with their families make
healthy choices when they are away from home and choosing
their own foods.
- Set a healthy example for your children. They
will want to eat and drink what you eat and drink.
- Offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to your
child. According to a study funded by the Gerber
Company, one-third of children under the age of two do not
consume fruits and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables
are packed with healthy vitamins and minerals that can help
your child attain optimal health.
- Choose foods and beverages that do not have sugar
listed as one of the first ingredients. Sugar tastes
good but adds only calories and not healthful nutrients.
- Milk is a great source of calcium and children need
calcium for bone development. Whole milk is recommended
for children up to age two for optimal brain development.
Low fat milk can be offered after your child’s second
- Don’t let them walk around with a drink. If their
bellies are full of fluid they won’t eat as well. If you
offer snacks every two to three hours they can get plenty of
fluids at those times.
- Don’t worry when your toddler stops eating as much as
they used to. At around age two, children’s appetites
decrease. This is because their growth has slowed and they
don’t need as much energy for growth. Children’s appetites
increase just before a growth spurt.
- Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian, has always advised
that it is the responsibility of the parent to offer
healthful meals and snacks and the child’s responsibility to
decide how much or even if they are going to eat. Don’t
worry if they push food away. You will be offering it
again in 2-3 hours.
- Be active with your toddler. It starts a healthy
habit early for your child and you both benefit now. Play
outside with them at the park, take a walk or involve them
in yard work such as raking grass or leaves.
It’s scary when at the end of the day your child has had only sips of milk and what seems like only three bites of food. Children do have the ability to know when they are hungry and how much to eat. If you have offered meals or snacks every two to three hours, go to bed knowing you have done your part. Tomorrow is another day. If your child is growing well (you can ask to see your child’s growth chart) and playing well, chances are good they are getting plenty to eat.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009