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Feature Articles: Children


Ten Tips for Feeding Your Toddler

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist in Barton County
University of Missouri Extension


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.

  1. 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 three hours.
  2. 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.
  3. Set a healthy example for your children. They will want to eat and drink what you eat and drink.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 birthday.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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








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