- By 12 months old, your child should be eating the same food as the rest of the family. You may need to make the texture of some foods a bit softer.
- Even when regular family foods are introduced, you can keep breastfeeding your toddler for up to two years and beyond. Continue to offer a variety of healthy food to your toddler and preschooler.
- Children are more likely to be healthy eaters when they are older if they start healthy eating habits at a young age.
It may be challenging at times to feed your toddler. As they get older, children become more independent and learn to say ‘no’. It is normal for young children to develop food likes and dislikes, want to choose their own foods and even refuse to eat certain foods for a time. The amount of food they eat will change based on their activity level and growth spurts.
Tips to help your toddler and preschooler eat well
- Let your child decide what to eat and how much to eat. You decide what food to serve, and when and where to serve it. Meal and snack times will be pleasant if you do your job for feeding your child and let your child do his job.
- Set a routine. Offer three meals and two or three snacks around the same time each day. This will help your child be hungry for the food that is offered.
- Children who ‘graze’ throughout the day may be too full to eat regular meals.
- Keep mealtimes calm and pleasant. Do not pressure your child to eat more or less.
- Serve small portions. Small children have small tummies. Let him have more if he asks but don’t be concerned if he doesn’t ‘clean his plate’.
- Avoid distractions. Turn off the television and put toys away. This will let your toddler focus on eating.
- Serve milk with meals and snacks. Toddlers and preschoolers should not have more than 500 millilitres of homogenized milk a day, or less if they are breastfeeding. Too much milk can fill your child and they won’t be hungry for meals and snacks. Offer water to drink between meals and snacks.
- If you give juice, limit the amount to ½ cup a day. Too much juice can lead to tooth decay and may make children too full for food. Juice is not necessary for good health. It is better to offer whole fruits. If you do give juice, make sure it is 100% fruit juice.
- Eat together. You are a role model for your child. Children are more likely to eat and enjoy a variety of healthy food if you do too.
Is your Child a Healthy Eater?
Find out if your child is a healthy eater. Nutri-eStep is a fast and simple interactive tool for parents or caregivers of preschoolers and toddlers. Gives immediate feedback and resource links.
- Dietitians of Canada – Feeding Infants and Toddlers
- Eat Right Ontario – Family Meals with No Television
- Eat Right Ontario – Help! My Kids won’t eat Enough Vegetables and Fruit
- Eat Right Ontario – How to Build a Healthy Toddler and Preschooler
- Eat Right Ontario – Say Goodbye to Picky Eating
- Nutrition Resource Centre – Eat Right Be Active: A Guide for Caregivers of Toddlers Ages 12 to 36 Months
- Nutrition Resource Centre – Eat Right Be Active: A Guide for Caregivers of Children Ages Three to Five Years