Feeding your toddler - age 12 to 24 months
Feeding toddlers can be challenging sometimes.
Now that your child is a toddler, he may be growing much slower than when he was an infant. Don’t be surprised if you notice some changes in the way he eats. This is all normal.
Here are some things you might have noticed about your child's eating habits:
- Breastfeeding may become challenging as your toddler may be easily distracted and may breastfeed for shorter periods. Try to reduce distractions by breastfeeding in a quiet room without loud noises
Your toddler may:
- seem very hungry at one meal and not at the next
- eat a large amount of food one day and much less another day
- not want to try new foods
- have food likes and dislikes
- want to be in control and may say “no” often
Know how much food to offer:
- Toddlers have very small stomachs, so offer child-sized portions, they may only eat 1/4 to 1/3 of what you might eat at a meal
- Give food using a child-sized plate, utensils and cup
- Trust your child to decide which foods to eat of the foods you offer and how much to eat
- Let your toddler serve himself. Teach him to take small amounts at first and let him take more if he is still hungry
- Provide healthy foods around every 3 hours, consisting of 3 meals and at least 2 snacks each day
- Offer the same food as the rest of the family and the texture as needed
- Do not go back to the kitchen to get different food if your child refuses to eat
- Too much milk or juice, including drinking between meals, can affect their appetite.
- Offer whole milk (3.25%) from an open cup at meal or snack time
- Offer 2 cups (500 mL) of whole milk each day and no more than 3 cups (750 mL)
- Fortified almond, rice and soy beverages can not be substituted for whole milk
- Toddlers don’t need juice, offer water or breastfeed if they are thirsty
Enjoy family meals together in a pleasant sociable environment
- Offer a small open cup and child-sized spoons and forks as soon as your child can hold them so that he can start to practice using them.
- Serve foods that are fun and easy to eat (e.g. cut food into small ‘finger-food’ pieces or interesting shapes).
- Eat with your child at the table and include him in the family conversation.
- Encourage your toddler to feed himself even if it will be messy.
- Let your toddler eat as little or as much as he wants.
- Don’t bribe, punish, or reward your child with food, or use ‘games’ or ‘tricks’ to encourage him to eat.
- Turn off the TV and remove all distractions (toys, books).
Keep your toddler safe at mealtimes
- Always supervise your child when eating.
- Have her sit upright securely in a feeding chair.
- Make sure foods are soft enough to chew and moist enough to swallow.
- Serve hot foods at a safe temperature to avoid scalds and burns
- Keep adult hot beverages, such as tea and coffee at a safe distance where your toddler can’t reach them
Avoid foods that are round, hard, sticky or crunchy, like:
- nuts and seeds
- hard candies and chewing gum
- chunky peanut butter
- spread smooth peanut butter thinly. Never serve it from a spoon
Cut up foods that could cause choking into bite-sized pieces
- Cut grapes or cherry tomatoes in half or smaller.
- Try to serve plain meats such as chicken, beef and avoid the less healthy, processed meats, such as hot dogs or deli meats. If you serve hot-dogs, then slice them length-wise before chopping them into smaller pieces.
- Do not use toothpicks or skewers.
When it comes to feeding your children, your goal as a parent is to raise healthy kids who enjoy eating.
To speak with a public health nurse, call:
Region of Peel - Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216