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Feeding Your Toddler

During the toddler period, your child will continue to develop his or her sense of autonomy. At times, young children may refuse to eat certain foods or get "stuck" on a specific food. This is only a phase and even a way of asserting themselves. As long as your child does not refuse all foods of the same food group, it will be ok.

Offer 3 meals a days with planned snacks in between. A serving size for a toddler is smaller than an adult portion. A child's serving size is approximately ¼ to ½ an adult's portion size. Your child's appetite can vary - some days they won't eat much at all and other days they will want seconds!

Keep offering new foods

Most children learn to like a food after it has been offered many times. Offer foods often and show your joy with eating foods. Children may not like certain foods because they are mixed with other foods or full of mysterious sauces. So, skip the casserole if your child does not like it and serve the same foods separately on the plate.

  • Be sure to tell the food is good tasting without over emphasizing it.
  • Keep your opinion to yourself about the foods you do not like.
  • Serve the same food in different forms.
  • Offer the new food first, followed by familiar foods that your child already likes.
  • Offer you kid the same foods the rest of the family is having.

How well is my child growing?

Have your doctor follow your child's growth on a growth chart. This will give you a precise idea of how your child is growing.

If you feel your child is not growing enough: check with your doctor first to see if your child needs to eat more. Children have a very small stomach. They often need to eat 5 to 6 small meals a day to get the amount of foods they need to grow.

If you feel your child is overweight: check with your doctor first to see if your child has become overweight. Restricting calories is not a good choice. Instead, give your child a chance to grow into the weight as he or she gets taller. Provide healthy food choices and help him or her spend more time being physically active.

  • Keep your home stocked with breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products (for children over 2 years) and lean meats. Don't overdo snack foods like pop, chips, candy, etc.
  • Serve meals and snacks about the same time everyday.
  • Make a house rule: eat only at the dining table.
  • Reward kids with your love and attention, but never with food.
  • Talk to your child about feelings and how to solve problems, other than using food as a form of escaping from them.
  • Make fun activities a part of the things you do together as a family.
  • Limit the amount of TV that you and your family watch to about two hours a day.

How can meal times be pleasant?

Meal time can be a great opportunity to teach positive eating behaviors. Have your family sit at the table to eat and socialize together.

  • Turn off the TV during meal times
  • Focus on each other
  • Set a good example by eating calmly and taking pleasure in the meal moment

Make meal time a great interaction between you and your child. It's important for you to provide structure and limits so your child has an opportunity to make decisions that are safe. Here's an approach you can use to do that:

You can decide: which foods you provide to your child, the time and the place where foods are eaten.

Let your child decide: which foods to eat and how much.

The WIC Program can help answer your nutrition questions. If you believe your child qualifies for WIC, contact 211 for the phone number of your local WIC Office.