5 Tips for Feeding Toddlers

Woman and two children baking and smiling

Toddlers are a special breed. With an age range spanning ten or twelve months through the third year of life, there are many battles to fight, skirmishes to win and a dinnertime war to settle.

1. Toddlers Don’t Need to Eat Much

Compared to infants who ate almost around the clock, your toddler won’t eat very much. She’s done growing at such an extraordinary rate of speed, so she simply needs less to eat. She’ll still eat a fair amount of food based on her rate of growth and energy levels, but compared to the large meals of infancy, toddlers can eat what appears to be next to nothing. Toddlers grow very little over the course of two years. They are no longer doubling their weight or adding ten inches of height. They are growing slowly and this will also slow down their appetites. This is a very normal change.

2. Toddlers Are Grazers

Babies ate large meals at essentially regular times. But once a baby becomes a toddler, there are much more interesting things to do than eat anyhow. The toddler needs to go and see and he might decide to get up and go right in the middle of mealtime. Toddlers are known to kneel when they eat once they are out of the booster or high chair. They also walk around and eat. To feed your toddler throughout the day, place a few small snacks on a plate and leave them by his play area. He’ll likely grab a few and eat and then play. He’ll grab a few more and so on. He might also just walk off and leave the plate entirely – he just wasn’t hungry then.

3. Toddlers Eat When Hungry

Toddlers have the kind of system that we all want. They eat only when hungry. The are not emotional eaters and they tend to not overeat as well. In fact, many parents wonder if their toddlers are even eating enough on a daily rate to survive. The trick to testing this it to keep track of what your toddler eats over the span of a few days. At the end of that time, add it up and look to see what food groups got covered and so on. Most toddlers will eat what they need. As a parent, be sure you present only food items that have nutritional value. Junk food will only waste space and effort in a child who eats at will.

4. Toddlers like Control

Toddlers like to control their surrounding, and especially their parents. If your toddler is throwing his plate around or feeding food to the dog despite warning s and threats, simply remove the food. The toddler who plays with his food is not hungry for it. A hungry toddler will eat at least something on his plate. Once he’s done eating, you’d be safer to remove his plate entirely before the whole thing winds up on the floor or on him. The same is often true of cups.

5. Lead Toddlers through Praise

A nice way to give your toddler additional control over his food is to offer choices. A toddler can’t make a selection from a wide range of choices, but he can pick one food over the other.
Ask your toddler his preference for food and he’ll be more likely to eat it in most cases. Given the choice between hamburger and chicken, for example, the toddler will feel more ownership of the food he selects. Another way to give power to your child is to give him a tiny portion of food and let him ask for more. Praising him lavishly for eating an entire (tiny) serving will also help to motivate him to eat more substantial meals in the future. In all things, not just food, it is far easier to lead a toddler through praise than it is to threaten or force. Toddlers are notorious for saying no, of course.

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