15 tips for feeding toddlers and preschoolers
Have a look at these practical suggestions to make sure you’re helping your child develop good eating habits.
- After 12 months of age, serve about 2 cups whole milk in place of formula each day. After 2 years of age, gradually switch to lower-fat milk.
- "Food jags" are common. A toddler’s nutrient intake is usually balanced over time. Food likes and dislikes need to be respected as long as they are not excessive and do not put undue strain on the family.
- Offer children a variety of foods to set the stage for life-long healthful eating habits.
- It is important for parents and older siblings to set a good example. Children learn by imitating those around them.
- Meals should be served at approximately the same time each day.
- Most children benefit from smaller meals plus planned nutritious snacks, rather than two or three large meals.
- Mealtimes should be pleasant and relaxed.
- Children should be allowed to feed themselves with fingers or a spoon when they wish to do so.
- Allow children to eat until they are full. Never use force a child to eat or to use food as a reward.
- Offer new foods when the child is hungry.
- Small portions are more readily accepted since oversized servings can be discouraging. Rule of thumb: One tablespoon of food for every year of age with more offered according to appetite.
- Children under 3 or 4 years old should avoid small and round, hard or tough-to-chew foods as they may present a choking hazard. Examples of these types of foods include grapes, hot dogs, hard candy, nuts, popcorn, raw carrots and raisins.
- Finger foods are more readily accepted than those requiring a fork or spoon.
- Active play on a daily basis helps encourage a healthy lifestyle.
- And remember, mealtimes are part of daily quality family time.