In general toddlers are charming, entertaining and obedient. But when it comes to feeding they become a source of exasperation for most of parents. Feeding your child with balanced and healthy food is a trick to be learned and expertise. Most of the toddlers become picky eaters/ fussy eaters and that is normal for their age. Feeding problems are so frequent that nearly 90-100% parents report this to their Doctor. And it is more common in Indian subcontinent where feeding is an expression of love.
First lesson – Respect his decisions
1. It’s your kids decision- ( Please do not impose any of these)
a) Whether to eat or not
b) How much to eat
c) How to eat
2. What you should decide-
a) What foods to offer- Introduce a variety of foods (No one likes same food everyday)
b) When to offer - Set regular times for snacks and meals (A minimum of 3 meals and 2 snacks)
c) Where he should eat- Comfortable place where you can eat with your toddler. (Turn off TV, Remove Toys, No plays, no distractions while eating)
Normal Feeding habits
•They generally eat less as compared to first year of life because physical growth slows down
• Eat more on some days and less on others
• Refuse to eat new foods, or change their minds about foods they ate before
• Sometimes want the same food everyday for a week
• Easily distracted while eating. Forget to swallow/keeping food in mouth for longer time
Tips for Feeding Toddlers
1. Introduce a variety of foods as early as possible
• Start with small serving sizes – your toddler can ask for more.
• Try preparing new foods in different ways – cooked, in soup,with dips. Toddlers like to try different colors, shapes and textures.
2. Be patient – it may take many times before a child will accept a new food
• Be a role model for your toddler – eat well yourself.
• Respect the toddler’s appetite and follow their hunger and fullness cues – do not force feed, restrict food or trick your child to eat.
• Do not use food as a reward or punishment.
• Let your toddler learn about food at his own pace – every child is different.
• Serve food in child-sized plates, cups and utensils.
3. Set regular times for snacks and meals
• Plan meals and snacks around the same times to set routines.
• If your toddler is eating throughout the day, he won’t be hungry at mealtimes.
• Too much juice or milk can fill up your toddler – offer water for thirst.
4. Make mealtimes a pleasant family time
• Eat with your toddler instead of feeding your child.
• Turn off the TV and remove toys during meals – avoid distractions.
• Have your toddler sit down to eat
• Do not grind food items in blenders – Food loses its texture and your child swallows food without chewing it. In that way child never learns to chew things.
• Continue to breastfeed your toddler until the age of two and beyond.
• If your toddler uses a bottle, wean them to a regular cup Cow’s milk can be started after 1 year of age. Serve full fat milk (3.25%) milk to your toddler. Their Fat requirement is higher than yours. Limit milk intake to max of 300-400 ml/day Offer water between meals. Sipping on milk or juice between meals can decrease appetite. Always supervise your toddler while eating. Cut foods into bite size pieces to avoid choking.
How much to feed:
1. Toddlers need 3 meals per day and 2 small snacks between meals.
2. Try to give 3–4 food items at each meal and 2 food items in snacks
3. Quantity of food – as much as he takes. Rough guide is to serve a small bowl every meal and nearly ½ bowl in snacks