Is your toddler a picky eater?
She may want to eat only one kind of food. She may refuse to eat the healthy foods you offer her. She may want to eat the same thing day after day. Sometimes she may refuse to eat at all.
Completely normal Does this sound like your toddler? Then you are not alone! Your toddler is completely normal. So you can stop worrying about how she eats.
Toddlers—not babies any more It helps to remember what toddlers are like! Toddlers want to do things for themselves. They like to do what the adults around them are doing. They also like to say “no”.
Clean hands Toddlers often have dirty hands. Help your toddler wash her hands before she eats.
Meals with your toddler You want mealtimes with your toddler to be enjoyable. And you want her to eat a variety of healthy foods.
Be patient with your toddler. This will make feeding her easier and more fun.
Encourage your toddler to eat well. Show her that you eat fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods too. She will want to be like you.
Make your mealtimes family times. Have your toddler sit at the table with the rest of the family.
Talk to her about the foods she’s eating. Talk to her about the colors and shapes of the fruits and vegetables. Ask her how a food feels when she touches it or chews it.
More tips Encourage your toddler to eat more types of foods. If your toddler doesn’t like to try new foods:
• offer one new food at a time. Offer it along with a food your toddler already likes.
• offer your toddler small amounts of food. You can offer more if she asks for it.
• cut foods into fun shapes with a cookie-cutter.
You may have to offer a new food as many as 15 times before she will be willing to try it.
If your toddler refuses what you offer:
• offer her choices between two healthy foods. Let her choose between carrots and green beans, for example.
• bring her to the market, and have her help you shop for foods.
• let her watch you prepare food. When she is older, she can help as you prepare food. She is more likely to eat foods she has helped make.
If your toddler wants the same thing day after day:
• let her have the food she often wants as long as it’s a healthy food.
• offer this favorite food along with some other foods. After a few days she will probably try some of the new foods you are offering.
If your toddler refuses to eat:
• make sure her snacks are not too close to mealtime. She won’t want to eat if she’s still full.
• don’t worry. Your toddler will eat what she needs at the next meal or snack time.
Other ways to help your toddler
Let your toddler decide how much she wants to eat. Don’t make her finish what’s on her plate if she’s full. Trust your child’s appetite. Read more about toddlers’ appetites and how they eat>>
Don’t pressure your toddler to eat something she doesn’t want. She may have certain foods she just doesn’t like. That’s OK. We all have foods we don’t like.
Let your toddler touch her food before she eats it. Young children often like to do this. She’s learning about food this way.
Are you a WIC parent? At WIC you can attend a group session about how to feed your toddler and keep her healthy as she grows.
You can also talk with a WIC educator about her eating, growth and development. Your WIC educator will be happy to answer any questions.