Worried about your toddler? You want your toddler to be healthy. You know that good nutrition is important for your toddler’s health. But you might worry from time to time if your toddler is eating enough.
Should you worry if your toddler doesn’t clean her plate?
Babies and toddlers Babies are born knowing when they’re hungry and when they’re full. Your baby will tell you when she is hungry or full. You will understand your baby when you pay attention to her signs of hunger and signs of fullness.
These signs are called “hunger cues.” Read about hunger cues here>>
From baby to toddler It is important that you pay attention to your baby and help her eat only when she is hungry. When you do this, she will continue to eat only when she is hungry as she becomes a toddler. And she will continue to eat only as much as she needs when she is a young child. This will help your child to be healthy throughout her life.
The same or different? Toddlers are different from babies.
• Toddlers grow more slowly than babies. That is the reason toddlers feel full with less food.
• Toddlers need less milk than they did as babies.
• Toddlers eat many of the same foods as the rest of the family, but in smaller amounts.
• Toddlers like to say “no”. That’s normal and healthy.
You can relax! Your toddler will eat well if you:
• offer her healthy foods several times a day.
• keep the portions small so they don’t overwhelm her.
• allow her to eat as much or as little of these foods as she wants.
• offer her choices of two healthy foods, when you can.
• respect her choices.
• keep mealtimes pleasant.
• show her that you eat healthy foods and enjoy them.
Your job as a parent or care taker Your main job is to offer several kinds of healthy and wholesome food at regular mealtimes and snack times.
Your toddler depends on the caring adults in her life to give her the healthy foods she needs.
Expensive? Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, some of the most nutritious foods are very low-cost. Some healthy low-cost foods are beans, brown rice, corn tortillas, fruit that’s in season, cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables that are in season.
Teaching by example You have another job. That is teaching by example. When you and your toddler sit down together for a meal, she sees you eating and enjoying healthy food. She will want to do what you do. That’s how young children learn.
Some toddlers are happy to try new foods. But your toddler may take a while to try and enjoy new foods. She may even say “No” several times before trying it. Some children need more time to get used to new food than others.
One more job You have one more job. That is to make mealtime pleasant. When your toddler is relaxed as well as hungry, she will be more interested in eating. Aren’t you? Read more about making mealtime pleasant here>>
Your child’s role Your toddler is in charge of deciding how much to eat. She might decide not to eat anything at all. And that’s OK. She’ll eat when she’s hungry at the next meal or snack time.
What can you expect? What’s normal?
• You can expect your toddler’s appetite to change from day to day.
• You can expect days when she’s hungry and days when she is not so hungry.
• You can also expect times when your toddler is interested in eating only one food all the time.
• She also may eat less than you think she should eat.
When you respect your toddler’s choices about food, she will eat when she is hungry. And she will not eat just because there is food in front of her. This will become a habit. And she will be healthier because of it.
Are you a WIC parent? If so, you can talk with your WIC educator about the foods your toddler is eating, and how much she is eating. Your WIC educator will be happy to answer any questions.