Feeding Toddlers and Young Children
As your child grows, she will want to feed herself and choose
her own food. Mealtimes can be challenging. Your child
may be very picky or easily distracted. One day she may
eat a lot and the next day almost nothing. Or she may
want to eat only one food.
How can you encourage her independence while helping her
eat healthy foods? Be patient and offer healthy choices
for meals and snacks. Avoid battles over food. Let your
child decide how much to eat. Over time, she will learn
to enjoy many new foods and develop good eating habits.
How Much Food Does Your Child Need?
Give your child regular meals and snacks. Serve small
portions. Let your child have more if she’s still
hungry. If she does not want to eat, don’t force
her. Visit www.nutrition.gov.
If you think your child is eating too much or too little,
do not put her on a diet. Talk to your doctor or a dietician
at your county Health Department.
Iron Is Important
Toddlers and young children often become anemic because
they don’t get enough iron.
Make sure their everyday diet includes foods high in
- peas or beans
- enriched breads and grains
- dry cereals with added iron
- leafy green vegetables
Snacks Are Important
Healthy snacks are an important part of a young child’s
diet. Young children need to eat often because they
eat small amounts at each meal. Choose snacks like fruits,
vegetables, unsweetened cereals, tortillas, crackers,
bread, cheese or yogurt. These foods are healthy and
don’t have added sugar.
Things You Can Do
Where to Find Help
Show Your Love
When you show love— through care, affection,
play and gentle guidance—your baby feels
- Make meals a time for your family to come together
and enjoy one another. Allow your child to stop
eating when he is no longer hungry. Let him leave
the table to do something else.
Don’t feed children in front of the TV—it
can make them anxious. It also keeps them from
paying attention to the food they’re eating.