How toddlers eat

Parents may have concerns about their toddler’s eating. It can be hard to know what to expect from one day to the next. It may help to understand what to do about common toddler eating behaviours so they don’t become a problem.

  • Strong preferences. Toddlers may only want to try new foods when it’s their idea. What they like one day, they may not like the next. Toddlers may like to touch and smell food before they are ready to taste it. This is a normal way of exploring and learning about food. For more ideas about introducing new foods.
  • Food jags. Toddlers often want to eat the same food over and over. It’s important to keep offering a variety of foods—don’t limit the foods to what your child wants. Try offering a new food on the same plate as the food that she likes.
  • Messy meals. Toddlers like to eat with their hands, but can also learn to use a spoon or a fork. They can usually drink well from a cup, but may have trouble putting the cup down. Mealtimes may still be messy. They get better at these skills with practice.
  • Meal refusal. Once in a while toddlers may not want to eat a meal. They may not be hungry, or they may be more interested in what they’re doing. If you find that your toddler often refuses meals or you are concerned about their eating, ask a public health nurse or your health care provider, or call Health Link toll-free in Alberta at 811.
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