Healthy Eating Strategies for Babies and Toddlers

  1. Messy EaterRemember:  Meals are about more than food.  They are a time to connect with your child and support her overall development.  Talk with your child during meals and don’t let her eat alone.
  2. Create routines around mealtime.  Routines make children feel loved and secure.  They also help children look forward to each meal.
  3. Establish regular meal and snack times beginning when your child is 9-12 months old. When your child shows he is hungry, you might say: “You’re hungry, aren’t you? Well then, it’s time to eat!”  This helps children learn to link their feelings of hunger with the act of eating at regular times during the day.
  4. Offer 3-4 healthy food choices at each meal.  Research shows that children will choose a healthy diet when they are offered a selection of healthy foods.
  5. Don’t force your baby or toddler to eat.  This often results in children refusing food and eating less.
  6. Offer your child a healthy snack between meals if you think she is hungry. 
  7. Limit juice to no more than 4 ounces a day.  Juice has a lot of sugar and drinking too much can fill children up and make them less hungry at mealtimes.  Offer fresh fruit instead of juice.
  8. Be flexible about letting young children get up from the table when they are finished.  Babies and toddlers can’t sit for long.  Plan three meals a day of about 10-20 minutes each and 2 to 3 snacks of about 5-15 minutes.
  9. Turn off the TV, computer and other “screens” at mealtime.  Television can distract children from eating and takes away time from talking and connecting with each other.
  10. Don’t give up on new foods!  Be patient- you may have to offer a new food 10-15 times before your child will try it.  Let him see you eat it.  Children learn by watching and imitating you.

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