What to Expect

We all know the toddler years are challenging. Feeding a toddler is no exception. Try and enjoy the challenge and not get too stressed at this time when your toddler may use food to assert herself.


  • Become erratic about the types and amounts of food they eat
  • Are easily distracted and seem too busy to eat
  • Are expected not to eat much as their growth rate is slowing down
  • Often want to feed themselves and this must be encouraged

Are messy! They need to be allowed to touch smell and taste new foods in order to become accustomed to them.

Are becoming more capable. They should be managing family food and cup feeding well and be moving away from bottles and baby food. Bottles lead to tooth decay and lead to excessive intake of fluid calories which interferes with appetite for meals

Structured Meals and Snacks

As a parent we are responsible for the what , where and whens of meal times. We really need to have a structured meal times so that children know there is a time and place for eating. Grazing all day and following our toddlers around the house with food is not a good basis for sound nutritional habits.  These rules may help…

Stick to 3 small meals and at least 2 snacks a day

Avoid snacking out of these times.

Avoid letting your child drink excessive amounts of juice or milk as this will impact on their meals

Try not to use food between meals to calm your child or as a reward

Try and have an idea in advance on what you are all going to feed your family to avoid at last minute using unhealthy convenience food


Try not to give fizzy sugary drinks and squash to your toddler

If your toddler eats well it is fine to change from formula to full fat cow’s milk. Do not let your child drink more than 500ml of milk or formula a day as this will interfere with his appetite for food.

Water is the best drink. If your child drinks juice use 100% pure fruit juice and dilute it 1 part juice to 4 parts water.

Tea is not good for children as it competes with iron absorption and can cause anaemia . Rooibos is fine as it has no tannins.

Making Meal pleasant family time

Remember that children learn from example and exposure. Eating with your toddler is important to get them used to family foods and learn appropriate manners at meal times.

Produce one meal for the whole family including your toddler. If your toddler is picky then always include something you know they will accept. Include finger foods.

Turn off the TV and enjoy the time together rather than creating distraction.

Start will small serving sizes and let your child ask for more.

Do not fight about food.

If you toddler refuses to eat then remove their food and only offer food again at the next meal or snack time.

Don’t jump up and start to prepare another meal if your toddler refuses to eat what you have cooked.

Do not restrict the amount the todder wants to eat at a meal time. If he appears hungry let him eat to his appetite.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Remember all the foods listed must be cut into small pieces that can be picked up but do not cause choking hazard.

Fresh or canned fruit

Cut up cooked vegies or grated raw vegies; try sugar snaps, cucumber, grated carrot, halved baby tomatoes, avocado slices

Brown toast, naan, bread sticks or crackers with cheese, fish paste or nut butters

Plain yoghurt mixed with pureed fruit

Cheese cut into fingers

Pita bread with hummus dip

Butter beans halved

Boiled egg quarters

Sardines on toast

Chopped biltong or cold meats

Rice cakes or corn crispbread with liver pates, mashed avo or soft cheese

Vitamins and Minerals

Supplements are not necessary if your toddler is on a health balanced diet. There are times that they may be useful. For example if:-

Your toddlers diet is restricted due to allergies or intolerances

Your toddler is a vegetarian or vegan

Your toddler is a very picky eater

Your toddler has been sick

Your doctor or Dietitian should suggest the right supplement. It is best to use a supplement that is formulated for children. Do not supplement mega doses of any vitamin or mineral without proper dietetic advice. Large doses may be toxic or interfere with the absorption of other nutrients.