What's for Dinner?

By Anne Birks, MHSc, and Sarah Vogelzang, RPDt, Dietitian/Nutrition Consultants on April 15, 2008
Your toddler’s appetite may change from meal to meal and from day to day. Control the foods you give your child, but let her decide how much to eat. As a rule, give your child one-quarter to onethird of the adult portion size, or one tablespoon of a food per year of age – whichever works best. Remember that toddlers don’t need large portions to get the nutrition they need.

Supervising meals
Toddlers need to be supervised when they eat. You can feed your child in a high chair, in a booster seat or with her sitting on your lap. Give your child utensils that are easy to hold and foods that are easy to eat.
Don’t give your child foods she can choke on, such as nuts, popcorn, sunflower seeds, raisins, grapes, wieners, or small pieces of hard fruits or vegetables.

The role of snacks
Children have small stomachs and that’s why they need to get some of their nutrition through snacks. Toddlers usually need two to three snacks each day, separate from their main meals. Give your child nutritious snacks about halfway between meals. Make sure your child does not fill up on fruit juices at snack time; they contain a lot of sugar. If your child is still thirsty after drinking 1/2 cup (125 mL) of juice, try water.

Making Food Easier to eat
Cut foods into bitesized pieces.
Give your child small portions.
Moisten dry food.
Give your child food that is at room temperature so that her tongue won’t get burned.
Make sure your child is sitting comfortably.
Give your child new foods with foods that she already knows and likes.
Encourage your child to try at least one bite of a new food, but don’t force her to eat it.
Keep foods separate on the plate. Toddlers like to know what they are eating.
Prevent your child from getting distracted. Turn off the television, for example.
Don’t use food as a reward for when your child behaves well.

By Anne Birks, MHSc, and Sarah Vogelzang, RPDt, Dietitian/Nutrition Consultants| April 15, 2008

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