Fussy eating

Toddlers like to be independent and let you know what they like and do not like. This is normal.

Fussy eating can be worrying for parents but if your child is growing and developing appropriately then they are getting enough food.

Parents are sometimes tempted to offer sugary, fatty, salty foods or more milk, but if they eat too many of these foods, children are less likely to eat healthy family foods.

Parents can also be tempted to offer food and drinks often. This means their child never gets the chance to get hungry.

If snacks and drinks are sweet they may also cause tooth decay.

It is best for children to have three meals and a small snack between meals during the day. They have small stomachs and use lots of energy during their busy day. Avoid offering snacks just before meals: they need a break of about 1–2 hours with no food to make them hungry for their meal.

Examples of healthy snacks are servings of:

  • fruit
  • crackers
  • small sandwiches
  • yoghurt
  • cheese.

Keep offering a small amount of the foods they refuse as well as new foods as it may take them time to try them and learn to like them. Don’t bribe, force or nag! Praise for trying is a better plan.

Drinking too much milk can reduce how much they eat so children should have around 500-600 ml a day.

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