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Healthy Eating Tips - 1 through 2 Years

Developing Healthy Eating Habits

  • Start with age-appropriate servings, as listed in the chart on the next page.
  • Teach her to eat slowly. Ask if she is still hungry before allowing her to serve herself more food. Taking the time to decide if she is hungry or full will help her pay attention to important cues from her body.
  • Avoid requiring your child to clean his plate. Help him learn to eat based on how hungry he is, not on how much food is still on his plate.
  • Understand your role and your child's. Your job is to offer a variety of healthy foods at regular meal times; her job is to decide what and how much to eat.
  • Be a positive role model. Sit with your child and let him observe you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Serve yourself appropriate portions and try "new" foods. Explain what you are doing.
  • Pay attention to your toddler's hunger cues. She may not say that she is full, but may start playing, become distracted, shake her head "no," close her mouth or refuse to finish the food on her plate.
  • Complaints of being hungry, especially when a child has just eaten, may be due to other triggers such as boredom, TV advertising or seeing another person eating.
  • Given healthy servings, most toddlers sense when they are full and will stop eating if you let them. The amount of food a toddler eats may change from day to day, but a healthy child will generally consume just the right amount of food to nourish his body.

Trying New Foods

It is natural for your toddler to be cautious with new foods. It may take 5 - 20 tries before he will come to like it. Minimize the struggles of introducing new foods by:

  • Alternating bites between a new food and a food your child is familiar with and likes.
  • Encouraging children to try new foods. Begin by putting a very small portion on your child's plate (e.g., two peas). However, do not force her to finish more than she wants.
  • Avoiding rewarding good behavior or a clean plate with food. Especially avoid forcing a child to finish the "healthy foods" to get dessert or sweets—this can make the healthy food seem like punishment and cause him to eat when he is full.

Choking Hazards

Do not feed children younger than four years of age round, firm food unless it is chopped completely.

Choking Hazards
Nuts and seeds
Large chunks of cheese or meet (e.g., hot dogs)
Whole grapes, chunks of hard fruit (e.g., apples) and raw vegetables
Peanut butter
Ice cubes
Hard, gooey, or sticky candy, chewing gum