What do I feed my child and how much do I give them?
Refer to our ‘What to feed my 24- 36 month’ old for information on the nuts and bolts of what to offer to your child (aka the food groups). Essentially it’s up to your toddler to determine WHETHER they eat and HOW MUCH. Your job is to provide him with healthy foods at meals and snacks at set times.
Refer to Feeding roles of parents and toddlers to refresh on the division of responsibility. Children are really good at self regulating and eating towards their appetite, so don’t stress if your child’s intake fluctuates from day to day.
Is it ok for my child to eat junk food at a birthday party, we seem to be going to quite a few lately?
It’s common for parents to become concerned about their kids intake of junk foods and then try to restrict their access to such foods. Unfortunately, restricting foods or labelling any foods as ‘forbidden’ can have the opposite effect on children, causing them to eat much more of it. This impacts on their relationship with these foods in the long term. For more about this, look at our page ‘Food restriction and the older toddler’.
My 3 year old is demanding certain foods at meals and snacks
By 18 months, your child may try and assert their independence when it comes to eating. If your child is demanding a certain food, it’s still your responsibility to serve a variety of foods for them and let them decide whether and how much.
Children learn to be flexible and enjoy a variety of foods and textures if presented to them consistently. You can try offering familiar foods alongside new foods and don’t be discouraged if they don’t eat the new food on the first go.
There are a lot of things about the food that your child might not like first up. It could be the colour, textures or flavour. Consider how it’s served i.e. cut or arranged or try to combine the food with another food or sauce that may soften the flavour.
Tone down strong flavours with, sauces, bread crumbs, herbs and spices. And remember it may take many introductions (up to 20) for your child to start to eat the food you’ve been trialling.
Our child refuses to eat the foods we're having at meals, what do we do?
The most important thing to remember is that meal times are a learning opportunity more than anything. Meal times are more than just what meal is being served, your child is learning important table manners and social skills as well.
Even if they’re not partaking in eating, they can still be a part of a fun meal time. Keep conversations positive and never force or try and coerce your child to eat. Make sure the TV is off and there aren’t any other distractions like toys around. Serve your child what you’re having but leave it up to them whether or not they want to eat it.