Healthy Toddler Eating

If your toddler only wants to eat chicken nuggets, refuses to eat anything green, only wants soft food, shuns fruit or wants ketchup on everything, you’re not alone. At some point in all our parenting feeding journeys, we’ve faced willful toddlers who might not want the balanced meal you’ve prepared for them, or the fruit snacks you’ve packed in your bag.

 Feeding your toddler balanced and healthy food can be a big challenge, but there are ways to get creative and incorporate wholesome foods and snacks into their lives. Remember though that it’s all about balance, and the 80/20 rule (80% wholesome foods and 20% treat foods) works as well for little ones as it does for adults. 

 Also, one of the best things you can do to motivate your toddler to eat healthier is to do it yourself. Kids often mirror their parents’ behavior, and they’ll be more inclined to eat their greens and more varied foods if you’re doing the same. 


How to instill good eating habits 

Offer a variety of foods

Introduce your child to all food groups such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, dairy, and healthy fats like avocado and nut butters. Toddler food also doesn’t need to be very “basic” – some spices/flavor are great and help to develop your little one’s love of flavorsome food. 

 Offer a range of colors

Toddlers love bright, fun colours and if you can catch their interest in food before they’ve tasted it, that’s a great start. Making smiley faces, animal shapes and trees or flowers out of their food can also keep them fascinated and hungry for more. 

Stay positive

Toddlers love attention, good or bad. Praising them when they’ve eaten well motivates them to do it again. Staying calm and accepting the times when they don’t want to eat everything (or anything!) make for a happier mealtime, and hopefully a more willing toddler when the next snack or meal comes around.  

Don’t give up on greens, or anything else

It can take more than 10 tries before a toddler decides to like a food so if they refuse something a few times, don’t cross it off the weekly shopping list forever. Leave it for a few days and try again - you might be surprised by an empty plate after dinner. 

Allow your child to dish up or help themselves at mealtimes

It might make things a little messy, but your little one will feel in control.  

Keep it stress free

As much as we want our kids to eat all of their veggies, don’t bribe or force them. Children shouldn’t have to “clean their plates.” Let your child listen to their body and decide when they’ve had enough.  


Routine is important for young children, so keep to regular meal and snack times each day.  Don’t plan any mealtimes for just before a nap - it’s likely they’ll be too tired to eat.


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