Tips for Meals for infants and toddlers

  • Try to make meals as attractive as possible, by cutting the foods in interesting shapes and by using more colours.

•    Don’t give all new foods at the same time. Let the child get used to one food first and then add another.  If the child doesn’t accept it, withdraw it for 1-2 weeks and try again.

•    Give your child a food that he likes together with one he has refused to eat in the past.

•    Give small quantities of each new food and gradually increase them. Don’t force your child to eat more than she really needs.

•    Children learn to swallow slowly; be patient!  The toddler needs time to explore the food.

•    Let older children help you with the preparation of meals. This makes meals more pleasant.

•    Play with kitchenware and spoons with the child.

•    Don’t distract the child’s attention from the food with the radio, the television, or noise.

•    In order to set a good example for your children, eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  Don’t eat snacks and chips in front of the television.

•    Don’t add sugar to your child’s drinks. You can use skimmed milk or milk with 1% fat and low-fat yogurt after the age of 2 years. Also choose low-fat cheeses after 2 years.

•    Don’t manifest your own preferences or repulsions for certain kinds of food, because there is a chance that the child will imitate you.

•    Try to have set meal times.

•    Have the whole family sit at the table, and give the child food to eat with you, at the same table and at the same time from an early age. Don’t make different food for the child.

•    Don’t add stress to the preparation of the food, and don’t make this time a battlefield. Reward good behavior.

•    Every time the child doesn’t eat something, give her another healthy choice that has already been prepared.

•    Remember that it is normal for the toddler to eat selectively, and to eat one day more or less than the other. If he    is gaining weight, it is ok if he skips a meal.

•    It is necessary for the toddler to be messy and to spoil everything around him while eating. Experimentation with the spoon and playing with food is more important than one less load of laundry that you would have to do!

•    Avoid soft drinks, chips and sweets for snacks. Prefer fruits, vegetables.

•    A full breakfast before school is necessary.


Stelios Papaventsis Paediatrician MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2009

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