Starting healthy habits for life: 12-24 months

My niece Lily at 12 months "enjoying" some spaghetti

My niece Lily at 12 months “enjoying” some spaghetti

Sometimes the biggest challenge with starting your child on the right path to healthy eating habits is actually having them EAT their meals during meal times.

Anyone with a toddler knows the frustration of cooking up a nutritious meal for the family and having half of the baby’s meal end up either on the floor or in the family dog’s belly.

It’s important to note that adults and toddlers each have their own jobs to do. It’s always important to keep in mind WHO is the boss…

A parent’s job is to decide:

  • What foods to serve
  • When to serve them
  • Where to serve them
  • How often to serve them

A toddler’s job is to decide:

  • How much to eat
  • What food to eat from the foods you offer

It’s often important to prepare the same food for your toddler as the rest of your family.

Toddlers do not need special foods, just smaller portions and cut into smaller pieces.

Toddlers like routine – try offering 3 meals and 2-3 snacks on a regular schedule throughout the day. This way if your child doesn’t eat a whole lot at one meal they have the opportunity to make up for it at the next snack or meal time.

Give your child the time to explore the foods without any pressure to eat a particular food or to eat a certain amount. If the child is hungry the child will eat – the child knows how hungry they are.

For more information, check out this helpful publication from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Health Healthy Eating for your Toddler Age 12-24 months. This excellent resource provides practical information on how to help children develop healthy eating habits for a lifetime. It provides answers to questions from parents about healthy eating for toddlers and will help make mealtimes more pleasant for the whole family.

If you have specific questions, make sure you connect with your health care provider.
Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

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