The fussy eater is a common complaint for parents of toddlers. Fortunately you can take the stress out of feeding your toddler.

Toddlers are at an age where they start to show their independence and make their own decisions, which can include refusing food. Growth also naturally slows down, which may result in a smaller appetite due to needing less food.

Listening to hunger and fullness

Toddlers’ bodies are also good at regulating their energy intake during the day. So even if they don’t eat much or skip a meal, they usually make up for it at another meal.

In addition, toddlers have an inborn ability to listen to their bodies’ signals of hunger and fullness. Unfortunately, well-meaning parents can override these signals. For example, forcing toddlers to finish everything on the plate makes them ignore the feeling of fullness. Research has shown they may eventually lose their ability to know when they’re full, which is a risk for developing obesity later in life.

What to do?

  • You should offer a good balance of foods as part of three meals a day and snacks in-between. All foods are okay, but some should be offered in small amounts such as chips, chocolate, cake, oil and margarine.
  • Don’t give up offering different types of healthy foods. You may need up to 10 attempts until a food is accepted.
  • The best drinks are water and, in moderation, milk. Avoid cordials, fruit juices and soft drinks.
  • You should remove distractions such as TV and toys during meals.

For more information: Speak to your doctor and visit

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