- Health Topics
- Toddlers and Preschoolers 1 to 4
- Picky Eating
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of life. Breastmilk is the only food your baby needs to grow and be healthy until 6 months. At 6 months of age you can start feeding your baby solid foods while continuing to breastfeed up to two years and beyond.
Do you have a picky eater? Follow these do’s and don’ts to help you child develop lifelong healthy eating habits.
- Do schedule meals and snacks regularly throughout the day. Offer 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks per day. Space meals and snacks about 2 to 3 hours apart.
- Do offer healthy foods from the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.Meals should include foods from at least 3 out of the 4 food groups. Snacks should include foods from at least 2 out of the 4 food groups.
- Do sit around the table as a family, free from distractions to enjoy meals and snacks.
- Do allow your child to decide which foods to eat from the healthy choices you offer. It’s ok if they say “No thank you” or “Can I please have more.”
- Do allow your child to decide how much to eat.A child’s appetite can vary day to day or even meal to meal.
- Do offer only water in between meals and snacks.
- Do keep offering new foods or foods that you offered before but your child refused.It can take up to 15 tries of a new food for them to like it!
- Do encourage your child to help with meal prep.Children can help set the table, wash vegetables, etc.
- Do watch out for foods that may cause choking.Hard vegetables such as carrots should be cut into narrow strips or grated and grapes should be cut in half. Do not offer popcorn and hard, round candy.
- Do offer food for 20 to 30 minutes.If they are not eating after 30 minutes, remove the food from the table without making an issue out of it.
- Do be a good role model and follow these guidelines yourself.
- Don’t encourage grazing on foods throughout the day.
- Don’t allow your child to eat with distractions like TV, toys and books.
- Don’t force, beg or bribe your child to eat – this will make them want it less.
- Don’t use food as a reward. Instead use a hug or a few kind words.
- Don’t offer food, juice, milk or any other beverage besides water in between regularly scheduled meals and snacks.
- What foods to offer
- When to offer meals and snacks
- Where your child will eat
Trust your child to decide:
- Which foods to eat
- How much to eat
Healthy eating habits start with a spoonful of trust and a slice of patience.
For fun videos on feeding your preschooler visit our YouTube channel.
To speak to a registered dietitian for free call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-5102.
Download a PDF copy of this resource.