What can you do about a poorly eating toddler?

Good and healthy eating is important for the physical and mental development of the child. Toddlers often have a period when they eat poorly. There could be several reasons for this. Usually it goes away on its own. Toddlers are discovering the world and often don’t have time to eat, or they are too tired. Sometimes they want to use the meal to get their own way. It is especially important to get through this period as best as possible and to pay as little attention as possible to eating behavior.

Healthy food

Children need healthy food for physical and mental development. They need vitamins, proteins, minerals and energy for their growth and recovery. Vitamins are found in vegetables and fruit, calcium is in dairy products, proteins are in lean meat, fish, eggs and beans. Energy is provided by carbohydrates found in grain products such as bread, pasta and muesli. With a varied diet they get all the necessary nutrients.

Some causes of poor eating behavior in toddlers

  • They have no appetite for food.
  • Discovering their own will and also using this during the meal.
  • They are too tired to eat.
  • They don’t like the food.
  • They prefer to do other things such as play.
  • They have drunk too much and are therefore full.


How much can a toddler drink?

A toddler needs about one liter of fluid per day. That doesn’t just consist of drinking. Fruit and vegetables contain moisture and you can also count dessert. Children who drink a lot are often full before a meal. For toddlers who eat poorly, it is better to drink at fixed times and not just before eating. Allow for a maximum of three drinking moments per day and then give water. Most children drink less of this. Avoid yogurt drinks because they make you feel full quickly and contain too much sugar. A cup of milk is healthy and tasty with a sandwich.

Eating a toddler

The nutrition center has drawn up guidelines indicating how much you need daily for a healthy and varied diet. The lowest amount applies to the youngest children, the highest for the oldest. The following amounts are sufficient for toddlers from one to three years old

  • 50 – 100 grams of vegetables
  • 1.5 portions of fruit
  • 2 to 3 brown or whole wheat sandwiches
  • 1 – 2 scoops of whole grain products or
  • 1 – 2 potatoes
  • 1 portion of fish/legumes/meat
  • 15 grams of nut butter without added sugar and salt
  • 2 servings of dairy
  • 0 grams of cheese
  • 30 grams of spreading and cooking fats
  • about 1 liter of fluid



The indicated quantities are approximately comparable to

  • 50 grams is approximately one serving spoon.
  • 1 portion of fruit is approximately 100 grams.
  • 1 portion of dairy is a glass or bowl of 150 ml.
  • 40 grams of fat is sufficient to spread four to five slices of bread and one tablespoon for the preparation of the meal.


Why is my toddler eating so poorly?

Poor eating is a common phenomenon in toddlers. A toddler develops in different areas during this phase. A toddler now finds food less attractive. Playing and discovering the world is considered more important. In addition, the toddler discovers his own will and also uses it to refuse food. A toddler grows less quickly than a baby and therefore needs less.

Some tips to help a toddler eat better are:

  • Eat at fixed times.
  • Eat three main meals and no more than 3 to 4 snacks.
  • Do not give snacks or drinks an hour before the meal.
  • If the child drinks a lot, he or she will not feel like eating. Then limit drinking to a maximum of three cups per day.
  • Prepare the child for the meal so that he can prepare for it.
  • Vary your diet and serve the food attractively.
  • Don’t put too much on the plate, just a little bit of everything.
  • Let the child help prepare the meal.
  • Let the child choose what to eat or eat something that they like more often.
  • Do not cook separately, the flavor still needs to develop. Because they taste the same thing more often, they usually automatically start to like it.
  • Ensure rest during meals.
  • Eat on time to prevent the child from being too tired to eat.
  • Praise the child when he or she has eaten something.
  • Set a good example yourself.


What can you do if your toddler continues to refuse food?

Do not use force, just clear the plate after the meal, even if the food is not finished. Do not serve any other food, but do end with a dessert. In any case, don’t use dessert as punishment. Also keep track of what your toddler eats for a few days. Toddlers often eat enough. The energy requirement differs per person, one child needs more than the other. A cheerful toddler, who looks good and is growing well, usually gets enough. By eating a varied diet, a toddler gets all the necessary nutrients, it is good for taste development and the different colors (fruit and vegetables) encourage a toddler to taste it. With some variation in preparation method and color you can make the meal more attractive.

Breakfast is a good start to the day

Breakfast is important, it provides nutrients and energy to get the body going. The child can then concentrate better. Eating breakfast also stimulates intestinal function. Moreover, it gives a feeling of satiety, which makes the child less hungry for unhealthy things. Obesity is common in children, which is caused, among other things, by skipping a meal or eating irregularly.

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