Toddlers And Eating Habits—what To Expect

By the time your little one reaches toddlerhood, they’ve likely been eating an array of solids for a while—probably since the six-month mark1. Hopefully you’re having as many meals together as a family—and at the table—as possible, but you’re likely on the go with your toddling little love.

Setting a routine is key to all of your toddler’s eating habits, from learning the motor skills needed for using utensils to developing healthy food preferences and habits.

How Soon is Too Soon to Teach Toddlers Table Manners?

It feels overwhelming enough to transition your toddler to solids and eating at the table with the family without considering table manners. But just as eating habits are being learned in toddlerhood, so too are habits for dining. When your little one is in the 21-to-24 month range, you can start introducing table manners concepts—most immediately by modeling good table manners yourself.

What Nutrients Do Toddlers Need?

When you’ve made the switch from breast milk or formula to solids—or during the process of that switch—you may find yourself wondering which nutrients your toddler needs. Here’s a helpful guideline to ensure the most important nutrients make it into your toddler’s new diet:2, 3

  • Calcium. Strong bones are just one of the things we can thank calcium for, so ensure your little one gets at least 700 mg of calcium a day.

  • Iron. From brain development to warding off anemia, iron is critical. If red meat is off the menu, consider iron-fortified cereals.

  • Fat. Fat helps growing brains develop properly, so don’t limit it in the menus of children under the age of three.

  • Fibre. Fibre intake helps control blood sugar and keeps your little one from becoming constipated.

  • DHA. This omega-3 fatty acid is key to brain and eye development in toddlerhood.

  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed to build strong bones and teeth.

Toddler eating Habits: A Daily Breakdown

Your growing toddler’s eating habits day-to-day will revolve around both meals and snacks; plan to serve three toddler-sized meals (between three-fourths and one cup of food4) and two to three toddler-sized snacks every day5. While you should look to your little one for signs they’re hungry—and listen when they indicate they’re not—keeping a routine is key.Here’s what a daily eating habit routine and menu options may look like while you get your toddler used to knowing when meals and snacks are expected:6, 7

  • Breakfast: Mashed fruits, unsweetened cold or warm cereals, unsweetened yogurt, cut up toast or breads

  • Snack: Cut up or mashed fruits and veggies, unsweetened yogurt, crackers

  • Lunch: Berries, hummus and pita, eggs

  • Snack: Mashed or soft fruits, cut-up cheeses, crackers

  • Dinner: soft-cooked pasta, rice, or potato; small portion of cut-up lean meat

How to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits in Toddlers

Many parents worry about when or how to start fostering healthy eating habits in their toddlers. The answer is simple—right away! And this task doesn’t need to be a daunting one.

Here are some tips to introduce your toddler to long term healthy eating habits.8

  • Stay on a set schedule with snacks and meals—three meals a day and one to three snacks.

  • Offer a range of nutritious choices for snacks and, as appropriate, at mealtimes.

  • Use creative play about food—and creative food presentation—to make healthy foods fun.

  • Eat as a family and teach by example by making healthful choices for yourself at mealtimes.

  • Serve small, toddler-sized portions and let your little one take their time to eat. And banish the clean plate club. Let your little one tell you when they’re full or just not hungry.

  • Make healthy eating fun by including your toddler in meal and menu planning.

Foods to Avoid When Feeding Toddlers

There are some foods that are still tricky for toddlers to eat safely. Foods that should be avoided as they may be choking hazards for your one-to-two-year old include:9, 10

  • Whole round fruits and veggies like grapes and small tomatoes

  • Large or hard pieces of fruit or veggies, like carrots and apples

  • Round or cylindrical cut-up foods, like hot dogs

  • Whole nuts and seeds

  • Sticky foods like marshmallows or a spoonful of peanut butter.

  • Small snacks and treats like hard candies, popcorn, chips, and gum

Picky Toddlers And Eating Habits

If you find that your toddler is a picky eater, their eating habits might seem that much more complicated. Don’t fret: The key to feeding a picky toddler is consistency. Explore our overview for how to feed a picky toddler for helpful, tried-and-true tips and tricks for navigating this particular set of toddler eating habits.

Find you have other mealtime challenges with your little one? Review these common toddler feeding issues for more help at toddler mealtimes.


Enfagrow A+® is an every day toddler nutritional drink with DHA, an important building block of the brain. Enfagrow A+ is made with real milk and has 26 nutrients including: Brain-building DHA, iron, protein and a fibre blend.+ You can easily add Enfagrow A+ to your toddler’s daily diet at meal or snack time.

+galactooligosaccharide (GOS) and polydextrose

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