How to Make Your Child or Toddler Eat Well ?
Created by Shikha Garg Updated on Sep 11, 2021
‘My baby is not gaining weight, what to do? I am really worried about her poor health, height, and weight’; ‘My child doesn’t chew her food what to do? She/he vomits out food rather than chewing and swallowing it?’ These are the questions I keep hearing from new mums all the time, so I decided to share my learnings in the hope that I can help some of my fellow parents resolve certain food-related issues.
Tips and tricks to Make Your Toddler Eat Healthily
Here I share 10 ideas to make your toddler eat healthy foods. Read here.
1. Give different items every time – regularly
Variety is the spice of life – and your toddler knows it! Serve different things and watch the transformation. In the beginning, you will see your baby play with the different foods and then (slowly and steadily!) s/he will start taking interest in eating. Don't worry about it. Children at this age can't eat much at one time; they need small and frequent meals. It's very normal for a three-year-old toddler. At this age, your child needs food every 2 hrs.
2. Important: Be patient
Don't give up if the interest is not building up. Keep up the routine and you will see a difference. Even as you change the food items, just remember to focus on food items that are protein-rich. Protein is the most important nutrient for growth.
3. Start your Infant’s day right
Start with Milk, follow it with nuts, then fruits; next comes boiled protein (boiled rajma/ boiled black gram dal/ boiled soybean; after a gap – milk or any milk preparation and then an egg-based dish; end the day with a wheat or rice recipe and finally milk.
Here’s a meal plan for your 3-year-old
- Soaked almonds, 2 pieces daily + 5-6 soaked raisins daily+ one small piece of soaked walnut
- Apple/Banana/Orange/Papaya/Grapes/Other seasonal fruits
- Boiled Rajma/ Boiled Black Gram Dal/ Boiled Soyabean/Lobhia (add salt in the boiling water). Avoid sprinkling salt in serving.
- Sooji kheer/besan ka sheera are some of the milk preparations.
- Scrambled eggs/soft boil are some of the eggs based dishes
- Plain rice Idli/ Suji Idli
Here’s what to remember: Your child does not too much sugar and salt till the age of 5. It’s good to avoid added sugar and salt, for a healthy child. Here are some more suggestions:
- Paneer chopped into small cubes
- Boiled potato
- Suji kheer
- Milk daliya (Porridge)
- Rice kheer
- Boiled egg/omelet
- White butter/buttermilk/curd/raita
- Sprouted moong
- One slice bread with boiled mashed potato
Suggestion: Fruits should be given before 12 pm or in the evening between 5-6pm. Avoid intakes of fruits after 7 pm – can cause gastric problems.
4. Make a list
We all know everything, but it’s natural to forget things. An idea that worked for me was the ‘list’. I made a list of all possible food items (and keep adding as I thought of more) that I could feed my child and pasted it the kitchen so that I never run a blank of what to feed!
5. Observe your child
Leave your baby with the food and don't interrupt – simply observe. Encourage but don’t force. Let them play with it. Allow the infant to make a mess; let her get dirty – don’t fear it. In fact, you may indulge in some gameplay – we all realize the psychology of children when they ask for things that you hide from them and run away from things that you take closer to them. Time to put this insight to good use!
6. Watch how you react?
Allowing your child to make a mess will leave you with a huge laundry load every day, not to forget all the sweeping but I say let it happen for a short while – it is for the greater good. Scolding your baby might put him/her off food – and that’s going to make you feel worse than laundry and sweeping! Your patience will reap results – slowly.
7. Children develop a thinking the process as well as chewing concept at this age
If your child has turned two and still does not swallow food – it's normal. toddlers at this age are afraid of ‘chewing and then swallow’ concept. They feel safer and more comfortable taking the liquid and semi-solid diet, so give mashed food items. It is around this age that children develop the thinking process as well and so they sometimes get confused - and some are simple lazy, they don't want to chew, it seems like hard work to them – either case, give them time.
8. Delay in baby Teething?
If you feel that there is a delay in teething, then don’t panic, as some children have a late teething process. I understand that it does become a concerning issue because chewing also gets delayed. Continue with mashed items and in between offer a slice of apple, cucumber, carrot – so on. If your child bites and spits, it’s okay – it’s all a part of ‘getting to know solid food’.
9. Ignore her once in a while
As I told you earlier, don't run after the infant to feed him/her. Too much attention can always backfire. A part of your strategy should be to serve others in the family first – don’t serve the child, let him or her come to you. If the baby is not responding that could mean that s/he is actually not hungry. Don’t read too much into their indifference towards food.
10. Being hungry is important
Nobody can live without food. Let your toddler feel the hunger pangs and come to you for food. However, if you feel that your toddler has not actively asked for food but is crying, then understand that she is hungry and needs food and would eat whatever you serve.
Finally – listen to your gut. It can communicate what your wants at a particular time. And if it’s not food at that moment – so be it! Stay calm, don’t react and try again in a short while. Keep the environment positive and you will see your child responding positively too. Steadily and slowly proper eating will come to their habit.
So, those are my ten learnings. Do you have any to share? Or are you a lucky mum with a toddler who loves to eat anything – anytime! We would love to hear your story. Write in!
| Nov 21, 2016
Thanks Tejal, Yes dear, you can apply these things after 12 months cautiously. Here, I have tried to give list of food items. You chose dishes out of them and can prepare your list according to your child. For nuts - try kheer and porridge, take 50gm peanut + 50gm almond +50gm Cashew and grind them, and you can sprinkle a little bit into it. Check whether your child likes the taste or not. start boiled Rajma in small quantity like finger food. kids love to eat like hen, they love to pick the food and run play eat and come back to do the same.
| Nov 21, 2016
Hi @sikha!! liked the blog. very informative tips. I m dealing a very tough time with my 30 month old son, till now he does not know how to chew. He swallows everything. And he dont want to feed himself. I hv to feed him everything. i hv tried to make him feed himself by putting the plate in front of him, and observe him . But he doesn't eat. Initially he will take some interest in picking up some food and taste it. But d next moment he ignored d food.
| Nov 23, 2016
HI VERY GOOD SUGGESTIONS FOR FEEDING... I HAVE TWINS BOTH ARE EATING DIFFERENT ITEMS FROM 6 MONTHS ON WARDS.. MY PROBLEM IS MY BABIES DRINKING TOO MUCH OF WATER IN NIGHT AND SOME TIMES ONE OF THEM'S DIAPER LEAKING VERY MUCH... EVEN THOUGH THEIR SKIN IS VERY DRY.. AM USING REGULARLY WITH OIL AND MOISTURIZING CREAM.. BOTH OF THEM WHERE FAIRER ON BIRTH BUT NOW COMING DARK.. PLEASE GUIDE ME TO SOLVE THESE TWO TENSIONS...
| Nov 23, 2016
@VINOD, This is very common problem among children these days. First thing first go for Baby mundan ceremony , if not done till now. Second as he is just one you can go for 2-3 mundan in summers. After that, side by side take care of baby's protein rich diet. as mentioned in my article.
| Nov 27, 2016
hi my daughter is one year old now.. I have stopped breastfeeding.. but now she refuses to take formula milk and even nandini milk.. she is totally not taking milk only.. I have tried a lot by feeding her through with bottle, spoon, forcefully.. but she starts crying a lot.. m worried a lot as calcium is also very important to her.. please suggest me what can I do?
| Nov 27, 2016
@ Syeda, Don't worry focus on other food items those are healthy. and keep trying to introduce milk with glass or spoon. Avoid bottle if she is not interested. You can try different kheer preparations as mentioned. And some other dishes as given in the article.
| Nov 29, 2016
Hi.. my daughter is 2 years old and she has not even gained 100gms in the last 9 months. She simply refuses to eat without a poem :( I know we put this habit earlier but now wen we are trying slowly to build her interest in food, she just eats 2 bites and stops. She is simply not interested in self feeding. Her diet is composed of a well balanced nutritional diet, but there's simply no weight gain. Would you have any tips?
| Dec 14, 2016
Hi Shikha... Please suggest me a solution to this.. my daughter is 16 months old.... earlier she was foodie... but from past 3weeks her diet came to zero level... I have started giving different foods what u mentioned in the blog... she is not opening her mouth... I started feeding by lying her on my lap.. she was okay with that. .and having food... but will she be able to eat like earlier by knowing the taste... I show her rhymes and feed her.....
| Jan 12, 2017
my daughter is 2. 5 years old now. she goes to play school. she leaves by 08:45 am and comes at 01:20 pm. before leaving for school she takes one bottle milk added with jr Horlicks, then in school she gets 2 biscuits at 10 am. they serve her meal at 11 am. she eats there sometimes. she comes home sometime asleep, sometimes awake but mostly doesn't eat until 4 pm. I believe she is tired so I don't disturb her sleep. but when she is even cheerful and comes home n plays... but never eats. what should I do.
| Jan 23, 2017
@ Shilpi Singh, keep trying dear, make a time table for her diet. and give her something which she likes most. anything of her choice. @ 5pm - when she gets up in the evening make plain rava dosa/paper dosa /idli /aloo tikki and serve. Avoid ketchup. @ 7pm - then give something like apple , if likes or anything of her choice. then according to her. Milk or something.
| Feb 02, 2017
urgent care, Hi Shikha, my daughter is nine months old and she is suffering from fever her teeth are coming I have given her crocine but it works only for 6-8 hour and then her fever stats to increase. plz suggest me home remedies or solution so that fever get reduce. also having loose motion.
| Apr 30, 2017
my girl don't like to eat healthy food.. she like to eat pizza pasta ..Maggi cold drink.. chocolate.. chips ..all unhealthy items.. I have to eat her forcefully ..she is not gaining proper weight n height.. I will try what you suggest in this blog.. Thanks for writing..
| Apr 30, 2017
Hi my 2. 9 years son just doesn't want to eat with his hands he is too dependent on me. it takes me an hour to complete his one time meal and I have to coax him end number of times for each morsel. and say I skip his meal as a punishment it doesn't bother him much but he cannot sleep empty stomach and his last resort is milk. milk is the only solution for him for hunger. pls help.
| Apr 30, 2017
@Tasneem Merchant, Don't worry. It's ok even he is dependent on you. Make sure child should be fed any how. Feed him with love rather than punishing him or shouting at him. It may make him too rigid. Don't be angry for the reason that he is dependent on his mother. He will be fine and will be independent with time.