1 Eat meals as a family. Make sure everyone eats what you’re asking your fussy eater to try. Give out praise when he or she tries something new – serving foods that are easy to eat, such as finger foods, encourages your child to be adventurous. Remember, it takes time for toddlers to learn to like new foods.
2 Serve small portions and let your child decide how much to eat. It’s never a good idea to insist your child eats everything on his or her plate because this overrides their ability to listen to their bodies and know when they’ve had enough.
3 Provide ingredients from each of the four main food groups every day. This will help to ensure your child gets the mix of nutrients they need.
4 Establish a daily routine: three meals and two healthy snacks. Offer two courses at each meal, and don’t allow constant grazing.
5 Offer six to eight 100–120ml drinks a day. After the age of one, give all drinks in a beaker or cup, rather than a bottle, so your toddler learns to sip rather than suck, which is better for their teeth.
6 Encourage at least three hours of physical activity each day and about 12 hours’ sleep for healthy growth and development. Active children are more likely to feel hungry at mealtimes – playing inside or out, walking, running and dancing all count. Limit screen time to just one hour a day.
7 Respect your child’s preferences, and don’t force feed them. Some children will eat almost anything while others are much more picky about taste, texture and how food is served. We’re all individuals, however little we are!
8 Reward your toddler with your attention. Don’t rely on unhealthy food and drink as a way to praise, treat or comfort them.
9 Limit fried foods, crisps, packet snacks, pastries, cakes and biscuits to very small amounts, and give sweet-tasting foods no more than four times a day (serve as one snack and as part of the three meals; see point 4). Never offer whole nuts, which may cause choking. Avoid sweetened cordials, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee and undiluted fruit juices – only give juice well diluted and at mealtimes.
10 Ensure your child gets vitamins A, C and D each day. The Department of Health recommends children aged six months to five years have a daily supplement containing vitamins A (to aid growth and development), C (to help with the absorption of iron from food) and D (for strong bones) in the form of drops. Choose a supplement that’s suitable for toddlers and ask your health visitor or GP if you need more advice.