Compared to infancy, physical growth slows during the toddler years, and a toddler’s appetite varies, says Dr. Aurelia Radulescu, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Kentucky. "Parents should offer only nutritious foods, encourage variety and let the child decide how much he wants to eat, which is, most of the time, how much he needs."

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that toddlers:

  • Eat three meals and two or three snacks per day. Toddlers often don’t eat enough at mealtime to get the nutrition they need, so snacks are important. Choose healthy snacks, and serve them two hours before a meal to allow a child to learn to feel hunger and not be full all the time.

  • Receive one-fourth to one-third of an adult serving, or one tablespoon from each food group per year of age. A good practice is to give your children less than you think they will eat and let them ask for more.

  • Parents who are concerned about their children’s growth or food intake should consult their family physician.

    From Focus on Your Child’s Early Stages, November 2008. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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