Your toddler may need a food routine, as they should eat at regular intervals throughout the day to maintain energy levels. However, grazing on snack foods without a routine may lead to problems such as dental caries and a less nutritious diet. A routine of 3 meals and 2-3 planned nutritious snacks ensures a more balanced diet and limits the number of times that teeth are exposed to sugar and acid.
Your toddler is unlikely to eat well when he/she is tired or if he/she has become overhungry by not eating for a long time. Planning a daily meal and snack routine around sleep times avoids trying to feed your toddler when he/she is miserable and no longer amenable or enthusiastic. A routine will also help your toddler feel secure. A sample daily routine might be:
Example : Food routine
- 7.30am â€“ Breakfast
- 10.00am â€“ Snack
- 11.30am â€“ One sleep
- 1pm â€“ Midday meal
- 3.30pm â€“ Snack
- 6pm â€“ Evening meal
- 7.30pm â€“ Bedtime.
Two courses at meals â€“ one savoury and the second based on fruit or a milk pudding â€“ ensure a wider range of nutrients for your toddler. Nutritious snacks are also essential because your toddler is unlikely to consume all his/her nutrients and energy in just three meals.
Examples of nutritious snacks include:
- Toast with peanut butter or butter and marmite
- Slices of fruit with yogurt
- Cheese cubes and crackers
- Vegetable sticks with hummus
- Mini muffin with fruit pieces
Did you know?
Eating together as often as possible has many benefits, including:
- You can role model eating habits and food preferences that you wish your toddler to learn
- Your toddler can see you eating the nutritious foods that you would like him/her to learn to enjoy, such as fruit and vegetables
- When you and your toddler eat together, he/she can enjoy your attention.
For more information on how to encourage healthy eating, check out our the NowBaby toddler section.
There’s also further information on healthy eating for toddlers, including practical tips and advice on portion sizes, planning meals, and offering snacks and drinks on the Infant and Toddler Forum website.