Feeding Strategies for Parents

  • Allow kids to eat five to six small meals per day.
  • Allow them to eat when they are hungry and do not force them to eat when they are not.
  • Do not use food as a reward or punishment.
  • Be aware of the risk of choking in these age groups. Avoid foods that are round, hard, or do not easily dissolve in saliva (such as hot dogs, grapes, raw vegetables, popcorn, nuts, peanut butter, and hard candy).
  • Avoid feeding too many sweetened beverages (especially in the bottle); encourage them to drink plenty of water.

nonpathogenic: not promoting disease microorganisms: bacteria and protists; single-celled organisms gastrointestinal: related to the stomach and intestines microflora: microscopic organisms present in small numbers allergy: immune system reaction against substances that are otherwise harmless eczema: skin disease causing itching and flaking candidal: related to the yeast Candida cancer: uncontrolled cell growth gastric: related to the stomach acidity: measure of the tendency of a molecule to lose hydrogen ions, thus behaving as an acid bile: substance produced in the liver which suspends fats for absorption functional food: food whose health benefits are claimed to be higher than those traditionally assumed for similar types of foods

The preschool and toddler years often create anxiety in parents as food likes, dislikes, and requirements may change continuously. Understanding that these changes are a normal part of development, and understanding the nutritional requirements for this age group, will help parents make educated decisions. Parents should also be aware of the potential feeding problems of this group, and of the ways to prevent them. see also Baby Bottle Tooth Decay; Childhood Obesity.

Kirsten Herbes


Ballabriga, Angela, ed. (1996) Feeding from Toddlers to Adolescence. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven.

Duyff, Roberta L. (1998). The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide. Minneapolis, MN: Chronimed Publishing.

Herbest, Victor, and Subak-Sharpe, Genell J., eds. (1995). Total Nutrition: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need. New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin.

Hovasi Cox, Jance, ed. (1997) Nutrition Manual for At-Risk Infants and Toddlers. Chicago, IL: Precept Press.

Mahan, L. Kathleen, and Escott-Stump, Sylvia, eds. (2000). Krause's Food, Nutrition, and Diet Therapy, 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders Company.

McWilliams, Margaret (1986). Nutrition for the Growing Years. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Queen Samor, Patricia; King Helm, Kathy; and Lang, Carol E. (1999). Handbook of Pediatric Nutrition, 2nd ed. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc.

Tamborlane, William V., ed. (1997). The Yale Guide to Children's Nutrition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Wardlaw, Gordon M. (1999). Perspectives in Nutrition, 4th ed. New York, NY: WCB/ McGraw-Hill.

Internet Resources

American Dietetic Association. "Child Feeding." American Dietetic Association. Available from <http://www.eatright.com/healthy/child/>

American Dietetic Association. "Position of the ADA: Dietary Guidance for Healthy Children Aged 2 to 11 years." Available from <http://www.eatright.com/adap0199.html>

American Dietetic Association. "Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children." Available from <http://www.usda.gov/cnpp/kidspyra>

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