Your Guide to Healthy Eating Habits

While there are no road maps to feeding toddlers, these 12 tips can help them develop good eating habits. Check out these tips from "The Toddler Care Book: A Complete Guide from 1 to 5 Years Old" by Dr. Jeremy Friedman.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Be a role model of healthy eating habits. Take the lead and most toddlers will follow.

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Family Mealtime

Eat meals together as a family. In addition to encouraging good eating habits and allowing you to model eating behaviors, this provides some wonderful family time. Mealtimes should not involve chasing your toddler around with a spoonful of food.

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Skip the Drive-Thru

Whenever possible, serve homemade meals rather than prepared or convenience foods. Encourage eating and snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables by having them cut up, ready to eat, and easily accessible.

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Josh Titus

Provide Healthy Choices

Offer your toddler a variety of healthy foods, regardless of your own likes and dislikes. This is important for maintaining a balanced diet.

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Try New Foods

Introduce your toddler to new foods gradually. Studies have shown that some children will eat a new food only after tasting it five or more times.

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Scott Little

Choose Water

Limit your toddler's juice intake: 4 ounces, or 1/2 cup (125 mL), a day is plenty. Water is a healthy option if she's thirsty.

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Josh Titus

Portion Size Matters

Adjust portions to suit your child's comfort level. She can always come back for seconds.

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Ted Morrison

Know His Hunger Patterns

Don't coerce or force-feed your toddler -- this is likely to have the opposite effect of the one you intend. Recognize that needs vary between children, and between meals for a particular child.

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Blaine Moats

Don't Forget the Iron

Ensure that you are providing an adequate source of iron in your child's diet, particularly in the case of big milk drinkers. Milk is low in iron, and the iron it does contain is poorly absorbed.

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Exercise

To minimize overweight and obesity, model healthy, active living by walking, playing, bicycling, or swimming together as a family.

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No TV Dinners

Don't stand for distractions. The television should not be on during mealtimes.

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Embrace Mess

Make mealtimes fun. Don't worry about the mess. Get your toddler involved in meal planning and preparation. Ask her to decorate a menu in crayon. Appoint her as the official taster.

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Learn More About the Book

What parents are often not prepared for are the behavioral changes that occur as their child enters the second year of life, and seemingly overnight becomes an opinionated, independent little personality who seems bent on testing their endurance on a daily basis.

That's when they will most need The Toddler Care Book by Dr. Jeremy Friedman. Written with pediatric colleagues from the renowned Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, this book is a thorough reference that provides age-appropriate strategies for dealing with the challenges parents face during the first five years. Designed to be user-friendly, it is chock full of practical information, easy-to-read charts, and helpful sidebars, enriched by more than 250 full-color photographs and illustrations.

Dr. Jeremy Friedman, MB.ChB, FRCP(C), FAAP, is the chief of pediatric medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto.

Copyright © 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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