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Top Meal Time Practices for Baby: How to Get Your Toddler to Eat Like a Champ!

Top Meal Time Practices for Baby: How to Get Your Toddler to Eat Like a Champ!

As parents we always question if we are doing all that we can to set our kids up for success, and making sure they have healthy enjoyable meals are part of it! This short video demonstrates the meal time practices we use at home with our daughter to instill positive eating habits during meal time. It’s never too early to get your child on the right track nutritionally! I hope you find these simple techniques useful. Have you tried any of these with your toddler?

What Every Parent Should Know About Picky Eating

What Every Parent Should Know About Picky Eating

Something many parents and caregivers don’t fully grasp (myself included) is that even with a picky eater meal time does not need to be a struggle, in fact it shouldn’t be! Picky eating is often related to the “fight or flight” stress response to trying unfamiliar foods. The good news is that as the parents we have the power to ensure that each and every meal serves as opportunity for our child to learn about food while making meaningful connections with family and friends. Often times we want to make sure our kid is getting the nutrients they need so bad that when they refuse to eat what is being offered, we easily get flustered and that energy is quickly transferred to our little one. In this post I’ll offer you some information and tips to help put your mind at ease.

If you haven’t noticed by now, when we repeatedly put pressure or force a child to eat this actually backfires and causes more resistance. The act of eating becomes associated with negative emotions and criticism so meal time quickly becomes something that both parent and child dread. Trust me, I’ve been there…and I’m still navigating my 2 year old’s picky eating tendencies. But as a clinical nutritionist (and fellow mommy),  I’m here to say sit tight, there are things you can do to keep your little ones nutrition on the right track while getting through this phase. Speaking of phase…did you know that it is totally common for young children to go through periods of time where they refuse to eat certain foods, show a preference for a select number of foods or just have a smaller appetite in general? Yup, you are definitely not alone, in fact there are 2 main reasons behind this:

1) At a very young age children begin blossoming into their own person and want to demonstrate their independence by doing things like feeding themselves and choosing their own foods. Just like you, there are some days when their appetite and food interests fluctuate. So I wouldn’t worry too much about what your child eats in any given day, instead try to focus on offering a variety of healthy foods throughout the week and you can rest assured they’ll most likely be meeting their nutrient needs. The children’s book Eating These Foods Makes Me… explains why a variety of foods and key nutrients are necessary for our body’s growth and optimal quality of life. It’s a great resource that can help empower even the pickiest eater to be open to trying new foods, or at the very least spike their interest.

2) After the 1st year of life most children eat less, and their appetite really takes a dip around the 2 year mark. That’s because the natural period of rapid growth and development slows down at this point, so there simply isn’t a biological need to eat as much as they were before. As a parent or caregiver one of the best things you can do for your child is to introduce the concept of mindful eating at this stage, this way it becomes a life-long healthy habit.

To help your child build a positive relationship with food and their self-image start by encouraging them to listen to their bodies- eating when they are a hungry and stopping when they are full, something toddlers are very good at! It is okay to trust your child’s appetite, in turn this will help solidify their internal hunger and satiety cues, something I notice many of my adult client population struggle with to this day. This means, even if your child is not eating as well as you think they should, as long as they are generally healthy and growing, you do not need to worry. As a parent or caregiver, your job is to provide a variety of healthy foods – aim to offer at least 2-3 different food group items at each meal and snack. Then it’s up to the child to decide what, how much and whether they will eat.  Canada’s food guide can offer you more details on what a balanced diet and recommended servings are for different age groups.

The most effective way to say good-bye to picky eating is to increase exposure to foods. In fact it can take about 8-15 exposures to the same food before a child is willing to eat it. So it’s really important to peak their interest by allowing them to look at, touch, smell and even play with different foods. But here’s the real kicker-Successful food exposures can also be accomplished by inviting kids to help out in the kitchen and with grocery shopping, playing with toys that imitate real foods and reading books about food!

I’d like to say one last thing. While picky eating is common, not all picky eaters are the same. It’s important to listen to your intuition, and if you know that your child’s eating challenges are more complex or severe please follow the advice of a pediatrician or a registered dietitian.

My fellow dietitian Leslie Schmille is an expert in the field and is currently helping parents and their kids who are experiencing feeding challenges, please feel free to reach out to her at for personalized support.

I really hope this helps! I’d also love to know, what do you find works best for your picky eater? Until next time,

Kalifa Rodriguez M.Sc, RD, CBS
Author of Eating These Foods Makes Me…

p.s. Let’s connect on social media! You can follow my FB page Kalifa Rodriguez Books or IG @the.nutrition.connection and for more health related videos check out my YouTube Channel. Want to share this blog post with a friend? Simply copy this URL and send it to them!


Foods That Make You Feel Fuller Longer

Foods That Make You Feel Fuller Longer

We rely on food for energy, so it’s normal to feel hungry if you don’t eat for a few hours. But if your constantly feeling hungry even after a meal then something isn’t quite right. It’s important to know that not all foods fill you up the same way. Check out this video if you’d like to know the best foods that curb hunger and keep you feeling full for longer.