Feeding Your Preschooler

young boy holding an apple


Help Make Your Child a Healthy Eater

Meal times with your child should be a pleasant time without struggling to get your child to eat his/her food. Children are very aware of their hunger signals and will eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied. The amount that your child will eat will vary on a daily basis. Don't worry - your child is able to determine what he/she needs. Both you and your child share the responsibility when it comes to eating.

You decide:

  • When to eat - meals and snacks should be offered around the same time every day
  • Where to eat - at a table with an adult
  • What to eat - a variety of healthy food choices from Canada's Food Guide

Your child decides:

  • Whether to eat
  • How much to eat

Tips for Parents

  • Have regular meal and snack times
  • Do not let your child have food or beverages (except for water) between meals and snack times
  • Make eating times pleasant
  • Never use food as a reward or a punishment
  • Never force your child to eat, or to 'clean his/her plate'
  • Model how children should behave at the table

What to Feed Your Child

By twelve months of age your child should be eating a wide variety of foods from Canada's Food Guide. This will help your child get used to different tastes and textures and make sure that he/she gets the nutrition they need.

When feeding your child remember to:

  • Offer your child foods from each of the four food groups in Canada's Food Guide every day
  • Serve small portions of food and offer more if your child is still hungry
  • Gradually introduce a variety of foods with different tastes, textures and colours
  • Offer at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day
  • Don't limit fat in your toddler's diet - it provides energy and essential fatty acids needed for growth. After two years of age, you may switch to lower fat milk
  • Serve whole grain products to provide fibre and to start a good lifelong habit

Picky Eating

Feeding children can be tricky especially when they are picky. Learning how to cope with these eating behaviours will help reduce meal time struggles. Use these tips to say goodbye to picky eating to make sure that your child gets the nutrition he/she needs.

NutriSTEP® Screening

NutriSTEP® is a nutrition risk screening questionnaire available in English and French. If you are a parent or caregiver of a toddler or preschool child, use NutriSTEP® to find out what is going well and where there is room for improvement with your child’s eating and physical activity habits. 

More Information


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