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Toddler Eating

Vanessa T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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From curbing snacks to eating vegetables, Tinyhood Registered Dietitian, Vanessa, is here to answer your questions about how to feed your picky eater.

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Hungry at bedtime


Hi Vanessa, no matter how much my child eats for dinner, she always tells us at bedtime that she is hungry lately. We have been giving her a cup of milk and that seems to be helping. Do you recommend something better? Or something a bit before bedtime that would ease the bedtime routine? Thanks!


Hi Paula,

How much milk is she drinking throughout the day? If her bedtime cup of milk fits into her daily 3-4 servings of calcium, I think that is a fine practice to continue.

If you think she has had plenty to eat and this may be more behavioral instead of true hunger, you can introduce what I call "The Apple Test".

When she asks for a bedtime snack, ask her "Could you eat an apple right now?" (or other fruit if your daughter doesn't like apples). If the answer is no and she wants milk/cookies/crackers, etc. instead, then she probably is not truly hungry. If she says she could eat an apple, then offer a small piece of fruit to satisfy her hunger. You can explain to her that this test will help her figure out when her head is hungry (cravings) vs her tummy is hungry (true hunger). Using this test will not only result in more healthy food choices but it will help your daughter to become a mindful eater and learn to honor hunger instead of cravings. Double win!


Thank you! I love that...the Apple test!


Packed lunches


Hi. What do you recommend for lunches for a 2 year old for daycare? We are in a sunbutter and jelly sandwhich rut and need some new ideas.


Hi Beatrice,

Have you seen the lunch containers with different sections so you can pack a few different foods? They are often called "bento boxes" and they are awesome!

You can find plenty of Bento Box lunch ideas for kids on the internet, but don't feel pressure to make every meal a gourmet treat. The basic idea is to provide a variety of shapes, textures and colors so your two year old can explore them all. I would try to include one veggie, one fruit and one "main dish". Even if your child is a picky eater, keep sending a small amount of fruits and veggies and eventually he may give it a try!

For main dishes, I like to make roll-ups with soft tortillas or fill pita pockets with deli meat, cheese or taco ingredients. You can also make cold pasta salads with his favorite noodle shape, cubed chicken veggies and a bit of olive oil and cheese. Chicken or tuna salad with some crackers or pita triangles can be a fun option, too. Try swapping out bread with banana or apple slices on your sunbather sandwiches and cut them into fun shapes to make lunch time more fun.

Another idea is to ask your little one what foods he sees his friends eating at daycare- he might surprise you with a list of food he'd like to try.



First Foods


I have a 5 month old and we got the okay to start her on solids. Do we start with rice cereal? oatmeal? veggies? What do you recommend? Thanks for any advice.


Hi Olivia,

How exciting! Introducing solid foods is a fun (and messy!) time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not make a recommendation to start with any specific food group. The choice really is yours!

Some parents will start with infant cereals because they have a low risk for allergic response and they are fortified with Iron, which your daughter will need to start getting from solid foods if she is breast fed. Pureed meats are another good source of iron that you could certainly try early on.

Fruits and veggies have become another good choice for first solid foods. Many parents hope that starting babies on these healthy foods early will help them to enjoy eating them for the rest of life. While there isn't great research to back up this theory, it certainly doesn't hurt to get them eating these choices.

Don't worry so much about the very first food you give. Instead, focus on incorporating a variety of tastes and eventually textures from the start so your daughter learns to develop a taste for all different foods. Just be sure to try only a teaspoon or so to start and give your daughter only one new food at a time so you can watch for allergies as you go.

Enjoy this fun time and take plenty of pictures and videos!