What you should be feeding your two-year-old

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Your two-year-old’s growth rate has slowed down, so he really doesn’t need as much food as you might think he does.

He’s also extremely opinionated about what he’ll eat (and where he’ll eat it, when he’ll eat it, how it should look, as well as in which bowl he’ll eat it). First bit of advice we offer? Pick your battles.

Face it: you can’t win.

If you give in to these picky habits quietly, your child won’t fight for them as hard. Insisting on your way will only make the battle that much more important to him. That said, don’t ask him what he wants to eat: that’s way too much power for a little person to handle. You make the selection from reasonable, kid-friendly foods.

Make sure your child eats at the table.

People who eat at a set time and place usually get the best nutrition and are in the best physical shape. Establish this good habit early. Keep meals out of the car or bed and away from the TV. If your child won’t drink much milk, give him calcium in the form of cheese or yogurt. He should be weaned off the bottle entirely by now.

Dodge a food fight

If your two-year-old refuses to eat anything you put in front of him, outright confrontation won’t get you anywhere. Try these methods instead:

  • Remove him from the table and try again in a couple of hours, at the next regular mealtime.
  • Start with a nutritious snack, such as cheese and crackers or fruit. Put them on a tray and join him.

If he still refuses, put him down again and stop worrying. No healthy child, even a two-year-old, has ever starved himself.

Coordinate with day care

Ask your day care provider about your child’s eating habits during the day. Children learn from different care environments, and there is a lot of leeway in their diets. If possible, stop in for lunch with your child from time to time.