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Types of Eating Behaviours in Kids — Fussy Eating Included!

In this article, I will be sharing types of eating and suggestions with you on how to manage your toddler’s eating.

Messy Eating

Source: Unsplash

Messy Eating is normal when the toddler is learning to feed himself.

The toddler learns to eat solid food by using fingers and then moves on to feed himself with a spoon, fork and drink from a cup.


- Cut food into strips or bite sizes and let the toddler use fingers to eat.

- Praise the toddler’s efforts when he eats something without creating a mess.

For example, pop the food straight into the mouth.

- Get the toddler to help set up the table.

- Eat together with the toddler lets the parents lead by example and shows the toddler how to eat and behave at the table. This can take time for the toddler to learn.

- If the parent can stay calm and patient with the toddler’s mess, it will help the parent and the toddler to enjoy mealtimes more.

- Put a big plastic sheet below the highchair where the toddler sits. This helps to clear the foods which the toddler dropped.

- Put on a feeding bib on the toddler.

- Bath the toddler after the meal.

Click here to read about "Toddler Development" and "How can Parents help".

Not Eating

Appetite ups and downs

- Give the toddler small servings at mealtimes.

- Do not force the toddler to finish everything on the plate. This prevents mealtimes to be stressful.

- Offer the toddler healthy snacks like fruit or vegetable in between meals. Do not worry when the toddler doesn’t eat much food. If the toddler is healthy and has enough energy to play, learn and explore, he is probably eating enough.

Suggestions on trying new foods

Creating a positive eating environment

- Eat with the toddler during meals.

- Show the toddler how much the parent enjoys eating the food which has been prepared.

- Get the toddler involved in helping to prepare and cook meals.

- Limit each meal timing to 30 minutes.

Remove the toddler’s food from the table after that and do not show signs of anger.

Do not offer milk or snacks immediately if meals are unfinished.

Serving new foods

- Serve the toddler the same foods as the rest of the family. The toddler will get the nutritional benefits of a wide range of foods and accept new tastes and textures as ‘normal’.

- Offer new foods with foods that the toddler already knows and likes.

- Keep offering new foods. It can take 10 to 15 tries for the toddler to accept and enjoy new foods.

- If the toddler refuses to eat new food, avoids punishing the toddler, offers it again in a week or so. The toddler might gobble it up and even ask for more.

Following the toddler’s lead

Let the toddler:

- touch, lick and play with food and allow for some mess as he learns to eat.

- feed himself and give him some help if he needs it.

- rest when he is tired, cranky or unwell, take the food away.

Click here for a recommended list of “Must Have Child Products”!

Healthy Eating

Source: Google Image


- Look out for food items with the Healthier Choice Symbol.

- Let the toddler eat his favourite food with a variety of nutritious and colourful foods.

- Give the toddler healthy snacks such as plain biscuits, fruit or vegetables.

- Do not allow the toddler to run around with food in his mouth. This prevents the toddler from being choked or dropping food when he runs around.

- Start with smaller portions and refill plate when the toddler requests.

- Do not use food as a reward.

Fussy Eating

Source: Facebook Video

Suggestions to improve feeding environment and behaviours:

- Let the toddler feed himself.

- Do not bribe, scold or hit the toddler while he is not eating.

- Praise or pay attention when the toddler tries new foods.

- Get the toddler a highchair to sit through mealtimes with the family.

The toddler may try new foods when he sees others eating.

- Avoid discussing food dislikes in front of the toddler.

Suggestions to encourage intake in fussy eaters:

- Give the toddler small portions of food and praise him when he finishes his food or if he asks for more food.

- Cut food into strips or bite sizes and let the toddler use fingers to eat then use a spoon. This helps to improve his motor skills.

- Serve food in different ways.

For example, use shapes and colours to make meals look attractive or use attractive serving plates, bowls and cutlery.

- Let the toddler play with pots, pans and other cooking utensils.

- Get the toddler to choose food and help to prepare food.

This helps to create an interest in food.

- Teach the toddler the names of foods through picture books and video clips. Recognizing on his plate the food he has seen before can be fun for him too.

- Bring the toddler out for meals.

For example, having a picnic lunch at the seaside in East Coast Park will be a refreshing change from the usual lunch eaten indoors.

I hope all these suggestions will help you to manage your toddler’s eating and your toddler will eat better.

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