At what times should your toddler be eating?

As your toddler drops naps and gets more of an appetite for solids, your daily routine will start to change. So how do you plan his day around his meals and snacks?

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As you enter the toddler stage, you’ll notice your child’s eating and sleeping habits changing. Some children will still be having two daytime sleeps, whereas others will have dropped down to one. Whenever he sleeps, a good mealtime routine will help give order to your day: children don’t eat well if they’re tired, or sleep well if they’re hungry.

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Keep in mind that you’re aiming to fit three meals, along with two or three snacks, around your toddler’s sleep routine. Try to avoid grazing: if your toddler is constantly snacking, he won’t want to eat their meals, making mealtimes stressful for you both.

Remember that toddlers should be getting most of their nutrients from solid food at this stage, so also watch how much milk he’s drinking. If he loves his milk, offer it after a meal, so that he doesn’t fill up before eating his solids. Try to give him small (3-4oz) cups of milk, rather than great big bottles full. Too many sweet drinks can fill him up too, so stick mainly to water, along with the odd diluted fruit juice drink with a meal.

If your toddler doesn’t eat well at one meal, try to resist offering anything else until it’s time for his next snack or meal. It’ll throw his routine off course and leave him too full up to eat his next meal, and you’ll end up with a cycle that’s hard to break.

Your toddler’s meal routine at 12 months plus (two sleeps a day)

7am: Breakfast
Cereal with milk
Cup of milk or diluted juice

9.30am: Snack and drink of water

10.30am: Sleep (around 45 minutes)

12 noon: Lunch
Two courses, savoury and sweet
Cup of water

2pm: Nap (around 90 minutes)

4pm: Snack and cup of milk

6pm: Tea
Savoury course, pudding
Cup of water

7pm: Bath and wind-down routine
Cup of milk if wanted

7.30pm: Bedtime

Your toddler’s meal routine at 12 months plus (one sleep a day)

7am: Breakfast
Cereal and milk
Cup of milk or diluted juice

9.30am: Snack and drink of water

12 noon: Lunch
Savoury and sweet course
Cup of water

12.30pm: Nap (around two hours)

3pm: Snack and cup of milk

5pm: Tea
Savoury course, pudding
Cup of water

6.30pm: Bath and wind-down routine

7pm:
Bedtime
Cup of milk if wanted

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All children are different, and this information is only intended as a guide, which may vary according to both sleep and eating patterns. If you have any concerns about your toddler’s development or diet, please consult your health visitor or doctor.

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