Food-obsessed toddler who won’t stop eating: 10 things you must do

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — April 16, 2018
  • 1 / 11

    Eating habits are often tricky at this age, and some toddlers tend to eat much more than they should.

    If that happens to your young child, you should put a stop to this before her weight becomes a concern, leading to health problems.

    Here are our 10 top tips for managing your food-obsessed toddler.

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  • Focus on gradual changes
    2 / 11 Focus on gradual changes

    The more fuss you make about your little one’s excessive demand for food, the more she’ll resist your attempt to change her food intake.

    Avoid confrontations and reprimands, and instead aim for subtle changes. Her attitude towards food will change slowly, not suddenly.

    Related: Toddler takes too long to eat: what to do 

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  • Help her understand healthy food
    3 / 11 Help her understand healthy food

    Before you can manage her food intake more effectively, you need to know the types of food that make up a healthy diet, such as fresh fruit, dairy products, fish and meat. You can get information from reliable medical websites.

    Related: 5 secrets to raising a creative toddler with high EQ

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  • Think “quantity” as well as “quality”
    4 / 11 Think “quantity” as well as “quality”

    Your child’s weight is affected by how much she eats and what she eats. You’ll be surprised how much impact you can have on her weight by simply serving smaller portions. Serving on a smaller plate also helps, and she probably won’t notice the quantity reduction.

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  • Reduce foods linked to weight increase
    5 / 11 Reduce foods linked to weight increase

    Cutting down on processed and junk foods will help keep her weight in check. The same applies to sugary stuff such as fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolates – they don’t have to be eliminated from her intake altogether, just reduced to a reasonable level.

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  • Provide healthy snacks
    6 / 11 Provide healthy snacks

    Ensure there are healthy snacks available for your tot. These should be attractive, easy to eat and taste good – remember that this has to compete with the temptation of sweets, cakes and biscuits.

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  • Delay snack times
    7 / 11 Delay snack times

    When your child asks for a mid-morning snack, try not to respond immediately. Say: “I’ll get it for you in a couple in minutes,” and wait until she asks you again. That helps her get used to pangs of hunger without having to satisfy them straight away.

    Related: Toddler has red circles under eyes: Not enough sleep?

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  • Avoid threats
    8 / 11 Avoid threats

    Don’t make comments such as: “You’ll get fat if you keep eating so much.” Such remarks could damage her self-esteem and make her anxious.

    It’s far better to state things positively, for example: “Eating this will make you feel good.”

    Related: 6 signs your toddler is ready for preschool

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  • Set a good example yourself
    9 / 11 Set a good example yourself

    You can’t expect her to eat sensibly if she sees you stuff chocolate bars into your mouth, or reach for that second helping of pizza. Your child is heavily influenced by what she sees, so think very carefully about your own eating habits and food intake.

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  • Show a positive attitude
    10 / 11 Show a positive attitude

    Don’t think of this as controlling your child’s food intake. Instead, view this as a positive eating programme that will help her grow healthily. It’s more about what she should rather than shouldn’t eat. Your positive attitude will rub off on her.

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  • Praise progress
    11 / 11 Praise progress

    When you see improvements to her eating habits and food intake, tell her how pleased you are that she is eating so well now. Your positive comments not only reinforce your healthy-eating message but also make your little one feel good about herself.

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