In contrast to infancy (0-1 year), the toddler years (1-3 years) are a much slower period of physical growth. As growth rates decrease, your child’s appetite decreases and food intake may seem erratic and unpredictable. Parental concern about the limited variety and quantity of food eaten is very common.
Toddlers, on average need to eat 5-7 times a day including nutritious snacks. Toddlers tend to eat sporadically. Over a period of a week or so, however, their nutrient and energy intake generally balances out. So continue to offer a variety of nutritious foods at mealtimes while allowing the child to regulate his own intake at each meal based on his own innate ability to regulate his energy intake.
Most toddlers are capable of self-feeding firmer table foods and drinking from a sippy cup. Your toddler should wean from the bottle by 12-15 months and bedtime bottles should particularly be discouraged because it promotes the development of cavities. The older toddler (usually by 2 years) may be able to use a spoon and is ready to eat most of the same foods offered to the rest of the family with some extra precautions for foods which may be a choking hazard. Foods such nuts, raw carrots, popcorn, hot dogs, grapes, and round candy are particular choking hazards because they are hard to control in the mouth and may be easily lodged in the esophagus or trachea. Caregivers should be present during feeds and children should be seated at mealtimes and free of a lot of distractions to prevent choking.
Many toddlers are quite resistant to consuming new foods and sometimes dietary variety diminishes to 4 or 5 accepted favorites. This change in acceptance of foods is developmentally typical. You should know that acceptance of a new food may only occur only after 8-10 exposures to a new food so don’t decide whether a toddler “likes” a food after only offering it once or twice. Remember, touching, smelling, and playing with foods are normal exploratory behaviors that may precede acceptance and even willingness to taste and swallow foods.