Provide with Patience: Feeding Toddlers and Preschoolers

Feeding your child will take patience and work. The time and patience you give to feeding your child will pay off. Here are some helpful suggestions to ease this experience for both you and your child.

The following resource is provided courtesy of the DHR, Georgia American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.


Feeding your child well is hard work and it takes a lot of patience.

The time and patience you give your child in feeding will pay off. Sometimes you want to do what is easiest, but down the road it's not easier if it's not helping your child to grow well physically and emotionally. Children grow and develop at different rates. You do not want to rush this process. What you do want to do is support your child so that he can develop skills and confidence. Supporting your child with patience will help you to provide him with a stress-free eating experience.

Toddler feeding herself

Supporting Toddlers

  • Seat your toddler securely
  • Put her at the table with you or pull her high chair up to the table
  • Put safe and appropriate foods in front of her
  • Allow your child to begin serving herself as she is able
  • Sit with your child and eat with her
  • Cut food into small pieces that she can handle
  • Help your toddler when she shows that he needs help
  • Set limits
    For example: If she begins to throw food or pour milk on the floor, calmly end the meal for her. Also ask her to help clean up.

Supporting Preschoolers

Preschooler feeding herself
  • Allow your child to serve herself
  • Calmly teach her table manners, but remember that it takes time to develop these skills
  • Turn off the T.V. and the radio
  • Sit and eat with your child at a table or counter for meals and snacks
  • Model the behaviors you want to see her perform
  • Keep conversation pleasant
  • Help your preschooler when she asks for it
  • Serve your child a variety of healthy meals and snacks

Provide with Patience: Feeding Toddlers and Preschoolers. DHR/Georgia American Academy of Pediatrics/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. 2003. English.

Last Reviewed: January 2009

Last Updated: November 24, 2014