Food refusal is a normal phase that most toddlers pass through:

  • Fear of new foods in the second year may be a survival mechanism to prevent increasingly mobile toddlers from poisoning themselves through eating anything and everything.

  • Toddlers may limit the variety of foods they eat for some time. This phase will normally pass without any problems but will be more evident in some toddlers than in others.

  • Your toddler may refuse a food if it is new to them. They need to taste it a few times to learn to like it, so always offer it the next time you are eating it.

  • Toddlers refuse extra food when they have eaten enough. Your toddler may eat less food than other toddlers of the same age. If your toddler is growing and developing normally then they are taking the right quantity of food for their needs.

  • Remember that the amount of food that toddlers eat may vary from one day to the next. Try not to get anxious about this as toddlers tend to react to your stress by eating even less.

Here are HCP's top 10 tips to help with faddy eating:

  1. Try to keep meals relaxed and sociable. Some toddlers just eat slowly and rushing them can reduce their appetite.
  2. If your toddler hasn't eaten their meal after 20 or 30 minutes, they're not going to. Their meal should be taken away.
  3. Don't insist that your toddler eats everything on their plate; they'll stop eating when they're full.
  4. If a meal is refused, don't offer a different one in its place or offer a snack shortly afterwards.
  5. It's not a good idea to disguise or hide foods that your toddler has previously refused. They'll stop trusting you and become even more wary of the food you give them.
  6. Try and avoid battles and give your toddler foods that you know they like and will eat. Don't worry if they only seem to eat a few things, if they're growing and gaining weight, they're eating enough.
  7. Dessert should not be offered as a reward because this makes the sweet course seem more desirable.
  8. Avoid offering large drinks of milk, water, squash or fruit juice within an hour of a meal - this can reduce your child's appetite.
  9. On different occasions repeatedly offer your toddler a food that has been refused - it can take very many attempts before a child will accept a new food.
  10. Toddlers learn through imitation so seeing you and your wider family and friends eating a wide variety of foods is a good thing. Eat with your child as often as you can and try to eat a wide range of foods yourself if you want your child to.

For more information on faddy eating speak to your health visitor or go to