You can give your toddler semi-skimmed milk and lower fat dairy products at age 2 years, as long as they are growing well and offer skimmed milk from 5 years. You can continue to breastfeed for as long as you wish. If your toddler is dairy free, always go for fortified, no added sugar milk alternatives.
Honey can be given over the age of 12 months but remember it’s a source of added sugar so should be used in small amounts.
Ground nuts or nut butters are fine from the age of 6 months, as long as your little one is not allergic to them, but whole nuts are a choking risk and should not be given to children under the age of 5 years. For more information on allergens, read our allergens article.
Round or cylindrical foods like cherry tomatoes, grapes and sausages can be a choking risk so should be cut into quarters lengthways until your little one is at least 4 years old.
These foods are very hard and can be a choking risk if they’re not prepared correctly. Raw carrot sticks, raw carrot rounds and large chunks of apple are particularly risky.
Wait until your toddler is 18-24m before giving them raw carrot and slice it lengthways into thin strips for dunking in dips like hummus. Likewise, peel apple and cut into thin strips.
Younger little ones around 10 months can enjoy carrot and apple grated finely which gives them the chance to practice their pincer grip or you can cut them into sticks and cook until soft enough to mush down easily in your little one’s mouth.
The best drinks are milk or water. You can continue to breast feed for as long as you wish. Otherwise, you can offer full fat cows’ milk or fortified, no added sugar milk alternatives alongside water as a main source of hydration.
Try to give your toddler 6-8 drinks a day, although you may need to top this up if the weather is hot or your child is super active.
It’s best to avoid drinks that are high in free sugars like fizzy drinks, juice and milkshakes with added sugar. If you do give your toddler juice or squash, make sure it’s diluted with lots of water (go for a 1 part juice to 10 parts water dilution).
The Government recommends that all toddlers, up to the age of 5 years, are given a supplement of vitamins A, C and D, although this isn’t necessary if they are still having 500ml infant formula or more each day. You can buy special drops for little ones containing just the right amounts and there are free Healthy Start vitamins available if you’re on a low income.
If your toddler is vegetarian, vegan or has a limited diet because of allergy or other cultural or medical needs then you might want to think about a kid-friendly multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, particularly one that offers calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine and iron.
Find more information on supplements from the NHS
We know this is a massive concern. It’s important to prepare all foods safely to prevent any choking risks. For a highly detailed guide to prepping fruit and vegetables safely for little kids, from babies to toddlers, see https://solidstarts.com/foods/
Toddlers do find having a routine nice and comforting and it can help them to understand when they’ll next be eating (helping parents and carers to deflect from the constant demand for snacks!)
Setting a time for breakfast, lunch and dinner that you more or less stick to in the week, with flexibility for days out and the weekend can provide structure but doing the same with snack time can really help manage the repeated requests for snacks.
If your little one is constantly in + out of the kitchen then try having a set time for morning and afternoon snacks. Outside of these times, tell your toddler that the kitchen is closed for food but that snack time will be in 20 minutes. At snack time, offer your little one a choice of snacks from a range of healthy options and sit down to enjoy your snack together.
Learn more about how to create happy mealtimes
Realistically, little ones don’t love vegetables as much as they love pudding! This is fairly common but cooking vegetables in different ways can help to make them tastier and more likely to be accepted.
Try stir frying or roasting veggies to make them tastier, especially if you add yummy herbs and spices like cinnamon + sweet potato, cauliflower + paprika, carrot + coriander or pea + mint.
Lots of veggies, including peppers, onions, mushrooms and sweetcorn make great pizza toppings!
Often veggies served with dips are more of a hit than when served on their own, so try some hummus or a yoghurt dip.
If you need more hints + tips, read how to deal with fussy eating.