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Mealtime for Toddlers – What to Avoid

Babies-R-Us-What-not-to-feed-your-toddlers-405x400Parenthood becomes so much easier when your kid starts to eat what you eat. But remember that not all adult foods are okay for little ones. To help your baby grow safely and healthily, here are foods to avoid.

Whole milk best with other food groups

At this stage, your baby still needs the fat, calories and nutrients (and taste!) that whole milk provides, especially given their penchant for picky eating. Whole milk can be introduced once your baby is eating a variety of foods from all food groups. In addition, you can introduce small amounts of cheese and yogurt such as 1 teaspoon a day to start. Increase amount according to your baby’s appetite. Remember to NEVER buy skim milk for your baby. You want it as whole as possible so they can get the most out of every bottle.

Small, hard choking hazards

Until your baby learns to fully chew, it’s best to avoid nuts, popcorn, and other little foods that can get caught in a little throat. If you are planning to serve them something small, cook it well so it’s soft.

Sticky choking hazards

Globs of peanut butter, jelly, marshmallows, candy and other sticky treats can line a child’s throat (it can line anyone’s throat, actually) and cause breathing difficulties. It’s probably best to avoid sweet things like marshmallows and candy altogether, but for peanut butter, which is a fine source of protein, spread it thinly onto bread to keep your baby from choking on it. NOTE: Make sure your baby is not allergic to peanuts before giving them peanut butter. Talk to your pediatrician to learn more about testing.

All-time choking favourites: hot dogs and grapes

All kids love grapes and hot dogs, but doesn’t it seem like they were both created to perfectly block a toddler’s windpipe? Despite their reputation, they’re still crowd-pleasers so you should still serve them – just do it correctly. Cut grapes and similar fruit like cherry tomatoes into quarters or slices, and cut hot dogs into long, noodle-like strips. They’ll taste just as good dipped into condiments as they do dressed with them.

Fatty and sugary treats

Just as you do for yourself, think of chips, candy, chocolate and other sweets like occasional treats rather than dietary staples. And when you do reward your kids with a sweet treat, make sure they understand that it’s a treat. It’s also wise to avoid sweetened drinks like soda, and even juice if possible. Teaching your kids that nothing quenches thirst like a tall glass of water will be better for them, cheaper for you and will save you a ton of storage space in the places where cans of pop used to go.

Food they don’t like

You want your baby to see mealtime as an enjoyable experience, and that won’t happen if you continuously force them to eat something they don’t want. Kids are fickle, and what they ‘hate’ today they may love tomorrow. Or vice versa. So try something similar but different. If your goal is to get your toddler to eat a dark green veggie and they’re not digging broccoli, try a different one like kale. If that doesn’t work, find another one. There’s always another option, and there are always new ways to prepare them.

Babies with allergies

If your baby is already allergic to certain things, be sure to consult with your doctor when introducing highly allergenic foods like dairy, soy, shellfish and tree nuts. After introducing anything new, wait a few days before introducing another and watch for allergy symptoms.

Food safety tips

Of course you’re safe with your own food, but children under five have developing immune systems and are therefore more susceptible to foodborne illness. It’s important to be especially aware of food safety, and that includes food recalls. Health Canada makes it easy to track recalls as they happen.


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