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How to Wean a Toddler – Weaning for 12-24 Months

Now that your baby is a toddler, they may be ready for more than the small finger foods of Stage 3 Weaning. Food will be a major part of their life now, and you’ll find you’re spending a significant part of each day preparing, cooking and serving food to your little toddler. Here’s how to wean a toddler, and stay calm and flexible throughout the process!

What to Expect During Toddler Weaning

  • Expect your toddler’s appetite to possibly reduce in For many parents, this is a frustrating and even worrying experience. But don’t let it alarm you – overall growth at 12-24 months is not as rapid as it is in the first year of life.
  • Expect some protest and tantrums at meal times, especially if your toddler is tired. Toddlers can be very clever at maximising the family’s attention during meals. Focus on something else and avoid giving your toddler the impression that they are the main
  • Expect tightly clamped lips, or food smeared all over the high chair or hurled across the room. It’s common for parents to feel that all they do is clean up food messes – you are not alone. It’s common to become frustrated by picky eating or a reluctance to eat, even if you’ve cooked an appetising meal. For more information on fussy eating, read our article here.

Getting More Food In Than Out!

Avoid thinking that the more elaborate the food the more likely they are to devour it. Toddlers can have simple tastes and there’s no point cooking up something special in the hopes they’ll love it. Often the opposite is true; family foods are ideal, as long as they are nutritious. If it is curry and rice or chops and vegetables in your house, offer your toddler a smaller portion of the same meal. Each family eats different foods and toddlers will adapt to the foods that your family likes to eat. You might have sandwiches for lunch whereas your neighbours might have noodle soup.

Ideal Foods for Stage 4 Weaning

Foods rich in protein help to satisfy hunger and take longer to digest, so aim for a serve of protein at each main meal. This could include:

  • Meat (red and white)
  • Fish (fresh and tinned, bones always removed)
  • Eggs (scrambled, boiled, poached, in omelettes or quiches)

Bread, rice, pasta and lentils such as baked beans, kidney beans and chickpeas.

Macaroni cheese, pasta bakes and milky desserts are all ideal for boosting calcium intake. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables daily.

For more information on Toddler Food Groups, click here.

Weaning Foods to Avoid

Reduced fat varieties of milk should not be offered until after the age of two years. Small, hard foods which could potentially cause choking still need to be avoided:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard lollies
  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grapes
  • Whole cherry tomatoes

Avoid giving sweet or salty “snack” type foods. Those wrapped in a layer of plastic should sound a warning bell as they tend to be high in added sugars, salts and saturated fats, which contribute to the risk of childhood obesity. Filling up on unhealthy snacks can mean that their appetite is affected and your child is then not as hungry for energy dense, nutritionally appropriate foods.

Strong, spicy and flavoured foods may not be too popular with your little one, but don’t be afraid to offer them anyway. They’ll soon let you know if it’s not to their liking.

Daily Feeding Routine

Toddlers need structure, so offer food 5-6 times a day – at breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner time. Lots of toddlers prefer to eat small amounts and often, rather than eat three main meals. If your child asks for additional food between these meals and snacks, all you need to do is to reassure them that the next meal is coming up soon.

Constant eating can contribute to tooth decay because of the frequent “topping up” of the acid and bacteria cycle in the mouth.

Breakfast Cereal drenched in milk—preferably wholegrain, without added sugar—is an ideal way to start the day. Serve with toast and fresh fruit.
Morning tea Snacks are important because your toddler’s stomach is small, and fills up quickly.
Lunch View our lunch recipes for toddlers here.
Afternoon tea Offer a small snack – don’t offer them more as this may fill them up, and they won’t be hungry when the next meal is presented.
Dinner Many toddlers like to have their dinner at around 5pm. Although this may be too early for your whole family to eat, making a hungry toddler wait to eat can be very challenging.
Evening snack Offer the evening snack while the rest of your family eats. Every family’s routine is different, so find what works for you.

Weaning, Breastfeeding & Milk

Milk is still an important part of a toddler’s diet – you can offer milk after their meals to ensure that a good amount of solid food is consumed.

Don’t feel that weaning off breastfeeding is necessary. There are significant health benefits in continuing to breastfeed for both mothers and toddlers. If you feel your toddler’s demands for breast milk are compromising their solid food intake, speak with your child health nurse.

Supplementary toddler milk drinks are suitable to include as part of a toddler’s daily food intake as a nutritious supplement, when intakes of energy and nutrients may not be adequate.

How to Transition a Toddler Off Bottles

If you are still offering your child a bottle, there are real advantages to weaning your toddler from bottles. Drinking from a spout, straw or plain cup is preferable to sucking on a bottle at this age. Tooth decay can be reduced by eliminating all bottles from around the age of one year.

Handy Hints for Weaning a Toddler

  • Make it Put out a plate of food and let them choose! What about a plate of toddler tapas? Steamed veggies, sultanas, cheese, fruit chunks, sandwiches, dips and yoghurt all make a great smorgasbord.
  • Keep them company and make eating a social Get a few toddlers around for a tea party or a picnic. Toddlers are great imitators. They will often eat in the company of other children and be less picky.
  • You may want to place some plastic sheeting, newspaper or an old sheet under the highchair to make clean ups In the warmer summer months, feeding children outside is a practical alternative to always being inside.
  • Your toddler has an inbuilt desire for independence. Let them feed themselves and make their own choices about how much they If your toddler is protesting about sitting in a high chair, a small table and chair may suit them better.
  • Be a role model for healthy eating behaviour If your child sees you eating sweets and treats, they’re likely to want some too.
  • Involve your toddler in very basic meal preparation. Washing some vegetables, tearing up lettuce leaves, mashing banana or avocado will all help them to link effort with rewards and foods with their
  • Read the labels of the foods you are offering and aim to minimise additives and flavouring.

Always see your healthcare professional if you are concerned about your child’s growth. For more information on toddler development, see our Toddler Growth Chart.



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