Toddlers have small bellies and growing bodies. They also have a budding sense of independence. As a parent, this can be both delightful and exhausting, especially at mealtime!
- Let your son/daughter explore new foods and textures. Let him/her touch, smell and taste a new food before trying it.
- Be patient, loving and consistent. Children who have Down syndrome might take a little longer to try new foods. This is normal.
- Stay neutral. This means not reacting or overreacting if your toddler becomes fussy or refuses a new food.
- Eat together without distractions. Set a good example by eating together as often as possible.
- Turn off the TV and put away cell phones.
- Pair a favorite food with a new food. Offer the new food as a side dish. For example, if your son/daughter likes pasta, offer a side of broccoli. If he/she likes peas, offer carrots on the side.
- Offer healthy foods over and over. These include fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. It can take some time for your son/daughter to get used to the new textures, flavors and temperatures.
- Add a dip! Dipping can be fun. Offer a side of hummus, dressing, guacamole or nut butter for him/her to dip new foods in.
- Try, try and try again. It can take more than 10 times for your son/daughter to try a new food and even longer to like it. It can take some time for him/her to get used to the new textures, flavors and temperatures.
What is normal behavior while my son/daughter is trying new food?
- Playing with or spitting out food
- Making faces or grimacing. Toddlers often make faces when trying new foods. This means they are learning about a new taste or texture. It does not mean they do not like the food.
- Feeling more or less hungry at different times. Toddlers’ hunger may not yet follow meal times. It is normal for a toddler to refuse a meal.
When should I seek help about my son/daughter's feeding behavior?
- If he/she does not try or like an entire food group or texture for more than 2-3 weeks
- If he/she eats fewer than 20 different foods
- If your child cries, fusses or screams often during mealtime.
- If he/she persistently gags when eating foods.
- If he/she shows signs of a food allergy, like a rash, diarrhea or anaphylaxis (when the throat swells and closes after eating a certain food)
Who can I call with questions or concerns?
- Your son/daughter’s doctor. He/she can answer questions about feeding behaviors or help if you notice symptoms like coughing often while drinking.
- A feeding therapist or a registered dietitian. You can schedule an appointment in the Down Syndrome Program by calling 617-643-8912. You can also search online for a local registered dietitian at www.eatright.org.
Rev. 10/2017. This webpage is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.