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!

Tips for every toddler

  • Fill your toddler’s belly with healthy foods to help him/her grow. As a parent, your job is to serve the healthy food. Your toddler will decide how much is the right amount.
  • Eat meals and snacks around the same time every day. This helps create a routine for your toddler and your family. Toddlers and people with Down syndrome thrive on routine. Setting a healthy routine early is recommended.
  • Offer the family meal at mealtime. This encourages your toddler to try new foods that are not specially made for him/her.

Healthy food tips

  • Follow the “3 and 2” rule. Try to serve 3 meals and 1-2 snacks every day. With each meal, try to offer 3 types of food. With every snack, try to serve 1-2 types of food.
  • Let your child explore new foods, flavors and textures. Every toddler explores at a different pace. Mealtime is about eating and learning mealtime basics. Remember – getting messy is normal!
  • Serve whole, unprocessed foods as often as you can. Unprocessed means a food has not been changed much or at all from its original state.

Healthy drink tips

  • Give your toddler water throughout the day.
  • Do not give your toddler sweet or sugary drinks. This includes 100% fruit juice, soda, chocolate milk and sports drinks. They have lots of extra sugar, which can cause extra weight gain.
  • Serve food or drinks with calcium 2-3 times a day. Your toddler needs calcium for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Calcium is in milk, cheese, plain yogurt, and dairy substitutes like almond milk and coconut yogurt.

Who can I call with questions or concerns?

  • Your son/daughter’s doctor. He/she can answer questions about feeding and nutrition.
  • A feeding therapist or registered dietitian. You can schedule an appointment with the Down Syndrome Program by calling 617-643-8912. Or search online for a local registered dietitian at

Healthy snacks and foods

Remember – The key to having your son/daughter try new foods is to try, try and try again. It can take many, many tries for your child to like a new food, texture or temperature.


Rev. 9/2017. 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.