You can lead toddlers to the table, but you cannot make them eat! Toddlers don't require as much food as they did when they were infants - they aren't growing as fast as they did earlier. The key to a toddlers appetite lies in the rate of growth rather than the size of child. A little thin toddler may out -eat a large chumky one because the first may be experiencing a growing spurt. Reduced appetite may cause you (or grandparents) great concern but if your child is ever curious, bright eyed with solid feeling flesh, and plenty of energy he or she is probably getting enough food.

Something else is happening at mealtime. Toddler hood brings intense strivings for independence, yet you still control much of your toddler's life . eating (or not eating) is a very powerful way a little child can control the environment (and adults) . here are some suggestions to help you prevent mealtime from becoming a battleground:

Serve small amount of nutritious foods from each of the basic food groups (vegetable and fruit; bread and cereal; milk and cheese; meat, poultry , fish, and beans) This helps to ensure a healthy diet and encourage diversified food selection Placing a large amount of an unwanted food on you're a child's plate is asking for trouble.

Allow your toddler to self feed . this encourages independence and promotes self confidence.

Don't scoop up survivors from your child's eating area too quickly. Just because mangle carrots and pears look terrible to you , it doesn't mean they do to your toddler. He or she may make another pass at them if given a few minutes.

Avoid tricks such as disguising one food with another. Tricks and punishments with food may encourage distrust and unhealthy attitudes. Such techniques don't remain effective very long.

If sweets are used as a reward, they become more desirable in toddlers eyes. Give desserts and sweets no greater emphasis than other foods in the family diet.

Introduce new foods one at a time, in small portions, along with familiar foods. Avoid fancy flavorings and sauces. If your toddler doesn't like a particular food, wait a few weeks and try again. Temporary dislikes are common at this age.

Be a good model. Your eating habits and preferences are the best advertisement for a healthy(or unhealthy) diet.

Toddlers who are forced to clean their plates learn that a clean plate is more important than a satisfied appetite. A frustrated toddler may resort to the "let's dump this stuff on the floor" technique.

Make snacks nutritious . junk food can fill a toddler's tummy quickly and prevent consumption of good foods at mealtime.

Reduce mealtime mess with an oil cloth or old plastic tablecloth under the highchair to catch crumbs.

Remember : few adults eat the way your child does now. It will get better!