You may have heard of some myths about healthy eating for your toddler.  Separating the facts from the myths will help you provide your toddler with the nutrients he needs to develop normally and healthily.


Breastfeeding is not necessary for toddlers anymore.

  • Not true.
  • There is no known point at which breast milk becomes nutritionally unimportant. Breastfeeding continues to act as a source of profound comfort and security, laying the groundwork for a confident, happy, and healthy future. It’s advisable for mums to continue breastfeeding until baby is up to 2 years old.

If your toddler rejects a food, don’t try it again.

  • Not true.
  • Getting kids to eat foods that they might not like at first can be extremely frustrating. Research has shownthat some children have to sample a new food 10 or more times before they accept that food. So, before you remove an essential ingredient, try it again in a different recipe. It can often be good to serve it alongside something they’re already familiar with to make it more “friendly” and acceptable.

Your toddler must finish everything on his plate, or he will be hungry.

  • Not true.
  • Children who are forced to clean their plates override their natural ability to monitor how much food they need to grow at a healthy rate.Don’t worry about your child going hungry. Infants and toddlers are able to self-regulate their energy needs and intake. Serve your child small portions and let them ask for more if they are still hungry.

Toddlers should be given a low fat diet.

  • Not true
  • Fat is a very important nutrient in children’s diet as it provides the essential fatty acids, serves as the most concentrated source of energy for rapid growth and development, acts as a vehicle for the absorption and transportation of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), and is involved in many important body metabolic processes. Putting toddlers on a low-fat diet is therefore not recommended as this may adversely affect their growth and development. However, this does not mean that the child should be given excessive fat as this may lead to childhood obesity. A balanced diet, which includes appropriate amounts and types of fats is essential for growth and development of young children.

It’s OK to reward my child with sweets if he eats his veggies.

  • Not true.
  • Sweets should be a once-in-a while treat, not a regular “solution” to “encourage” picky eaters to have their vegetables. Once parents get into the pattern of bribing their children with dessert, the association of healthy food with “bad” food becomes ingrained. Having said that, depriving children of sweets will encourage them to eat more sugary treats outside of the house. Instead, offer healthier alternatives like fruits or natural sweeteners like honey.

What my child eats now won’t affect them later.

  • Not true.
  • The period from birth to two years is a critical window for the promotion of optimal growth, health, and behavioural development. Children who learn to make poor diet choices are at more risk of becoming overweight or obese, and these habits are learned younger than parents might think. Don’t use food, especially foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, or foods with low nutritional content, as a comfort tool. Build good habits by finding the real reasons why your child is upset and treating the problem appropriately. Food should only be used to relieve hunger.

For further information on infant and child nutrition, please refer to

  1. MINISTRY OF HEALTH MALAYSIA (2013) Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents. Putrajaya: Technical Working Group on Nutritional Guidelines (for National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition).
  2. NUTRITION SOCIETY OF MALAYSIA (2011) Healthy Spoonfuls for Toddlers. Petaling Jaya: Mother’s Smart Choice.