By the age of 3 years old, toddlers are more sensitive to environmental triggers that indicate it’s time to eat.
These triggers can include caregiver cues to eat more or less, food taste and appearance, and other environmental cues. This is different from infancy when young children are “deprivation driven,” meaning they seek food, eat, and stop until hunger returns.
Make sure you’re not pushing your toddler to eat more than she wants to eat, stopping too early, or exposing her to excess sweets and fried foods. The best thing you can do is follow her lead with eating, keep it mostly nutritious (and delicious) while staying on a structure of regular meals and snacks so she has five to six opportunities to eat during the day.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, September 2020