What is Toddler Led Feeding?

Main image for the article [What is toddler led feeding?]. Pictured is a baby sitting in a highchair, eating carrots with a fork.

Okay, this is something that has been on my mind for a couple of months now and it’s finally time to get this idea out there! I couldn’t be more excited to share this with you!

This approach will change sooo many parents lives when it comes to feeding their toddlers. Not only will it make mealtimes easier, it’s also easier to form a plan of action around this too! And this approach my friends is.. Toddler Led Feeding.

Honestly, as of now, there’s no such thing or approach, BUT My Little Eater is coining the term and ready to make this a thing!

If you’re not familiar with my signature Baby Led Feeding approach to starting solids, this approach allows you freedom in the sense it truly doesn’t matter whether you decide to start with purees or finger foods. What does matter is letting your baby lead the feeding journey by allowing them to be as independent as they can, by listening to their cues and by being responsive to their needs at mealtime. All of course, while gently nudging them along the texture timeline to advance in eating skills!

Good news! If you’ve purchased my Baby Led Feeding online course, I’m working on a revamp that will be released soon! I’m working so hard on expanding this concept even more and clarifying this messaging – including expanding lessons on the texture timeline and much more!

If you haven’t taken my Baby Led Feeding course and are curious as to why it is such a great approach, the results you see will speak for themselves. My clients are always boasting that they have a baby that eats so much better, is adventurous and eats independently, all by 12 months once they started following this approach.

Here are some of the benefits for your baby:

  • Develop eating skills (biting, chewing and swallowing skills, use of hands and utensils to eat, etc.). This takes practice and time of course, but following this approach paves the way for these skills to develop faster.
  • Promotes independence in eating and keeps your baby in control.
  • Allows your baby to be in tune with and respond to their hunger and fullness cues.
  • Promotes sensory exploration and learning about food, which down the road will help decrease picky eating!
  • Promotes a positive mealtime environment when your baby can sit and eat with you in a positive way, with no pressure.

Where things go wrong…

So, we see these benefits ALL the time and parents thank me over and over for having a baby that loves foods of all textures, is independent and happily participates at mealtime. But what is the most common thing I see happen when babies approach 12 months? I see that parents start to let go of all the principles they were so adamant on implementing when they’re toddler was a baby.

All the ideas and beliefs that “my baby can decide for themselves how much they want to eat” and “my baby has the skills to eat on their own” and “baby eats the foods that we eat!”…all of that…gets thrown out the window somehow when they hit toddlerhood. Somehow, a switch flips and as parents, we start to think that they don’t know what’s best for themselves anymore, that when they play with their food it’s not good, that we need to interfere and ask them to take bites or that the only way for them to eat something is to resort to giving them special food or catering their meals. And it’s easier to start meddling and micromanaging their mealtime. What ends up happening is we move from a baby led approach to parent led feeding! Let that sink in for a second. Why should we move from a baby led approach? An approach we saw benefits from, that we knew 100% we wanted to implement – only to move into the parent led approach, which is opposite of baby led feeding.

But what if I was to tell you that My Little Eater is on a mission to make toddler led feeding a thing. We are coining the term Toddler Led Feeding, and we’re going to shout it from the rooftops to make it happen for every family, so they can truly enjoy the toddler feeding stage. No stress, but instead, having complete confidence that their toddler is getting what they need and learning healthy eating habits for life. Listen in to my special bonus podcast episode from this week, where I share my thoughts on why I know Toddler Led Feeding will be a game changer for so many parents!

The My Little Eater Podcast

How can I implement Toddler Led Feeding?

Now, a lot of parents immediately think about how different feeding toddlers can be, compared to feeding a baby – especially how much harder it can be! And they’re right! Toddlers become more independent and more verbal, they do push back, they want control, and they do tend (more often than not) to become picky eaters. This is a normal developmental stage for them, especially when they enter that age when food neophobia becomes a thing.

But guess what? When we stop making baby…or should I say…toddler led feeding a thing, we inevitably start making picky eating worse! We teach them that they can’t be trusted around food, that they can no longer trust their hunger and fullness cues, that they need a parent to chase them around with a spoon trying to get them to eat. We forget that THEY should be leading the way for their own feeding journey….and so, we push back against them. Then we start to wonder why we get such severe picky eating and problems at the table?!

The one thing they need is a little structure and the right environment from us. We can only focus on the things we can change, or that fall within our role in feeding. And that would include: what to serve them, where to serve it, and when to serve it. After that…we’ve gotta let toddlers lead the way!  We need to let toddlers explore their food, eat how much they want, what they want (from what we serve them), and do it at their own pace. When they say they’re done, they’re done – we’ve gotta believe them! When they want seconds or thirds – give it to them! The beauty of baby led feeding only works when we continue to use those principles into toddlerhood. That is what I really want you to know and understand today. Toddlers are capable, just as babies are capable! They are intuitive, just like babies are intuitive! They are reasonable when we let them do their thing within the right environment that we set up for them, which I teach you all about in my toddler course!

My Feeding Toddler course can help!

If you’re interested in learning about how to prevent or reverse picky eating, you can always join me inside my Feeding Toddlers online course for a complete step-by-step process into how and what to feed your toddler…using a completely toddler led feeding approach, of course!

I’m going to be expanding a lot on this topic in the coming weeks and months. The goal for 2021/2022 is to work towards revamping my toddler course with an expanded and really clear explanation of this concept – making sure it’s weaved into every lesson! At the end of the day, I just want you and your family to enjoy stress free meals and raise a happy, healthy eater. I want you to be convinced that this is possible under this toddler led feeding umbrella. It’s going to make mealtimes so much easier – especially if you’ve already been on board with baby led feeding!

Use the code “TODDLER” when you go to checkout, and get a 20% discount from January 11th-17th, 2021, ending at midnight on the 17th.

If you’re interested in learning more, preventing picky eating, or if you have a picky eater and want to take the steps to reverse it, take advantage of this sale price! This course is available as a lifetime purchase, so that means, if you’re not ready to start it now, that’s okay! You’ll have it for whenever you approach this dreaded phase, and when you’re ready to tackle this, you’ll be prepared! Also, whenever we do revamps, add resources, or change things, anyone who has already purchased a course will automatically get access to it. There’s no “paid upgrade”, you’ll always be included as part of the My Little Eater family!


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meet edwena

Registered pediatric dietitian, mom of two picky-turned-adventurous eater, and the creator of the Texture Timeline™ – an exclusive tool to help move your baby through easy to more advanced purees and finger foods to prevent picky eating.

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