Child Eating Habits

Here is a a list of common child eating habits by age. Use this as a general guide to understand why your child eats the way they eat, and when something might be a bit out of the ordinary.

1-2 years

  • Appetite drops as growth slows
  • Learns to drink from cup, usually weaned
  • May cut back to 2 cups of milk a day
  • Likes to feed self but likely needs help
  • Copies others and will mainly eat family foods
  • When cutting teeth, may have difficulty chewing
  • Has acute taste buds and can detect slight differences in foods
  • Is developing likes and dislikes; likes sweets
  • Likes to touch and play with food, responds to food texture
  • Learns to say no and be more independent

2-3 years

  • Improved muscle control, can use spoon and fork
  • Desserts/sweets desired and asked for
  • Will be willing to wait a bit for requests to be filled
  • Usually will eat raw veggies, but may refuse salads
  • Green veggies become more acceptable

4-5 years

  • May return to food jags or go on food strikes
  • Is influenced by others (i.e. children, tv ads, teachers)
  • Likes plain cooking and foods separated on plate
  • Dislikes most mixed food dishes and gravies
  • By age five, often has fewer demands and will accept available food
  • Appetite is gradually decreasing

Copyright, 2002 Kay A. Toomey, PhD