Many parents fret over their toddler's eating habits. Toddlers are notoriously picky; what they eat happily one day they may eschew the next. They may eat heartily on Monday and eat practically nothing on Tuesday.

Much of your toddler's pickiness stems from his budding independence and a desire to control his own body. If your toddler is growing well and seems healthy, try not to worry. He is most likely eating enough of what he needs over the course of the week. Keep providing healthy meals with a variety of foods for him to choose from.

Serve your toddler three meals a day with milk, plus two healthy snacks. Offer him water between meals instead of juice, which has too many calories. Eat together as a family whenever possible and let your toddler join you at the table. Serve something he likes at each meal, but don't make him a special dinner if he's capable of eating what you're having. At each meal, try to include a protein source (eggs, lean meats, fish, or beans) a vegetable or fruit, and a complex carbohydrate such as whole grain bread or brown rice.

Provide your toddler with child-sized utensils and milk in an open cup so he can practice drinking. Give your toddler a small portion of each food you're serving; large portions may overwhelm him. Encourage him to try new foods, but don't push him. You may be surprised at what he'll eat in a relaxed, non-coercive atmosphere.

Marlene Veloso