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Your toddler’s hunger & fullness cues

Got a hungry toddler?

Here are some hunger and fullness cues to watch out for during your toddler's development.

Knowing when to feed

Your toddler wants to be heard. Expressing his desire to eat and having you respond is important to his social and emotional development. Accommodate him best as possible, but don’t let him make the rules.

Hunger signs

  • Banging toys and temper tantrums if hunger takes over.
  • Sounds, words and hand gestures are ways to get your attention and say “I’m hungry.”
  • Enthusiastically reaching for food wanting to feed himself.
  • Expressing desire for specific foods with words or gestures.
  • May resort to crying, or fussiness.

TOP TIPYour toddler is learning independence, so feeding himself is a great way to practice.

Knowing when he’s full

Being independent means letting you know very clearly that he’s done eating and wants to move on. Your toddler will shift gears, becoming uninterested in his food from one bite to the next. It’s his way of making decisions and taking control.

Fullness signs

  • Turning away or shaking his head to say “no more” or “all done".
  • Playing with or throwing food means mealtime is over. It’s playtime!
  • Covering his mouth or face with his hands.
  • May cross arms to show refusal of more food.
  • Chewing slows down and his attention is off somewhere else.
  • May spit out foods that he usually likes.

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