Ask The Expert is a weekly column on The idea is to have a reader-submitted question answered by a nutrition expert or a pediatrician. Feel free to submit your question in the comments section below.

This week, Registered Dietitian Liz Marr offers a few practical tips for feeding a very active child.


Liz Marr
  • Education: Master of Science, Food Science & Human Nutrition, Colorado State University
  • Experience: over 20 years as a food & nutrition educator
  • Expertise: food, nutrition, family nutrition, food safety
  • Website:
  • Twitter: @lizmarrmsrd
  • LinkedIn Profile
  • Contact: via via Web form on (but I don’t address consumer questions directly)

Question: Can you give a few suggestions on feeding a very active child?


Many parents of busy toddlers wonder if their child will sit still long enough to actually eat anything substantial. And I know from first-hand experience that can be a particular challenge with very active toddlers. Several points to keep in mind: Children will eat when they are hungry and it may not always be at a prescribed mealtime. Keep in mind, if a child doesn’t want to eat, he or she is probably not hungry. If you are presenting a variety of nutritious foods, try not to worry too much. One way young children express their independence through food, so allow them to make choices. Serve smaller, more frequent meals and snacks for active toddlers, if you know they won’t sit still. Or try letting them eat their meal in stages, if it seems they need an activity break. Allow flexibility to reduce stress at feeding time. In the long run, you’re helping your child develop a healthy relationship with food, which means not responding to prescribed external rules, like eating everything on the plate and specific meal times, but rather creating a solid connection with internal hunger cues and fueling the for health.

©2009 All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer – Information provided in Ask The Expert column on is intended to give you general guidance on a question related to toddler nutrition. It is not meant to be treated as medical advice. You are welcome to contact this expert for a detailed consultation on your specific situation to determine what actions, if any, you should take regarding nutrition and health of your toddlers. We do not recommend you to take any action based solely on the information presented in this column. Experts have agreed to provide their professional opinion on toddler nutrition related questions on a voluntary basis and no compensation is offered to them by