Helping parents balance their child’s nutritional needs

cheerful happy baby child eats itself with a spoonGood nutrition is an important part of a child’s development. Eating well and developing healthy eating habits at a young age support optimal growth and development, and pave the way for a lifetime of healthy habits.

Most of us understand that this means we need to feed our children well-balanced meals. But what is a well-balanced meal for an adult is not quite the same as that for a preschooler or toddler.

At different ages, we have somewhat different nutritional needs.

So if you are a parent, how do you find out if you are landing the right mix of foods for meals and snacks in a positive environment? Try Nutri-eSTEP as a fast and simple way to find out if your child is a healthy eater.

Developed by Dietitians of Canada and researchers from the University of Guelph, Nutri-eSTEP includes a quick 17-question questionnaire that can be completed in less than 10 minutes.

Once you’re done, Nutri-eSTEP will provide you with immediate feedback on what you are doing well, and what you can work on to improve your child’s habits.

There is a survey for toddlers between 18-35 months of age, which can be found at, and another for pre-schoolers between 3-5 years of age at

Anyone in Ontario can get free healthy eating advice from EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitians. The dietitians at EatRight Ontario can answer your questions about healthy eating and feeding challenges with young children and provide you with sample meal plans for toddlers and preschoolers.

They can also help you find dietitians and other helpful services in your community. EatRight Ontario offers services in more than 100 languages.

All you need is a telephone or computer. Call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-5102 and ask for a copy of How to Build a Healthy Preschooler.

To find out more about healthy eating ideas for children and child-friendly recipes, visit the EatRight Ontario website:

Photo: © evgenyataman