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These questions were answered by Pauline Xie, principal dietitian with the Clinical Services Division at the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics. Got a question? E-mail us at

How can I wean my toddler off unhealthy snacks?

For a start, get rid off junk food in the house. It’s counterproductive to have your spouse eat a pack of chips in front of her.

Explain that you’re making the change not to punish her, but to make her stronger and smarter – and remember to share your sentiments with the doting grandparents, as well.

Stock up on her favourite healthy foods. Allow junk food only occasionally, but not as a reward. Set a rule to use only a small bowl, with no second helping.

How do I get my toddler to finish her meals faster?

If your child is fussing, move her away from the table calmly and allow some free play for five to 10 minutes before attempting to feed her again.

Don’t insist that she finishes everything on her plate. Respect that she has eaten enough, especially if mealtimes drag beyond 30 to 45 minutes.

Neither should you use unhealthy food or electronic devices as forms of bribery. Avoid saying: “Eat this vegetable and I will give you ice cream later.” Instead, offer more parent-child interaction time, such as cuddles or a trip to the grocery store.

Make positive comments about nutritious food and be cheerful during mealtimes. If your temper flares, she’ll associate her misbehavior with attention and this can reinforce picky eating.