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Your Toddler’s Hunger & Fullness Cues


Your child will always tell you about his needs, especially when he’s hungry or when he doesn’t want to eat more! Here’s how you can pick up these signs!

Friday, May 26th, 2017

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 reaches for food wanting to feed himself.
  • Expresses desire for specific foods with words or gestures.
  • May resort to crying, or fussiness.


Your 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

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

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