Helping toddlers to be healthy, happy and confident

There are many ways to keep your toddler healthy, like making sure they get the right amount and types of food, making sure they sleep well, and taking them for vaccinations and medical check-ups. When your child’s health is good, they’re likely to be confident and willing to try new things. We’ve rounded up some of the best ways you can keep your toddler healthy and happy.

Keeping your toddler healthy

It’s important to give your toddler a healthy diet.

The Better Health Healthier Families website is packed with ideas for snacks, meals, and how to give your kids five a day:

  • Food facts – Better Health Healthier Families website

You can also find independent nutrition advice elsewhere, like the First Steps Nutrition Trust

It’s perfectly normal at this age for toddlers to refuse to eat certain foods and become fussy eaters, the website has advice on how to tackle this:

It’s recommended you give your child vitamin supplements up to the age of five:

You might be entitled to help with:

  • plain liquid cow’s milk
  • fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  • infant formula milk based on cow’s milk
  • Healthy Start vitamins – these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • vitamin drops for babies and young children

You can check if you qualify and apply online by filling in this form:

If you aren’t eligible, breastfeeding mums can buy vitamins for 80p and children’s vitamin drops for £1.60 at children’s centres and family hubs.

Looking after teeth

Once teeth start to pop through, it’s important to get into a routine with brushing them, as well as going for dental check-ups/

Find an NHS dentist – website

Read some of the NHS’ top tips for keeping your toddler’s teeth clean.

Height and weight

Regular weigh-ins indicate whether your child is healthy. As a rough guide, you should do this no more than once every three months over the age of one.


Experts recommend some vaccinations over the age of one:

Toddlers should be physically active every day for at least three hours – the more the better – including playing outdoors:

Most toddlers start potty training sometime between 18 months and 30 months. It’s a new skill and might take your toddler a while to master, but there’s plenty of guidance available.

Keeping your toddler safe

It’s important you know how to keep your child safe while they sleep to reduce the risk of cot death/sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS):

All children cry but you can learn how to soothe them:

If you’re struggling to cope with a crying child, ICON can help:

For advice on how to hold your child, this simple guide talks you through it:

Accidents happen, especially when children get more adventurous, but there’s plenty you can do to make your kids’ environment safe.

Dogs and children can be great friends – follow these six rules to keep everyone safe:

Building your toddler’s confidence

There are lots of ways you can help nurture your toddler’s confidence, here’s a few ideas:

Praise them when they try to put their foot in a shoe or pull off their sock.

Let them choose what to do at the park – such as feeding the ducks or having a ride on a swing.

Let them show you they can do things themselves, like sitting on the potty or getting their coat to go out.

Help them explore their imagination by pretending a cardboard box is a boat or a hat is a helmet.

Encourage them to make things, such as gloop from cornflower and water, or drizzling glue on a cereal box and teaching them how to tear paper and stick it on.

If they help you by taking a nappy out of a box at changing time, praise them.

Put your wellies on and jump in puddles together and let them do what you do, whether it’s gardening or housework.

If you’re stuck for ideas, the BBC Tiny Happy People website has lots of tips and videos.

Tantrums are very common in toddlers and usually start at about 18 months old but you can learn how to manage them.

Getting ready for primary school

It’s never too soon to start thinking about getting your child ready for primary school. In fact, some toddlers might be ready to go to an early years setting before then – and once they’re two, you’re eligible for 15 hours of free childcare or education, if you meet certain criteria.

At home, you can help develop your toddler’s language skills in lots of ways. Here’s some ideas:

  • You should encourage them to wave and say “bye bye” to people they know and teach them to say “please”, “thank you” and “sorry”.
  • Teach them numbers like their age or their house or bus number.
  • Share books from the Book Start pack with them and talk about what you see in the pictures.
  • Say nursery rhymes with them so they can join in and learn words, even if they can’t say or remember them all.
  • Spread out leftover wallpaper on the floor and let your toddler run wild with chalks or felt pens – making marks of any kind is an achievement at this stage.
  • Teach them about where they live and the difference between different places. Do the same for people in the community and explain what they do, like a doctor.
  • Play “house” and talk about the food you like as a family and how you cook or celebrate special events, like weddings.
  • There’s lots of free resources and guides online about child language development. Visit the LuCiD website
  • If your toddler’s communication skills aren’t developing as you’d expect, get professional support.