Adoption Nutrition: The Transition Diet

adoption learning partners staff kirby

The transition diet helps bridge the gap between your child’s native diet and what eventually will become her regular diet at home. The goal is to provide calories for growth and to encourage your child to eat without a battle. While providing nutritious foods during this transition is optimal, it’s not necessarily the goal (vitamin supplementation may be warranted.) Focus more on developing a warm and nurturing feeding environment that occurs at predictable times and encourages growth.

Ideally, this diet will be filled with high quality, nutrient-dense foods that your entire family loves. While some adoptive children transition quickly, others may require more time —weeks to months to a year or more.

Tips to make the transition diet work:

  • At each meal, serve at least one food your child already knows and loves—even if you don’t like or approve of it.
  • Slowly introduce new foods to her diet and include foods commonly loved by all kids (pasta, yogurt, bread, crackers, pizza, spaghetti, cereal, pancakes, waffles, etc.).
  • Don’t make assumptions that your child won’t like healthy foods and don’t bring your food preferences to their plate. You might be surprised!
  • If your child rejects a food—don’t assume he doesn’t like it. Some children need to become familiar with a new food before accepting it. Try, try, try again and make sure you’re eating the food as children role model parent behavior.
  • Consider serving different formats of the same food—fried eggs, scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs. Segmented oranges, sliced oranges with the peel on, orange juice. Texture and form are additional components to taste when developing food preferences.
  • Eat as a family and seat your child close to the family table or preferably at the table.
  • For infants—feed on demand. For children—set a consistent schedule for snacks and meals—with no more than 2-3 hours between feedings. It’s okay to feed a child between these set times if they ask for food. With time, you’ll all figure out the best schedule for feeding and children will learn that food arrives at predictable intervals.
  • Don’t worry if your child eats gigantic portions when she first arrives home—even more than you might eat! This is quite normal and should taper off when your child begins to trust that food will be offered every couple of hours. Do seek out a healthcare provider if your child regularly eats or drinks to the point of vomiting.

For more information check out our free Bite Size Tips videos or visit

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1 Comment

Posted by Tom on June 4, 2014 at 9:31 PM
Thanks for this. We are having difficulty transitioning our 5 year old adoptee to foods other than pure junk. These tips are going to be helpful!
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