OA/TOF - Nutrition for children over 1 year factsheet


Children born with oesophageal atresia (OA)/tracheoesophageal fistula (TOF) may need to take extra care with eating and drinking. This resource suggests ways to help your child eat and drink safely to get the right nutrition for their growth and development.

Always supervise your child while they are eating. Allow them to interact with the food as they would like, as long as the food texture offered is safe and appropriate for their swallowing ability and age.

If you are worried about your child's growth, chewing or swallowing, please speak with your doctor for support.

 Things to consider

Provide a variety of nutritional food and drinks for your child. Children aged 1 year and above should be eating family meals with a variety of foods from the core food groups.

Breads and cereals 
  • Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, rice, corn, oats etc.
Dairy foods
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt
  • breastfeeding can be continued for as long as your child desires
  • low fat and reduced-fat milk is not recommended before your child is 2 years old.
  • Meats including fish and chicken
  • eggs, beans, tofu, and seed or nut spreads.
Fruit and vegetables
  • Choose a range of fruit and vegetables of different colours, textures and taste.


Foods and drinks to limit


  • hot chips, pies, burgers, takeaway pizza, cakes, chocolate, lollies, biscuits, doughnuts and pastries.
  • fruit juice, cordial, sport drinks, flavoured waters, soft drinks and flavoured milks. These drinks fill your child up but have little nutritional value.

Your child's main drinks should be water and milk. This also promotes good dental health.

Toddler mealtime behaviour

Toddlers love to explore and try new things. Mealtimes can be very messy as toddlers throw, squash and play with their food. This is normal and important for toddler development.

Choosing and refusing food is a normal way for children to explore foods and show their independence.

Toddlers may only eat a few mouthfuls of food at some meals, and much more than you expect at other times.

Toddlers may need less energy as their growth starts to slow down. They are usually very good at independently regulating their intake to maintain normal growth.

Managing fussy eating or challenging mealtimes

Create a mealtime routine by washing hands and setting the table before sitting down to eat. This helps prepare children for the mealtime and set expectations of them during mealtimes.

Aim to give structure. Offer 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day, and eat with your child whenever you can.

Create a good feeding routine with your child by having a calm and positive mealtime environment. Focus on what they eat, rather than how much they have eaten.

Let your child eat in their own way - this may be with their fingers or utensils, a little or a lot, 1 or 2 foods, and in any order.

Be consistent. Say no when your child asks for food or drinks between set meal or snack times, except for water.

Your child may take 10 or more times to learn to be comfortable with and accept a new food. It’s important to keep exposing them to new foods, especially those the rest of the family is eating.

Avoid rewarding or bribing your child with food. This may cause a dislike for the 'bribe' foods and a preference for the 'reward' foods.

You are responsible for what, when and where your child eats.

It is important to let your child eat as much or as little as they want.

Last updated Friday 9th February 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024