One of the most challenging things to do as a mom is to let toddlers eat healthy foods. This age group is known to be picky eaters which make them difficult to feed. Toddlerhood is a transition time from eating baby foods to eating adult foods. Despite the challenge, you should not give up feeding your toddlers healthy because what you feed them now will have an effect for the rest of their life.

Why do you need to give proper nutrition to toddlers?

Nutrition Guide for Toddlers
Nutrition Guide for Toddlers

You need to give the right nutrition to toddlers to make sure they grow up to be mentally, emotionally and physically fit. Their food intake will play a great role in their developing minds, emotions, and body. If you give them a diet that is full of essential vitamins and minerals, all of their organs will develop well. Their minds will be receptive to learning since their brain is nourished well.

A poor diet of a child from 1-3 years old will lead to health complications like malnourishment, overweight, and obesity. Not enough food will lead to undernourishment while too much food will result in overweight and obesity. As a parent or caregiver, your aim should be to balance the quantity and quality of your child’s diet. Doing this ensures that the weight of your child will remain in a normal range. Children who have healthy weight as a child have higher chances to maintain a healthy weight as adults.

Aside from weight problems, poor nutrition will also cause different health problems like heart ailments, diabetes, depression and some types of cancer. Aside from physical illness, children with weight problems are more prone to bullying which may lead to low self-esteem.

Proper nutrition will also give your child the strength and immunity to fight diseases. The nutrients they get from the right kinds of food will give them the ability to recover from diseases faster. Their wounds will also heal faster. Aside from these, they are more likely to avoid preventable diseases like bone diseases, diabetes and stroke when they become adults.

What food do toddlers need?

Toddlers need to successfully move from a diet consisting mainly of milk to adult foods. Their nutritional needs are unique since there are unique requirements for every age group.

#1 Recommended Nutrition for Toddlers (Nutrition Guide for Toddlers)

√ One-year-old children should consume 900 kcal daily while 2-3 years old children should consume 1000 kcal daily.

 Consumption of dairy products including milk should be 2 cups a day. If you are breastfeeding, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding until toddlerhood.

 The American Heart Association recommends total fat intake of toddlers from 30 to 35 percent of calories.

 Let them eat different types of foods to get adequate carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.

 One-year-old toddlers should eat 1.5 ounces of lean meat and legumes while two-three-year-olds should eat 2 ounces a day.

 Toddlers should eat one cup of fruits in a day.

 One-year-old children should eat a ¾ cup of vegetables while two to three-year-olds should eat 1 cup of vegetables.

 One-year-olds should eat 2 ounces of grains while 2-3-year-old toddlers should eat 3 ounces of grains.

#2 Examples of Foods to Include in your Toddler’s Diet

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, butter and yogurt
  • Chicken, pork, beef, fish, eggs, lentils, and beans
  • Fruits like apple, banana, berries, pineapple, avocado, and grapes
  • Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, lettuce and watercress
  • Rice, whole grain bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn

How to Let Toddlers Eat Healthily

Letting a toddler eat healthy foods require creativity and patience. Each child is different so you have to try until you find what works for your child. Change your techniques until you succeed.

  • Offer a variety of snacks and meals. Serving the same food over and over will decrease your child’s appetite. So give foods with different taste, color, and texture.
  • Make your food presentations creative. You can form figures using different ingredients. Choose fancy plates and eating utensils in their favorite characters and colors. Avoid using the color blue since studies show that the color blue decreases appetite. Go for color red which boosts appetite instead.
  • Let your child choose how much to eat. A child should decide how much he should eat. Do not force a child to finish what’s on his plate. Meal time should be enjoyable for the child so that he will not try to avoid it.
  • Let your child pick fruits and vegetables when you are shopping for food. When you reach the produce section, allow your toddler pick up what he wants. Your child will mostly eat what he has chosen.
  • Keep the TV and gadgets off during meal time. You should also decrease screen time because research found a connection between the amounts of screen time to the chance of eating unhealthily. TV and websites are full of junk food advertisements which may influence your child to eat junk foods.
  • Serve fruits or home-made sandwiches for their snacks instead of giving them junk foods.
  • Be a role model to your child. You should walk your talk when it comes to diet. You cannot convince your child to eat healthy if you don’t do it yourself.

What Food Must Toddlers Avoid

The foods you need to avoid are almost the same from toddlerhood to adulthood. As a general rule, you should try to make your child’s diet as natural as possible. Do not go for food that has been processed. Here are some of the specific foods that you must not give to your child.

  1. Jellyace- Aside from the high sugar content of this gelatin, it is also a choking hazard to toddlers.
  2. Other foods which may cause choking like hard candies, peanuts, and popcorn. Whole grapes can also cause choking so make sure to slice them lengthwise before giving them to your toddler.
  3. Soda, sugary drinks, chocolates, and other sweets- Your child is still discovering different tastes at this age group so you should avoid giving sweets. Giving sweet treats to them early on will make them hooked to it so they might refuse to try other foods. For their drinks, it is best to stick to water and milk.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Good nutrition is essential at any age but it is most challenging for a parent during the child’s toddlerhood. Giving the right kind of food at the right amount will ensure that your child will stay healthy and strong. Follow the nutrition guide for toddlers mentioned above to help you out in your journey to feed your child good food. Don’t worry if you do not succeed immediately; just keep trying because all your efforts will be worth it.

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