Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibility. Raising your child is like nurturing a sapling. A tree flourishes well only when the roots are strong. Similarly, it is very important to inculcate the right habits in your child from his early days, especially dietary habits.
Babies and toddlers depend a lot on their nutrition for growth. Babies grow about 3 inches every three months. On the other hand, as compared to a baby, a toddler grows around 3 to 5 inches in a year. No matter what the age and the growth rate, it is important to make sure that toddlers get adequate nutrition.
Who Is A Toddler?
A toddler is a child between one to three years of age. These years are very important for your child’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social development.
Why Make Nutrition For Toddlers A Top Priority?
Dietary habits should be given a lot of importance during toddler years. Your little one should be introduced to different table foods. This is the time when you should try and put away all the bottles and bottled foods. Until now, your baby was being breast-fed and was getting all the required nutrition from you. This age marks the time of transition. This is a time when your child must get the same amount nutrition (and even more) from a variety of foods. Introduce your child to the world of new tastes, new textures and help him take up the right eating habits.
How Much Food Does Your Toddler Need?
While the best way to know this answer is to trust your own judgment, you should also try picking up cues from your child. Your toddler will most likely let you know when he is full.
Ideally, a toddler requires 1,000-1,400 calories per day. This range may vary from child to child. Age, size, level of activity and a host of other factors should be considered while deciding your toddler’s serving portion too. It is best advised to consult your child’s doctor who will guide you better depending on your child’s needs.
On a daily basis, you must include a balanced diet which includes a little bit of every nutrient, vitamin and mineral. The following will help you understand what all your toddler needs from food on a regular basis.
[ Read: Food For Toddlers ]
Toddler Nutrition Guide:
Make sure you include the following in your child’s regular diet:
1. Dairy Products:
Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are rich in calcium. Give these to your toddler thrice a day. More than this would kill his appetite for other foods. Always give your child full-fat milk. He needs calories. Once he turns 2, start semi-skimmed milk. Dairy foods are essential for strong teeth and bones. If your child doesn’t quite like yogurt, add sweet pureed fruit to it. Avoid the packaged ones from the stores.
2. Starchy Foods:
Cereal grains, breads, rice, potatoes, pasta are some of the starchy foods. These are very essential for overall growth and development. Add some vegetables to make these healthier.
3. Fruits And Vegetables:
Keeping your child interested in vegetables and fruits can be quite a challenge. However, don’t give up. Keep offering these every day. Eventually they will understand that these are a part of the normal and daily meal. Make sure you offer fruits as a part of your child’s sweet course. Always offer colourful fruits and vegetables to hold child’s attention and to tempt him.
4. Iron And Protein:
Eggs, fish, meat, nuts, lentils are very important part of your toddler’s daily diet. These should be offered at least twice a day. Avoid foods with too much added salt. Nuts should be grinded well and mixed with a meal to avoid choking.
Foods To Avoid:
Make sure that you avoid giving your toddler foods that are:
1. High In Fat And Sugar:
Ice-cream, biscuits, cakes, oils, cakes, butter and spreads should be avoided and limited as much as possible. Sweets and chocolate do no good to your toddler. In fact, they damage his teeth and lower appetite. Limit these to the minimum.
2. Salty Foods:
Control salty foods intake. Limit the amount of salty and crispy chips to just once a week. Even once a week, they should just be given a handful.
3. Oily Fish:
Oily fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. Too much of these, when accumulated in the body, can build up a lot of toxins. Once or twice a week is more than enough. Oily fish include salmon, tuna and mackerel.
These are the major foods from important food groups that your child must consume every day. These are essential for their overall balanced growth. Remember, the food habits that you inculcate in your toddler now will remain with them for life. Always choose health-promoting foods and lead by example.
Do Not Panic If Your Child Refuses To Eat First:
If your toddler is a fussy eater, do not panic. Remember this is a time of transition. Here are a few ways in which you can help:
- Give your baby some time to get used to new tastes and textures.
- Never compare your toddler to others. If you think your child isn’t eating as much as required, be patient.
- Eventually it is about getting used to the change. Rest assured that your child too will adopt the changes in his diet.
- Try and experiment with different preparations.
- Don’t stick to a specific menu every day.
- Be creative in presentation too, make eating an exciting time for your baby.
You have to be extremely patient while inculcating good food habits in your child. Don’t get agitated if your child refuses to eat. They don’t know what is good and bad for them and depend on you. So be positive and keep trying. The effort is only to make your child’s future better!
Hope this toddler nutrition guide helps you decide your toddler’s nutrition intake better. If you have more tips for a nutritious diets do share it here with other parents.
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