How To Meet Your Toddler’s Nutritional Needs

11-nutritional-needsOnce your child is able to eat a wider variety of foods, you may feel relief and excitement about the whole new world that is opening up to you and your toddler. This new world can also be a bit confusing though—and not just for your toddler. While your child learns to experiment with food tastes, textures, colors, and smell you may find yourself wondering if your child is getting enough food or the right food.

This can seem difficult to determine given the rate of change your child’s diet and appetite is undergoing, but there are guidelines and benchmarks available to help you along when you need it. Remember, food should be fun and functional for both you and your children.

Free Your Mind . . . and the Rest Will Follow

The most important thing to remember when it comes to feeding your toddler is to let him or her set the boundaries. This does not mean encouraging bad behavior or becoming your child’s short order cook, but you should be prepared to take your cues from your child and he or she learns about themselves and forms a relationship with food. At each meal time you should offer your child a variety of food options. Be sure to include one thing you know he or she will like, but don’t be afraid to bring in new options as well.

Be content with setting the meal’s timing and menu and then let your toddler do the rest. Your child’s appetite and food choices will vary a lot at this time in their life. Use toddler-sized dishes to fit their portions and don’t harass your child about cleaning their plate. That is not the lesson they should be learning right now. Finally, be patient when introducing new foods and model healthy eating habits for your child.

The Basic Facts of Toddler Nutrition

Toddler nutrition guidelines suggest that your child should be eating a diet that fits his or her changing needs. This will be different from the ideal adult diet. A toddler’s diet should be about thirty percent fat and should include five hundred milligrams of calcium as well as seven milligrams of iron each day. You should also refrain from introducing your toddler to seafood, peanuts, and tree nuts until they are at least two or three in case of allergies. More generally speaking, your child’s daily diet should include roughly:

• Six servings of grain
• Five servings of fruits and vegetables
• Three servings of milk
• Two servings of meat
• Three to four servings of fat

You should present your child with food that is simple and easy to eat. Keep in mind that some children prefer not to have their foods touch each other as well. This helps them to navigate the identification and consumption of food more easily. Try to avoid messy sticky foods as well as foods that present a choking hazard. This will help to keep mealtime safe and easy to clean up.

You might also find the following helpful:

Children's BMI Chart

School Lunch Ideas

Fitness for Kids

Child Fever Basics

Picky Eaters 101



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