Your child’s toddler years can be challenging, especially when they transition towards table food & start to experience new textures & tastes. On top of that, a lot of developmental changes also happen during this period of time, which further highlights the importance of proper & balanced nutrition. If you keep reading, we will dig deeper into the importance of nutrition for toddlers.
As infants, baby formula and breast milk are beneficial for your child —depending on each baby and mother—, but as they transition towards becoming a toddler, you will need to include a variety of foods to ensure that they are getting the required nutrients. Considering how the body, as well as the brain, develops so much during these early years, poor nutrition can result in a lot of problems for your kid later down the road!
From avoiding battles over meals to providing regular snacks to keeping the diet balanced, you will have to go through a lot as parents. The good news is that Haymarket Children’s Academy is here to help you choose the best for your toddler, as we have listed some key nutrition tips that you should keep in mind.
Nutrition For Toddlers: Everything You Need To Know!
As parents, everyone wants their children to be healthy, but it can get quite challenging during the toddler years. As your child gets older, develop new eating habits & will even start to taste new textures & flavors. During such times, it is very important to ensure that they are getting the required vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in the diet.
So without wasting time, let’s look at nutrition for toddlers & what you can do as a parent:
Daily Calorie Requirements for Toddlers
Depending on the age, activity level, and size of your child, their exact calorie requirements may differ. However, the average daily calorie requirement is around 1000 to 1400 calories/day for toddlers.
You may find it difficult to feed enough to young toddlers. In fact, you may even notice a decrease in their appetite, which is normal at first. However, the important thing is to avoid any meal fights and continue to feed them a balanced diet that can meet the average 1000-1400 calories requirement, with a proper ingest-balance of carbohydrates, fats & protein.
To ensure that your toddler meets the daily calorie requirements, follow these tips:
- 50% portion (half) of the child’s plate must have vegetables and fruits.
- 50% (half) of grains must be whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread.
- Avoid sugary drinks as they contain an excessive amount of sugar & other unhealthy substances. Instead, serve them water and milk instead, which contains Calcium, Vitamin B12, and the proper dose of protein per meal
- Do not try to overfeed! Instead, try to give them small & frequent meals throughout the day (this might differ depending on your child’ age. Consult with a pediatrician for more details)
Daily Iron Requirements for Toddlers
Do you know that 2.4 million children in the USA are affected by Iron deficiency? When a toddler doesn’t get the iron they need, it can lead to cognitive delays, behavioral changes, and even growth retardation.
As an infant, your child gets the iron from the baby formula or the infant cereal fortified with iron. But, as a toddler, they will need to get the iron from the food they eat, which means a balanced and iron-rich diet becomes a lot more important.
Toddlers need 7 mg of iron each day (average), and you can help them get the required iron by following these tips:
- Serve them iron-rich foods such as beans, fish, poultry, meat, tofu, and enriched grains.
- Also include foods that are rich in Vitamin C, such as oranges, tomatoes, strawberries, and broccoli. Vitamin C helps in the Iron absorption in the toddler’s body.
- Iron-fortified cereal is also a good choice to meet the daily Iron requirements.
Since your child is used to drinking milk most of the time, they may still want to drink as much milk as they normally do! But for toddlers, drinking a lot of milk means that they will be less hungry & will thus not consume any iron-rich foods. And in case you do not know, Cow’s milk doesn’t contain any iron at all!
So, in short, give iron-rich foods to the child along with Vitamin C to boost the iron’s absorption in the body. Moreover, keep an eye on your child’s food schedule so you can avoid providing them with a bottle of milk right before they eat. Try incorporating a bottle of milk with the food. With that being said, at the end of the day, you and your child both need to feel comfortable with your daily routine.
Milk Is Important!
Another important constituent of a toddler’s diet should be milk as it is a rich and natural source of Calcium & Vitamin D. Both of these components are important for strong bones, teeth, & tons of other body functions.
According to KidsHealth, a toddler needs 600 IU Vitamin D and 700 mg of calcium every day. So if your toddler consumes at least 2 servings of milk or any other dairy food each day, they will be able to reach 50% of the daily Calcium & Vitamin D requirements. To fill up the rest, doctors recommend taking Vitamin D supplements. Please consult with your pediatrician before starting any new supplement and/or vitamin pill/s.
Healthy Food Choices for Toddlers
To ensure that your toddler is getting the required nutrients and vitamins from a healthy & natural source, you can follow the recommendations given by the USDA’s website – According to them, one plate should be divided into 4 equal parts along with 2 servings of dairy products:
Fruits are an integral part of a nutritional and balanced diet as they are full of fiber, Vitamin C, potassium & other important elements. When it comes to fruit, your toddler can consume fresh, canned, or even frozen fruit as long as it is not filled with sugar syrup.
Doctors recommend that you should give preference to fresh fruit rather than canned or frozen fruit. Furthermore, try to serve them with whole fruit instead of fruit juice as it also provides them with fiber.
For good health, your toddler also needs to consume vegetables as they are rich in fiber and carbohydrates & are low in calories. Try to mix up the vegetables from one of these groups:
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and plantains.
- Dark green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and kale.
- Peas and beans such as kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils.
- Orange/red colored vegetables such as carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes.
- Other vegetables such as green beans and cauliflowers.
When it comes to grains, always opt for whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. On the other hand, refined grains such as white rice and white bread are highly processed, which removes most of their nutritional value.
Protein-rich foods for toddlers include eggs, poultry, beef, nuts, peas, and seeds. Some other options include veggie burgers, soy products, and even fish.
Try to choose a protein source for toddlers which is low in fat, such as lean meat.
The dairy group is especially important for young children because of the high amounts of protein, calcium, and vitamin D that are used to build strong bones and reduce the risk of chronic diseases later in life.
Proper Nutrition For Toddlers at Haymarket Children’s Academy
Here at HCA, we dedicate ourselves to your child’s every need, especially when prioritizing proper nutrition for toddlers. We encourage play-based early learning education, following core values, such as: Integrity, Happiness, Excellence, Patriotism, Health, Safety & Diversity.