Toddler nutrition is quite simple if you understand the basics of nutrition and healthy eating. In general, toddlers need a wide variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
Toddlers require fewer calories per pound of body weight and, therefore, less food after their first birthday. Growth rate slows down to only one tenth of what it was when they were babies.
Unfortunately, it is around toddlerhood that babies go from being great eaters to picky ones. While your baby may have gladly eaten 4 ounces of pureed peas or carrots, this same child at 18 months will throw the peas and carrots across the room, refusing to even have it on her plate.
First of all, do not panic. If your child is growing well and is healthy, picky eating is something that can be dealt with over time.
Realize that your child’s appetite varies from one day to another, and while he may be starving at breakfast on Tuesday, the same breakfast on Wednesday may not be as well received because he isn’t hungry on Wednesday morning. That said, he may demand 3 helping of dinner on Wednesday! By listening to his cues and letting him decide how much he wants to eat, his calorie and nutrient intake will average out over the course of a few days.
To help get him interested in food, let him help! Involve your toddler in food buying and preparation. Give him simple tasks like washing carrots or tearing lettuce. If he helped make it, he’s much more likely to eat it.
If he hasn’t quite mastered the art of eating with a fork and spoon, give some finger foods as part of a meal. Many children prefer food they can eat themselves rather than ones that have to be spoon-fed. To give the best toddler nutrition to your child get creative with finger food while teaching her to eat with a fork and spoon.
Make sure your toddler always eats at the table or in the highchair. Do not allow grazing and constant snacking. Keep the menu and the look of his/her plate simple. Do not overwhelm the plate with too many different foods. Children get overwhelmed easily and as a result will not want to eat anything.
If giving choices, limit them to two. Do not become a short order cook. Toddlers reject foods so they can control decision-making, and by offering them a choice they have the opportunity to exercise control but not demand whatever they want either.
Do not serve your toddler large portions. Start small and give additional portions if wanted. Small children get overwhelmed with large portions and will wind up eating more if given less.
These tips should help you and your toddler get along at mealtimes while you provide adequate toddler nutrition. If you think there’s a problem with your toddler’s nutrition, speak to your child’s pediatrician and have us analyze her diet or make an appointment.