A Healthy Toddler Diet
Has your picky eater got you worried? Not sure your toddler is getting all his or her nutrients? Eating healthy is really a family affair. So before you start buying separate foods for your toddler perhaps you should consider a meal plan that involves the entire family.
Healthy Meal Options
- Sample Meal Ideas for Toddlers
One day's meal plan for a toddler
- Dinners kids will come running for
Mealtime tips for food your family (including child age 2 to 4) will love.
- Healthy Diet Recipes
Thousands of delicious, healthy recipes plus nutrition news and diet guidelines for the whole family.
- Vegan Toddler Food Guide
Vegan toddler food guide for well nourished vegan toddlers.
According to the Mayo Clinic a healthy diet should be 45 to 65% carbohydrates and only 10 to 35% protein. Moreover these carbohydrates that should make up about half your diet need to be complex carbohydrates: fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Remember, variety is the spice of life. According to the Foundation of Wellness it is also a sign of a good diet. The Foundation also recommends plenty of complex carbohydrates but with the added stipulation that you consume a colorful variety of fruit and vegetable - especially green, orange and yellow.
Also, try to avoid refined and overly processed foods. Stay away from saturated and trans fats. The former is found in meat and the later in fast food and processed foods. Animal products also contain cholesterol. Fish and nuts, on the other hand, contain healthy unsaturated fats. (Nuts can be a choking hazard for young children so use care.)
Toddlers have much smaller stomachs than adults. There meals should be one quarter the size of your portions. Also their appetites tend to be in flux at this age. One day they will gobble up everything put in front of them and the next day they wont want to eat anything. As long as they continue to grow and thrive don't let it cause you stress.
If, however, you child tends to be a picky eater there are a few things you can try to introduce more variety into his or her diet. (The Help Guide.org has an article on the subject of kids' healthy eating.) The Help Guide recommends establishing regular family meals. Then your child can see you eating the same things you are asking him or her to eat.
And don't just keep dinner on schedule you should have a set time for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as two snack times. Then your child will know when to expect food. Don't force your child to eat. And don't offer snacks outside of regular scheduled times. Unplanned snacks tend to be overly processed or sugary foods.
Let your child come with you to do the grocery shopping. This will provide you with a chance to explain healthy eating habits. Give your toddler some limited choices. For example: should we have green beans or corn with dinner?
When introducing new foods try to only offer one new food per meal. Provide the new food when your child is rested and hungry. Make it fun--try cutting the food into funny shapes. Serve it with foods you know your child likes.
Also, limit fluids. A picky eater tends to fill up on beverages instead of eating. According to Keep Kids Healthy.com a toddler needs no more than 16 to 24 ounces of milk each day and only 4 to 6 ounces of juice.
It is true that calcium is very important at this age, but a toddler needs 500 mg not 8 glasses a day. Also, if your child is under two years of age make sure he or she is getting enough fat in his or her diet. Fat is important for brain development. Lastly, don't forget the iron for growth and learning. It can be found in fortified cereals, red meat and eggs.
According to the Food Pyramid you need 6 servings of grains, 3 servings of vegetables, 2 servings each of fruit, dairy and meat. Keep that in mind when planning future meals. Also, if you haven't been eating healthy till now institute the change slowly. Don't spring a radical change in diet on your family. You will have more success if you change one thing at a time.
Articles Regarding Picky Eaters
- Children's nutrition: 20 tips for picky eaters
Is your child a picky eater? Use these practical tips to avoid mealtime battles.
- FEEDING TODDLERS: 17 TIPS FOR PLEASING THE PICKY EATER
- Picky Eaters - Parenting Tips for Picky Eaters
Younger children are commonly picky eaters, but as long as they are growing normally and are active, there is usual little to worry about.
- The Phenomenon of "Picky Eater": A Behavioral Marker in Eating Patterns of Toddlers -- Carruth et al
- Healthy Eating | BabyCenter
Healthy Eating tips from Melanie Shay, registered dietitian