Your Toddler’s Nutrition
The daily vitamin requirements for your toddler are small, but as your little one transitions from breast milk to solid foods, it can become more challenging for your toddler to get the essential vitamins & nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. Thus, consider that your child’s diet should contain a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, cereals, proteins, and dairy foods.
To ensure that your child is receiving the nutrients she needs, feed your Toddler, ages 2+, one cup of fruit and one cup of vegetables every day. These fruit and vegetable servings can be fresh, frozen, or canned when chopped to the right texture. If canned, look for fruits that are packed in juice and rinse canned vegetables in water to lower the salt. Remember, you can still serve purees to an older toddler. And you can use their favorite foods to add variety. For example, stir ¼ cup fruit purees into plain yogurt or add to NIDO milk for a smoothie. Click here to view a delicious smoothie recipe idea.
Cereals are also a common food that many toddlers are willing to eat. About 60% of toddlers between ages 12 and 18 months are eating adult, non-whole grain cereals during the day. However, eating adult cereals may not be best for your Toddler ages 2 to 4 years as they can be high in sugar and lower in iron than infant cereal. One serving of infant cereal or 1/4 cup has 45% of her daily value for iron.
Due to their small stature, a toddler’s diet does not offer a lot of room for foods that contain calories, but not many nutrients. Desserts, sweets and sweetened beverages tend be high in calories compared to the micronutrients they provide and can displace other nutritious foods in the diet. In place of sweets, you can serve your Toddler more nutritious options such as fruits, yogurt, cereals and fortified snacks that are made with whole grains.
Fiber plays an important role in your child’s digestive health. But on a given day, virtually no toddlers are meeting the recommended daily intake of 19 grams of fiber. Bridge the gap by offering whole grains, fruits, and vegetables each day. Try creating smoothies by blending whole fruits with skins with yogurt. Click here to find delicious smoothie recipes made with NIDO® 1+.
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps protect cells in the body from damage. More than half of toddlers (age one year) are not getting the recommended amount of vitamin E from the foods they eat. You can help your toddler maintain adequate intakes of vitamin E by serving her foods that have vitamin E such as vegetable oils, avocados, whole grains, and some leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.
Potassium is a mineral that helps muscles work properly, but virtually no toddlers are meeting the recommended intake of potassium in their diet. You can ensure that your toddler gets the recommended daily intake of potassium by serving her foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yogurt, bananas and citrus fruits.
Healthy fats aid in growth and brain development and it also helps the body use vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. . A 2008 Nestlé-sponsored Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS)1 showed that a third of toddlers’ ages 2 to 4 years are consuming less than the recommended amount of total fat in their diet, yet 75% are consuming too much saturated fat. A toddler’s diet should include about 30 to 40% of total calories from fat, preferably mono- and polyunsaturated fats like those found in fish, avocados and foods made with vegetable oils, such as canola and soybean oil. You can help keep your child from eating unnecessary fats by limiting foods high in saturated and trans fats and instead, preparing foods with containing oils such as canola oil which contain omega-3 fatty acids, or offer condiments such as mayonnaise or salad dressings made with these oils.
First Teeth: What can your toddler eat?
As the first teeth begin to surface, we suggest that you begin to gradually introduce different consistencies in food. For example, strained, finely chopped, diced, sliced, with the skin, and finally introducing the food with a firm consistency. Remember that you can begin introducing salt and sugar after your toddler’s first birthday. Remember to use these condiments in moderation so that good habits are developed in the future.
Now that teeth are forming, avoid cavities and do not let your toddler fall asleep with a bottle in the mouth, especially if the liquid contents contain sugars. This can possibly increase the chance of cavities developing. Additionally, there are bacteria in the mouth that use sugars as energy to produce an acid that can be damaging to tooth enamel and can also cause cavities. Teach your toddler how to properly brush their teeth to avoid cavities.
Show your toddler to brush his/her teeth after every meal. To make brushing time more fun, give your toddler a toothbrush with fun colors or characters. Remember that after the first canines begin to surface, it is time for dentist appointments at least once a year.
Transitioning your Toddler from liquid to solid foods
Gradually introduce solids into your toddler’s diet by beginning with different textures such as soft, firm and juicy. Make sure that the pieces are small enough to fit in your toddler’s mouth so that your toddler can begin to differentiate types of food. We recommend that you stay by your toddler’s side to ensure that your toddler is eating properly. When introducing new foods, avoid serving those that are too fibrous or have a dry consistency. One way to help teach your toddler to eat vegetables is by presenting them in an attractive manner.
Healthy eating habits for your Toddler
Show your toddler that there is a specific time to eat. Set up an eating schedule and stick to it so that your toddler can learn the good habit for the future. It is natural for the human body to be born with the sensation of being satisfied. Avoid forcing your toddler to finish all the food that is on the plate. This can cause your toddler to develop a negative reaction to the foods you give your toddler. Also, keep in mind that toddlers need food more often than adults, because they cannot eat large amounts of food at one sitting due to relatively smaller stomachs. Aside from the main three meals of the day, introduce a mid-morning and mid-afternoon nutritious snack.
Children are a reflection of their parents, which is why it is important to set a good example. In terms of nutrition, it is important that you show your toddler a variety of nutritious foods, respect meal times, chew correctly and share during meal time, which helps ensure they pick up your good habits.
1Nestlé Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) 2008 study