Nutrition and the appropriate balance of foods
A diverse and nutritious diet and proper eating habits are crucial for toddlers’ health, growth and development. Toddlers’ nutritional needs are very different from those of older children and adults.
That’s why parents should pay a lot of attention to the food they provide for their toddlers.
If you want to find out more about healthy meals for kids, read our tips!
Toddlers grow fast so their diet needs to be more nutrient rich. Apart from nutrition, the appropriate balance of foods helps toddlers get into the habit of eating a varied diet to enjoy with the whole family.
As a parent, learn the following basic rules of a balanced diet. Include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, opt for wholegrain cereals, eat some protein and dairy foods, have a portion of oily fish each week, stay hydrated and limit fatty and sugary foods.
How does it work for the little ones? Here are our tips on healthy diet for toddlers.
When it comes to enriching the foods you serve, consider these options:
- Limit the amount of cake, puddings and biscuits that the child eats to one small serving per day and serve it with fruit.
- Use some butter and oils in cooking.
- Give your child a mixture of white and wholemeal/wholegrain breads and cereals. Wholegrain foods alone are too filling for toddlers.
Make sure you know your child’s daily routine. Toddlers eat best when they have a set routine of three meals and two to three planned snacks a day organised around their sleeping pattern.
- Remember to eat with your kid and praise them when they eat well. This can help encourage them to enjoy their meals.
Kids need right amounts of all the nutrients and energy!
Toddlers will get the right amounts of all the nutrients and energy they need if their diet is based on combining foods from the five food groups, along with a daily vitamin D supplement.
- The nutrients in a healthy, balanced diet are carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, omega 3 and 6 fats, and other protective plant compounds, fibre and fluid.
Give your toddler between six and eight drinks per day to make sure they stay hydrated. You can apply a simple rule of one drink with each meal and snack.
- If it’s hot outside or your kid is very active, more water may be needed.
- Insted of bottles, opt for beakers and cups.
- The best drink to give between meals and snacks is water.
- Do not give your child sugary drinks such as fruit juices and smoothies.
- Fizzy drinks are not for toddlers.
- If you do serve drinks containing sweeteners, dilute them with a lot of water.
Some foods may cause harm
- Due to the risk of tooth decay limit any sugary food and drinks to four times per day, which means limiting them to three meals and no more than one snack per day.
- Limit very salty foods. That includes crisps and other salty snacks.
- Do not serve raw eggs or raw shellfish to toddlers as they may result food poisoning. Make sure eggs are well cooked.
- Do not serve shark, swordfish and marlin to toddlers because they may contain high levels of mercury. When it comes to smaller oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout), limit it to twice a week for girls and four times a week for boys.
Risk of choking
Do not give whole nuts to toddlers because of the risk of choking
- Nut butters, ground or chopped nuts are suitable. What’s more, soft round foods similar to nuts in size (like grapes and cherry tomatoes) should be cut in half.