Having trouble getting your toddler to eat right? Here are some tips and guidelines for feeding your little one!
- Stick to 3 meals and 2 snacks at regular times and avoid additional foods in between. Establish times for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Wholesome snacks are important several times a day because children’s stomachs are small and they usually do not eat enough during each meal. Choose nutrient-rich snacks similar to the meals you prepare.
- Toddlers do a good job of determining how much food they need to eat. If you are worried that your child may not be eating enough, look at his food intake over a week and not over a day. A general guideline to calculate children’s caloric needs from 1 to 3 years is to multiply your child’s weight by 45 calories.
- Make sure your child is getting enough iron in her diet for proper development. Iron-rich foods include fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables and beans, as well as tofu, poultry, fish and meats.
- It is recommended that whole milk and dairy products be served until the second birthday. Extra fat is necessary for proper growth and brain development during this period. Milk is also an important source of calcium and vitamin D.
- Water is a perfectly good drink to serve your toddler. You can add a small amount of juice for variety, but juice and sweetened beverages do not offer much nutrition. For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup). Too many sweet drinks can cause tooth decay and add unneeded calories to your child’s diet.
- Check labels to make sure you are not giving your child unnecessary calories and sweets. As a rule, every 5 grams of sugar equals about one teaspoon. Be especially careful when purchasing juices, cereals and snack foods.
- Talk to your pediatrician before introducing high allergenic foods such as milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.