Is Your Toddler Getting Enough Nutrition?

Little picky eaters can leave you wondering if they are getting all of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Most small children will have opinions about the food you serve. Smell, texture and appearance can mean as much to them as taste. You don’t want every meal to be a fight, and heaven knows it isn’t so easy to manage all the food groups AND a two year old. How can you ensure they are getting everything they need, while also ensuring they grow up with a Loving Palette?

Loving Palette is my simple way of explaining a healthy, happy relationship with food, and it is arguably the most important relationship of your child’s life.

Nutrition 101 in a few sentences. We all need the four macronutrients which are protein, carbohydrates, fiber and water. We need these for energy and the big picture functioning of our organ systems. We also all need micronutrients which are more commonly explained as vitamins and minerals. Vitamins help in things like producing energy, keeping our immune system functioning, and supporting the clotting of our blood. Minerals are instrumental in growth, keeping our bones healthy, and other functions.

Very few people have enough time, especially when their children are small enough to still be a flight risk, to keep tabs on everything their kids consume, even though the right nutrition will go a long way toward a happier, healthier child.

Once they are off breast milk or formula, things seem a little more complicated, but they don’t have to be.

Here is what a 3 year old toddler needs each day:
• Whole Grains: 4-5 oz (an oz is one slice of bread, one cup of cereal or 1/2 cup of rice or pasta)
• Vegetables: 1.5 cups
• Fruit: 1 – 1.5  cups
• Milk: 2 cups (1.5 oz of natural cheese is one cup)
• Protein: 3 – 4 ounces (an oz is 1/4 cup beans and 1 egg)

• If your child can eat all this in one day, you can rest easy.
• If they are younger than 3, they need a little less.
• If they are older than 3, they need a little more.

The tricky part is always the vegetables, but these will provide a ton of micronutrients and fiber.

A typical healthy day can look like as easy as this:

• Breakfast: whole grain cereal and a cup of milk include berries or a piece of fruit now or save them for a snack later in the day
• Lunch: a grilled cheese sandwich on whole grain bread, 1/2 cup raw colored peppers or carrots with a glass of milk
• Dinner: 1 cup of brown rice and beans, 3 oz of chicken and 1/2 cup broccoli

When you look at it like that, it is easier than you think … one less thing to worry about.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, founder and president of Tips From Town. She loves combining all she learned as a doctor with all she continues to learn as a mom of five to bring you interesting, useful and fun information on the Family Pages.