Healthy eating is an important part of a child’s development and sometimes it can be confusing to figure out what, and, how much to feed a child. The best indicator that a toddler is developing in a healthy way is to ensure they are consistently growing in height and weight.
By providing them with all of the nutrients they require each day, you are setting them up for success in school, with friends, and overall development of their motor and cognitive functioning.
FEEDING GUIDE FOR TODDLERS:
This daily checklist is adapted from an educational resource from the Hospital for Sick Children and is offered as a general guide for what a 2 year old should eat from each of the four food groups. However, a child may have different nutritional needs based on their physical activity, how fast they are growing, and/or other factors.
OTHER TIPS TO CONSIDER:
- Offer a child fresh fruit instead of fruit juice to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet; limit juice to half a cup per day, and never give soft drinks or pop.
- Limit salt intake to 1500 mg per day, with an ideal intake of approximately 1000 mg, or about half a teaspoon
- Avoid sugary foods, such as cakes, cookies and sodas. These sugars can contribute to health problems when consumed in excess.
- Serve low fat or skim milk or water.
- Let children choose their own healthy snacks from among a couple of nutritious options like, carrot sticks cut lengthwise, plain cheerios, peeled apple slices, sliced bananas or grapes, peeled & cut in half. As toddlers are still learning to chew and swallow, be sure to offer soft, bite-sized pieces of food small enough for them to manage.
- Until the age of two, it is important to have some fat in a child’s diet as it promotes healthy growth and development of the brain; eggs and avocados are examples of good fats; choose these over deep fried foods that contain saturated and Trans fats.
TODDLER NUTRITION TOOL
To help parents get a better understanding of their toddler’s typical food choices and eating behaviours, the Registered Dietitians of Canada have created a questionnaire for parents, which offers immediate suggestions for any areas of concern. In addition, if you want to do more reading, the Family Care Office has a lending library where you can find these additional nutrition resources, and more:
- The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies & Toddlers
- The Canadian Paediatric Society Guide for Caring for Your Child from Birth to Age Five
- Better Food for Kids (HSC).
PIZZA PITA RECIPE
Kids love to help in the kitchen. Why not cook up some individual pizzas together with this easy healthy recipe.
- Whole-wheat pita
- Assorted toppings such as: Mushrooms, sweet peppers, onions, zucchini, fresh tomato, cut up cooked chicken pieces
- Mozzarella, cheddar or Monterey jack cheese (grated)
- Tomato sauce (optional)
1. Place pita on a baking sheet.
2. Slice vegetables into small pieces.
3. If using tomato sauce, spread a thin layer on the pita.
4. Distribute vegetables over the surface of the pita.
5. Cover with grated cheese.
6. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
7. Let cool and cut into bite-size pieces.
Written by: Helen Genis and Mitchell MacDougall, second year, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine students.