Nourishing a growing Toddler

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Highlights
  • Focus on following his hunger and fullness cues and offer healthy choices.
  • Solid foods are important in providing nutrients your toddler needs, including fiber, Potassium, Zinc, Iron and Vitamin E.

Your Toddler is relying on foods from all the food groups for his daily nutrition. As he eats more table foods, keep in mind that his nutritional needs are different from an adult. He needs nutrient-dense foods with minimal added sodium, unhealthy fats and sugar.

Toddlers should regulate how much they eat based on whether they are hungry or full. It’s tempting as a mom to encourage your child to eat more, especially if you don’t feel they’ve had enough. However, allowing your Toddler to be the judge helps to establish healthy eating habits. 

You don’t need to keep a daily calorie count on your toddler, but you may find it helpful to know that it takes about 900 calories per day to help fuel your busy Toddler. 

Important nutrients your Toddler needs

When planning menus for your little one, be sure to serve foods that deliver these nutrients. Always serve these foods either cooked or prepared to a soft texture your toddler can handle.

Iron and Zinc: Iron is still needed for healthy brain development, and Zinc helps build a healthy immune system.

  • Good sources – Lean meats, Iron- and Zinc-rich cereals. Vitamin C can help improve Iron absorption when eaten with other Iron-rich sources, so try to serve Vitamin C-rich juices, fruits or pureed cauliflower or broccoli with Iron-containing foods.


Essential fats:
The calories from fat are needed for growth and brain development. If you’ve switched to milk from breastmilk or formula, be sure to use whole or 2% milk until at least 2 years of age, unless otherwise directed by your pediatrician.

  • Good sources – Vegetable and olive oils, salad dressing, lean meats, poultry, salmon or tuna.


Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is an important building block of a healthy immune system. Many toddlers may not be getting enough Vitamin E from the foods they eat.

  • Good sources – vegetable oils, spreads, salad dressings and some fruits, vegetables and whole grains.


Vitamin A:
This helps to promote cell growth throughout the body and develop healthy eyesight.

  • Good sources – Orange and green vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and broccoli


Calcium:
An essential mineral for helping to build strong bones and teeth.

  • Good sources – Most dairy products including milk, yogurt and cottage cheese; Calcium-fortified juices 


Potassium
Works in the nervous system and help muscles contract. Many toddlers may not be getting enough Potassium. 

  • Good sources – adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains


Fiber:
Fiber in foods is important for healthy digestion. 

  • Good sources – Most fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains.

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