Toddlers are full of energy and are always busy with new activities, like playing, climbing, walking, shouting, and crying. As they grow their nutritional requirements grow with them. They now need more energetic food compared to when they were infants. To meet their needs, their diet needs to include all five food groups including; grains, veggies, protein & fruits. As a parent, it's important to make sure your toddler gets all the nutrients they need.
Nutrient-Dense Food You Must Include In Your Toddlers' Diet
As per reports, 31.5% of children under five are underweight in Pakistan.
To cover your toddler’s nutrition needs, you can make a schedule to offer three proper meals. Besides breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can give them two healthy snacks daily. Also note that when your little one transitions from the infant to toddler phase, their primary energy source is now solids, so do not breastfeed them more; instead, offer solids as much as you can.
In Addition, you must include healthy fats in your toddler's diet, for example, ghee, yoghurt, nuts and seeds can strengthen your toddler's immune system. There are also superfoods for toddlers which can help them gain the necessary weight for growth.
Food Groups Chart For Toddlers Diet
Are you a worried mom who thinks your toddler is not taking enough food and wants a complete feeding guide for your little one?
Always remember that the appetite varies from child to child. If another child is eating more than yours, it doesn't mean your kid needs to eat that much. Besides mother's feed, you should include foods from five essential groups in your toddler's meal.
The five food groups and the servings per day are given below.
As a toddler never rests, they need a constant source of energy to crawl, move, and play. Grains are one of the main sources of carbohydrates which is the main energy source for the human body. Moreover, grains include essential vitamins and minerals.
Foods Per Serving
Toddlers need six servings of grains per day. You can follow any routine but below is a balanced routine you can follow,
- Four teaspoons oatmeal
- ½ slice whole grain bread
- Four teaspoons whole wheat pasta
- Four teaspoons rice
- ⅛ roti/chapati
- ¼ cup dried cereal
Fruits are a rich source of vitamins, minerals & fibre. They are also packed with antioxidants, which prevent allergies and boost the immune system of kids.
Foods Per Serving
Toddlers need two to three servings of fruits per day. You can meet the servings portion as follows;
- ¼ cup of any seasonal fruits
- ½ cup seasonal juice
- 1 cup of canned fruit
To meet your toddler's energy needs & balance their diet you can not miss vegetables from their diet. Leafy green vegetables are rich in water, antioxidants, fibre, minerals, vitamins and whatnot. Vegetables act as armour against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Most mothers stay constantly worried about their toddler’s constipation problem. The natural cure for constipation among kids is to provide fibre-rich food which is available in plenty among veggies.
Foods Per Serving
Toddlers need two to three servings of vegetables per day. You can fulfil the requirement as follows;
- ½ cup sweet potato or potato
- ½ cup of any cooked vegetable
- ½ cup lentils
Please note that your toddler needs one tablespoon of vegetables per year of age.
- One tablespoon for a year old
- Two tablespoons for a two-year-old
- Three tablespoons for a three-year-old
Protein is the most essential food group with a major role in the development and growth of your toddler. Toddlers never sit calmly rather they utilize their energies which sometimes causes them injuries. The body needs proteins to repair cells and make new ones in case of injuries. Moreover, if your toddler has sugar cravings, start adding protein rich food in their diet. Protein will help in gaining weight too.
Foods Per Serving
Toddlers need two servings of proteins in their diet per day. You can give them servings of protein as below;
- One egg
- One tablespoon of peanut butter
- Half cup beans
- 1 ounce solid meat or two tablespoons ground meat
Dairy is a great source of calcium and vitamin D. Toddlers need Vitamin D and Calcium for the development of strong bones. Dairy products that you can add in your toddler’s diet include milk, ghee, yoghurt, and cheese.
Foods Per Serving
Toddlers need three servings of dairy per day. You can fulfil your child’s daily dairy requirements from the following.
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup cheese
- ½ cup yogurt
- 1 teaspoon ghee
Healthiest Meal Options For Toddlers
A toddler needs three meals and two snacks per day. However, you can adjust the serving size based on your child's appetite.
These are sample meal plans for your toddlers that you can change and swap according to your preferences and your family's liking. You can use your options, too but try to add food from all food groups.
- Boiled egg, oats porridge, and one small fruit. For example banana
- Boiled egg, cornflakes, and nuts. For example, almonds
- Paratha with chapati with one fruit. For example apple
- Egg, paratha, and buttermilk
- Boiled egg sandwich or chicken sandwich with salads and fruits. For example, cucumber, grapes, and pears
Mid Morning Snack
- Dates with cashews
- Figs with pistachios
- Any dry fruit, including raisins
- Fresh juice of any fruit
- Chicken vegetable pulao, yogurt, and salad
- Egg and vegetable fried rice, yogurt, and salad
- Roti and curry with salad and yogurt
- Lentils rice with chicken and potato cutlets
- Peas pulao, salad, and yogurt
- Boiled potatoes
- Sweet potatoes in any form
- Chicken corn soup
- Oats vegetable soup
- Chicken nuggets or chicken cheese balls
- Any green leafy vegetable curry with roti or chapati
- Chicken vegetable rice
- Potato chicken curry with chapati
- Cooked meat, mutton, chicken, etc.
Iron-Rich Food: A Must Include in Toddler’s Diet
According to a survey report by UNICEF Pakistan, more than 49% of Pakistani children are iron deficient. Iron is equally essential for your toddler. Every day, toddlers require about 7 milligrams of iron.
The reason why you should provide iron-rich foods to your toddlers because:
- Mother feed is devoid of iron
- After five months of age, iron stores start depleting in baby
Therefore, it's crucial to start feeding children foods high in iron at a young age.
Your kids require iron for a number of reasons. And its lack may hinder their development. Iron deficiency in toddlers can cause:
- Slowed growth and development in toddlers
- Poor brain development
- Slowed response and motor skills
- Poor appetite
- Low immunity
- Poor energy level
Here is a list of foods high in iron that you may offer your toddlers. You can give them in any form or texture. For example, you can provide them in puree form or finger size.
- Dried fruits
- Leafy green vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
Additional Toddler Feeding Tips for Moms
- When your toddler is 1 year old, let them practice self-feeding. It will be helpful in the long term as they will know how to chew food and eat it themselves. Also, self-feeding makes their bond optimistic with the food. As a result, they will not become picky eaters in the future.
- Always give iron-rich food with vitamin C sources to increase its absorption in your toddler's body. You can also add vitamin C sources, such as tomatoes, lemons, oranges, and strawberries, to their diet.
- Limit the amount of sugar in your kids' diet, as sugar can deplete the appetite in toddlers and kids.
Which Foods You Should Avoid to Giving Toddlers?
Junk foods are not only bad for adults but also for toddlers. Unhealthy eating is responsible for worsening the health of toddlers. So please do not make it a habit of offering junk food to your toddlers.
Always offer your child varieties of food with different colors and textures. By offering them variety, they can explore food, and it eventually builds up their eating skills. Certain foods, nevertheless, should never be a part of your toddler's diet. These foods weaken your child's immune system. If you are giving any of such food to your toddlers, stop giving them right away!
- Carbonated drinks, for example, fizzy drinks, soft drinks
- Packaged foods
- Do not introduce them to biscuits, chips, cakes, or cookies
- Avoid giving tea and coffee too
- Also, avoid foods containing large amounts of sodium and sugar
- Avoid giving junk food to your toddlers.
Feeding your toddlers healthy food is essential as food helps them develop. You can not neglect the importance of food in your kids' lives. It makes them healthy and happy. Moreover, if your baby's tummy is full, they will be less irritable and will be a happy child. When your infant reaches a toddler phase, include every food in their diet except the one discussed above. Also, give nutrition-dense food to your child. Always remember never to force-feed your child. Make them happy for mealtime so they can develop an interest in food. Include all food groups in your toddlers' diet, as every food is equally necessary for them.