4 Tips on Healthy Food for Toddlers
As you and your baby near the end of your first year together, it’s time to wrap your head around the next phase – toddlerhood.
The arrival of toddlerhood is a major milestone for both you and your baby. While life won’t change overnight when your baby turns one, there are things that you should be aware of around this time – particularly on the food front. In fact, toddlers have quite specific nutritional requirements.
For example, a toddler’s tummy is about three times smaller than an adult’s, yet they require about the same amount of iron as a 30-year-old man.
4 tips for toddler nutrition
To prepare your baby for the growth and development that toddlerhood brings, here are four important tips to keep in mind.
- Provide three main meals and up to three snacks a day – toddlers need a steady stream of nutrients each day. Get into a routine that includes a pause for healthy meals and snacks at regular intervals.
- Offer foods rich in iron – as mentioned above, iron is an essential nutrient during the toddler years. It supports normal brain development, and your toddler’s brain is developing fast! Research has found that almost a quarter of one-year-olds are not getting enough iron. To give your toddler more iron, add iron-rich foods like red meat, chicken, leafy green veg, fish and fortified milks to their daily meals.
- Discourage fussy eating – many toddlers are fussy eaters. This is completely normal; yet it may not happen until later in toddlerhood. To avoid problems down the track, offer your toddler a healthy, balanced diet; make mealtimes fun; and eat together as a family where possible. Let your toddler explore different foods and textures, and accept that they will get messy in the process!
- Cut back on milk – beyond their first birthday, your toddler’s main source of nourishment comes from meals and snacks. Milk no longer plays such an important role – from 12 months, they only need about 400mL of milk per day. You can prepare them for this in advance by gradually reducing their milk intake in the lead-up to their first birthday. And remember, by 12 months old, all drinks other than breastfeeds should be from a cup/beaker and not a bottle.