As your baby grows into a toddler, they are moving into a phase of rapid physical and mental development and need a balanced diet to ensure healthy growth and development. Find out more about your toddler’s nutritional needs and foods you should avoid.
Your toddler may be starting to look and act like a little adult, but their nutritional needs are still very different to ours.
They have a smaller stomach and generally need far less salt and sugar than us, but more fat in their diet. And as they need plenty of energy and nutrients to help with all that growing and exploring, eating lots of fibre fills up their tummies a bit too much.
This article looks at how you can make sure your toddler is getting a balanced diet, why more fat and less fibre is important and which foods will to help support their development. It’s also important to pay special attention to foods your toddler may be allergic to – read on to find out more about food for toddlers.
The period of intense physical and mental development your child goes through as they advance from infant to toddler brings an increase in their cognitive abilities. As their muscles strengthen, their brain also prepares for the challenge of more developed activities like walking and talking. To ensure the healthiest growth and development, a balanced diet is essential.
A balanced diet for a toddler is very different from an adult’s. Their differing nutritional needs should be taken into account when planning family meals.
Food for toddlers should have less than 2g of salt per day – 1/3 of an adult’s maximum daily allowance. It’s because of this that many adult foods are deemed unsuitable for toddlers. You’re advised not to add salt to any food you prepare for your toddler.
The natural sugars found in fruit, vegetables, and milk are fine, but avoid foods with added sugar.
With a tummy that is at least 3 times smaller than yours, your toddler needs to eat little and often. Three small, balanced meals along with regular nutritious snacks will give them a steady stream of energy and nutrients throughout the day.
It’s not just their portion sizes that should differ from yours; the balance of energy and nutrients within each meal should differ too. Your toddler needs a diet that is relatively high in fat and low in fibre –the opposite of the kind of diet the average adult needs. Although fibre is a good thing for us adults, too much of it may fill your toddler up and prevent them from getting the energy and nutrients they need.
Prebiotics feed the friendly bacteria found naturally in your toddler’s tummy. Prebiotics are found in breastmilk, which is one of the reasons breastfeeding is considered best for babies. But they’re also present in some foods and drinks, such as bananas, onions, tomatoes, chicory and some Growing Up milks . Including these foods in your toddler’s diet will encourage their existing levels of friendly bacteria to thrive.
Milk still plays an important role in your toddler’s diet; they can have up to three 120ml servings of milk, or a combination of milk, cheese and yoghurt to get their three dairy servings. Aptamil Junior milk contains our unique prebiotic blend to support your toddler from the inside as part of a balanced diet. It provides 40 times more iron than the same amount of cows’ milk, plus vitamins D and C – both essential to their healthy development.
A balanced diet for a toddler is made up of the same food groups needed by adults:
While some foods simply need extra attention when preparing them, some are best avoided completely.
Certain additives have been linked to behavioural problems in children, so it’s always best to check the label
Peanuts are an excellent source of some nutrients but in previous years mums have been advised to avoid them to limit the risk of allergy.
Remember that all whole or chopped nuts should be avoided until 5 years as they are a choking hazard. However, ground nuts and nut butters are fine.
If you’ve got any questions, our Careline team, have been there themselves – give them a call on 009647723342222 between the hours of 9am and 5pm Saturday to Thursday.
Compare your child’s weight with other children their age
Our team of experts is ready to answer your questions and support you on your journey from pregnancy to toddler hood. For more information and relevant advice, please contact us between 9am-5pm from Sunday to Thursday.