After your baby is one year old, it becomes necessary that your toddler gets optimum nutrition from the food he eats. A toddler grows pretty slowly than what he used to when he was a baby. About 1000 to 1400 calories are required by toddlers everyday, though this also depends upon the age, level of activity, weight and height. Your toddler should now be fed from practically all food groups, namely, Grains and Lentils, Vegetables, Fruits, Milk and Dairy, Meat and Eggs and Nuts and Seeds. Unless you follow a strict vegetarian or a vegan diet, your toddler should be eating all food groups in a healthy way so that all his requirements to grow and develop are met.
We have listed below the nutritional requirements from various food groups for your toddlers:
Grains and Lentils: Cereal, bread, wheat, pasta, rice and some starchy food like potatoes can be given to toddlers. Kala Chana, rajma, moong daal, etc are effective sources of proteins. This food group should be served at all mealtimes and can be also offered as snacks.
Vegetables: Important constituent of a toddler’s diet, vegetables should be served at least 3 times a day. You could root for spinach, broccoli, beans, peas, etc are safe choices packed with nutrients.
Fruits: Bananas are a hot favourite with toddlers, thinly sliced apples with cheese or butter could be served at snack time. Pineapples and papaya can also be cut and served with some cheddar cheese to appeal to little ones.
Milk and Diary: Paneer or cottage cheese, yoghurt, and milk are packed with calcium and must be fed to a toddler. The servings of milk can be restricted since having more milk at a pre-meal time will make him refuse to eat the meal.
Meat and Eggs: Protein rich foods like eggs and meat can be served to toddlers at regular intervals. A hard-boiled egg cut into small pieces or a tenderly cooked meatloaf will surely appeal to your child.
Nuts and Seeds: Try almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds as a healthy snack option for your baby.
It may be noted that toddlers must be fed at least 5 times a day, which is three full meals and one each of a mid morning and a mid evening snack. Unlike small babies, toddlers are occupied with many activities all through the day, and render eating as a useless activity, thus it becomes imperative that he gets the right nutrition. Make sure that he eats his meals sitting on a chair and is not distracted at meal times. Fussy or picky eaters also need to be dealt with patience.
Many times, a toddler will refuse dinner or be finicky, for by dinner time he is either sleepy or tired or that glass of milk he had in the evening is still making him feel full. Respect his wishes, but also make change to his menu accordingly. You could replace milk by a handful of nuts and a small bowl of lentils etc. This will make him feel hungry again at dinner time.
Trust your own judgement and pick up the best foods and menus for your little one. Always opt for variety but follow good eating habits as they are likely to stay with him for a life time.