Your toddler never stops growing and developing. Even while your child is asleep their mind is active and their energy levels are restoring for another busy day.
To fuel this constant growth and development, nutrition is essential. Every day your child needs enough vitamins, minerals and energy to help fuel this growth. However getting the right balance of energy and nutrients can sometimes be difficult.
Toddler Nutritional Balance
A healthy balance between good nutrition and physical activity has never been more important, especially in the early toddler years. Offering your child a variety of foods (as meals or snacks) regularly will allow your child to get not only energy but plenty of nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals) that are important for normal growth and good health.
Dietary energy, measured in calories or kilojoules, comes from the breakdown of foods including proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Physical energy is the energy we use up moving around and performing activities.
The dietary energy in a toddler’s diet should be balanced with their physical energy and be age appropriate. This ensures they are not over consuming which can lead to unnecessary weight gain. With today’s diets containing excess refined sugar and unhealthy fats, even energetic’ toddlers are not immune to the excess intake of energy.
Ideal Foods for Toddlers:
- Cereals, preferably wholegrain, without added sugar. Cereal drenched in milk, some toast and fresh fruit are an ideal way to start the day
- Bread, rice, pasta and lentils such as baked beans, kidney beans and chickpeas
- Macaroni cheese, pasta bakes and milky desserts are all ideal for boosting calcium intake
- Fruit and vegetables. Aim for a wide variety of these each day which will help to meet your toddler’s daily nutritional intake needs
- Meat including red and white. Fish is ideal, including fresh and tinned fish
- Family foods are ideal; avoid making special meals for your toddler. Strong, spicy and flavoured foods may not be too popular with your little one, but don’t be afraid to offer them anyway. They’ll soon let you know if it’s not to their liking.
For more on nutrients required, see Weaning Nutrients Macronutrients and Weaning Nutrients Vitamins and Minerals.
For information on healthy daily serving sizes for toddlers, see Toddler Food Groups.