Decoding Toddler Nutrition
Created by Huda Shaikh Updated on Dec 31, 2019
Toddler years are the years of rapid growth and development for your toddler. Nutrition plays a vital role at this stage. During the second year, the weight of your toddler would ideally grow four times and their height would also go up by 7-8 cms. During the subsequent years, the weight gain could be between 1.5-3 kgs every year coupled with about 6-7 cms of height gain. Hence during this growth phase, your child would require energy-rich foods, body-building foods, and protective foods to grow, develop and stay away from infections. Ideally, your toddler needs 1000-1400 calories every day. I am sharing some important tenets to help you understand the nutritional requirement for a toddler’s growth.
Here’s the list of the various food groups that are necessary for your child’s growth and their respective portion sizes:
Grains, cereals, millets: Grains are a rich source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. These comprise of wheat, ragi, oats, and rice. 2.5 cups (small katori – 30 gms per serving) of grains in a day is recommended.
Milk and milk products: Milk and milk products are a great source of protein, calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin B12. Calcium is required for strong bones and hence consumption of dairy products is important for your toddler’s growing years . A 2-4-yr old child needs 2 cups of milk and a 4+ years-old child needs 2 - 1/2 cups of milk daily.
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits are vegetables are a good source of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Add grated or pureed vegetables in parathas, curd, khichdi, pulao, upma, dosa, idli or chillas. 2-3 servings (4-6 tablespoons) of fruits and vegetables a day is good for your toddler.
Healthy fats: Your toddler requires healthy fats for organs to function and vitamins A, D, E, K to protect important organs. Nuts and dry fruits like walnuts, almonds, olive oil, flaxseeds, and fish are laden with omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which foster brain development and cognitive skills development. You can give one handful of nuts and seeds daily.
Meat, poultry, fish and beans: Meat, eggs, poultry, fish, beans are a great source of protein. Proteins are required for wear and tear of muscles and to strengthen the immune system. Meat is a good source of Vitamin B12. You can give 2 boiled eggs or 2 half katoris of fish/poultry in a week . In case your toddler is a vegetarian, then soya, beans, milk, yogurt, nuts, paneer, tofu, seeds and sprouts are good options. You can give 1-2 half katori a day of any of these.
According to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), foods have been classified on the basis of their function which are as follows:
Energy-rich foods: Carbohydrates and fats are considered to be energy-dense foods. Carbohydrates are further classified into simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates consist of wheat, oats, brown rice, barley, daliya and so on; whereas simple carbohydrates consist of sugar, jaggery, honey and syrups While complex carbohydrates are a rich source of protein, Vitamin B complex, fibre, calcium, iron, and other minerals, Simple carbohydrates lack in nutrients. Vegetable oils, butter, ghee are considered to be a good source of essential fatty acids and Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K. You can give with moderation. Nuts and oilseeds are source of fats and contain nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iron, and zinc.
Body-building foods: Proteins are known to aid in body-building and are required for wear and tear of the tissues and building of muscles. Milk and milk products, pulses, oilseeds and nuts, meat, fish, are good sources of protein.
Protective foods: These contain antioxidants/phytonutrients, calcium, zinc, iron, and proteins. Protective foods can protect against free radical damage, infections and seasonal flu.They can help strengthen the child's immune system. Some examples of such foods are green leafy vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products.
Your toddler has high energy requirements, but a small stomach, and hence you need to give them 5-6 meals, inclusive of 2-3 snacks. Try to follow these guidelines for your toddler. A balanced meal for your toddler will take care of their dietary requirements at this stage of rapid growth and development.
Nutrition is oftentimes thee hands of the care-giver, and in inculcating healthy habits. Try these with your kids.
Disclaimer- This Blog is supported by Nestle Ceregrow. A child needs more nutrition than an adult. Each bowl of Ceregrow contains the goodness of grains, milk & fruits and makes up for the lack of sufficient nutrition.
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