Your Child's Food Requirements Are Not The Same As Yours
Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht Updated on Jul 13, 2018
When meeting parents for nutrition advice for their child, I always ask these two questions.
1. is it OK to feed a toddler what we eat as adults, a similar palette?
2. I!s it going to meet the nutritional needs of a child who’s between 2-5 years of age?
The answer is “No”. Let's understand some key differences between an adult’s palette and a t!oddler's and how to meet the nutritional requirement of a toddler.
Your child’s food requirements are not the same as yours
As adults, we have full meals 3 times a day and may be snack once, but is that an ideal meal plan for a toddler? It isnt! First things first,
The number of meals for a toddler is more than our three-meal pattern.
A typical Indian thali or a palette of an adult consisting of two vegetables/non-vegetarian dish, dal, salad, breads, curd/raita and a dessert can be overwhelming for a small little child. T!his is not even. We as adults can definitely have more variety and bigger portion per meal. But a child does not have to have the same. This is because a child has lesser capacity; that is the size of s!tomach is smaller. So the child should not be expected to finish a full plate piled with food. Rather than increasing the amount of food per meal, increase the number of meals per day. Ideally, you could give your toddler three main meals like breakfast; lunch and dinner along w!ith three snacks. So overall 6.
Variety can be given in these 6 meals. For e.g. instead of insisting on two types or servings of vegetables in a main meal, you may give one serving of vegetable and give another in the snack option like a veggies roll/sandwich/pasta. This would also help in breaking the monotony in the pattern of food.
Feeding right is more important than feeding enough
While feeding the child, are you focused on the child finishing the plate? Instead, you could encourage your child to have some amount of food from all the different food groups you have served. For example at times, the emphasis is on the staple (which are mainly carbs), that the child is finishing the whole chapatti or the plate of rice or not. Whereas you should see, that the child is having a mix of proteins, minerals, vitamins given in the form of veggies, soup or salad, dal or chicken, curd and more such food sources. This helps in making the diet o!f your child balanced on nutrition.
Are you feeding your child full tummy or are your giving nutrient dense food to your child..
The child has certainly lesser capacity to eat but at the same time, your child has more nutrient requirements than adults’. Toddlers have higher energy and protein requirements per Kg of their weight, in comparison to adults. So your focus should be to give food rich in nutrition to meet their requirements in small food quantity. Focus on energy and nutrient rich foods. Some options for nutrient rich foods are- nuts, dried fruits, cheese, ghee, full fat milk, flesh foods, eggs, and soya.
G!hee will make me fat and so it is also not good for my child
Toddlers need more fat. Since they have small tummies which may get filled faster even with small amounts of food but they certainly need more energy in their diet. So to make the food calorie dense, that is more calories per bite, you need to add the required fat to their food.
Ghee is a popular fat source and is important for your child. It is not only rich in fats but it is also a very good source of vitamin A, D, E, K all important for your growing child. The cholesterol in ghee is a precursor to many hormones produced in a child’s body. All these factors make ghee a healthy addition to your toddler’s diet.
Similarly, simple sugars, though are avoidable in adult’s diet but it has a place in your toddler’s meal plan. If combined sensibly with other nutritious foods, it can provide for high energy needs of your ever active toddler. Fruit based desserts like fruit custard, ice-creams, apple kheer, fruit shakes, vegetable based desserts like carrot/ghia /pumpkin halwa, spinach burfi, pulses based desserts like besan, urad dal ladoo, mung dal halwa, are some you could try. These types of desserts can help balance your toddler’s diet, in terms of vitamins, minerals, proteins besides giving energy. Of course, giving too much of these is not advisable as high intake of sugar can lead to dental issues in your child.
In short, while feeding your toddler please make sure that you select the right type of foods, give more frequent meals and try not to focus too much on the quantity. Go for the quality and variety of nutrition!
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. Follow Early Childhood Nutrition to learn more.
Calculated basis per kg body weight; ICMR 2010
Top Food and Nutrition Blogs
Top Food and Nutrition Talks
Top Food and Nutrition question