Providing Enough Nutrition for your Toddler

When your toddler graduates from breast milk or formula to cow’s milk, she is no longer getting all the nutrition she needs in liquid form. Cow’s milk can’t replace all of the nutrients that were being provided by the breast milk or formula, so you will need to make certain that your toddler gets everything she needs from her food.

The key to good nutrition for your toddler is to make sure she eats a balanced toddler diet that offers a variety of foods. Different foods provide different nutrients, so the more variety in her diet, the better and more complete her nutrition will be.

Expanding Food Horizons

In the early stages of toddlerhood, before your little one decides to start getting picky about food, you should start offering as many different foods as you can, to introduce many new flavors. Spend some time in the produce department or at a local farmer’s market. Ask questions about fruits and vegetables you don’t recognize. They might turn out to be something you toddler loves, and could replace the nutrition missing from foods she refuses to eat.

Your toddler won’t eat everything you put in front of her, but the more different foods you offer, the more likely she will be to find something she likes. Every child, and even every adult, has some foods they simply don’t like and never will. Rather than forcing your child to eat something she really dislikes, try to find other foods that offer similar nutritional value to make up the difference.

Feed a Balanced Toddler Diet

The best way to make sure your toddler is getting all the nutrients she needs in her diet is to serve the right number of servings from each of the food groups. Aim for 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 servings of protein, 4 servings of dairy, and 3-4 servings of grains every day.

Spread all of these servings out over 3 meals and 2 snacks during the day, so that your toddler is only faced with a few foods at a time. The snacks are especially important as snack time is often when less than nutritious foods tend to hit the table. Make sure that every meal and every snack offers servings of nutritious foods, and skip empty calories that might fill your toddler up and cause him to skip out on healthier foods.

Using Supplements

If your toddler is getting the right number of servings from each food group every day, and eating a variety of different foods on a regular basis, it’s likely he is getting the right nutrition. Still, many pediatricians recommend a multivitamin supplement that can help to fill in any nutritional gaps in your child’s diet. Supplements are meant only to back up the foods your toddler eats, and shouldn’t be relied upon to provide all or most of the needed nutrients. Don’t skip servings of vegetables on the belief that the supplement will make up the difference.

Because toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, supplements are generally a good idea for those times when you just can’t get him to eat right. Think of them as a backup line of defense to keep your toddler healthy – but only a backup. No matter how difficult it might be, you should keep trying to get all the needed foods into your toddler’s diet every day.

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