Is My Toddler Eating Enough?
Toddlers are known for their picky eating habits. It can be hard to convince your little one to eat a full meal, much less one that’s healthy for them.
As a parent, you know the importance of providing your child with the right nutrition to grow into healthy, happy adults. On the other hand, you also know that proper toddler nutrition, portion size and diet will be different than that of a grown adult – but how different?
Here, we’ll walk through the basics of toddler nutrition so you can ensure your child is getting the right vitamins and the right amount of food.
Portion size for toddlers
After your baby was born, he was in full growth mode. Your infant needed between 35 and 50 calories per pound to get enough fuel to power that growth. However, now that the rate of growth is starting to slow down, your pride and joy will need closer to 40 calories per pound to sustain himself, according to Parents Magazine.
This means if your toddler weighsâ€¦
- 25 pounds, feed him 1000 calories per day.
- 30 pounds, 1200 calories per day.
- 35 pounds, 1400 calories per day.
- 40 pounds, 1600 calories per day.
Variety in vitamins and minerals
Nearly every food packaging intended for healthy eating will boast of the number of vitamins and minerals found within. But do you know what vitamins and minerals – and how much – your toddler needs to support physical and mental development?
According to BabyCenter, the top 10 important nutrients for a young body’s development are:
- Iron to bring enough oxygen to their muscles.
- Calcium to support strong bones.
- Vitamin D to support calcium absorption.
- Essential fatty acids to build strong immune, nervous and cardiovascular systems.
- Magnesium for a healthy heart and bones.
- Potassium to promote healthy blood pressure and water balance.
- Vitamin A for healthy eyes, hair and nails.
- Vitamin C to encourage tissue, red blood cell and bone repair.
- Vitamin E to limit free radical production.
- Zinc for a healthy metabolism.
Because different foods will have greater amounts of certain key nutrients than others, it’s important to include variety in your toddler’s diet. Pediatrician Dr. Rajiv Chhabra recommended in an article for MyCity4Kids that parents focus on deriving these key nutrients from real foods rather than vitamins or supplements.
However, because this can be challenging when dealing with extremely picky eaters, a nutritional shake mix to blend with milk can have a few advantages, including a delicious flavor your toddler will love and added vitamins and minerals to close any nutritional gaps.
Meal ideas for toddlers
It can be hard to know how many calories, vitamins and minerals are in each meal or snack you offer your child. Here are a few factsÂ to give you a good idea about the nutritional value of these popular toddler foods:
- One serving of oatmeal has 117 calories and is rich in zinc, iron and magnesium, according to Healthline.
- A banana has 110 calories and provides potassium and vitamin C, according to LiveScience.
- One serving of plain yogurt has 61 calories and is a good source of calcium and vitamin B12, according to Healthline.
- One slice of whole grain bread has 69 calories and is a good source of magnesium and iron, according to LiveStrong.
- One serving of peanut butter has 180 calories and is high in vitamin E, magnesium and potassium, according to Prevention.
- An apple has 95 calories and provides vitamin C and potassium, according to Healthline.
- One serving of boneless skinless chicken breast has 165 calories and is a good source of protein and iron, according to the National Chicken Council.
- A half-cup of cooked carrots has 41 calories as well as potassium and vitamin C, according to MyFitnessPal.
- One cup of whole milk contains 149 calories and is rich in vitamins A, C and D, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium, according to the Dairy Council of California.
Just one more bite
Through the struggle of trying to get a toddler to eat all of what’s on her plate, it can be easy to overlook a very natural reason she’s not eating: She may simply be full. If your toddler insists on not finishing a meal, don’t try to force it. This could lead to poor eating habits later on, Parents pointed out. If your toddler complains of being hungry an hour or so later, give her a snack and take note for the next meal time.
Parents additionally advised against using food as a bribe as well as bribing your child to eat more, as these practices also promote an unhealthy relationship with food. While it’s important to ensure your child is eating enough healthy food, it’s best to teach your toddler how to identify the “full” feeling and to teach them to stop eating when they’ve had enough.
Molly Ploe comes from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and enjoys hiking, baking and reading. Her favorite Saturday is rainy with bread in the oven and a new book.