When children reach toddler age, it’s important to ensure they get the best nutrition possible. You’ll want to make sure your toddler receives all the nutrients they need from their diet in order to grow as quickly and healthily as possible. It can be a challenge, though, to make sure toddlers eat well when their tastes change rapidly and they’re often fussy about what they eat, both of which are common issues at this age group.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to deal with these situations and ensure your toddler gets everything they need.
What is toddler nutrition?
Most people understand how nutrition is important for adults, but it’s not immediately clear what exactly is part of nutrition for children. Toddler nutrition isn’t just about calories—it’s about providing your child with essential nutrients that support everything from their immune system to brain development.
Toddler nutrition can also help prevent disease in later years. For example, if you ensure your toddler gets enough calcium now, they will have stronger bones as they age.
There are two main components to toddler nutrition: macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). It’s especially important to make sure toddlers get enough protein; while toddlers don’t need nearly as much protein as adults do (just 10 percent of total calories), studies show that too little protein can lead to poor growth.
To find out the best foods with optimal nutritional value for your toddler, we recommend talking to a pediatrician who will suggest different meal plans based on your lifestyle and child’s preferences.
Signs of Picky Eaters
Typically, picky eating is normal behavior. After all, toddlers are just beginning to explore their world and don’t have years of eating experience under their belts like adults do. However, if you suspect something deeper may be causing your toddler to avoid certain foods, talk to a pediatrician for guidance on how to proceed.
Sign #1 – They Prefer a liquid Diet
If your child is getting most of their nutrition from drinking (formula, breast milk, juices), then they’re not getting enough nutrients through solid foods. This can cause stunted growth and weight loss. Toddlers need plenty of food groups—including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats—and shouldn’t just be snacking on liquids all day long.
Sign #2 – They choose play-time over meals
If your toddler has been running around all day with a sippy cup of milk or juice, chances are they are not yet hungry at mealtime. After the initial 12 months, toddlers do not grow as quickly, and therefore needn’t consume too many calories. So keep expectations in check when you serve them their meal.
Sign #3 – They want only 1 type of food
If your toddler prefers one particular food and seems very resistant to new tastes and textures, it could be an issue of texture. For example, if your child likes only foods like noodles or cheese pizza, you might want to consider offering a new type of food with different textures. If they are used to crunchy foods and you try serving them softer textures like beans or tofu, they may refuse them altogether. Don’t give up though. Graduate to food choices that have similar textures and this way you’ll be introducing them to new food groups.
Sign #4 – They take too long to eat
You’ve got a picky eater if your toddler is taking more than 30 minutes to finish their meal. If you notice that your child is taking more than 20 minutes to finish a meal, then it might be time for them to move on. Dragging meal time defeats the purpose, and makes them dread sitting at the table at mealtime. If this is a recurring event of slow eating, you should speak with a pediatrician about considering a meal plan to keep it nutritious, and delicious at the same time.
5 tips to Solving Fussy Eater Problems
Eating healthy is an important part of living well. But some kids can make eating healthy challenging for parents. These tips will help you get your toddler to eat a wider nutrient-dense variety of foods.
Tip 1 – An approachable, user-friendly way to get toddlers eating healthier is by offering new or unusual vegetables in smaller quantities—as a snack between meals, or mixed into another food they already like. Adding vegetables in small quantities helps kids get used to eating veggies without feeling overwhelmed.
Tip 2 – If your toddler doesn’t like vegetables, don’t force them. Children who are forced to eat certain foods will only associate them with negative feelings. Instead, try making meals fun and interactive. Cook together and let your child choose which foods they want on their plate. If they have some control over what goes into their mouth, they may be more willing to give it a try.
Tip 3 – Make your toddler’s plate colourful and interesting by adding different shapes, sizes, and colours of food on their plate. Try placing foods they like in one section of their plate, then fill up another section with new foods you want them to try. Kids are more likely to try something if it looks good. The presentation of a meal can help make it more appealing for kids, so don’t forget about visual appeal. Even chopping food into small bites makes it interesting too.
Tip 4 – Set an example by eating healthy yourself. If your toddler sees you eat healthy foods, they’ll be more likely to try them too.
Tip 5 – Be patient and don’t give up. Getting your toddler to eat healthier can take time, but it is worth it in the long run. It may take several attempts before your child tries something new, so don’t be discouraged if they refuse at first.
Toddlers are developing their sense of taste and preferences, which can make mealtime challenging for parents. But it’s not impossible. Finding delicious ways to sneak in nutritious foods, such as veggies and protein, can help your toddler develop a healthy appetite. Whatever you do, don’t give up!
Tried it all and your child is still fussy? Get in touch with us for a thorough examination of your toddler’s nutrition and eating habits. Based on our reports, we can recommend a nutritious diet plan that will build better eating habits for your toddler.