By the time toddlers are well into their twos, they pretty much eat what everyone else is eating. Watch out — this is the time bad habits can form. Children at this age are so independent, they want to be the one to decide what’s for mealtime. See the following tutorial for effective feeding strategies.
Transition to do’s:
–By the time your toddler turns 2, you can switch to low-fat dairy products. Milk plays less of a role in the diet – about 2 cups a day is recommended.
–Your toddler is eating meals with the family but still take into account her ability to chew and swallow food. Try to have your child eat with the whole family or with at least one parent at dinnertime.
–Your little one is probably ready for a booster seat instead of a high chair.
–Research shows that kids this age start to eat more foods that are high in fat and sugar, including excess juice, French fries and nutrient-poor snacks. Provide your child with no more than 4-6 ounces of juice per day and show them how to eat nutrition-poor choices sensibly by making them part of balanced meals 2-3 times per week.
–Emerging research shows that insufficient vitamin D plays a role in the development of a variety of diseases including diabetes, autoimmune disorders and certain cancers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfed toddlers or those consuming less than 4 cups of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day.
–Toddlers at this age are still at risk for choking. Cut food into small pieces or watch your child when they take bites — see choking hazards.
–Most two and three year olds no longer receive omega-3 essential fatty acids (DHA) from breast milk or formula and will benefit from additional through fatty fish intake, food fortification or supplements (150-200mg DHA/day). DHA plays a key role in brain development.
–Include fruits and veggies with most meals – include one vitamin A-rich vegetable (carrots, spinach, kale, winter squash, sweet potatoes) and vitamin C rich fruits (mango, cantaloupe, oranges, kiwi, strawberries) daily.
–Focus on fiber by choosing whole grain foods often – whole wheat bread, whole grain waffles, whole grain crackers and brown rice – and replacing beans/legumes instead of lean meat 2 or more times per week.
–Incorporate flexible rules of eating: eat meals and snacks at the table, limit TV viewing to 2 hours/day and provide no more than 4-6 ounces of juice daily.
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Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition Guidance for Health Children Ages 2 to 11 years. 2008.
Birch SR, Daniels MW, Gilman AH, Lichtenstein KT, Steinberger J, Stettler N, Van Horn L. Dietary recommendations for children and adolescents: A Guide for Practitioners. Pediatrics. 2006:117:544-59.