What a toddler eats


Your toddler is more active year by year and needs more solids to sustain her during a busy day. Meal-to-meal appetite changes are normal. Offer a variety of foods, and don’t obsess about her emptying her plate.

The following should only be used as a reference of what your 1 – 3 year old toddler should be eating.

Carbohydrates, eg. ¼ to a ½ slice of bread, 3-4 servings a day.

Fruits and vegetables, ¼ - 1/3 cup raw and cooked chopped and mixed vegetables, or  ¼ - ½ small fruit, 4-5 servings a day.

Protein, 1 egg, or 1-3 tablespoons of lean meat/ chicken / fish, 2 servings a day

Dairy products, ½ cup of yogurt / full cream milk, 4-5 servings a day

One year-old: one teaspoon at a time of cereal, pureed fruit, cooked meat, cooked vegetable, one egg and milk or dairy products in portions of ½ a cup at a time.
Two year old: two tablespoons at a time of different foods.
Three-year old:  should have three tablespoons at a time of different foods.

Your toddler should not be eating

  • Whole grapes; large pieces of meats; sweets.
  • Small, hard foods such as nuts, seeds, popcorn, chips, pretzels, raw carrots, and raisins.
  • Sticky foods such as peanut butter and marshmallows.
  • Always cut up foods into small pieces and watch your child while he or she is eating.

If you think your child might have a food allergy, talk with your doctor.

Vegetarian toddler

If the family are vegetarians then it makes sense that you will want to give your little one a vegetarian diet as well. This is surprisingly easy, although for vegans it may be a little more difficult. What is important is that you understand the nutritional value of the food that you eat and make sure that your child receives the vitamins he requires.

Instead of meat you can introduce pulses such as beans, peas and lentils as well as cheese and dairy products. If your diet extends to fish then this is an excellent source of protein.

You will need to find alternate food that is rich in iron. Some choices include fish (especially sardines), egg yolk, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables and cereals.
Vitamin C helps to absorb iron so by combining these foods with those rich in vitamin C will also help.

As a vegan, it is a little more difficult to replace the calcium and iron found in eggs and dairy products so speak to a dietician for suitable replacements.

Do you stick to the rules? Or do you feed your toddler whatever is more convenient for you? Do you expect her to finish her food?
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