One of the most important things in toddlerhood is getting the right nutrition for your kids. The food they eat during this period has a significant impact on their overall health, growth and development which is why it is necessary that parents always provide their little ones with a well-balanced diet.
By definition, toddler nutrition should be a combination of the five main food groups. This includes fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, protein and dairy products. All of these foods are highly rich in numerous vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that ensure a proper physical and mental development in younger children.
Generally speaking, a balanced diet doesn’t need to be achieved at every meal, but it is recommended that something from each food group is included in breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks.
Here is how the five food groups can benefit your toddler’s wellbeing.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the biggest sources of vitamins that are necessary for children’s immunity and overall health. They come in many colors, shapes, textures and varieties, all of which can be served to toddlers in endless ways.
For example, most parents give fruits and vegetables to their kids in the form of a snack. Some of the toddlers’ most favorite combinations include bananas, strawberries, melons, grapes, carrots and cucumbers.
If your little ones aren’t big fans of eating these two food groups, then you can take different fruits and veggies and make colorfully appealing, playful snacks for your kids.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt should also be included in your child’s diet. Such foods are highly rich in calcium which is necessary for building strong bones, especially when your child is a toddler. Dairy products contain other essential nutrients that help with brain development, healthy teeth and eyes.
In order for your child to meet the recommended intake of dairy, you can include milk or yogurt for breakfast which you can combine with cereal, a low-fat cheese sandwich for lunch or with protein and veggies for dinner.
Starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes should also be part of your child’s balanced diet. They contain vitamin B, calcium and fiber, all of which help with proper growth and development while providing energy at the same time which is necessary for active toddlers.
In general, children need at least five portions of this food group per day. Some parents include them as a part of their kids’ lunch or dinner by giving them one slice of bread or three tablespoons of mashed potato. As for snacks, five tablespoons of cereal should suffice.
Protein is also very important for a child’s growth because it contains essential nutrients that work as the building block of their body. Besides, they provide the fuel and energy the body needs to move and be active every day.
In general, toddlers should eat about two portions of protein per day which includes meat, fish, eggs or lentils. All of these foods are rich in minerals such as zinc and iron which are crucial for the proper development of the body. You can combine it with veggies to make the meals more appealing to your little one.
Although water isn’t considered a food group, it is still an essential part of every toddler’s well-balanced diet. The body needs it in order to perform basic functions such as fighting dehydration and cooling off when the body is heated up.
The number of water glasses per day varies depending on your child’s age, body size, activity levels and overall health. Usually, kids drink water with meals and whenever they are thirsty.
If your little one is out in warm weather playing sports or exercising, you should definitely increase their water intake to fight dehydration.
In order for your toddlers to grow strong and healthy, it is important that they follow a well-balanced diet. This way they will be provided with numerous vitamins, minerals and nutrients that will help them develop properly especially when they’re really young.
In case you aren’t sure how your kid’s diet should look like, keep our guide nearby and follow the tips mentioned here to help your little one be healthy at all times.