Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Nutrition For Your Toddler

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hi, guys!!! Vacation and a ton of things on my plate and presto!… it’s been a month and a half since I’ve posted. Anyway, I apologize for the delay and let’s get this going again.

Congratulations, you are a new parent! Your beautiful baby is depending on you for many things, and you have to make important choices about what to feed them, including how and when to help them transition to whole foods. The following tips focus on the crucial time period from 6 months to 4 years old, and will help take some of the guesswork out of providing your toddler with necessary nutrition while keeping meals interesting, nutritious and varied.

It’s important to remember that even though extensive research and countless studies have been done in the area of nutrition for children, not every child is alike. For this reason, you should always consult your child’s pediatrician prior to making any changes to your child’s diet or their nutritional intake. It’s always a good idea to avoid any foods or specific substances which you know may cause an allergic reaction in your baby.

When dealing with a picky eater, give your toddler choices. You are in control and you can give them the choice of several nutritious, attractive foods. You might want to try keeping the portions small – too much food at one time may overwhelm the child.

  1. Offer a nibble tray. You might try letting your toddler graze through an array of foods offered in an ice cube tray, a muffin tin or a compartmentalized dish. With bite-size portions of interesting foods in each section, your 2-year-old will enjoy this creative smorgasbord.
  2. Let your toddler get involved with meal preparation. Toddlers like spreading (or more precisely, smearing) toppings on their food. Let them top their own food.
  3. Let your toddler drink their meal. If your youngster would rather drink than eat, try making a smoothie. Milk and fruit, combined with supplements such as juice, wheat germ, yogurt or peanut butter, can be the basis of healthy meals. Caution: Avoid drinks with raw eggs, as you may risk salmonella poisoning.
  4. Find creative ways to disguise veggies. Slip grated veggies into favorite foods such as rice, cottage cheese, muffins and even macaroni and cheese.
  5. Don’t be a slave to the clock. If your youngster insists on eating chicken in the morning and cereal in the evening, let them! The distinction between breakfast, lunch and dinner may have little meaning to the child, and this schedule is likely better than not eating at all.

Respect your child’s developmental stages. Typically, between their 2nd and 3rd birthdays, your child may become set in their ways about everything, including food. If the cheese must be cut into cubes rather than grated for them to eat it, go with it. It might be better to do it the child’s way, because they may not be acting stubborn – they could just have a mindset about the order of things in their world. This phase too will likely pass.

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One Response to “Nutrition For Your Toddler”

  1. Another great article for children and nutrition! Thank you.

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