Speaking Point: In the first year, the typical toddler triples his/her birth weight. Transitioning from infant to toddlerhood requires dietary changes as babies grow, develop teeth, and want to feed themselves. Here are the key nutrients children need during the first two years for normal growth and development.
Speaking Point: 1. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells delivery the necessary oxygen to all cells, tissues and organs for proper brain and body development. Sources include: iron-fortified cereals, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, enriched grains, beans, peas, and leafy green vegetables. Serve iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods, such as tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, and strawberries, as they improve the body's ability to absorb the iron (especially if they're plant-based sources).
Speaking Point: 2. B12 is important for manufacturing red blood cells and is not found in plants. Sources include: meat, milk and other dairy products, and eggs, as well as fortified cereals, soy or rice beverages, and meat substitutes.
Speaking Point: 3. Calcium is a key building block for strong, healthy bones. Younger kids and babies who don't get enough calcium and vitamin D (aids in calcium absorption) have an increased risk for rickets, a bone-softening disease that causes physical deformities and muscle weakness and pain. Calcium plays a key role in muscle contraction, transmitting messages to the brain, and normal cell function. Sources include: milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, beans, green leafy vegetables, and calcium-fortified juices.
Speaking Point: 4. Fat is needed for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K) and for brain and visual development. Feed your child healthy fats from whole milk (not skim) until age two. Vitamins and minerals strengthen the immune system, support normal growth and development, and assist cells and organs. For example, vitamin K helps blood to clot and vitamin D aids in calcium absorption.
Speaking Point: 5. Every cell in the body is made of protein, so it's an essential nutrient for your toddler's healthy growth and development. Sources include: cut-up meat or poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, tofu, beans, and fortified soy milk.
Speaking Point: 6. Fiber is needed to prevent constipation. Kids and adults need fiber as it can also help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels as well as aid in weight loss. Now is the time to introduce your child to the taste and texture of whole grains. It'll be more difficult to switch to whole grain foods when they're older and have been used to eating white bread, crackers and pastas. Serve whole grain breads, oats, fortified cereals, barley, and pastas.
Speaking Point: 7. Never put babies or children on diets or restrict nutrient-rich foods.
Speaking Point: 8. Do your best to offer meals and snacks at about the same time each day. Toddlers need three meals and 2-3 snacks daily. They're learning to feed themselves and are eager to make their own food choices, so be patient and make it fun and interesting. Offer specific and limited choices. For example, ask your child, "Would you like an apple or banana?" instead of "What would you like to eat?". Serve colorful bite-size, easy-to-chew foods with varying textures and temperatures (i.e., crunchy, smooth, cool or warm). Small servings of fresh fruit, such as peeled apples, pears, cooked vegetables, diced or grated cheese, or yogurt make great snacks.
Speaking Point: 9. Most overweight children establish eating habits and develop tastes for certain foods at an early age. Keep nutrient-poor snack foods, sweet drinks and desserts to a minimum. Kids have small tummies and these foods fill them up, so they don't have room for nutrient-rich foods. When you snack on potato chips, French fries, donuts, and drink sodas during the day, your child will want the same, so setting an example is the key to raising a healthy child. Healthy parents = healthy kids.