by Mary Howard, RN
Do you worry about your toddler because he or she doesn’t seem to eat enough or eats a limited variety? Toddlers do have eccentric eating habits at times. Let’s look at a few things we can do to make sure they are meeting their nutritional requirements and what it takes to meet those requirements.
The infant eats like there is no tomorrow but the toddler begins to realize that if he or she doesn’t eat now there will be another meal later. At 12 to 18 months, growth rate slows and a toddler’s body does not require as many calories or as much protein during the next 2 years. Their vitamin and mineral requirements actually go up, so it may be helpful to introduce a good multivitamin/mineral supplement.
Picky eating habits may last until close to 4 years old in many toddlers. Only giving a toddler healthy food choices is your best start. Not uncommonly, they will only eat one good meal a day and refuse foods or pick around at other meals. They may eat heavy one day and eat little or nothing for the next day or two. This is normal and toddlers should not be forced to eat but they also need some limits set in case they just refuse to eat because they want to play or are holding out for the junk foods.
A few tricks that might help to get your toddler to eat better:
Put only very small portions on their plate, so the amount of food does not overwhelm them.
Set limits. Like, no desert until this small portion is finished.
Even desert can be a healthy choice, like fruit.
Make meal time a relaxed quiet time. If there is a lot of excitement at mealtime, like company or eating out, chances are your toddler won’t eat at that meal.
Toddlers usually make up for poor meals later on. Their calorie intake requirement is only 900-1700 calories a day (on average). Their protein requirement is about 25 grams a day – about Four Toddler servings. Some examples of a toddler serving are: 3/4 C. milk, 1/2 C. yogurt, 3 T. cottage cheese, 1 egg, 1-2 oz. pasta. If your toddler refuses a certain food today offer it again in a week or two and their taste might have changed. Variety is the spice of life, so offer your child a variety of foods. Variety also helps with the odds of your toddler getting the nutritional requirements they need.
Watch your toddler’s over-all eating habits. Sometimes, poor eating habits can be a sign of allergy or illness. Just like the rest of us, a toddler’s appetite may slacken considerably during cold or flu. Avoid as many processed foods as you can for your toddler, avoid sugary, empty calorie snacks. You can try some of your own ideas to sneak extra nutrition into your toddler’s favorite snack like these homemade cookies. By adding some Oatmeal, whole-wheat flour, raisins, wheat germ, or nuts, you can turn a sugary snack into a nutritious snack. Remember, “Everything in Moderation” when choosing foods, snacks and meal routines for your toddler and you will be well on your way to raising a happy, healthy child.
1&1/2 C. butter or margarine
1 C. white sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. rolled oats
3 C. unbleached flour
1C. Chopped nuts and/or Raisins
Cream together 1st 4 ingredients. Stir in next 6 ingredients, Then add Coconut and nuts. Chill dough. Form into balls and flatten. If toddler doesn’t like nuts might replace with 1/2 C. wheat germ. Bake 8 min. at 350 degrees. (Makes about 6 dozen)
Mary Howard is a Registered Nurse, mother of two, and enjoys natural gardening. She hosts this Site: www.Powerlinehealth.com