Toddlers have small stomach. Three meals a day and two snacks between meals would be the optimum feed. But, as we all do, sometimes they may not be hungry at lunchtime, and then an hour later asks for a snack. As far as you provide healthy snacks to balance the nutrition they need, it’s ok to give them a mid-afternoon snack. But do not offer more than two snacks a day, and never give them sweets, biscuits just to fill them up. Use always the best ingredients, organic fruits, vegetables and meat, and preferably homemade food. If using jars, buy the organic brands for baby and toddler food only. For convenience you could freeze steamed vegetables, fruits, meat and even pulses, so you could have a variety of healthy food packed with vitamins anytime you need it.

Ten tips for feeding your toddler

  1. Offer variety of food from all food groups, such as starchy foods (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, pasta, wheat, oatmeal, and bread), proteins (meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, cheese, pulses and lentils), fruits and vegetables, and good fats (vegetable fats and full-fat diary).
  2. Milk intake should be limited to 350-500ml (16-24 ounces) a day.
  3. Be careful with juices! Although freshly squeezed juices are packed with vitamins, they may fill up your child so she wouldn’t eat at her mealtimes. Do not give toddlers more than 100-120ml (4-6 ounces) of juice a day.
  4. Introduce new foods. Continue to introduce new foods, even if your toddler may not like them at first. Sometimes it takes 10 times before she would have it. Be consistent, but never force her to eat. Once your toddler is a year old, you could now introduce foods such as whole cow’s or goat’s milk as a drink, whole egg, strawberries, citrus fruits, and honey. Seafood and nuts (especially peanuts) should be delayed until she is at least 3 years old, but if there is family history of nut allergy, avoid all nuts until she is five.
  5. Turn off the TV. Try to establish good eating habits such as no TV at mealtimes, but instead family talks and quiet time to really enjoy the food.
  6. Encourage self-feeding. Your toddler will continue to explore self-feeding. Give your kid many opportunities to practice it, but offer a hand when frustrations arise. As skills develop, step back and let your child take over.
  7. Toddlers like to be independent. They want to have control on what food to eat and how much to have. While your child’s “task” is to choose her favourite foods from the plate, it’s your responsibility to offer only nutritious and healthy choice.
  8. Be creative and proactive. If your child refuses to eat certain foods at mealtimes, try to offer alternatives from the same food group at snack times in order to balance the nutrition intake. For example, if she doesn’t eat her cereal breakfast with fruit, you could offer her a toast with mashed banana as a mid-morning snack.
  9. Healthy cooking – healthy child. Say “no” to junk food! Home prepared meal is best for your toddler, as it develops her taste for natural flavours and textures, and it’s full of vitamins and minerals. Try to limit the processed food, as it often contains preservatives, salt and sugar. Base the meal on starchy food, but cook with variety of vegetables and pulses to satisfy your child’s nutrition needs.
  10. From the bottle to a cup. Between 12 and 18 months of age is a good time for transition to a cup. Instead of cutting out bottles all at once, you can gradually eliminate them from the feeding schedule, starting with mealtime.

Toddlers Food Pyramid

A balanced toddler’s diet should include:
– 6 servings of grains
– 3 servings of vegetables
– 2 servings of fruits
– 2 servings from the milk/dairy group
– 2 servings from the meat and protein group
– A small amount of good fats

Remember that children aren’t growing as fast as they were during their first year of life and so have lower energy needs and smaller appetites. If your child is active, healthy, and growing and developing normally, there should be nothing to worry about.