Toddlers tend to be very active, and sometimes, they even make it difficult for their parents to handle them… But at the same time, this energy and wanting to do everything is also the most fun part of having children in the first place. Since a toddler (age 1 – 3) is so active and full of energy, it also means that special care must be taken about the nutritional needs of the toddlers and even preschoolers. If you keep reading, you will learn about nutrition for toddlers and preschoolers.
Although every parent agrees that proper nutrition is highly important for toddlers and preschoolers, the thing which makes it hard is that toddlers tend to be picky eaters and sometimes even stubborn. On top of that, not having enough information about what to give and what not to give to your child can make this subject difficult for the parents. That’s why we will look at nutrition for toddlers and preschoolers in full detail today!
Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers
According to experts, a preschooler or a toddler can eat the same menu as the rest of the family! But, this is only valid if the family meals include a healthy variation of all the important nutrients. If the family meal includes burgers and pizzas — for instance —, then you should not assume that the same can be given to children every single day.
In terms of energy requirements, nutrition for toddlers and preschoolers plays a key role in every single development aspect. On top of that, a toddler also undergoes a lot of brain and physical development in the early years. This means that they actually need a lot more calories and nutrients than the other family members, when talking about weight and height proportions.
When the experts were asked about tracking calorie-consumption for a youngster, they all agreed that it is not that important but where these calories come from does matter a lot!
Ideal Diet for Toddlers & Preschoolers
What makes up an ideal diet for a young child? There are some things that are very simple and don’t require a lot of explaining, and that’s one of these things. A young child should consume healthy foods such as eggs, seafood, vegetables, fruits, poultry, lean meats, whole grains, legumes, and 2 servings of dairy products, if possible.
As you can see, the diet includes all the things we have been told numerous times already. And if we talk about treats and fast food, then it should be limited, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, Kathy argues that the treats such as cookies, candy, and pizza must be kept in moderation and only be consumed on special occasions.
Kids can easily become addicted to these unhealthy foods and will cause even more problems for you as they might outright refuse to eat healthy food! To put it short, keep it healthy and limit the treats. At Sparkles! Early Learning Academy, we are committed to providing the highest standards of nutrition as this is important at every age.
Setting up Good Eating Habits
Children will try to copy what they see around them. So if you want your child to accept healthy food items instead of unhealthy ones, then you should be the one to set an example first. Would you like your child to have water or fresh juice (no added sugars) instead of soda? Then someone should set an example in front of them. Do you want your child to eat baked potatoes instead of oil-soaked fries? Same applies here!
According to AAP, toddlers adopt the eating habits of their parents early in life (especially during the first few years). So, based on this information, we can safely assume that your child will eat just like you do (generally speaking). So, if you want your child to eat better and healthy, then set an example by also changing your diet!
Toddlers and preschoolers tend to love imitating the adults close to them (usually family members). So just like they would mimic other things, they also mimic the eating habits of adult family members! To put it simply, it also depends on your eating habits as an adult! If you are consuming high-calorie foods three times a day on the dining table and then expect your child to eat boiled potatoes and fresh salad, then that’s not going to work out!
Some of the good and healthy food alternatives that can replace the non-healthy ones:
- Mashed or boiled potatoes instead of french fries
- Water or fresh juice instead of soda or energy drinks
- Switch white potatoes with sweet potatoes
- Dried fruits instead of cookies and candies
Additionally, another important benefit of opting for a healthy diet in toddlers is good dental hygiene as well!
Nutrition Filled Snacks for Toddlers
You might have noticed it already, but young children tend to be picky eaters and do not follow any strict eating plans either. On top of that, different health problems such as flu, colds, infections, and even growth spurts can disrupt the eating schedule of your child.
But, you can bridge the nutritional gap caused by not following a proper diet plan through the snacks consumed between meals.
What makes a good snack? Healthy and nutritious food that can calm your child’s hunger for a brief period of time. Through these snacks, a child can get the energy they want and continue with their daily life without feeling weak or hungry.
Some of the healthy and good snacks for toddlers and preschoolers are given below:
- Fresh Fruits
- Fruit smoothies
- Well cooked vegetables
- Boiled eggs
- Whole-grain crackers
Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers: What To Eat & What Not To Eat!
A research article the National Library of Medicine on PubMed has provided an interesting list of items that should not be consumed by toddlers. Additionally, they have also offered some healthy alternatives that must be consumed by preschoolers and toddlers. So let’s take a look at some suggestions about nutrition for toddlers and preschoolers.
|What to Eat||What Not to Eat|
|Milk or Water||Sugar-sweetened beverages|
|Fresh Foods (fruits, vegetables, seeds)||Minimum processed food|
|Boiled Potatoes and other vegetables||Fried Foods (French fries)|
|Dried fruits such as fig bars||Sweet cookies|
|Healthy home-made food||Junk Food|
Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers is Essential for Early Childhood Development
As long as you follow the common sense of what’s healthy and what’s not, you will do just fine in regards to the nutrition for toddlers and preschoolers.. And just like there are unhealthy foods for adults, they should be avoided in the toddlers as well!
When children are excited about eating healthy it increases their chances of establishing healthy eating habits when they are older and they can apply these habits throughout life. Remember: Proper nutrition is crucial to early childhood development.