Preparing for toddlerhood nutrition

4 Tips on Healthy Food for Toddlers

As you and your baby near the end of your first year together, it’s time to wrap your head around the next phase – toddlerhood.

The arrival of toddlerhood is a major milestone for both you and your baby. While life won’t change overnight when your baby turns one, there are things that you should be aware of around this time – particularly on the food front. In fact, toddlers have quite specific nutritional requirements.For example, a toddler’s tummy is about three times smaller than an adult’s, yet they require about the same amount of iron as a 30-year-old man.

4 tips for toddler nutrition

To prepare your baby for the growth and development that toddlerhood brings, here are four important tips to keep in mind.

  1. Provide three main meals and up to three snacks a day – toddlers need a steady stream of nutrients each day. Get into a routine that includes a pause for healthy meals and snacks at regular intervals.
  2. Offer foods rich in iron – as mentioned above, iron is an essential nutrient during the toddler years. It supports normal brain development, and your toddler’s brain is developing fast! Research has found that almost a quarter of one-year-olds are not getting enough iron. To give your toddler more iron, add iron-rich foods like red meat, chicken, leafy green veg, fish and fortified milks to their daily meals.
  3. Discourage fussy eating – many toddlers are fussy eaters. This is completely normal; yet it may not happen until later in toddlerhood. To avoid problems down the track, offer your toddler a healthy, balanced diet; make mealtimes fun; and eat together as a family where possible. Let your toddler explore different foods and textures, and accept that they will get messy in the process!
  4. Cut back on milk – beyond their first birthday, your toddler’s main source of nourishment comes from meals and snacks. Milk no longer plays such an important role – from 12 months, they only need about 400mL of milk per day. You can prepare them for this in advance by gradually reducing their milk intake in the lead-up to their first birthday. And remember, by 12 months old, all drinks other than breastfeeds should be from a cup/beaker and not a bottle.

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