Chances are, your toddler is not receiving adequately balanced nutrition. (Great! Another thing we can feel guilty about.) In fact, most toddlers in America aren’t eating right. Why is that?
When your baby turns into a toddler, she will start to assert her independence. This means saying “no” to many of the foods she used to love. How can you get your toddler to eat nutritiously when she’ll only eat hot dogs or spaghetti?
First, let us take a look at the USDA food period as it relates to your toddler. One thing to keep in mind is that a toddler portion is ¼ to ½ of an adult’s portion. Their tummies are small and they need to eat small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 big meals.
That being said, according to the USDA, your toddler needs 6 servings of grain, 2 servings of fruit, 3 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of meat or protein, and 2 servings of dairy. Fats should be given sparingly. A typical toddler menu meeting these guidelines is below.
Breakfast: 1/2 cup Yogurt, 1/3 cup cheerios (1 dairy, 2 grain)
Mid Morn Snack: 1 piece wheat toast (2 grain) ½ banana (1 fruit)
Lunch: ½ cup cooked carrots (1 ½ veg) Hot dog, quartered and sliced (1 meat/protein)
Mid Aft Snack: fruit juice (1 fruit) Cookies (fats)
Dinner: ½ cup Broccoli with cheese sauce (1 ½ veg, ½ dairy)
½ cup cooked rice (2 grain)
3-4 chicken nuggets (1 meat, fats)
Night Snack: 1 cup milk (1 dairy)
If only your life was this easy, right? If we could get our toddlers to eat these foods, that would be great. Most toddlers go through numerous eating cycles. Some common themes include:
- Decreased appetite: After your baby turns 1, her appetite will certainly decrease, as her growing slows. This is a normal occurrence.
- Refusal of certain foods: Your toddler has learned that she has the control over what she eats. She is asserting her independence. Don’t worry; if she is truly hungry, she will eat.
- Stuck in a rut: Many toddlers prefer to eat the same few foods and will not try new foods. Sometimes, you will have to offer your toddler a food up to 10 times before she will try it. Do not force food or give her extra attention for refusing it or it will just add to the problem. Continue to offer new foods, one at a time.
- Prefers finger foods. A lot of toddlers prefer finger foods, because this gives them more control over what they put in their mouth.
Continue offering your toddler a variety of foods. Although she may stick with her 4 or 5 favorites, as long as you keep offering new foods, she will eventually eat them.