Toddler nutrition: Turbo-charge their diet

Make sure your child is fully nourished with the right food groups for healthy development.

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Toddler nutrition: Turbo-charge their diet

Understanding what food is made up of and how the body uses it to grow is an essential part of being able to provide good grub for your toddler. Our at-a-glance guide makes giving them a healthy diet a doddle.

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Toddler nutrition: Turbo-charge their diet

No.1: Carbohydrates- fuel for the body

Your toddler uses carbohydrates – grain-based foods such as cereals, bread, pulses, rice, and fruit and vegetables – as a constant energy supply. Carbs are broken down into glucose, which is carried via the blood to the muscles, brain and other organs to enable him to do ordinary, everyday activities. There should be plenty of these in your toddler’s diet and can be roughly divided into two groups: complex and simple.

Complex carbohydrates

These are foods that have had minimal processing, such as wholemeal bread, and so retain all their nutrients. They are slower to digest, providing a steady source of energy throughout the day. They should make up the bulk of what your child eats.

How many portions a day?

Try to aim for at least four.

Simple carbohydrates

These are foods like biscuits and cakes that have been so processed that most of their goodness has been removed. They break down quickly to provide an instant energy boost but it doesn’t last long, and can leave your little one feeling grumpy and even more hungry. Treats only!

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Toddler nutrition: Turbo-charge their diet

No. 2: Diary – builds strong bones

Milk and dairy products, such as yoghurt and cheese, are particularly good sources of calcium, which is very important for healthy bones and teeth. These foods also provide young children with an important source of vitamins A, B2 and B12.

How many portions a day?

At least ½pt of milk or two servings of dairy foods. Children under 5 should have full-fat dairy products

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Toddler nutrition: Turbo-charge their diet

No. 3-  Protein- the building block of the body

Your toddler needs protein to repair and grow. Protein is also key for the development of the body’s hormonal system and other structures, the brain and nervous system. Meat, fish, eggs and beans are excellent sources.

How many portions a day?

Aim for at least two.

Oily fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for brain development. Boys should eat no more than four portions of oily fish a week, and girls no more than two.

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Toddler nutrition: Turbo-charge their diet

No 4. Fuit and Vegetables – Up the fibre

Fruit and vegetables are an important source of fibre, which helps prevent constipation. They also contain a huge variety of vitamins, minerals and compounds called ‘phytochemicals’ that have protective health benefits. Toddlers should be encouraged to eat a wide variety of different fruit and vegetables with meals and as healthy snacks.

How many portions a day?

Aim for up to five.

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Toddler nutrition: Turbo-charge their diet

No.5 The ‘F’ word – fat

Toddlers need essential fatty acids to develop healthy brain and hormonal function, and a healthy heart. These are found in lean meats, fish, nuts (see The Allergy Report for guidelines on peanuts) and seeds. To prevent choking, always chop or flake nuts for under-5s.

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How many portions a day?

See previous for advice on oily fish and lean meat. Using rapeseed or sunflower oil in cooking will go a long way to ensuring your toddler gets his RDA.

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