Content provided by: Tiffani Ghere, Clinical Pediatric Dietitian
NUTRITIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR TODDLERS (Age 18 mo - 2 yrs)
After 12 months, most toddlers have advanced to table foods and have been transitioned off formula to milk. Children at this age can self-feed quite well and should be offered three meals a day, like the rest of the family, with healthy in-between snacks. Choking is a concern, so foods need to be cut up in very small bites, and children should be always be supervised while eating.
Serve daily meals at regular times and, whenever possible, eat as a family. This structure, early on, will set the stage for how children view this special time of the day. Don't insist on "cleaning the plate": allow your child to eat at his or her own pace, and to quit eating when he or she is full.
Provide your toddler with choices at meal times, so she’ll learn how to choose healthy foods. Eating is a very big part of your child's day and also a very exciting time. Having the opportunity to make selections can be very self-empowering. Offering things to "dip" foods into like guacamole, bean dip, or salad dressing, is not only fun but encourages the development of motor skills. When your child makess a healthy choice, give him or her lots of praise.
Toddlers are very good at eating when they are hungry and stopping when they are full. Parents should learn to trust this “self-regulating” skill. Serve small portions. If your child wants more, she'll ask.
PLAYTIME | PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Encourage physical activity with regular playtime.
SKILLS TODDLERS MAY HAVE
A willingness to try new foods
The ability to name and identify some foods
The capacity to use utensils (fork and spoon)
COOKING TASKS TODDLERS MAY BE ABLE TO DO
Get ingredients out of the refrigerator or a low cabinet
Put wrappers, peels, and other waste into the trash or compost
Help add and mix ingredients into a bowl while sitting on the floor
Dip fruits and vegetables
Put napkins on the table
NOTE: These are general guidelines. Please consult your pediatrician for specific needs.