Establishing good eating habits
- Toddlers are led and influenced by parents and family members, so it’s your role to help to set the boundaries and the structure around eating.
- Let your little one take control—being able to use utensils helps in development.
- Keep portion sizes small so as to not being wasteful or making your toddler feel unable to finish meals—you can always offer a second helping.
- Set regular meal and snack times and stick to them to create an expected schedule. A good routine is every two to three hours.
- Make the food fun, both by making it look appealing and tasting great. We have a range of toddler-friendly meal and snack ideas to bring a smile to both kiddo’s and your face.
- Toddlers are generally very fussy eaters and it can take 10 to 15 attempts even to get your little one trying and accepting a new flavor. And fair enough! Who wasn’t fussy about at least one vegetable?
- Don’t get into the habit of making desserts out to be a treat that is better than the main meal.
Key nutritional elements to a balanced toddler diet
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is key to fueling the trillions of synapses spurring on amazing growth in the first three years. It’s a major omega-3 fatty acid that is present in the brain, sparking brain and eye development. It comes naturally in breast milk but can also be sourced through eating fatty cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and black cod and there is some found in meat and eggs. On average, a toddler only gets 25% of the recommended DHA in their daily diet. Luckily you can provide an added boost through a flavored toddler drink like Enfagrow.
Fiber helps your toddler’s digestion and helps promote fullness. Make fruits and vegetables part of every meal and snack and serve whole grain cereals and breads as sources of fiber.
Iron is important for your baby’s mental and motor development and is essential for healthy red blood cell function—they’re the vehicle that carries oxygen from the lungs around the body and to the brain. Iron-rich foods are key to maintaining a balanced diet for toddlers. Look for iron-rich red meats, vitamin C–rich fruits like berries, tomatoes, and oranges and dark green leafy veggies like spinach and kale.
Potassium helps the body to maintain healthy blood vessels, keeps cells functioning properly and has a role in neural messaging and muscular function. Your toddler can get potassium from leafy greens, fruits like tomatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins, and root vegetables.
Vitamins play important roles from helping the body to utilize or release energy, to boosting immune health. Vitamins are found in breast milk, but when transitioning, a toddler needs a balanced diet of these including:
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) which comes from meat, dairy, egg yolks, legumes, green vegetables, breads, and toddler milk drinks.
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1) from meat, dairy, egg yolks, legumes, green vegetables, breads, and toddler milk drinks.
- Vitamin A from liver, egg yolks, dark green and deep yellow fruits and vegetables, and toddler milk drinks.
- Vitamin B6 from liver, meat, whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, potatoes, and toddler milk drinks.
- Vitamin B12 from meat, fish, poultry, cheese, egg yolks, and liver.
- Vitamin C from citrus fruits, papaya, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries, potatoes, cabbage, and toddler milk drinks.
- Vitamin D from egg yolks, liver, fatty fish, sun exposure, and toddler milk drinks.
- Vitamin E from green leafy veggies, vegetable oils, wheat germ, whole grains and cereals, butter, liver, egg yolks, and toddler milk drinks.
- Vitamin K from vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, pork, liver, and toddler milk drinks.
The role of supplements in a toddler’s diet
The best-laid meal plans can fall by the wayside when your baby gets fussy, moody, or just too playful around feeds. A balanced toddler diet can be easily unbalanced with half of the food ending up on the face, the floor, or in your handbag. This can cause nutritional gaps as the nutrient doesn’t get consumed. Supplements can help create a balanced diet for toddlers. There are a range of supplements for nutrient deficiencies, like iron drops—but consult with your little one’s doctor before using.
Balancing it all
It’s all good to create a balanced diet for toddlers, but at the end of the day, your little one may challenge you at mealtimes, rejecting those bowls of baby carrots and lightly steamed broccoli. For those moments, you can reach for the flavored milk. Enfagrow flavored milk complements your toddler’s diet when you can’t get your little one to eat those veggies. It’s voted yummy by kids, yet it is a Trojan Horse of all the nourishing ingredients your little one needs.