When it comes to toddler food, you’ve got a lot of questions. We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions about feeding toddlers, including ones about DHA benefits and basic toddler nutrition.
In this Article
How does fat help my toddler's brain development? | What are the benefits of DHA? | Why do toddlers need iron? | My 3-year-old drinks 2% milk. Why does my 6-month-old need so much more fat? | I want to give my toddler fish for DHA, but I'm concerned about mercury. Can you suggest a substitute? | Does my baby need vitamin supplements? | Now that my child is one year old, can he eat anything?
A: Believe it or not, your toddler's brain is more than 60% fat. The polyunsaturated fats from the foods you eat provide fatty acids like DHA and ARA, which are important building blocks for your little one’s brain.
Q: What is DHA and what are its benefits?
A: DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid. Not only do toddler’s bodies need fatty acids like DHA to function, those fatty acids also deliver some big health benefits. Experts specifically recommend DHA for your toddler’s cognitive development.
Q: Why do toddlers need iron?
A: Iron is a nutrient that's essential to your child's growth and development. Iron helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It also helps muscles store and use that oxygen. Iron is also specifically important for psychomotor skills and mental development in both babies and toddlers, and is one of many key nutrients, no matter the age.
Q: My 3-year-old drinks 2% milk. Why does my 6-month-old need so much more fat?
A: Key developmental milestones require different levels of nutrition and fat. As a baby, your little one grows rapidly. On average, babies triple their birth weight and grow an amazing 10 inches longer by their first birthday! To support this tremendous growth, babies need lots of calories, and they get these calories from fat. Older kids get fat from a wide variety of foods, while babies and younger toddlers rely on breast milk and/or formula for complete nutrition.
Q: I want to give my toddler fish for DHA, but I'm concerned about mercury. What’s another toddler food I can substitute?
A: It's true that certain types of fish and seafood are high in mercury. Salmon and canned light tuna are low in mercury and high in DHA, so these are good options. But, it might be tough for your toddler to eat them. You can also look into DHA-enriched eggs and toddler milk drinks as a substitute.
Q: Does my toddler need vitamin supplements?
A: Breast milk and formula generally provide the nutrition a baby needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that exclusively and partially breastfed infants, or babies who drink less than 1 liter or one quart of vitamin D-fortified formula daily, receive at least 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D each day. You may want to ask your child's doctor about supplements to be sure your little one gets the necessary nutrition.
Q: Now that my child is one year old, can they eat anything?
A: Although most toddlers can eat pretty much anything on the menu by now, it’s still important to watch out for choking hazards. Be sure to cut your toddler’s food into small pieces, and make sure they’re seated and supervised while eating.
It’s important to feel comfortable with your child’s health as they grow. And, it’s natural to have questions about feeding toddlers. If you have questions that haven’t been answered about toddler food and nutrition, speak with your pediatrician.