Your little one grows and learns new things every day. As they enter toddlerhood, a lot of stuff will change. One thing that won’t? The importance of good nutrition that meets your toddler’s nutritional needs.
We’ve got seven ways you can support your 12- to 24-month old’s development with the proper nutrition.
1. Transition to cow’s milk
Your toddler can start drinking cow’s milk at 12 months. Most doctors recommend starting out with whole milk during the first year, since its fat content is good for your child’s growing brain. However, 2% milk is recommended may be recommended for others. Another option is toddler formula, sometimes called toddler milk drink. Toddler milk drinks are specially designed with important nutrients like DHA and iron, which cow’s milk doesn’t have, to support brain growth. Speak to your baby’s doctor about the best option for your little one.
2. Remove bottles from their crib
A bottle may get your child to doze off more quickly, but this comforting routine can lead to ear infections and tooth decay as milk pools in their mouth. Even a bottle of water isn’t recommended. It’s best if toddlers give up the bottle between 12 and 18 months since this is the period when it’s easiest to break the habit.
3. Don’t worry if your child seems less interested in food
It’s perfectly normal for a toddler to wolf down everything one day and seem indifferent to eating the next. Their rate of growth slows after their first birthday, so most 1-year-olds only need about 1,000 calories a day. Whereas a baby typically triples their birth weight during the first year, the average toddler’s weight goes up by one quarter or less between their first and second birthday.
4. Let them feed themselves
It may be messy, but practice is the only way your toddler will master self-feeding. They may use their fingers at first, but by 18 months your kiddo should be pretty good at handling a spoon and fork.
5. Talk with your child’s doctor about supplements
Supplements like zinc, iron, and vitamin A, can be dangerous if your child takes more than they need. But, nutrients like vitamin B12, riboflavin, calcium, and vitamin D, may be necessary, especially if your family is vegetarian or vegan. Toddler nutritional needs vary by child, so talk to your pediatrician before introducing any supplements into your little one’s diet.
6. Some foods are still off limits
Toddlers often eat in a hurry. But since they have small windpipes, food can get caught so keep foods bite-sized. Avoid hard or round foods like baby carrots, chunks of cheese, olives, grapes, hot dogs, firm meats, hard candies, and popcorn. Also, make sure to spread peanut butter very thinly.
7. Sweets leave little room for good foods
Who doesn’t love sugar? But try not to make a habit of it. Since toddlers still have a fairly small appetite, your little one won’t have room for healthy stuff if they fill up on empty calories. Juice should be limited to 4-6 fl oz per day, as it may get them used to sweet beverages. Toddlers need many different nutrients for development. A variety of healthy foods every day is the key to proper toddler nutrition.
If you have any other questions on your toddler’s nutritional needs, talk to your pediatrician. For additional toddler nutritional guidelines, check out our article on setting food rules for your toddler.