HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES - SNACKS FOR TODDLERS
DR. DAVID HILL: Today, we're going to be talking about what to feed your growing toddler. Toddlers are going to eat probably five or six times a day. They have little stomachs, they eat small meals but they need a lot of them. Through those meals should be scheduled family meals that are roughly the same time. That reinforces healthy time eating habits. The other two to three meals should be planned snacks rather than grazing. If a toddler walks around all day with food or drink, he may learn to ignore his hunger cues. He may not learn to eat when he's hungry and stop when he's full. It can also be bad for the teeth leading to dental carries. So you want to plan out what snacks your toddlers going to eat.
A big part of that should be composed of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. If your toddler doesn't like vegetables, that's not a big deal. Doctors and nutritionists feel that vegetables and fruits have exactly the same nutrients. So there's no reason to get into a fight over it. You might also have some healthy low fat protein like yogurt, cottage cheese, turkey, chicken or even fish. Those are great sources of protein that don't carry a lot of fat with them. Dairy is going to be very important in your toddler's diet.
Cheeses can be a great source of calcium as can milk however, don't let milk exceed about 16 to 24 ounces a day. Above that, your toddler risks getting iron deficiency anemia because of the excess calcium that he or she is taking in. Try to make snack time with your toddler fun. Sometimes they just don't want to eat and that's okay. There's no reason to get into a fight with them. What they don't eat today, they're going to make up for it tomorrow.
If you fight with your toddler over meals, they're going to learn to hate meal time and I promise you this, you're never going to win.
So to review, toddlers are going to eat three scheduled meals and two to three scheduled snacks during a day. You want to make sure that most of what they get is healthy, low fat food with plenty of vitamins and minerals like the fresh fruit you see behind me are like low fat sources of protein. Calcium is very important in a toddler's diet. Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy products can be helpful but don't go above 16 to 24 ounces of milk a day. Last, never get into a food fight with your toddler. They're going to win and they're going to learn to hate the eating experience. That is feeding your toddler.