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HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES FOR TODDLERS
R. DAVID HILL: Hey, today we are going to talk about what to feed your toddler. As your child becomes a toddler, their growth is going to slow down. Infants are gaining as much as one ounce a day. Toddlers are gaining weight, but not quite so fast, and a lot of parents become concern that their toddler's not eating enough food. They only need about 1000 to 1200 calories a day, and they don't have huge appetites. So, expect servings to be only about half of cup in size. On the other hand, they are going to eat more frequently. Your toddlers probably are going to want three scheduled meals a day, as well as two to three snacks.
Try and keep a reasonable schedule so they don't get into the habit of grazing, which may subdue some of their hunger cues and teach them to ignore when they are hungry and when they don't need to eat. Toddlers need plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to grow, ideally about eight servings a day, but remember the servings are small. They also need plenty of calcium. From age 1 to 2, we recommend giving whole milk, because the need for fat is quite high at that point. After age 2, you can switch to fat free or fat reduced milk. Don't get in fights over whether a toddler is going to eat fruits or vegetables.
As far as nutritionist and doctors are concerned, it is the same. If your toddler doesn't want to eat something green, give him something tasty that they do like. Another good rule with toddlers is never get into fights with them over food. Toddlers are going to be picky eaters by nature. If you imagine growing up in a cave or in the middle of a field, the small child who picks up and eats anything that looks good is probably not going to last very long. Toddlers bring that into the home, and it can take as many as 15 attempts to get them to enjoy a new food. A good tip is to bring it back over and over again in the company of a food you know they already like.
What toddlers drink is just as important as what they eat. While a little fruit juice, especially a 100% real fruit juice can be useful as a treat, don't go over about 4 ounces a day. Fruit juice is mainly sugar and water. It is better if they drink about two cups of milk a day, and then fill in the rest with water. To review, toddlers are going to have small, frequent meals five or six a day, with small servings about a half cup. Fruits and vegetables are very important part of a toddler's diet. However, they should also have some low fat protein sources like turkey, chicken, or fish. Don't get in a fight with your toddler about what and how much they are going to eat. They are going to win that and they are going to learn hate meal time if you do. Lastly, pay attention to what they are drinking. About two cups of milk, four ounces of juice, and a little bit of water to fill in the rest will be perfect.