Healthy toddler diet

It can be confusing trying to de-code exactly what is a balanced and nutritional diet for yourself, let alone your little one.

As your baby grows up its important that they get everything they need to develop into a healthy, trouble causing toddler.

Don’t worry, we’ve come up with an easy guide to keep your little one fuelled for playtime.

Fruit and vegetables - 5 a day

We all know the benefits of lots of fruit and veg in our diets and it’s the same for toddlers. They’ll get lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre but variety is key because each type of fruit of veg contains different nutrients.

An example of 1 toddler size portion could be:

  • 8 grapes
  • Half an apple
  • 2 tablespoons of peas
  • 3 small carrot sticks
  • 1 average banana
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • Milk and dairy - 3 a day

    Milk and dairy is packed full of vitamins and minerals that will contribute to strong bones and teeth. However, infant milk formula is the only suitable alternative to breast milk in the first 12 months of your baby’s life.

    Whole milk and full-fat dairy products are best for toddlers (12 months+) as its packed full of these nutrients. Although from the age of two you can introduce semi-skimmed milk and lower fat products.

    An example of 1 toddler size portion of dairy could be:

  • 1 beaker of milk
  • 1 yogurt pot
  • 2 small yogurt tubes
  • 1 cheese triangle
  • Starch and carbohydrates - 5 a day

    Packed with nutrients and fibre, starchy foods will be an important part of your toddler’s diet. Avoid giving them lots of wholegrain foods such as brown rice or wholemeal bread though, be-cause it can fill them up before they’ve absorbed the calories they need.

    An example of 1 toddler size portion could be:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 5 tablespoons of breakfast cereal
  • 3 tablespoons of mashed potato
  • 4 tablespoons of cooked pasta
  • 3 potato wedges
  • 4 tablespoons of spaghetti hoops
  • Meat, fish, eggs and veggie options – 1-2 a day

    Meat, fish, eggs and beans are a good source of protein and iron - key nutrients to help your toddler grow and develop.

    An example of 1 toddler size portion could be:

  • 2 fish fingers
  • 4 tablespoons of cooked minced meat
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons of chickpeas or baked beans
  • Fats

    Fat is a good source of energy for your growing toddler, and there are vitamins that are only found in fats. Fuel your toddler’s playtime with foods like whole milk, yogurt, cheese and oily fish.

    Avoid unhealthy saturated fat by:

  • Grill or bake foods
  • Buy leaner cuts of meat
  • Use less cooking oil
  • Limit the amount of crisps, biscuits, ice creams and chocolate
  • Switch to low-fat dairy products for toddlers over 2 years old.
  • Sugars
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    Some sugars are natural and provide a good source of energy and nutrients. These sugars come from fruit, vegetables and milk.

    Added sugar that’s found in fizzy drinks, biscuits, sweets and chocolate should be only given as treats every now and then. This type of sugar can contribute to obesity and cause tooth decay, so remember to brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day, morning and night.

    Snacks - 2 or 3 a day

    Toddlers burn lots of energy throughout the day so it’s good to keep them topped up so they don’t get too hungry in between meals. Healthy snack ideas could be a portion of fruit, veggie sticks, yogurt or toast.

    Drinks

    Keep your little one hydrated throughout the day. Water or unflavoured milk are better than sugary drinks when it comes to keeping a check on their sugar intake.

    You can also make up dilute fruit juice for meal times but try to make them weaker to help pro-tect your little ones teeth.

    Should I give my child vitamin supplements?

    It can be difficult for toddlers to get enough vitamins from their daily diet alone, particularly vitamins, A, C and D.

    It’s recommended that children from six months to five years are given vitamin drops. Your GP can advise you on what your toddler needs and where to get them.

    The guidance in this article is recommended by the NHS and British Nutrition Foundation but should not be treated as medical advice. If you have any questions about your child’s diet please consult with a professional nutritionist or your doctor.