Feeding Your Toddler

toddler_feedYour responsibility as a parent is to offer healthy foods in a nurturing environment. Your child’s job is to decide what and how much of what is offered he will eat.

This is a very important concept and worth repeating to yourself from time to time. In simplest terms – provide a balanced diet for your toddler, limiting sweets and salt. Limit milk to 16 – 24 oz. per day and undiluted juice to a maximum of eight oz. per day.

The nutritional needs of babies and toddlers are different from those of adults. A typical toddler portion is one quarter of an adult portion. Do not restrict fat and cholesterol, which are necessary for adequate growth. Do not give babies and toddlers high fiber, low calorie foods, which may not have enough calories. Offer a variety of foods over time to your toddler.

Let’s take a closer look at the following two issues related to feeding your toddler:

Is my toddler eating enough?
If toddlers are not given more than 16 oz. of milk and 8 oz. of juice per day, and are not given excessive sugary snacks between meals, they will eat an adequate amount of calories if offered a variety of nutritional foods. This is known as relying on “natural hunger” to achieve a balanced diet. Moreover, it may occur over several days of eating, not in one 24-hour period. Regular check ups with your pediatrician who will check your baby’s weight and height are essential for monitoring your toddler’s nutrition.

Food Fights
Feeding is an area where parents and toddlers can get into major power struggles. You are frequently worried that your child is not eating enough, or not eating the right kinds of foods. This anxiety may cause you to pressure your child, who immediately picks up the cue that this is an area for struggle. In battles over food, you, the parent almost certainly will lose. The more you force your child to eat, the more she will resist. If this leaves you feeling out of control – remember, you are in control. You control the food you offer your child. Eventually, she will get hungry and eat.