Toddler Nutrition

Every mother wishes to provide the best nutritious food to their kids. But how much they eat is a big question. Meal time can be a real battle in most of the homes. Continue reading on to know how much nutrition your toddler requires at each stage and how you can make the feeding time interesting.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2020 11:29 GMT

Toddler Nutrition
Toddler Nutrition

How to Start?

·         Introducing a variety of age appropriate foods from the beginning is a good practice. This gives them the right nutrition they require and they end up with lots of choices on what to pick and eat.

·         Finger foods are ideal choices and the best way to initiate baby led weaning. (Check out“Finger Foods for babies”).

·         As several developmental changes happen during the age of one to three, feeding the right food can be a real challenge. You can try a personalized strategy to make the feeding times easier. (Check“Make Toddler to Eat”).

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Choose healthy food choices

Good nutrition is vital for the healthy growth and development of children. In order to choose a healthy diet for your toddler, the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initiated a food plate to help you guide in choosing the right food for your children (age 2 and older). The following five categories of food are important to meet the nutritional requirement for your children.

Protein: As part of protein diet, include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Fruits: Encourage your children to have more fruits than fruit juices. Fruits can be fresh, canned, frozen, dried or pureed. When you opt for fruit juices, it has to be 100% fruit juice with no added sugars. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice to less than 4 ounces per day (for children 1 to 3 years old).

Vegetables: Include a variety of coloured vegetables in your children’s diet. This includes dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy vegetables. When you choose for canned or frozen vegetables, make sure it is low in sodium.

Grains: It is ideal to choose whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice. Limit refined grains like white bread, pasta and rice.

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Dairy: Fat free and low fat dairy products are an important part of your child’s diet. This includes yogurt, cheese, milk and fortified soy beverages. Milk contains vitamin D and according to American Academy of Pediatrics children require 400 International units of vitamin D daily.

Oils are not part of the food group. Toddlers require 3 to 4 teaspoons of healthy oils like canola oil and tub margarine.

Nutritional guidelines for toddlers

Daily guidelines



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Ages 2 to 3 (for boys and girls)

1,000-1,400, depending on growth and activity level

2-4 ounces

1-1.5 cups

1-1.5 cups

3-5 ounces

2 cups

Ages 4-8 (For Girls)

1,200-1,800, depending on growth and activity level

3-5 ounces

1-1.5 cups

1.5-2.5 cups

4-6 ounces

2.5 cups

Ages 4-8 (For Boys)

1,200-2,000, depending on growth and activity level

3-5.5 ounces

1-2 cups

1.5-2.5 cups

4-6 ounces

2.5 cups

Ages 9 to 13: (for girls)

1,400-2,200, depending on growth and activity level

4-6 ounces

1.5-2 cups

1.5-3 cups

5-7 ounces

3 cups

Ages 9 to 13: (for boys)

1,600-2,600, depending on growth and activity level

5-6.5 ounces

1.5-2 cups

2-3.5 cups

5-9 ounces

3 cups

Ages 14 to 18 (for girls)

1,800-2,400, depending on growth and activity level

5-6.5 ounces

1.5-2 cups

2.5-3 cups

6-8 ounces

3 cups


Ages 14 to 18 (for boys)

2,000-3,200, depending on growth and activity level

5.5-7 ounces

2-2.5 cups


2.5-4 cups

6-10 ounces

3 cups


(Reference: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Unsafe foods for toddlers

The following foods may be unsafe for toddlers and are not recommended for toddlers as they could block the windpipe when swallowed as a whole.

·         Hot dogs

·         Nuts like peanuts

·         Raw cherries

·         Chunks of peanut butter

·         Round and hard candies

·         Raw carrots

·         Popcorn

·         Processed pumpkin and sunflower seeds

·         Large chunks of any food like meat, raw vegetables and fruits

Some nutrition tips

·         Involve your children in choosing healthy foods. Try to include foods rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber.

·         Follow the recommended portion sizes for your kids.

·         Encourage them to involve in vigorous physical activities.

·         Once the physical activity gets over, advise them to have more fluids and several glasses of water to prevent dehydration.



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