How Much and What Should Your Toddler Eat?
As parents, we are often concerned with whether or not our children are eating enough. We sometimes fret over whether or not they are eating what they need to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need to be healthy.
I know that when I was nursing Little One, I worried whether she was getting enough milk. She was. I was just a little paranoid. The nurses in the NICU always told me that she would consume as much as she needed. They were right. Although, they had to supplement her breast milk with formula for a while because she wasn’t gaining weight and keeping the pounds (okay, OUNCES!) on, I slowly started to worry a little less.
Then she started eating solids.
How much rice cereal does a baby need when just starting on solids? How many ounces of milk does a baby need for the day if they’re on solids too? Is she getting enough of everything?
Of course, she was and I became less and less worried when I realized just how voracious my daughter’s appetite was (and still is). Now that she is eating all the same foods we are eating, there’s no stopping her. How she eats (and eats, and EATS!) is beyond me. She is the tiniest thing I’ve ever seen, yet she appears to have a bottomless pit for a stomach. I’ve asked Little One’s medical team (nurse, Neonatologist, Pediatrician, dietitian, etc) and they’ve all said that she’s fine. She eats a well balanced meal and has a healthy appetite. She gets all her fruits, veggies, grains, dairy, meat, and drinks milk and water (and sometimes watered down juice) throughout the day.
The kid loves tofu, chickpeas, spinach, seaweed, lasagna, miso soup, and pretty much everything else. This said, I’ve been told by other Mommy friends that this may soon change. Apparently, toddlers sometimes stop eating as much and even occasionally drop a meal. Little One’s pediatrician even said that should this happen, I shouldn’t be too alarmed. Of course, always consult your child’s doctor if any change or concern arises.
A friend of mine said, “My son had a yogurt and a bowl of blueberries yesterday. Oh, and maybe a bowl of Cheerios!” I gasped when I heard that. I’m used to Little One eating a hearty breakfast, a large lunch, an equally filling supper, and snacks in between (the kid is constantly eating).
My friend’s son wasn’t the only one who had slowed down on his food consumption. Another friend told me that her daughter just started eating meat again. Granted, it was only chicken that she would eat, but it was a start. One chicken strip and two fries.
Articles like Feeding Your Toddler, Feeding Your 1 – 2 Year Old, and Healthy Foods for Growing Children: Feeding Your Toddler have been helpful for me. After hearing stories from other moms, and the great advice and tips from Little One’s medical team, I no longer worry whether or not she is getting enough nutrients. She eats a lot and she eats a balanced diet. I also found that offering my toddler a variety of foods with lots of colours have helped keep her interested in her food. I encourage Little One to “eat a rainbow” every meal. She just loves it! She loves the vibrant reds (strawberries, tomatoes, cherries), greens (broccoli, spinach, cucumber, green pepper), oranges (squash, oranges, cantaloupe, carrots) and so on. It’s so nice to see her enjoying her food and hear her say, “Mmmmm! Tasty!” as she munches on her VEGGIES!!! The ESL student who is staying with us said he cannot believe a toddler would eat eggplant and zucchini…and love it!
If you are looking for a great way to encourage your kids to “eat a rainbow”, Today I Ate a Rainbow fantastic. It is a tool for parents and caregivers to raise healthy kids. The fun chart lets kids keep track of what produce they have eaten.
If you’re just starting your little one on solids, making your own homemade baby food is a great way of ensuring that your child is eating healthy, natural, delicious, fresh food. Cooking and pureeing veggies is simple and fast. If you have some good food storage containers like Wean Green Glass Baby Food Containers, you can keep portion-sized batches of baby food on hand for when you’re ready to feed your wee one. If your child is no longer eating pureed baby food, the containers are perfect for putting snacks in and tossing them in your food bag to have on hand when you’re out and about with baby/toddler.
The one thing Little One’s pediatrician advised me on was not to give her too much milk. Little One drank four 8 oz sippy cups of milk a day AND had cheese and yogurt (plus all the other food groups). Her doctor also said that at her age, Little One should not exceed 16 to 24 ounces of milk, as that could lead to iron deficiency anemia.
From Christine: “I am not and do not claim to be a health or medical expert. The resources and information in this article have been passed on to me by my 22 month old daughter’s medical team”
Christine is a blogger and member of the BornFree Mom Panel.
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