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Food & nutrition

By about one year, your baby will be showing interest in what the family eats. Let them join in with mealtimes as eating together gives you social family time and teaches good eating.

Food for your toddler

Toddlers need a variety of food to give them energy to help them grow. They need a mix of:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • bread and cereal
  • meat and fish, or
  • vegetarian foods
  • dairy products.

Offer them a small variety of foods and let them choose. Don’t worry about what’s left on the plate. Praise them for what they have eaten.

Fat

Toddlers need fat in their diet for energy and growth. Low-fat diets don’t provide enough fat. There are good fats in food like avocado and peanut butter or other kinds of nut butters.

Fat in foods like hot chips or chippies aren’t good, so it’s best to limit them for treats or once a week.

Fibre

High-fibre foods like heavy wholegrain brown breads and bran aren’t suitable for little children, and can be unhelpful to toddler’s stomachs.

These foods stop them from being able to get the goodness from other foods. They can also cause choking. It’s best to wait until your toddler is at least 2 before you think about adding high-fibre foods. 

Routine and frequency

A good eating routine helps toddlers to eat the right foods. Toddlers have small stomachs and use lots of energy. It’s best if they eat three meals a day with small snacks in between an hour or two before meals.

Try not to offer lots of snacks as toddlers need a break from food for about 1–2 hours before their meal to give them a chance to get hungry. Also, teeth need a break from food to stay healthy.

Some examples of healthy snacks are servings of:

  • fruit
  • crackers
  • small sandwiches
  • yoghurt and cheese.

Try to avoid sugary, fatty, salty foods or more milk. These can spoil a child’s appetite, and sweet snacks can damage teeth.

Helping toddlers feed themselves safely

Often toddlers love to feed themselves, either with a spoon or with their fingers. At first they’ll probably tip the food off before the spoon gets to their mouth. Toddlers soon learn how to get the food into their mouth.

There are several things you can do to keep them safe while they learn to feed themselves.

  • Teach them to wash their hands before they eat to help stop them getting sick.
  • When they’re ready to eat, choking can be a danger so it’s good to keep watching them.
  • Teach them to sit down while they’re eating and drinking, and stay with them.
  • Try not to give them small, hard foods like nuts and popcorn. 
An interesting link from Plunket
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