Diet for Toddlers – When and What?
- by Shruti Gokarn
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When there is a toddler in the house, there are so many aspects of their wellbeing that parents have to keep in mind. Near the top of the list, if not at the very top is their diet. The food that your child will consume now will lay the foundation for their health in the years to come. Good immunity, physical strength and endurance, are all gifts of a healthy and balanced diet. So today, let us focus on this all important part of our children’s lives – when we should feed our children and most importantly what.
When to feed your toddler?
The food that is consumed during the day should be divided into five meals, the major meals being breakfast, lunch and dinner and the minor meals being a mid-morning snack and an evening snack.
The timings of the meals are important. Toddlers need rhythm and routine in their lives. So, they should be given meals at the same time every day to ensure the cultivation of good habits.
What to feed your toddler?
What should your toddler’s meals comprise. The meals being consumed by your little one should contain all the major food groups which includes proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
The importance of proteins cannot be stressed enough. They are the building blocks of the body and since children are growing so fast at this age, their bodies need protein. This is the very reason why it’s a great idea to include proteins in the first meal of the day. Eggs and milk make for an ideal breakfast. In vegetarian or vegan families, milk can be replaced with almond milk. Instead of eggs, they can be given oats or ragi porridge. All Indian breakfasts such as idlis, dosas, poha and upma also make for good options.
Lunch should include a good quantity of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. All of this are available in a balanced Indian meal. It’s a good idea to give curds or buttermilk to your toddler at lunch time. Due to its probiotic nature, it aids in improving their gut health and in turn their digestion.
Dinner can be similar to lunch, but a little lighter. What is most important is that children eat whatever has been cooked at home and is being had by other family members.
Although snacks are minor meals they are important in their own way. Make sure that there’s not too much of a gap left between the major meals. Children can be given cheese, fruits or dry fruits and nuts at snack time. Fruits like pears, papaya and figs, whether dry or fresh are very good to ward off constipation. It is also important to remember that other the two snacks should not be too heavy, otherwise it ruins their appetite for the major meals of the day.
On the topic of diet and constipation, many parents tend to give too much milk to their young ones. While there is no doubt about the benefits of milk for children, too much of milk can lead to constipation. Ideally not more than 300 cc of milk should be given to a child per day.
After all we are what we eat. So, let’s keep all these in mind the next time we feed our beloved children.
Aptech International Preschool organises regular nutrition counselling for all our children. To enrol your child in the daycare and preschool programs, click here.