Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nutrition and Your Toddler

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP

Toddlers may seem picky, but the main reason they eat so little is because their stomachs are so small. In addition, they may be too busy exploring their surroundings to sit through an entire meal. To make sure your child satisfies her need to explore and gets the nutrients necessary for a healthy development, serve small, but frequent meals and nutritious snacks.

A good meal/snack routine calls for a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks in-between, and a bedtime snack. Always include three servings of dairy a day in your toddler’s diet. Calcium from milk, cheese, and yogurt helps your child build healthy, strong bones and teeth. However, serve no more than 16-24 ounces of milk daily, as too much milk may cause constipation and anemia.

If your child does not tolerate dairy, substitute it with calcium fortified 100% fruit juice, soymilk, or lactose-free milk. Always serve fruits and vegetables with meals--they are rich in vitamins and high in fiber, which are necessary for normal bowel movements.

Forcing a child to sit at the table until their plate is clean will never stimulate a healthy appetite. Instead, introduce new foods gradually and in a pleasant way to teach your child to be more accepting of new tastes and foods. 

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