Do you always wonder how much portion sizes you should be giving your toddlers? Do you struggle how to think of ways of getting them to have enough fruit and vegetable?
The amount your child eats can vary on a daily basis due to a variety of reasons including their appetite levels.
Fruit is a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Constipation can be caused by a lack of fibre and in some cases toddler diarrhoea can be as a result of excessive fruit intake. Think rainbow-aim for variety on a daily basis. You can add fruit into cereals or yogurts instead of honey/syrup/sugar, provide as part of a dessert option or offer as a snack during the day.
Vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. They help prevent constipation which can be caused by a lack of fibre. Think rainbow -aim for variety on a daily basis. You can add vegetables/salad into sandwiches/wraps/pitta pockets or offer as a snack during the day such as pepper/carrot/celery sticks with humus/cream cheese. You can add veg to family dishes including lasagne, spag bol & curries. Frozen/tinned veg is handy if you are running low on fresh veg!
Protein sources are really important to support your toddlers growth. This can consist of non dairy and dairy sources. Aim for both daily to help achieve different building blocks of proteins (amino acids). Non dairy sources: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. Oily fish such as salmon or mackerel are rich sources of omega 3 which is good for toddlers heart and brains. Eat 1-2 times a week. Aim for red meat 3-4 times a week as this is high source of iron. Eat less processed meat such as bacon, ham and sausages. Eggs are great for breakfast/lunch options and so versatile you can have them boiled, poached, scrambled or make an omlette, mini quiche or french toast! Whole nuts should be avoided due to choking risk. Instead nut butters are great to have on top of pancakes, toast or rice cakes or as a dip with veg!
If you are having meat free days or following a plant based diet or are vegan the main sources are pulses such as beans, pulses and lentils. They are lots of great recipes for dahls, curry and bologonise online. These can also help bulk out meals and are cheaper too. They are also lower in fat and higher in fibre to meat!
Dairy sources are really important as they provide good sources of protein, calcium, iodine and B-vitamins. Not all dairy alternatives have added vitamin and minerals and can be lower in calories and protein. Pick ones that are fortified with nutrients such as koko super or alpro soya growing up milk.
Avoid high sugar yogurts and sweetened milky puddings. Greek yogurt is great and you can added chopped fruit to this to change it up! Cheddar or cream cheese is great on top of toast or crumpets for example. Yogurts or unsweetened custard or rice can be offered as desserts. Remember a maximum of 300-400 mls of milk daily as too much milk can impact on them eating meals and their appetite.
Each meal should be based on these-aim for variety on a daily basis. Rotate between sources like rice/potatoes/pasta/noodles/cous cous for main meals. Pancakes/French toast/ crumpets/toast or breakfast cereal are good for breakfast.
For those with allergies you will have to avoid those sources and check food labels.
· Fruit and Vegetables aim for 2-3 servings daily for those aged 1 to 2 years and 4-5 servings for those aged 3 to 4 years.
· Protein sources aim for 2 servings for those aged 1 to 2 years and 3-4 for those aged 3 to 4 years.
· Dairy aim for 3 servings for those aged 1 to 4 years.
· Carbohydrates aim for 3-4 servings for those aged 1 to 2 years and 4-6 for those aged 3 to 4 years.
See my social media posts for more appropriate sized portions for a toddler when it comes to each of the food groups.
· 2 adult thumbs for cheese
· 1/3 adult palm size or 30-40g of protein sources like meat & fish
· ¼ cup of grains like lentils, pulses and beans
· ½ a cup for carbohydrates like pasta, noodles, potatoes and cereals
· ½ adult palm size or 40grams for fruit and vegetables