Feeding your toddler

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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IT can be quite tricky for parents to figure out how to best make the transition from a diet which consisted of mostly breast milk, formula, and baby mash, to including more items from the family pot for a toddler. Dietician and Nutritionist Jenelle Solomon acknowledges that this is a most important phase, and much care should be taken to ensure that your toddler is getting the nutrients he/she requires.

“Children will require different nutrients and in varying quantities depending on their stage of development. As toddlers, the foods that they will now eat will begin to look a lot more like ours — so more solids than fluids. The most important factor to consider when planning your child's meal is the nutritional composition,” Solomon said. “Parents must ensure that all meals have the nutrition children require for their development.”

Solomon pointed that for toddlers — a term which is used to describe a child between ages one and three — one crucial part of this stage is bone development, which means that milk should form a large part of their diet because it also encourages normal growth and brain development.

“Since by 12 months many parents would have already weaned their children from breast milk and formula, other whole milk sources should be explored to provide the calcium necessary for this phase of development. So whether this is going to be whole cow's and goat's milk and cheeses, you must ensure the child gets enough,” Solomon advised.

Another essential vitamin identified by Solomon as significant for this stage of development is iron, especially since iron deficiency is a major concern for toddlers particularly around the first 24-month period.

“A lack of iron in your child may result in anaemia which can affect the development of physical and mental faculties. Children, however, may be protected against these by feeding them iron-fortified foods such as cereal, bread, crackers, fruits and vegetables. Approximately two servings per day are suitable,” she said.

But while these two nutrients are essential, Solomon said all other nutrients are important for nutritional balance and holistic development. Below, using a guideline from The Mayo Clinic, Solomon outlines the recommended daily servings of each food group per age group for children.

Daily dietary recommendations for children ages two to three years:

CALORIES – 1,000-1,400 daily depending on growth and activity level.

PROTEIN – Two to four ounces.

FRUITS – One to 1.5 cups.

Vegetables – One to 1.5 cups.

Grains – Three to five ounces.

Dairy – Two cups.

Daily dietary recommendations for children four to eight years:

CALORIES – 1,200-1,800, depending on growth and activity level.

PROTEIN – Three to five ounces.

FRUITS – One to one and a half cups.

VEGETABLES – One and a half to two and a half cups.

GRAINS – Four to six ounces.

DAIRY – Two and a half cups.

Some recommended foods from each food group that Solomon hopes you will consider for your child's next meal plan are:

•Proteins — high-quality meat, fish, eggs, beans, and lentils.

•Carbohydrates — cereals that are low in sugar, pasta, rice and whole grain bread.

• Fats — whole milk products, strips of lean red meat, hot dog and bacon.

• Iron — eggs, liver, dried fruits, dark green vegetables, and oily fish such as sardines.

• Calcium — dairy products, such as cheese, milk and yoghurt.

• Folate — green beans, corn, peanuts, tomato juice and baked beans.

• Vitamin A — carrot juice, cooked sweet potato, vegetable soup and fortified oatmeal.

Vitamin C — orange, guava, mango, cantaloupe and juices made from fruits.

Solomon cautioned parents against giving their children foods such as sodas and foods with processed sugars. She also encouraged parents to observe their children's reaction to certain foods because food allergies are best identified at this age. With eczema, for example, parents, with the help of their paediatricians, could alter planned meals with foods their children are more tolerant of.

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