What you need to know about toddler nutrition BACK TO BLOG

08/15/2017

Nini's Notes

Pay close attention to the section on milk.

Toddlers this age are moving from the eating habits they had as infants toward a diet more like your own.

Your job is to keep introducing new flavors and textures. Food preferences are set early in life, so help your child develop a taste for healthy foods now.

Toddlers have little tummies, so serve foods that are packed with the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong, and limit the sweets and empty calories.

Your toddler will continue to explore self-feeding, first with fingers and then with utensils at around 15 to 18 months of age. Give your child many opportunities to practice these skills, but lend a hand when frustrations arise. As skills develop, step back and let your little one take over.

Toddlers also like to assert their independence, and the table is one place where you should give yours some sense of control. Allow your toddler to respond to internal cues for hunger and fullness but set the boundaries.

Remember: You decide what variety of healthy foods to offer at a meal and your child decides which of those foods to eat, how much to eat, and whether to eat at all.

A Word About Milk

Milk is an important part of a toddler's diet because it provides calcium and vitamin D, which help build strong bones. Most kids under age 2 should drink whole milk for the dietary fats needed for normal growth and brain development. If a toddler is at risk for becoming overweight or there is a family history of obesity, high cholesterol, or heart problems, doctors recommend switching to reduced fat (2%) milk. Talk with your doctor before doing so.

When your child is 2, you can make the switch to low-fat or nonfat milk.

Between 12 and 18 months of age is a good time for transition to a cup. Instead of cutting out bottles all at once, you can gradually eliminate them from the feeding schedule, starting with mealtime. Offer whole milk in a cup after the child has begun the meal. If you are breastfeeding, only offer milk in a cup and avoid the bottle habit altogether.

Some kids don't like cows milk at first because it's different from the breast milk or formula they're used to. If that's the case, it's OK to mix whole milk with formula or breast milk and gradually adjust the mixture so that it eventually becomes 100% cow's milk.