Common Concerns during the Toddler Period
Promoting Optimum Nutrition of a Toddler
A toddler’s appetite becomes smaller compared to that of infants, thus, growth slows abruptly after the first year of life. Feeding problems usually start during the toddler period because parents are unaware that their toddler’s appetite has decreased and so as the food consumption. To promote optimum nutrition to toddlers the following should be done:
- Instruct the parents to place only a small amount of food in the toddler’s plate and allow the child to eat it and ask for more rather than serve a large portion the child cannot finish.
- Educate the parents about the decline in the child’s food intake during the toddler period so they will not panic when it happens.
- To strengthen the independence of the toddler, encourage the parents to allow self-feeding. Most children of this age insist on feeding themselves and in general resists eating if a parent insists on feeding them.
- Another way of promoting independence is by offering finger foods and allowing the toddler to choose between two types of food. This exposes the children to variety of foods and at the same time promotes independence. Nutritious finger foods that toddlers can enjoy are pieces of chicken, slices of banana, pieces of cheese and crackers.
- Encourage the parents to prepare foods in bright colors as toddlers prefer brightly colored dishes.
- Diets high in sugar should be avoided during the toddler period.
- Milk should be whole milk until age 2 years. After which 2% milk can be introduced.
- Vegetarian diets are adequate for toddlers if parents are well informed about needed vitamins and minerals.
- Toddlers do not usually like foods that are “mixed up.” These foods include casseroles with the exception of spaghetti. Children of this age prefer foods that do not touch one another on their plate.