Expanding the Toddler Food Universe
Are you convinced that your toddler will never allow a green vegetable to pass his lips? Have sugary treats become one of your child's basic food groups? Are white, carbohydrate-laden foods -- such as bread and crackers -- the only fare he will eat? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're not alone. In fact, recent studies indicate that potatoes, mainly in the form of French fries, are the most commonly eaten vegetable among toddlers, which is no surprise, given that 42 percent of kids between the ages of 15 months and 2 years eat fast food each day.
That's where I come in. I'm a nutritionist, and I challenged three parents with toddlers to keep a three-day food diary recording everything their child ate. After reviewing and analyzing their intake, not only did I tell the parents how to sneak nutrition into their kids' diets, but I gave suggestions for getting these picky eaters to try new foods. Use the advice to get your finicky toddler to broaden his horizons.
Introducing New Tastes
If you're trying to get your kid to eat a new vegetable, don't give him a hearty amount. Instead, just add one tablespoon of it to his meal. After he's developed a taste for it, then you can feed him more.
How much should your toddler* eat? This guide will help you visualize his small portion sizes.
Grains (3 servings per day)
1/2 cup cooked pasta: 1 adult handful
1 oz. cereal: 2 adult handfuls
1 pancake: compact disc
1 oz. roll: yo-yo
Vegetables (2 servings per day)
1/2 cup cooked vegetables: 1/2 baseball
1 cup salad: 2 adult handfuls
Dairy (2 servings per day)
1 cup yogurt: Play-Doh can
1.5 oz. natural cheese: 3 dice
Meat (2 servings per day)
1/4 cup tuna: golf ball
1 oz. chicken: matchbook
Fruit (2 servings per day)
1/2 cup cut-up fruit: 1 adult handful
1 medium fruit: baseball
*Servings should be smaller for toddlers under age 2.