Getting Your Toddler to Eat Healthy Foods

Does your child eat a handful of this and a handful of that, but little of what he or she needs nutritionally? Read on for some tips from a nutritionist on how to get your toddler to eat healthily and happily.

Expanding the Toddler Food Universe

Mom helps toddler eat

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.

Portion Pointers

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.

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