What should I feed my toddler? (1-2 years)


Your little one will have a few teeth by now, and getting more by the day, able to eat all kinds of solid food.

 It does not matter if you are still breastfeeding, by now your child should be eating solid food with an emphasis on healthy food – plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein. You should avoid feeding unhealthy snacks, like sweets and try to develop good nutritional habits.

How often should I feed my young toddler?

Your child should fit into your family routine, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with the rest of the family. In terms of portions, think about one cup full of whatever you are feeding him. Let your toddler feed themselves, encourage them as much as possible even though the mess may be quite an eyesore!

Experiment with different kinds of fruits and vegetables and expose your little one to as many different kinds of tastes and textures. According to Unicef, if you are still breastfeeding, you should first feed them the solid food and breastfeed afterwards. The organisation recommends breastfeeding until the age of two, although many moms stop before that.

What’s wrong with a little junk food?

Your toddler is busy growing, their brain is developing in size and ability and for this, good nutrition is needed. If you feed your child poor quality food, you can not expect them to grow at their optimum rate or to the best of their ability.

In addition, if your child is snacking on crisps and sweets instead of banana and apple, they won’t be hungry come mealtimes and you will have an even harder time to get them to eat their healthy food.

Moreover, food that is full of sugar and unhealthy additives and colourants might taste good but lack proper nutrition and your child will suffer from increasingly poor health as a result. You may also begin to see dental problems and other issues related to bad nutrition, like rashes and colds due to a weakened immune system.

Are some foods better than others?

Yes! Paediatric nutritionists like Julia Castle say that the kind of food that your toddler eats can actually help increase brain power and boost cognitive development. She is in favour of foods that improve learning, understanding and memory. Food like eggs, avocados, blueberries, fish and olives.

Eggs are great for small children as they contain choline, which targets the brain area that forms memory. Eggs also have iron, folate, vitamin A and D, which are important nutrients. Children can eat an egg a day and you can prepare it in a number of ways – from scrambled to omelets and hard-boiled.

What if my child won’t eat?

Sometimes your child will eat all of its food and at other times will seem hardly hungry at all. Some children are picky eaters while others aren’t fussy at all. It is normal for your child to go through various eating stages.

There are ways to establish a healthy eating routine, though. Try to eat at the same times every day, with the rest of the family. Always ensure there is some fruit, vegetables, protein and grains on the plate. If they don’t want to eat, take the food away but don’t offer something else. Rather give them an hour or so and then offer a healthy snack.

You need to encourage your child to eat different things. You can’t feed them macaroni and cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner if that is all your child will eat! The experts agree that one skipped meal will not harm your child, rather, it will help them see that it is important to make an effort to eat what is in front of them. When introducing a new taste, rather make the portions small so the experience isn’t too daunting.

It is important to pay attention to your child’s diet and to ensure that they are getting enough protein, which is vital for building muscles and organ tissue forming. It also helps to develop strength and endurance. Eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt are excellent sources of protein. For vegans, good sources of protein are nuts, peas, tofu and vegetarians can include plenty of fish.

While many new mums worry about their children’s diet, the majority seem to feel that any kind of food is good, as long as their child is eating. However, more is not more. As with other aspects of parenting toddlers – sometimes you have to be firm. Building good eating habits starts here!