Just like adults, young children need food for energy, as well as for nutrients
such as protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. This is to make sure
their bodies work properly and can repair themselves. Here is some practical
advice to help you make some healthy food choices for your toddler.
What Should My Toddler Be Eating?
At this age, children are growing very quickly and are usually very active,
so they need plenty of calories and nutrients. A healthy and varied diet should
provide all the nutrients your toddler needs.
Remember to include these sorts of foods every day:
- Milk and dairy foods - these provide calories, protein, vitamins and minerals
- Meat, fish and alternatives such as eggs, beans, peas and lentils - these
are rich in nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals
- Bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals and potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes
- these starchy foods provide calories, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
- Fruit and vegetables - these contain vitamin C and other protective vitamins
and minerals, as well as fibre
Can My Toddler Eat the Same Food As Us?
Toddlers can eat the same food as adults but, before they're two years old,
children can't eat large amounts of food at one sitting.
So until then, it's especially important to give your child meals and snacks
packed with calories and nutrients (sometimes called 'nutrient-dense foods')
- Full fat milk and dairy foods
Don't forget to give your toddler fruit and vegetables and starchy foods as
If you tend to eat high-fibre foods, remember that young children's stomachs
can't cope with foods such as wholemeal pasta and brown rice. Also, too much
fibre can sometimes reduce the amount of minerals they can absorb, such as calcium
By the time they're five years old, young children should be eating family
food, which is more bulky because it contains lots of starchy foods and plenty
of fruit and vegetables. But make sure it doesn't contain too much saturated
fat, which is found in butter, hard-fat spreads, cheese, fatty meat and meat
products, biscuits, pastry and cakes.
Semi-Skimmed and Skimmed Milk
When your toddler is two years old, if he or she is eating well and getting
plenty of calories and nutrients from a varied diet, then you can start giving
your toddler semi-skimmed milk. Fully skimmed milk isn't suitable as a main
drink until a child is five years old because it doesn't contain enough calories
If you're giving your toddler a vegetarian diet it's important to make sure
it's balanced and includes foods rich in nutrients, such as milk, cheese and
eggs. This means their diet won't be too bulky and they'll get plenty of protein,
vitamin A, calcium and zinc.
Iron is found in many vegetables and pulses (such as beans, lentils and chickpeas),
in dried fruit (such as apricots, raisins and sultanas), and in some breakfast
But iron is more difficult to absorb from vegetable sources than from meat,
- Give your toddler foods containing iron each day
- Try to give food or drink high in vitamin C, such as fruit, vegetables or
fruit juice, at the same time as foods containing iron because this makes
it easier to absorb the iron
- Don't give young children tea or coffee, especially at mealtimes, because
this reduces the amount of iron they can absorb
What Foods Should Be Avoided?
Take care to avoid the following foods:
- Don't give raw eggs, or food that contains raw or partially cooked eggs,
to your toddler because of the risk of<