Toddler Articles

Non-Negotiable Nutrition

 

Some nutri-mental practices are so important, you can't bargain them away in your child's diet. Here are those few items you should work hard to incorporate and sustain.

 

Variety

No single food or food group can do it all. Make sure your child is getting wide variety among the food groups. Variety within a food group is second most important after that. Over the course of a few days kids should be getting something from each of the food groups. For more information see the USDA For Kids web page.

 

Iron

Iron is the mineral most likely to be deficient in the diets of older babies and toddlers. Yet it is very important in brain and nervous system development. Best food sources for iron include beef, dark meat poultry, cereals, raisins, prunes, wheat germ, and blackstrap molasses. Most likely even with these foods, a child's daily vitamin and mineral supplement will be necessary to meet recommended intakes.

 

Calcium

Bones grow and form for the first two decades of life. Enough calcium is critical to that growth. Giving children more calcium when they are younger will build stronger bones, more resistant to debilitating bone fractures from osteoporosis when they get older. Many children don't get enough. Children up to the age of three need 500 mg/day, and from the ages of 4 to 8 need 800 mg/day.

 

Breakfast

Generally, breakfast eaters have a better overall diet and have less trouble concentrating and fewer behavior problems in school than those children who do not eat a well-balanced, complete breakfast. Breakfast eaters are more apt to get their daily requirements of iron, calcium, and fruit if they choose a well-balanced, healthy meal including a serving from each food group.

 

Fruits and Vegetables

More and more evidence is linking fruit and vegetable intake with a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cancer. It is important to establish healthy eating habits early in life to reduce the risk of these types of diseases. In fruit and vegetables, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protective substances called phyto-chemicals provide multiple benefits.