The nutrition needs of a toddler is very different from that of an older kid. A child goes through rapid growth upto 6 years. These early years are the ones when there is maximum growth physically and mentally. Studies have shown that by six years of age the brain attains 90% of its adult size. They get milk teeth, they develop bones and muscles and their brain develops rapidly. In fact, almost 60% of height and 30% of weight gain happens upto 6 years of a child’s age. You can check out the developmental chart and delays in the article we shared earlier.
But as most mums of toddlers would confirm, this is also the age of fussy eating and being picky about their food. Since this is such a critical phase, kids need the right nutrition and balanced diet to support this growth. We get so many queries that children do not eat much, but it is not just enough to make them eat a lot of food. It is also essential that they eat a well-balanced diet which includes optimum amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats as well as vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients like DHA.
Issues parents face while ensuring balanced diet intake for toddlers
Too busy to eat
Toddlers are busy bodies and they are so occupied in exploring their new surroundings that they do not want to sit down and take a break to eat. A lot of times food goes everywhere except where it is supposed to go. It is a common to see mommies and daddies running behind kids with bowls of food.
Toddlers are notorious for being picky. They like one thing today and but will refuse it the next day. They might throw a huge tantrum just because you served food for a green coloured plate when they wanted the blue one.
Food habits and choices
Sometimes food choices like vegetarianism and veganism can make it a little difficult to get some nutrients easily specially if the child refuses to have other available sources. For example, choline which is essential for brain development is present in egg yolk.
Not possible to provide a lot of variety every day
Nuclear families mean often busy parents and rushed meals. It is not often possible to make a variety of food every single day with work as well as taking care of a demanding toddler.
What can a parent do to provide balanced nutrition?
One can try many home cooked food items that I have written about in my other blogs but also there is merit in giving some additional health food drinks.