What Should My Child Eat? Toddler Nutritional Needs in 2023
Good nutrition is essential for children to grow and develop optimally. Eating healthfully starting in early childhood is important for setting up good lifelong eating habits and reducing the risk of health problems such as obesity and chronic disease. It can seem overwhelming to decipher all the information out there on what children should and should not eat. As a parent, it’s important to provide toddlers with the best nutrition possible. Here are the basic nutritional needs for a healthy toddler diet in 2023:
Optimal Macronutrient Intake
- Carbohydrates: 50-60% of total calories should come from carbohydrates.
- Protein: 10-20% of total calories should come from proteins.
- Fats: 25-35% of total calories should come from fats.
- Vitamins and minerals: Vitamin D, iron, zinc, and calcium are especially important for toddlers. Vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin are also needed to support toddler’s growth and development.
- Essential fatty acids: DHA and EPA are important for healthy brain development.
Healthy Sources of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats
- Carbohydrates: Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes
- Protein: Lean cuts of red meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy products, eggs, nuts, and seeds
- Fats: Avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts
Recommended Foods and Drinks
- Fruits and Vegetables: Aim for 5-10 servings per day.
- Whole Grains: Whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.
- Dairy: Low-fat cow’s milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Protein: Eggs, fish, poultry, beans, and nut butters.
- Fats: Healthy fats should come from foods such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
- Drinks: Water, low-fat milk, and unsweetened beverages such as 100% fruit juice.
The dietary guidelines for toddlers in 2023 have been specially designed to ensure that a child’s nutritional needs are met during the period of rapid growth that occurs during the toddler years. While it’s important to feed a child the recommended foods, it’s even more important that parents teach children healthful lifelong eating habits. Through nutrition education, parents can teach their children to make food choices that will help them avoid health problems such as obesity and chronic disease in the future.