Nutrition Guide for Toddlers
Nutrition Through Variety
Babies grow at a lightning pace — 3 inches or so every 3 months. A toddler, in contrast, grows at a much slower rate — only 3-5 inches in an entire year.
While growth slows somewhat, nutrition remains a top priority. It's also a time for parents to shift gears, leaving bottles behind and moving into a new era where kids will eat and drink more independently.
The toddler years are a time of transition, especially between 12-24 months, when they're learning to eat table food and accepting new tastes and textures. Breast milk and formula provided adequate nutrition for your child as an infant, but now it's time for toddlers to start getting what they need through a variety of foods.
How Much Food Do They Need?
Depending on their age, size, and activity level, toddlers need about 1,000-1,400 calories a day. Refer to the chart below to get an idea of how much your child should be eating and what kinds of foods would satisfy the requirements.
Use the chart as a guide, but trust your own judgment and a toddler's cues to tell if he or she is satisfied and getting adequate nutrition. Nutrition is all about averages so don't panic if you don't hit every mark every day — just strive to provide a wide variety of nutrients in your child's diet.
The amounts provided are based on the MyPlate food guide for the average 2- and 3-year-old. For kids between 12 and 24 months, the 2-year-old recommendations can serve as a guide, but during this year toddler diets are still in transition.
Talk with your doctor about specifics for your child. And younger toddlers may not be eating this much — at least at first. When a range of amounts is given, the higher amount applies to kids who are older, bigger, or more active and need more calories.
|Food Group||Daily Amount for 2-Year-Olds||Daily Amount for 3-Year-Olds||Help With Servings|
|Grains||3 ounces, half from whole-grain sources||4-5 ounces, half from whole-grain sources||One ounce equals: 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal.|
|Vegetables||1 cup||1½ cups||Use measuring cups to check amounts. Serve veggies that are soft, cut in small pieces, and well cooked to prevent choking.|
|Fruits||1 cup||1 cup||Use measuring cups to check amounts. An 8- to 9-inch banana equals 1 cup.|
|Milk||2 cups||2 cups||One cup equals: 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese.|
|Meat & Beans||2 ounces||3-4 ounces||One ounce equals: 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked dry beans, or 1 egg.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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