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How to provide a healthy toddler diet

A healthy toddler diet now can set your little one up for a lifetime of healthy eating. Here are some nutrition building blocks for the best food for toddlers.

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  • Avoid too much sugar, salt or saturated fats
  • Offer a variety of foods, to train your toddler’s taste buds
  • Aim for 2-3 portions of milk and dairy (or suitable plant-based substitutes) a day.
  • Aim for 5-7 portions of fruit and veg a day. They can be fresh, frozen, raw, cooked, canned, juiced or even dried.
  • Aim for 2-3 portions of lean meat for toddlers a day, or fish or vegetarian protein alternatives.
  • Aim for 3-4 portions of starchy carbohydrates a day. Keep the portions small as carbs can be very filling.
  • Remember that toddler-sized servings are much smaller than adults’.  A serving of bread for a one to two-year-old is around half a slice, and a serving of meat is around 30g (1oz)—that’s about a third of your palm. 
  • Give your toddler more food if he shows you that he’s hungry. Just don’t overload his plate with too much at the start.
  • Choose unsaturated fats from vegetable sources (e.g. rapeseed or olive oil) instead of foods deep-fried in trans or saturated fats, such as chicken nuggets or fries.
  • Serve in appropriate sizes and texture—whole carrots and whole grapes are potential choking hazards. Grapes should be cut up in half lengthwise, and carrots should be cooked soft and cut into bite-sized pieces.  
  • Growing minds and bodies use up their reserves quickly. Keep your toddler topped up with 1-2 healthy snacks a day.
  • Aim for 6-8 drinks a day. Water and unflavored milk (or plant-based alternatives like soya or rice milk) are best. Avoid fizzy drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages. 
  • Some health authorities recommend giving babies and toddlers vitamin D supplements, as it can be difficult getting enough from sunlight and diet alone. Speak to your healthcare provider for advice. 
  • If you think you’ve got a picky eater, read our checklist on how to help. 
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