Healthy Food Groups For Toddlers

Dr Rima Khinkarli: General Pediatrician, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Rafic Hariri University Hospital, Beirut Lebanon 

Good nutrition during preschool/school years is imperative for kids’ growth, development, learning and to provide energy to stay active. These children practice self-feeding skills, with frequent spills, and often resort to using their fingers. They are able to try a wide variety of foods sometimes, refuse certain types of food and appear to be disinterested in eating. Most children eat 4 to 6 times a day. Snacks contribute to the total day’s nutrient intake, and should be given at least 90-120 minutes before meals. Planning regular meals and snacks gives kids enough time to eat.

We should be careful with foods that may cause choking. Eating while walking or running should be discouraged. However, regular physical activity throughout childhood is important for maintaining a healthy body, enhanced psychological well-being, and the prevention of obesity. Always watch your child while he or she is eating. Let them concentrate on chewing and swallowing their meals in a calm atmosphere.

Provide them non-breakable dishes with sides to push food against. Use child-size cups, forks and spoons to get the kids to eat easily. You could even elevate their interest by involving them in the making of the meal and in setting the table. Use the child’s developmental stage to determine expectations for neatness and manners, but set limits on inappropriate behaviors.

Initially, offer 1 tablespoon of each food to preschool children every year. Present at least one meal you know your child will eat, but do not cater to their likes and dislikes. Always offer different choices, new textures, colors, and tastes make food appealing.

The child’s food habits should follow the breakdown with: grains (at least 6 servings), vegetables and fruits (at least 5 servings), milk (at least 3 servings), meat (at least 2 servings) and fats (3-4 servings). 100% Fruit juice intake should be limited to 125 – 200 ml per day for children between 3-6 years old.

Serve dessert (if any) with the meal (it becomes less important).

Let children determine when they are full.

Children who participate in active sports may need to adjust their intakes.

Children with some medical conditions may require additional adjustments to food patterns and/or medication.

Common feeding concerns in young children are the following: Meat refusal, drinking very little milk, drinking too much milk, refusal to eat fruits and vegetables, eating too many sweets, picky eating. Thus, parents should monitor them in order to avoid such an issue.

Aptamil is not the author of this article, as it has been written by Dr Rima Khinkarli who is the owner of the content

1. Pediatric Nutrition in clinical care 5th edition, Samour and King’s, Susan Konek, Patricia Becker
2. 01/13/2017.Feeding Your Preschooler – Ages 4 to 5 Years–feeding-your-preschooler—ages-4-to-5-years
3. Diane Horowitz et al, Preschooler Nutrition,

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