Meals For Small Children

By the age of 2 years, children are ready for homogenized whole cow's milk. Two healthy, low fat alternatives to whole milk are skim and 2%.

The child’s diet should also closely resemble the diet of other family members. The diet for a toddler should include 3 meals per day and 2 healthy snacks usually fruits or vegetables.

Milk and dairy products should be limited to about 16oz each day and 100% fruit juice to about 4-6 oz each day.

Introduce a variety of foods to encourage good eating habits. When children are switching to eating whole foods, you need to use good judgment.

The USDA guidelines should be used when selecting foods for a toddler. The US Department of Agriculture promotes a healthy eating guideline for children 2 years of age or older.

There are five major food groups that make up the food pyramid. A good nutritionally sound program involves a combination of these food groups.

The basic make up of the 5 food groups include:

1) grain group servings which include 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal and one ounce of ready to eat cereal.

*Six servings of this group are what your child should eat.

2) Vegetable group servings include 1/2 cup of chopped or raw vegetables, or 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables.

*It would be beneficial for your child's body and brain to eat 3 servings from this group.

3) Fruit group servings include 1 piece of fruit or melon wedge, 3/4 cup of 100% fruit juice, 1/2 cup of canned fruit, or 1/4 cup of dried fruit.

*Children ought to eat 2 servings from this group.

4) Milk group servings include 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 2 ounces of cheese.

* Your child should eat 2 servings from this group.

Some children are lactose intolerant. If consuming lactose products upsets your child's stomach, it may be a good idea for them to eat yogurt or hard cheeses, such as cheddar.

These particular foods are digested with greater ease. An alternative might be to drink milk with meals or with snacks. Lactose intolerant people can find lactose reduced products in many grocery stores.

If your child’s condition does not improve, you should talk to his or her doctor or certified diet specialist.

5) A serving in the meat group is two to three ounces of cooked poulty, fish or lean meat or 1/2 cup of cooked beans. You can substitute 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1 egg for 1 ounce of meat.

* Two servings from this group should be eaten by your child. As children become toddlers their apprtite reduces. As their growth rate slows down, they may become more particular about what they eat. As long as they maintain a healthy weight and have a normal activity level, you have little to worry about.

Your children’s daily nutrition is important to their overall health. Several medical conditions such as obesity, weak bones or diabetes, can be prevented by following a proper nutrition plan. Following the USDA guidelines will insure that your toddler will grow to their full potential.

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About The Author, Christine Steendahl
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