The first thousand days of one's life are considered to be tremendously important. It includes the stages of a baby being still a fetus in the mother's womb, infancy, and toddlerhood. In the mother's womb, the nutrition is dependent entirely on the mother's diet. During infancy, i.e. 1-6 months, the baby receives nourishment from breast milk or formula milk. After 6 months, the journey of solid foods starts but still the main source of nutrition remains to be mother's milk (or formula) till the baby completes one year of age.
Importance of a healthy diet
After one year that the caregivers need to give proper food which is sufficient for the baby's growth mentally, physically, and emotionally. Toddlerhood is a crucial time in one's life; it lays a foundation for not only robust physical health but also emotional intelligence. They are growing fast, absorbing everything around them, learning new things every hour, every day. Energy is of course required for all this and to provide that a balanced diet is of utmost importance.
New mothers are often confused regarding this. They know that a balanced meal is to be provided but what and how to offer it all day every day is a mammoth task besides running after a toddler 24x7. In that case, it is best to take help from pediatricians, child nutritionists, and information-packed blogs approved by medical professionals. Food Chart for 1-3 Years Children
LTo help mothers with a food chart for their toddlers of 1-3 years, we got in touch with our child nutritionists on what all can and should be offered to children to make sure they are getting adequate nutrition required for growth at this age.
The first thing that pediatricians and nutritionists vouch upon is that caretakers shouldn't wage a war on how to feed their children. Filling their stomachs with nourishing food is important but shouldn't be taken as a great task at hand every day you wake up.
Basically, you need to feed your child from the family pot. Offer them what your family have with a few tweaks to make them richer in the nutrition they need. It is also advised to have meal times synced with family so that children feel motivated to eat while watching others.
What to offer?
Since solid foods now are your kid's main source of energy, you can offer up to 3 main meals along with 2 snacks in a day. The main meals are breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They can eat everything now but since the quantity is going to be limited, you need to pack the food they are having with nutrition. So, even if they are having a few spoons, they should get sufficient nutrition.
Below are a few options you can try on different days so that your child gets all the required nutrition including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, calcium, folate, iron, etc.
Breakfast: Even though it's the main meal, avoid making it too heavy. You can give them the following with a side of freshly cut fruits and dry fruits alternatively:
Brunch (First snack of the day between Breakfast and Lunch)
You don't want to make the brunch snack so heavy so that kid loses appetite for lunch but just sufficient to keep them going till the next meal. So, it is best to give something which is easy to munch on as well as is healthy. Some of the options are:
Lunch is the most elaborate meal you can give to your toddler without thinking much of foods that need to be avoided at night. Offer everything you have as a family. A typical lunch plate of a 1-3 year old toddler should look like this:
Evening snacks can be a bit heavier than the mid-morning snack. You can prepare the following:
Dinner goes the same as lunch (in terms of what it all contains). Curd can be avoided if the weather is on the colder side. A glass of milk is to be offered half an hour to an hour after dinner for before bedtime. In what quantity to offer?
There are dietary guidelines for toddlers which indicate that 2-3 years babies should have around 1/4th the portion size of an adult. It goes like this:
One important thing to note is that the average quantity as recommended by nutritionists is just a number to refer to. Your child understands how much their stomach can hold. They will resist food when they feel full and it's perfectly normal. You shouldn't be forcing your kid to eat a certain amount of food just to make sure you follow a proper food chart.
It's okay if your child skips a meal too. You can make the next meal nutritious and fun. Like adults, children also have moods when it comes to food. It's just difficult for them to convey it directly. If your child's weight is approved by their pediatrician, if they are active and don't fall ill frequently, it's all good.