The “From Our Readers” series features articles submitted by – you guessed it – readers of THE FATHER LIFE. Today’s entry comes from William Reid, a WIC nutritionist and chef from Tarboro, NC.
The greatest year of your life has just ended and infanthood has now progressed to toddlerhood. Your little bundle of joy will always be your baby and that will never change. Developmentally they are no longer a baby and toddlers do need to be fed differently than babies. The time has come to replace formula with whole milk. If you are still breast feeding you may continue to do so but your child stills needs to drink whole milk. The additional calories in whole milk are beneficial to children from one to two years old, unless instructed to drink low fat milk by nutritionist or physician due to childhood obesity.
Milk should not be the primary source of calories for your one year old. Meats, fruits, vegetables, breads and grains and dairy should round out your toddler’s diet. A multivitamin is not usually needed if you are providing a variety of foods to ensure adequate vitamins and minerals. Consult your physician or nutritionist before starting a vitamin regiment.
Toddlers do not grow as rapidly as babies, which is perfectly normal. Toddler’s nutritional requirements relative to their size decrease during the second year of life. Continuing to feed them foods as nutrient dense as a babies diet will likely lead to childhood obesity. Your child should continue to gain weight but they should no longer double their weight as infants do.
Your toddler is becoming more active as they learn to crawl, walk, and eventually run. They will need adequate calories for this development. Your toddler will usually eat only small amounts at one time. If this is true for your child you will need to feed them frequently (4 – 6 times) throughout the day, so healthy snacking is strongly encouraged.
Water should become your toddler’s primary source of hydration. Local water supplies often contain minerals such as sulfur that causes a foul flavor that toddlers can detect that we cannot so filtering your water might be a good option. Two to three cups of milk a day is recommended for your toddler by the National Association of Pediatrics, the governing body for your child’s pediatrician. An 8oz cup of milk has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat. Three cups of milk gives your child 450 calories a day. For those of you who give 6 and 7 cups of milk that equals 1050 calories and 56 grams of fat. That is over half the average calories an adult needs in a day.
Most children are drinking way too much juice. Orange juice, apple juice, cherry juice, and grape juice all has more calories, the same amount of sugar or more, and the same amount or greater total carbohydrates as a Coca-Cola. The National Association of Pediatrics, your child’s pediatricians governing body; recommends no more than 6 oz of juice a day. If you just can’t seem to get your children off of the juice sugar ride consider sugar free fruit punch or like items. These are essentially flavored water and while not ideal it is better than serving 6 cups of grape juice to your child with 1440 total calories.
Feeding sweets or sweetened beverages is not recommended to prevent decreased appetite, tooth decay, and childhood obesity. Salt, sugar, and strong spices are not recommended. Toddlers have around ten thousand taste buds whereas adults have about two thousand. The affect of the spices and enhancers on a toddlers tongue is more intense.
Caffeinated products are strongly discouraged. While Caffeine has not been confirmed as a cause of ADD or ADHD, caffeine’s affect on children is greater than it is in adults. Toddler smaller body and lack of tolerance to caffeine’s affects can cause them to be much more hyperactive than normal. The caffeine crash adults experience is also greater in children and can cause unneeded irritability and grumpiness.
Keep in mind that toddlers are just small humans. Like adults they can eat for the wrong reasons. Like adults children get hungry when they are bored and can over eat when not appropriately stimulated. Sometimes it is better to give your toddler or young child something to do instead of something to eat to promote good eating habits and prevent overeating. Unlike adults toddlers are not in control of what or when they eat. If they are allowed to do they have entirely too much control. Remember that they are watching everything that mommy and daddy are doing and if you have a bad habit they are learning that bad habit.