Toddler Meal Plan: a Year-by-Year Guide

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    Meal Plan

    It goes without saying that your kid’s health and happiness depend greatly on his meal plan. A year old toddler is already familiar with many foods of vegetable and animal origin. Every day his diet becomes more versatile and balanced and by the time he is two years old, he might eat the food you eat. However, it’s important to remember that digestive functions of your toddler’s stomach, bowels, liver and pancreas won’t get mature enough until he turns three years old.

    That’s why you should pay special attention to the amount, quality and composition of meals.

    Meals for kids aged 1

    After your kid turns a year old his diet starts getting more varied thanks to the new foods, and the feeding schedule and character change as well. While milk and milk formulas were the main part of your child’s meal plan before he reached the age of one year, now they take a back seat. Recommended daily intake of dairy products (these include breast milk, formulas, and cow’s milk – of course if your little one doesn’t have an allery to it) for one year olds is 500 ml a day. Now you should help your toddler get used to the schedule of 4 to 5 feedings a day.

    Meals for the one year olds must have tender texture but contain small bits of food which will help your little one to learn how to chew. From the great variety of cooking methods choose the ones that will treat your toddler’s digestive system gently: boil, stew, bake or steam-cook your kid’s food.

    By the time he get one year old your child gets familiar with the main sorts of meat and lean fish but while the food you offered your kid before was pureed, now you can give him cutlets (steam-cooked, not fried or roasted), meatballs and baked meals. As it goes with any full meal, it would be nice to add some garnish to the above-mentioned. At this age your little one will be able to appreciate pasta, grain meals (buckwheat or rice) and of course all kinds of veggies: fresh ones (grated finely or, a bit later, coarsely), boiled, stewed, or steamed.

    For dessert you can offer your toddler a porridge with veggie, fruit and dried fruit pieces, a cheesecake or a semolina pudding.

    Meals for kids aged 1,5-2

    As he approaches the age of two years, your toddler gets acquainted with foods quite usual for the adults. Now pureed meals and light mousses become rare guests on your child’s table and you can cut meat, veggies and fruit into bigger bits. At the same time, don’t forget that your kid’s body is not yet capable of accepting everything that appears on your dinner table. A two year old will not benefit from:

    – fried meals — they irritate the mucous coat of your toddler’s stomach and contain too much fat;
    – any breaded meals — for the same reasons;
    – rich meat and fish broth — these have too many concentrated substances;
    – spiced meals with vinegar and much seasoning.

    To give your kid’s body everything it needs to grow and develop properly and to help your kid develop a taste for food, offer your child every day at least one kind of fruit or veggies of the following groups:

    Blue/purple: raisings, grapes, blackberries, plums.
    Red: tomatoes, cherries, red apples.
    Yellow/orange: pumpkin, mango, peaches, carrots, yellow apples, yams.
    White: potatoes, bananas, pears, cauliflower.
    Green: spinach, broccoli, green beans, green peas, kiwi.

    Meals for kids aged 3

    Three year olds usually have quite an active lifestyle, they learn something new every day, get some new skills. To keep it this way, you must make sure that your toddler has a varied, balanced, complex diet.

    Your kid’s digestive functions are not yet mature enough, and in case the number and the combination of ingredients are too much for one meal, it may cause the digestive system failure. Quite often chronic digestive system illnesses manifest themselves at this age. So it is very important to plan your child’s every meal for a week ahead.

    A kid of this age must get as many fruit and veggies as possible: they are the source of vitamins and minerals, fiber and vegetable oils.
    Dried fruit are very good for kids as well. They are not only rich with minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium but also have some healing properties.

    Meat and fish meals have to be a part of your toddler’s everyday diet. Give him a hard-boiled egg once every two days. Other foods that have to be there in your kid’s meal plan are dairy products: milk, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream and other fermented dairy products.

    Easily digested carbs are very important too: these are contained in all kinds of grain foods. So make bread and flour products, as well as all kinds of porridges frequent guests in your kid’s menu.

    It’s better to give preference to boiled and stewed foods, as well as to the foods baked in the oven.

    The most harmful are fats generated while heating vegetable oils. That’s why your toddler should never eat:

    – potato chips;
    – french fries;
    – fast food;
    – margarine and any foods cooked on it: cookies, baked foods and others.

    Three year olds switch to the schedule of 4 feedings, so you should better stop feeding your toddler before the night’s sleep.

    This all being said, it is very important to remember not to overfeed your child. The times when a chubby toddler meant a healthy toddler are long passed. Your child can’t and should not eat as much as an adult does. Think about your baby’s future: a habit of eating too much may cause lots of issues, both medical and psychological ones.

    What does or did your toddler’s meal plan look like? If you have any useful advice to share, you are most welcome!

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