nutrition guide for toddlers

Nutrition Through Variety

bniGrowth slows somewhat during the toddler years, but nutrition remains a top priority. It’s also a time for parents to shift gears, leaving bottles behind and moving into a new era where kids will eat and drink more independently.

The toddler years are a time of transition, especially between 12-24 months, when they’re learning to eat table food and accepting new tastes and textures. Breast milk and formula provided adequate nutrition for your child as an infant, but now it’s time for toddlers to start getting what they need through a variety of foods.

How Much Food Do They Need?

Depending on their age, size, and activity level, toddlers need about 1,000-1,400 calories a day. Refer to the chart below to get an idea of how much your child should be eating and what kinds of foods would satisfy the requirements.

Use the chart as a guide, but trust your own judgment and a toddler’s cues to tell if he or she is satisfied and getting adequate nutrition. Nutrition is all about averages so don’t panic if you don’t hit every mark every day — just strive to provide a wide variety of nutrients in your child’s diet.

The amounts provided are based on the MyPlate food guide for the average 2- and 3-year-old. For kids between 12 and 24 months, the 2-year-old recommendations can serve as a guide, but during this year toddler diets are still in transition.

Talk with your doctor about specifics for your child. And younger toddlers may not be eating this much — at least at first. When a range of amounts is given, the higher amount applies to kids who are older, bigger, or more active and need more calories.