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Elizabeth Pantley
Parenting Expert

Advice for Healthy Toddler Eating?

How much of each food group does my toddler need to stay healthy?

Toddlerhood is the perfect time to introduce the concept of a well-rounded diet! Make sure you offer your child fruits, veggies, protein and grains each day. (Most toddlers will eat dairy too, but it’s not essential.  Lactose-intolerant and  vegan children can be perfectly healthy, too.)

As far as amounts — think small! A small toddler only needs three-fourths to one cup of fruits and veggies, one-fourth cup of grains and three tablespoons of meat (or another protein source) per day, not per meal. That means that a dinner serving of vegetables is only about one-fourth cup — about four green beans! A one-fourth serving of rice is just four tablespoons. That will look like a very small amount to an adult eye, but it’s plenty for your child.

Remember that snacks count too. And don’t freak out if your child doesn’t eat the recommended amount of fruits, veggies, protein and grains each day. Many (okay, most) kids go on food jags. Some days, they only eat one kind of food. Or they may eat a lot one day, and virtually nothing the next. That’s okay. Consider your child’s food intake over the course of a week, instead of obsessing about each individual day.

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