Nutritional challenges for toddlers are common because their eating behaviors are inconsistent; they may eat more or less than requirements meal to meal and day to day. To help reduce parental stress, it's essential to discuss with parents/caregivers their expectations on how and what they think their toddler should be eating. It is important to remember that toddlers are not little adults; portion sizes are often distorted (too large), and portions should reflect the individual child's age and development. Parents/caregivers can help with new food acceptance by modeling good mealtime behaviors such as limiting high-energy, low-nutritional food and drinks, eating healthy foods along with their children together at the table with the television shut off, and eating appropriate portion sizes. Pediatricians should inform concerned parents/caregivers that toddlers commonly do not accept new foods; foods may need to be introduced repeatedly, up to 10 to 15 times before a child will eat them. To adhere to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) guidelines, parents and caregivers should focus on providing balanced meals that offer a variety of foods, with at least three to four food groups for meals and one to two food groups for snacks, always including familiar foods along with new foods. It is important to reassure families that adherence to NHLBI guidelines for toddlers may be difficult at first, but with the proper education, planning ahead for meal/ snack times, and education of all providers caring for the toddler (including nannies, daycares, and family members), it can be done successfully. Improving the nutrition and health of their young toddler will help prevent risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health