Since my complete baby food guide from birth to 12 months was such a hit, I am back to bring you a complete toddler food guide from 1 to 3 years!
Now that both my boys are in the toddler phase, I am trying to make sure they get the most balanced and healthy meals possible. Their little bodies are growing rapidly and this is the golden time to set the foundation for healthy eating. I want them to get in the habit of it now so it isn't a huge issue later.
1 to 2 years: Your toddler is now safe to drink whole (Vitamin D) milk. Drinking whole milk is essential because the fat it contains is good for their developing brain and systems. (If they don't love milk, try blending it into a smoothie.) It is recommended they get about 2 cups of dairy per day. Yogurts and pasteurized cheeses are good sources of dairy in food. Make sure they are getting 3 ounces of whole grains, 1 cup of fruit, 1 cup of vegetables, and 2 ounces of protein per day. Also, your toddler can now have honey! Hooray!
They should be eating whatever the family eats cut into bite-size pieces. Choking is still a very real danger, so be cautious of items you are feeding your toddler and use your judgment on what they can handle. Also be aware of potential food allergies.
2 to 3 years: It is now a good option to switch to low-fat milk. They no longer need the high fat in whole milk, but your toddler still needs to get 2 cups of dairy, 4-5 ounces of grains, 1.5 cups of fruit, 1.5 cups of vegetables, and 3-4 ounces of protein per day.
A good rule of thumb for serving sizes is to give your toddler one quarter of an adult-sized serving. They can pretty much eat everything at this point, including nuts and tougher items since your they should have their full set of baby teeth by age three. Again, choking is still a hazard since they are still exploring textures and tastes, so be aware of those foods.
The most important thing to remember is to make sure your two or three-year-old toddler is getting a healthy, well-balanced mix of foods and nutrients.
Key nutrients you want to make sure are included in their diet are Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, calcium, iron, protein, and fiber. I personally love giving our toddlers whole milk since it includes an ample serving of these, with the exception of fiber and iron. However, iron and fiber can be found in whole grain cereals, which are usually paired with milk and a great way to pack in all of these essential nutrients.
Now that we have all of the nutritional bases covered, the trick is getting your toddler to actually eat all of this deliciousness. That is perhaps the biggest battle with toddler nutrition. Toddlers are at a major road of self-discovery and learning independence, which is why they can be challenging and finnicky. The best tool I have personally learned to use when I run into such issues is to make eating fun! Cut their foods into interesting shapes, make cute animal faces from the ingredients on their plate, or have your older toddler help you prepare the food. I think sometimes we take these little humans and ourselves way too seriously when we all just need to lighten up a bit and find amusement in it all.
So there you have the complete toddler food guide from ages 1 to 3! It is much more simple and less mind-boggling than feeding an infant, but still incredibly important. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!
Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or certified health professional, and I compiled this list based on my own experiences on what has worked with my two toddlers, and with some information from a guide on Baby Center . Please be aware that every toddler develops at their own pace, and has their own specific needs and health conditions, which may vary from some of the information given.