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How to Use the Guidelines
Each day, try to serve the following:
- 2 to 3 cups of milk. (Milk can take many forms, including yogurt, cheese, pudding.) Some children are not good milk drinkers and must rely on other foods for their protein. Conversely, other toddlers drink milk to the exclusion of other foods, resulting in deficiencies of iron or other nutrients.
- 4 servings of fruits and vegetables- (One tablespoon per year of age is the rule for serving size.) One serving should be high in vitamin C and another in vitamin A.
- 4 servings of bread and cereal- Toddlers are apt to eat more of these, which is okay as long as it's not to the exclusion of other food groups. One serving should be of an iron-fortified baby cereal. A serving size is about 1/4 to 1/3 an adult portion (for example, 1/4 slice toast, 1/4 cup pasta).
- 2 servings of meat, beans, eggs, tofu, or peanut butter- A good serving of protein should be served at every meal. A serving equals 1/2 ounce.
- A meal should provide protein, bread or cereal, fruit or vegetable or both, and milk.
As you can see, toddlers need remarkably little food. A typical meal may consist of 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/4 slice toast, a few bites of scrambled egg, and a tablespoon of applesauce. It's not surprising that the most common concern of a toddler's parents is that their toddler doesn't eat enough, especially vegetables. While what the eat may not look like much, keep in mind that toddlers are small and not growing too quickly.