Nutritional Guidelines for Toddlers

Daily requirements for a one-to-three-year-old:

  1. Protein: Minimum of 16 grams. Try 16 ounces of milk plus one ounce of meat.
  2. Fat: Toddlers should get at least 30 percent of their calories from fat for energy and growth needs.
  3. Calories: 40 calories/day/inch of height (1000 to 1300 calories/day). Calorie distribution should look something like this:
    • 16 g protein = 64 calories
    • 44 g fat = 396 calories
    • 210 g carbohydrate = 840 calories
    Total = 1300 calories
  4. Sodium: 325 to 1000 mg.
  5. Vitamin C: 40 mg.
  6. Vitamin A: 400 ug (micrograms).
  7. Calcium: 800 mg. Even with two cups of milk a day, toddlers still need another 200 mg. Offer yogurt, cheese, tofu, and leafy greens.
  8. Iron: 10 mg.
  9. Zinc: 10 mg. A mild zinc deficiency in toddlers is common. Symptoms include poor appetite, sub-optimal growth and a reduced sense of taste and smell. The best sources of zinc are meat, eggs and seafood.
  10. Folate: 50 ug.

The last four are the ones most often deficient in toddlers.

Try to serve the following each day:

  • 2 to 3 cups of milk (or yogurt, cheese and pudding).
  • 4 servings of fruits and vegetables. (Serving size: one tablespoon per year of age.) One serving should be high in vitamin C and another in vitamin A.
  • 4 servings of bread and cereal. One should be an iron-fortified baby cereal. A serving is about 1/4 to 1/3 an adult portion (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. One serving equals 1/2 ounce.
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