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NAN: Feeding Toddlers

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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers require about 1,000 calories per day to meet their needs for growth, energy and good nutrition. This calorie need can be met by offering three meals and two snacks to a toddler each day.

Like adults, toddlers should get their nutrients from the four basic food groups. These include: 

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs

Dairy products

Fruits and vegetables

Cereal grains, potatoes, rice, breads, pasta.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers should get about half of their calories from fat. By four or five, this should decrease and toddlers should get about 1/3 of their calories from fat. Since fat is important for healthy brain and neurological development, generally speaking, fat should not be restricted from a toddler’s diet. In fact, according to KidsHealth it is recommended that children ages one and two drink whole milk, though it does cite that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that children at risk for becoming overweight may be switched to lower fat milk before turning two. 

During the toddler years, parents and nannies should ensure that the child gets enough calcium and fiber. Good sources of calcium include milk and iron-fortified foods such as waffles or oatmeal. Good sources of fiber includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. 

It is important to remember that is not uncommon for a toddler to only want to eat one food for several days or to love a food one day and hate it the next. It’s also important to remember that several factors, including a toddler’s activity level, can affect his daily nutritional needs, so for this reason, if a toddler eats tons of food one day and nearly nothing the next, there is no need for alarm. By offering a wide variety of nutritious foods of different tastes and textures, even if a toddler is eating only what he wants when he wants, over the course of a few days his nutritional intake will likely balance out.  

While toddlers are eating most of the same foods adults do, The American Academy of Pediatrics does provide a list of foods that are unsafe for toddlers. Examples of unsafe foods include: 

Hot dogs (unless cut in quarters lengthwise before being sliced)

Hard candies, including jelly beans


Chunks of peanut butter (Peanut butter may be spread thinly on bread or a cracker—but never give chunks of peanut butter to a toddler.)


Raw carrots, celery, green beans

Seeds (such as processed pumpkin or sunflower seeds)

Whole grapes, cherry tomatoes (Cut them in quarters.)

Large chunks of any food such as meat, potatoes, or raw vegetables and fruits.

While mealtime can be stressful for nannies, nannies should not make mealtime a battleground and should not force a child to eat. Instead, nannies should strive to offer a variety of nutritious foods over the course of a day, everyday, so that a toddler’s nutritional needs can be met.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Feeding Toddlers