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Let’s begin by saying, “Don’t stress!” Your child is going through many developmental changes during the first few years of their life.  It’s important to remember that kids don’t eat as much as we do nor do they need as much as we do.  So instead of worrying what they’re not eating, how much they’re not eating, or what they’re not doing, we want you to offer them foods that focus on the following nutrients and take comfort in the fact that you’re trying.

Here are the top nutrients to focus on through dietary consumption:

1. Protein

Here’s why: It’s important for your child’s growing body. Protein helps a child’s body build and rebuild cells and tissues (think all those injuries and falls!), break down food into energy, aid by fighting off infections.

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of protein include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Dairy

2. Carbohydrates

Here’s Why:  Carbohydrates are essential for one primary reason- they’re our main energy source.   And kids are bundles of energy! It’s important to encourage your children to eat whole grains and fruits as the primary carbohydrate source. Focus on whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, etc and fresh fruits such as bananas, pears, and apples.  Your children don’t need to be on a low-carb diet. 

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of carbohydrates include:

  • Breads
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits

3. Fats

Here’s Why: Healthy fats a good source of sustained energy and brain development.  Focus on good fats such as a avocado, 2-4% yogurt, and even cooking with a variety of oils.

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of fats include:

  • Whole-milk dairy products
  • Cooking oils
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Nuts

4. Iron

Here’s Why: Iron is one of the most important micronutrients for toddlers.  Iron is a nutrient that’s essential to your child’s growth and development.  It helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs.

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of iron include:

  • Red meats
  • Poultry
  • Whole grains
  • Spinach
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Iron-fortified cereals

5. Calcium

Here’s why: Calcium keeps our bones (and teeth!) strong and as your child is growing, they need strong bones.  Calcium is a mineral that is also important for blood clotting (for those scrapes and cuts) and for nerve, muscle, and heart function.

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of calcium include:

  • Milk
  • Cheeses
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Egg yolks
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Tofu

6. Folate

Here’s why: Folate is one of the B vitamins necessary for prevention of anemia.  It works alongside B12 and Iron to keep our bodies strong.  On a more scientific note, it also helps build DNA for the new cells our body makes daily. 

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of Folate include:

  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas (Stay tuned for our Roasted Chickpeas recipe coming soon!)
  • Spinach
  • Black or kidney beans

7. Fiber


Here’s why: Fiber is really important for our bodies to help regulate a healthy bowel movement.  Don’t worry about the frequency of flow but it does help with the digestive system as well as promoting satiety — kids will feel full for longer periods of time.  If you’ve got active bugs, load them up with fiber rich foods.

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of fiber include:

  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Seeds
  • Nuts

8. Vitamin A

Here’s why: Vitamin A is important for visual function (eyesight), bone growth, and also promotes the health and growth of cells and tissues in the body, particularly those in the hair, nails, and skin.

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of Vitamin A include:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Egg yolks

9. Vitamin C

Here’s why: Vitamin C is most popular during cold and flu season — that’s when it comes in handy! However, it’s almost important for wound healing and building strong bones and teeth.

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of Vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits (such as oranges)
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower (Did you check out our Roasted Cauliflower Soup recipe?)
  • Papayas
  • Mangos

10. Vitamin E

Here’s why: Vitamin E is an antioxidant and assists in immune support and function.  

Popular toddler foods that contain dietary sources of Vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Oils (Cook food with plant based oils such as Sunflower oil)
  • Avocado
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