What should I feed my toddler? When children are toddlers – from 1-year to 3-years-old – their brains and bodies are growing fast. Food and drink provide the building blocks for brains and body growth but what food should they be having?
Go, Glow and Grow food groups
Food and drink can be split into food groups – groups of foods that provide similar key nutrients.
A simplified version of food groups is Go, Glow and Grow foods:
- Go foods provide the fuel for our little ones to run, jump, play and learn – they include foods rich in fats and carbohydrates such as , oils and spreads
- Glow foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that protect us from diseases – they include fruit and vegetables
- Grow foods provide the building blocks for growing muscles – they are foods rich in protein and include beans, pulses, fish, meat, eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurts.
Basic guidance for feeding toddlers
Toddlers have little stomachs, big fuel needs and often eat only small amounts at each meal. Because of this, to maximise your chances of them getting a variety of Go, Glow and Grow foods these are some gentle guidelines:
1. Offer something from the go, glow and grow groups at each meal and snack time
2. Offer a variety from each group – exposure to lots of different foods is great to help them learn about lots of foods
3. Offer a meal or snack every 2-3 hours in the day- E.g. breakfast at 7, snack 9.30, lunch 12, snack 3, dinner 5.00, snack 7.00
4. Offer drinks wisely – only with or between meals or snacks, not just before
Some other reliable sources with more detailed information about feeding your toddler include:
- How to feed your young child – by the NHS
- The British Dietetic Association food fact sheet on Healthy Eating for Children
- The Caroline Walker Trust has excellent detailed guides on feeding young children including pictures of suggested portion sizes and recipes
How to get your toddler to eat?
It’s not just about “what should I feed my toddler?”. Many parents ask “How can I get my toddler to eat?”. It is really common for toddlers to eat really different amounts at each meal or snack times – sometimes nothing often little, sometimes lots. At least a third of parents struggle with fussy eating in toddlers. Our workbooks and online course can help you manage that.