Pregnancy week by week



Getting started on eating right

One of the major concerns for parents is that their toddler eats well and develops healthy eating habits. Giving toddlers the kind of healthy food you eat is a step in that direction. A toddler’s diet should include foods from each of the following food groups:  


Starchy foods provide energy, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Whether it is bread or breakfast cereals, potatoes or yams, rice or couscous, pasta or chapattis, most children don’t need much encouragement to eat foods from this group. Serve them at all meals and as some snacks. Let your child try lots of different varieties of starchy foods. Give these foods at each meal. Most children enjoy eating breakfast cereals and porridge. Other starchy foods to encourage include bread, potatoes, chapatti, bananas, pasta, rice and couscous.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre and they liven up meals with a variety of colours, textures and flavours. It is  good to try to introduce lots of different types from an early age, whether fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Try to make sure fruit and vegetables are included in every meal. If possible, give a mix of green vegetables (like broccoli and cabbage) and yellow or orange vegetables (like carrots and squash) and fruits (like apricot, mangoes and peaches). Orange fruit and vegetables contain beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A. Also try to include some citrus fruits like oranges and some salad (such as peppers and tomatoes) for vitamin C, which may help the absorption of iron from other foods.  Give your toddler fruit and vegetables at every meal- aim for five a day. A portion is the amount he can hold in his hand.

Your child might be more likely to eat vegetables if they are given in different ways.  Top pizza with favourite vegetables; give carrot sticks, slices of pepper and peeled apple for snacks, mixed chopped or mashed vegetables with rice, mashed potatoes, meat sauces or dhal, mix fruit with yoghurt for a tasty dessert.

Offer 5 small portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Try raw and cooked vegetables, fresh, dried, tinned and cooked fruits and pure fruit juice.

If your child flatly refuses to eat vegetables, keep trying but offer them plenty of fruit too and try not to make a big fuss if they refuse. It can help if you show them that you like eating vegetables.

Meat, fish and other proteins

Young children need protein and iron to grow and develop. Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, pulses (like beans, lentils and peas) and foods made from pulses (like tofu, hummus and soya mince) are excellent sources of protein, some vitamins, minerals, and iron. Try to give your toddler two portions from this group each day.

Meat, fish, eggs, dhal, pulses, and nuts: offer 2 servings a day. All types of meat and fish are suitable. Many children enjoy minced meat, chicken, fish fingers, and fish in sauces (try to include an oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines-once or twice a week). Chick peas, kidney beans and lentils make good casseroles. Dhal, eggs and baked beans are good too!

Meat and fish also contain zinc, which is important for healing wounds. Zinc can be in short supply in toddler’s diets. You can give your toddler up to two portions of oily fish (such as mackerel, salmon and sardines) a week.

Your toddler needs 12-15g a day depending on their weight.

240 ml milk - 8g

1 small pot youghurt-4g

1 large egg-6g

1oz cheddar cheese-7g

1oz chicken-7g

3 oz tofu-7g

Milk and dairy products

Milk and dairy products are a good source of calories for your growing child. Have two or three servings a day. One toddler sized portion is 100-120 ml cow’s milk, 125ml of yoghurt, or 2-4 tbsp of grated cheese. Aim for 3 servings a day. These can be given as full fat milk, cheese, yogurts, custard and milk puddings

Some ideas to try

Milk : porridge, hot oat cereal or cornmeal made with whole milk, breakfast cereals with milk, vermicelli cooked in whole milk, rice pudding, custard or bread-and butter pudding, dairy ice cream made with milk.

Cheese: macaroni cheese, cheese on toast, cheese on vegetables and bakes, vegetable soup with grated cheese, paneer dishes, paneer paratha, chunks of cheese.

Yoghurt : add raw or cooked fruit to full-fat yoghurt, add yoghurt to curry

Calcium needed is 350mg a day

200ml full cream milk-250mg

150g pot yoghurt-225mg

1 oz cheese-220mg


Iron is essential for your child’s health. Lack of iron can lead to anaemia, which can hold back your child’s physical and mental development. Children who carry on drinking too much milk are most at risk of anaemia.

 Iron comes in two forms. One is found in meat and fish and is easily absorbed by the body. The other is found in plant foods and is not as easy for the body to absorb. Even a small amount of meat or fish is useful because it also helps the body to absorb iron from other food sources. If your child doesn’t eat meat or fish, you can make sure they are getting enough iron by giving them plenty of:

The food that are rich source of iron include pulses, such as beans and lentils, dried apricots; dark green vegetables like spinach; and meat and fish. Fortified breakfast cereals, dark green vegetables, breads, beans, lentils and dhal, and dried fruit, such as apricots, figs and prunes

It is also a good idea to give foods or drinks that are high in vitamin C at mealtimes, as vitamin C may help your child absorb iron from non-meat sources. Tea and coffee reduce iron absorption, so don’t serve these.



From one to three years, children should have no more than 2g of salt daily.Too much salt can give your child a taste for salty foods and contribute to high blood pressure in later life. Your whole family will benefit if you gradually reduce the amount of salt in your cooking. As well as keeping salt off the table, you can also limit the amount of salty foods like crisps or savoury snacks that your child has.

Babies up to one year should have no more than 1 gm of salt a day. For children aged one to three, the maximum amount is 2gm of salt a day, and for children aged four to six, the maximum is 3 gm of salt a day.


To help keep your child’s teeth healthy, as well as brushing teeth regularly and visiting the dentist, you should cut down your child’s added sugar intake. This is the sugar found in fizzy drinks, juice drinks, sweets, cakes and jam. It is best to stick to giving these kinds of foods and drinks to your child only at mealtimes. It is hard to ban all sweet foods from a child’s diet, because it is the one taste they love. But you can give a little sweetness in ways that also has some nutritional value. Fruits like mango, banana, pineapple or apricots make good healthy snacks.

Sugar and salty foods: foods containing sugar are useful for adding extra calories. Offer them as a pudding and try not to give them between meals. Look after your child’s teeth. Try and avoid giving too many salty snacks and salty processed foods.

It’s also important to discourage your child from sipping sugary drinks or sucking sweets too often. This is because the longer the sugar touches your child’s teeth, the more damage it can do.

Helpful tips 
  1. Try not to give your child sweet foods and drinks every day. You will help to prevent tooth decay if you only give them at meal times.
  2. Try not to use sweets as a reward.
  3.  Fruits and vegetables contain sugar, but in a form that doesn’t damage teeth. However, the sugar in dried fruit and fruit juice can cause decay if eaten too often. You should only give your child fruit juice at mealtimes.
  4.  Don’t add sugar to milk.
  5. Jaggery can cause the same damage to teeth as sugar. Limit foods containing this.

Young children, especially under twos, need the concentrated energy provided by fat. There are also some vitamins that are only found in fats. That is why foods such as whole milk, yoghurt, cheese and oily fish are so important. From the age of two, you can gradually introduce lower-fat dairy products and cut down on fat in other foods so that by the time your child is five they are eating a healthy low-fat diet like the one recommended for adults. There are some foods that will increase the levels of saturated fat in your child’s diet. This is bad fat and there can be lot of it in high-fat fats foods, such as cheap burgers. Crisps, chips, biscuits, cakes and fried foods are also high in fat. Although they tend to be popular with both children and adults, it is best to limit them at all ages to keep your family healthy. Because fat is such a concentrated source of energy, it is easy to eat too much of it and become overweight. Keep an eye on the amount of fat in the food your family eats, and try to keep it to a minimum.        
Fats and oils: growing children need some butter/ oils. Adding oils, butter, ghee, and cream is a good way to increase calorie intake

The following tips will help to reduce the amount of fat in your family meals:

  1. Grill or bake foods instead of frying
  2. Skim the fat off meat dishes like mince or curry during cooking   
  3. Buy leaner cuts of meat and lower-fat meat products, such as sausages and burgers with low-fat labels
  4. Take the skin off poultry before cooking-it’s the fattiest part
  5. Reduce the amount of meat you put in stews and casseroles, and make up the difference with lentils, spilt peas and beans
  6.  For children over two, use lower-fat dairy products like low-fat spreads and reduced-fat cheeses
  7. Use  as little cooking oil as possible and choose one that is high in omega 3 polysaturates such as rapeseed, soya or olive oil.
Omega-3 essential fats: essential for development of sight and hearing, and a lack of them may affect learning abilities. Foods rich in them are oily fish-salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Some omega 3 fatty acids are found in certain vegetable oils, such as linseed, flaxseed, walnut and rapeseed. Evidence suggests that these fatty acids may not offer the same protection against coronary heart disease as those found in fish.                    

                                              Vegetarian diets

If you are bringing up your child on a diet without meat (vegetarian) or without any food from an animal (vegan), they will need two or three portions of vegetable protein or nuts everyday to ensure they are getting enough protein and iron. Do not give whole nuts to children under five, as they could choke. Grind nuts finely or use smooth nut butter.

The advice on introducing your child to solids is the same for vegetarian babies as for non-vegetarians. However, as your child gets older, there is a risk that their diet may be low in iron and energy and too high in fibre. You can help to make sure that your child’s nutritional needs are met by giving them smaller and more frequent main meals, with one or two snacks in between. You will also need to make sure that they are getting enough calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Vitamin drops are especially important up to five years of age.

Care should be taken when feeding children on a vegan diet. Young children need a good variety of foods to provide the energy and vitamins they need for growth. A vegan diet can be bulky and high in fibre and this can mean that children get full up before they have taken in enough calories. Because of this, they may need extra supplements. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor for advice before starting your child on solids.

Child safety

Keep small objects that may cause choking away from your child. This includes foods such as whole grapes, whole raw carrots, peanuts, popcorn, chips or candy. Cut all foods into small size bites.

How much food do toddler's need?

Children’s appetite varies enormously, so common sense is your best guide when it comes to portion size. Be guided by what your child wants- don’t force them to eat if they don’t want to, but don’t refuse to give them more if they really are hungry. As long as your child eats a range of foods, and your doctor is happy with their progress, try not to worry too much about the amount they are eating.

Remember, toddlers have little tummies so they can’t handle too much food in one go. Hence, smaller meals offered at frequent intervals are a better idea. Also, if your toddler is drinking too much water or milk, that will take the edge over her appetite. You need to have the right balance of fluids, meals and snacks so you can be sure that he had enough calories, vitamins, minerals and is also well hydrated( important for avoiding constipation, which is very common in young children).

What can I pack in a lunchbox for my three-year-old when they go to nursery?

Try to choose two savoury options, some fruit, a sweet option (yoghurt, scone or currant bun) and a drink. Good sandwich fillings are canned tuna or salmon, hummus, hard or cream cheese, ham or peanut butter. You could add a few vegetable sticks (carrots, peppers or cucumber) to munch on and a container of bite-sized fruit- for example a washed seedless grapes. A box of raisins is fine if eaten at lunch time. If you include a fromage frais or yoghurt, don’t forget a spoon. And a piece of kitchen towel is always useful. If the lunch boxes are not refrigerated at nursery, use an insulated box.



We are Discussing...

Recent Posts