Infant nutritionist / Makes Ella's Good
Making sure little kids get all the right nutrients, in the right amounts to fuel their growth + development can feel quite scary. But it doesn’t need to be complicated!
By following these simple steps to building a balanced plate, you’ll soon be a pro at giving your toddler variety + nutritionally balanced meals with whatever ingredients you have to hand! To get the balance right, rather than using fancy calculators + spreadsheets, it's much easier to use a simple food group checklist.
Planning meals each week doesn't just save time + money when it comes to shopping (less waste + impulse buys), it also allows you to do a quick check you’re offering the right balance of food groups. Don’t worry too much if one day isn't perfect. That’s life! It's what your little one eats over days and weeks that matters.
Little kids (+ grown-ups, should try to have the following food groups each day:
When you plan a meal, try to include a starchy carb, 1 -2 veg or fruit, a dairy food (or alternative), + a protein food. We’ve put together some tasty examples:
When it comes to breakfast, it doesn’t always have to contain a protein or a dairy food, so don’t worry (although it can be a great time to include calcium-rich milk or yoghurt or dairy-free alternatives if you wish)! If you’re offering protein and dairy/alternatives at other points during the day your toddler will get the nutrients they need over the course of the day. It’s best to always offer a starchy food and a fruit or veggie portion though. Breakfast is also a great time to offer healthy fats such as nut butter.
Get little taste buds tingling with these ideas:
You can chop and change the snacks you offer to suit your day or what you have available. Add in fruit, veg + dairy foods where possible, in line with the above guidelines but don’t stress about being too strict. Try to include starchy carb at snack time too to keep little kids powered and ready to go go go!
Scrummy snack ideas include:
We know balancing toddler meals when you’re busy can be challenging. If you follow our top tips most of the time, you’ll know your toddler is getting all the good stuff + nutrients they need. It’s totally OK to have days when you’re out + about and you don’t manage to tick all the boxes – that's life! Find more tips on portion sizes for hungry toddlers.
There are lots of things you can do to help create a healthy relationship with food for your toddler
Read how parents, carers and siblings can role model healthy habits for little kids to copy.