Toddlerhood (from 1 to 3 years)

Posted on July 30, 2009. Filed under: Baby and toddler food, Toddlerhood | Tags: , , , , |

As your little one gets ready to celebrate her 1st birthday, stepping into the fascinating world of toddlerhood, she will be about three times (triple) her birth weight.

The stage from her first birthday until she starts school,i.e. from 1 to 3 years is the stage of toddlerhood. These are the crucial years for laying the foundation of your baby’s health. Most babies outgrow the stage of eating mashed and bland foods and will now begin to eat more elaborate meals. They are now ready to eat everything that is being cooked for the other family members. Do remember that the food habits formed at this age will hold them good for a lifetime. So you need to ensure that she eats healthy and nutritious food. Encourage your toddler to eat whatever she likes and treat her palate to a variety of foods so that she cultivates a taste for new foods.

For you, this stage can be a magical experience, as you will see your baby gaining independence and ability very rapidly. Between the ages of 1 and 3 years, your bundle of energy will grow very rapidly, learning to crawl, talk etc. During this period, she will need to be fed more frequently. Unfortunately, right now, her small stomach is not in a situation to cope up with large meals. So, offer small and frequent meals to your child.

Also remember not to set hard and fast rules in terms of timings or number of meals, because what is really important is not the number of times your child eats but what she eats. You need to emphasize on the quality and not quantity of food she eats. Be flexible as rigidity regarding meal times may lead only to stubbornness.
They may get tired, cry or nibble on anything that’s within their reach.

Now you need to be more attentive than usual, as your little angel may not understand that she is hungry and will probably realize it only once food is in sight. If she is hungry, she can cry or throw a tantrum too, so you need to be alert and remind her to eat by offering her food at regular intervals. Most babies show a decrease in appetite during this year, as they are busy concentrating on learning other skills. If your baby is one amongst them, do not worry as babies usually eat whatever they like and demand food whenever they are hungry.

It is possible that sometimes she may refuse to eat for no apparent reason. In your loving efforts to ensure that your baby eats a good balanced diet, remember that the coin is in your child’s hand, too. If you insist on force feeding, meal times will soon become a tug of war between you and your child making them extremely unpleasant and your baby may develop an aversion to food. If your little one is not particularly interested in all the foods that you offer and chooses to eat one or two things, do not force her to eat the foods she does not wish to eat. She will surely make up for this lack of eating in her next meal. Mothers are agonized if their baby has had no milk for one day, but its okay to take a break from regular everyday foods, once in a while. Tempt her with cheese or paneer instead. Some toddlers are also fussy about what they like and what they want to eat. By now, they have strong preferences which might make you want to tear your hair out sometimes. This situation can be handled if you follow the basic principle of serving your baby the foods that she is already accustomed to and enjoys while continuing to add new foods to her diet. Fussing over her may convey that eating is a means of getting family attention.

Cook dishes that your child enjoys. Also it is wiser to mask foods she doesn’t like by mashing, or puréeing it. You can also mix those ingredients with baby’s favourite ones. For example, if your baby does not like carrots, try giving her Carrot Cake instead.

Toddlers also like variety in terms of textures, shapes and flavours as their taste buds are now almost developed.

Daily Food Guide

The best indicator that your toddler is getting adequate nourishment is her regular weight gain and growth, general appearance and contentment.
Thinking of which foods are healthier for your baby will be much easier for you by now, as you will be an expert on which foods your child is best able to cope with. All the foods groups viz. cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables and milk are equally important and are extremely healthy for your child. An adequate amount of these food groups will ensure a healthy growing child. Very few of us really know what is the adequate intake for our little toddlers. The daily food guide below will help you to know the right amount of food for your child.

FOOD GROUPS Number of Servings per day What makes 1 Serving Suggested Recipes

Whole wheat, unpolished rice, jowar, bajra, ragi (nachni), bulgur wheat(dalia), corn, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread etc.

5 to 6 servings 1 slice of whole wheat bread (25gm) *

or  2 phulkas (30 gm) *

or 1 chapati (25 gm) *

or 1 paratha (25 gm) *

or 1/2 cup all cooked cereals and pasta (60 to 80gm)

Whole Wheat Bread, Jowar Bajra Roti with Paneer,  Sprouts Khichdi , Spinach Pasta Puree



Moong, lobhia beans,  rajma, chick peas (kabuli chana),  etc.


Moong, rajma, matki etc.


Moong dal, toovar (arhar) dal, masoor dal, chana dal, urad dal etc.


Moong dal flour, chana dal flour (besan) etc.

1 to 2 servings 1/ 4 cup  raw whole pulses (35 to 40 gm)

or 1/2 cup cooked whole pulses (70 to 80 gm) *

or 1/2 cup sprouts (60 to 80 gm) *

or 1/2 cup of raw or cooked dals (70 to 80 gm) *

or 1/2 cup of flours (40 to 60 gm) *

Rajma Salad, Moong Sprouts Dosa, Daland Rice with Grated Cabbage,  Teething Biscuits


Carrot, beetroot, cucumber, brinjal,

french beans, cluster beans (gavarfali),  cauliflower florets etc.

Leafy Vegetables

Spinach (palak), fenugreek (methi), lettuce, radish leaves, coriander, cow pea (chawli) leaves,colocasia, cabbage  etc.

2 to 3 servings 1/2 cup raw vegetables (50 to 70 gm) *

or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables (50 to 70 gm) *

or 1 cup raw leafy vegetables (15 gm of vegetables like mint, coriander, fenugreek and 40 to 60 gm of other leafy vegetables ) *

or 1/2 cup cooked  leafy vegetables (15 gm of  vegetables like mint, coriander, fenugreek and 40 to 60 gm of other leafy vegetables ) *

Paneer and Vegetable, Paratha Beetroot and Carrot, Raita Coriander Curd, Rice Dal and Vegetable Soup

Pineapple, sweet lime, orange, guava, watermelon, mango, apple etc.

Dried fruits

Almonds, cashewnuts, walnuts, sesame seeds (til), peanuts, dates, figs, apricots etc.

2 servings 1/2 cup chopped fruits (50 to 60 gm) *

or 1 big piece of fruit e.g. melon wedge (100 to 130gm) *

or 1 cup fruit juice (200ml) *

or 1/4 cup dried fruits. (20 to 30gm) *

Yummy Apple Porridge,  Fruity Chana Salad,  Muskmelonand Watermelon Juice, Whole Date Cookies


Milk, curd, paneer, cheese etc.

2 servings 1 cup milk (200 ml) *

or 1 cup curds (200 ml) *

or 1/4 cup chopped paneer (35gm) *

or 1/4 cup grated cheese (35gm) *

Chickoo Milk Shake, Strawberry Yoghurt, Fig and Apricot Cream Cheese, Cheesy Corn and Vegetable Cutlets

Ghee, oil, butter, sugar and jaggery


Although there is no specific recommendation for this group, approximately 2 tablespoons of fat and 2 to 3 teaspoons of refined sugar can be consumed per day.

Jowar Sheera, Vegetable Parathas, Carrot Cake , Spiced Walnut Ring

* The weights of all the foods mentioned in the above table are approximate values

** Fats should be consumed in moderation as some foods like walnuts, sesame seeds and even cereals contain invisible fats which are also a part of our diet. Excessive fat can disturb the absorption of important nutrient like calcium in your little one’s body, apart from increasing the risk of obesity later in life.

Do remember that it is not necessary to provide all these nutrients to your child in a single meal. They can be part of a snack, a complementary dish like raita, or even a teething food.
Add at least one nutritious protein rich food in each main meal (i.e. lunch and dinner) e.g. Paneer and Vegetable Paratha.

Include a variety of fruits and vegetables as a major part of your child’s diet. These raw foods not only add colour to the foods but also aid in your child’s bowel movements due to their high fibre content. I know that most children are fussy about eating fruits and vegetables but they will enjoy them if they are presented attractively and cooked in a way they like. Introduce different cooking methods, like baking, roasting, sauteing etc. and new food combinations just as you had done during the first year of your baby’s life. If your toddler is fussy about fruits, serve a fruit shake or a tart filled with fruits. Try serving Fruity Phirnee, or Fruits with Custard, to your child. For vegetable fussy toddlers, disguise them in dishes like Dal and Rice with Grated Cabbage or Spring Vegetable Risotto

You can also try and combine cereals with vegetables or fruits with milk while cooking meals for your child. These combinations will help you to improve the palatability of foods which in turn will encourage your child to eat more too. Check out our healthy combinations like Fruity Chana Salad and Beetroot and Carrot Raita

You can also add some spices and condiments like salt, turmeric powder, a dash of chilli powder to enhance the taste, colour, flavour and appeal of the food.

Make Meal Times Fun & Healthy

The best indicator that your toddler is getting adequate nourishment is her regular weight gain and growth, general appearance and contentment.
Thinking of which foods are healthier for your baby will be much easier for you by now, as you will be an expert on which foods your child is best able to cope with. All the foods groups viz. cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables and milk are equally important and are extremely healthy for your child. An adequate amount of these food groups will ensure a healthy growing child. Very few of us really know what is the adequate intake for our little toddlers. The daily food guide below will help you to know the right amount of food for your child.

Children are good imitators. So set a good example for them by eating a variety of foods yourself. Always offer a variety of foods to ensure that your child is getting a balanced diet. Try not to show any dislike towards specific foods while feeding as your child may easily be influenced by you.
Try and serve small amounts of food at each meal and encourage your child to have a second serving if she wants to. Make meal times pleasant and allow your baby to eat what she wants to eat. Being rigid with her food will only make her stubborn. Be flexible but firm.
Encourage your child to have at least one meal with the family members. This also a good time to encourage your child to feed herself if she hasn’t started already. Do not expect anything other than a messy meal time in the beginning. Very soon, she will master the art of eating on her own with good table manners, making you a proud mum.
Make sure that your child sits upright and is not lying, running or playing while eating. You could also engage her in some sit-down games to retain this posture. Television is one way but should only be used as the last resort.
Be innovative and occasionally serve your child’s meal in plates with different shapes. For example, a flat plate, a colourful oval shaped plate etc. if she is not attached to one particular plate.
Foods with different shapes and sizes also attract children to eat more. So it is wise to occasionally serve foods like rotis, biscuits etc in different shapes like round, oval, square etc.
Allow your child to drink milk, soups and juices occasionally with a straw if she wants. This will take more time but will definitely be a source of motivation for your child to drink more too. Ensure that you wash and clean these straws with sterilised water immediately, since even a little juice or soup left in the straw will harbour germs easily.
If your child shows dislike for a particular ingredient or a food, wait for a few weeks and then try the same one again. If she reacts in a similar way, do not force her to have that ingredient or food. Instead try and cook it in a different style.
Fried foods and aerated waters are a part of everyone’s diet in some form. The trick here is to let them enjoy everything in moderation because the more you forbid them, the more tempting those foods will seem to her. If you give your child wafers to snack on, ask her to include a fruit in that snack too. This will make both of you happy.
Avoid using too much salt, sugar and processed and refined products like maida, noodles etc. in your child’s daily diet, as much of their goodness has already been destroyed and may also contain additional colours, flavourings or preservatives which are unhealthy for your child. Also since the habits you create now will stay with her for a lifetime, it is sound to stay with whole grains (wheat, bajra, jowar etc.), fruits and vegetables
Kids are usually aware of how much and what they want to eat. Let the meal end when your little one has had enough. Do not force, bribe or threaten her to eat more or you might find yourself in a shower of baby food or a resentful little baby.
If your child goes to a day care center, you need to pay extra attention to your child’s diet. Do not give her perishable foods like curds, soups etc. Instead give her whole fruits and vegetables like apple, carrot etc. or dry snacks such as biscuits (Cheese Straws), toast, parathas, chikki, Carrot Cake, Vegetable Idlis etc.

Tips For Healthy Cooking

Apart from knowing what you can feed your little one, you should also know how to prepare meals in a way that preserves all the nutrients present in those foods. For example if you’re serving juice to your baby, its much better to make it just before your baby is going to have it, as stored juices lose out on important nutrients like vitamin C which is an unstable and volatile nutrient.

Factors like buying, storage, cooking and serving also influence the nutritional quality of foods. SO IT’S IMPORTANT TO:

Buy only the freshest fruits and vegetables available in the market. Seasonal fruits are the most nutritious as they ripen without the usage of additional chemicals and are more reasonably priced.

Refrigerating food for long period results in the loss of vital nutrients. So buy in small quantities and cook for the day!

Washing fruits and vegetables prior to cooking or serving is of utmost importance for the removal of pesticides and other germs present in them. Wash and chop fruits and vegetables just before serving or cooking as this will help to preserve the nutrients and the freshness of these foods.

Soaking vegetables in water for a longer period of time will make them lose many valuable, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B and vitamin C.

Vegetables should be cooked carefully so that they retain most of their nutrients during the cooking process. Therefore, it is better to saute or steam vegetables rather than to boil them. If you do boil the vegetables, use the minimum quantity of water and cook only until the vegetables become tender. Overcooking them will kill all the nutrients present in them. Preferably, cover your foods while cooking to preserve the volatile nutrients.

Do not throw away the water in which the food has been cooked as it contains water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin B and vitamin C that are released by the vegetables during cooking. Hence, it is advisable to add just enough of water to cover the vegetables while cooking. Any excess cooking water that is remaining can be used to make soups, dals or to knead your chapati dough, as this is a good way to preserve the water-soluble vitamins.

Steaming, sauteing or baking are the best ways to prepare food for your baby as opposed to frying. These methods of cooking help to preserve the nutrient content of foods to a great extent. Vegetable Roti and Spiced Walnut Ring are good examples for these healthy cooking methods.

The duration of cooking also affects the nutritive value of food served to your baby. The longer the food is cooked, the greater is the loss of heat sensitive nutrients like vitamins B and C. Hence, it is advisable to cook cereals, pulses and vegetables in the minimum possible time, using a pressure cooker, taking care to use the right quantity of water. In the case of pulses, it is wiser to soak them ahead of time, so that they cook faster and you do not need to add soda bi-carbonate to speed up the cooking process.

Always refrigerate the milk if it has to be stored for a longer period. Do remember to re-heat the frozen milk and then cool it to room temperature before feeding it to your baby. Check for the quality of the milk by tasting it. Discard the milk if you find it sour.


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