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Nutritional Needs of Toddlers

In the first few years, your child has specific nutritional needs for healthy growth. Protein, fats, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals are provided by a variety of foods. At this age your child is getting used to new textures, tastes and more regular meal times. They will be able to meet their nutritional needs if they are offered a variety of family foods at regular times.

Important nutrients

Almost all healthy toddlers get enough protein, fat and carbohydrate. The nutrients most likely to be low in toddler’s diets are calcium and iron.

Getting enough iron

Good sources of iron include:

  • Red meat such as beef, veal, lamb, pork.
  • Legumes such as kidney beans, chick peas, lentils.
  • Breakfast cereals that have iron added (check the labels).
  • Wholegrain breads and cereals.

Some toddlers don’t like eating meat as they find it hard to chew. Offer minced meat or well cooked soft meat, (e.g. casseroles), so they get used to chewing.

Eating foods rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and vegetables, increases the amount of iron that is absorbed from plant foods like bread, rice, pasta, noodles and legumes. So aim to offer your toddler a Vitamin C rich food or drink at every meal.

Getting enough calcium

Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese and milk-based desserts such as creamy rice and custard.


Some toddlers eat very few vegetables. Fortunately, most like some fruit. Fruit and vegetables contain similar vitamins and minerals. So if your toddler eats some fruit, don’t worry if they don’t eat vegetables. Just keep offering vegetables when you eat them. They may prefer them raw, pureed in soups, with their favorite dip, finely grated and added to minced meat.

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