May 9, 2012. Samuel Valero
Although they are not growing at such an incredibly fast rate as infants do, one to five-year-old children are more prone than infants to nutritional deficiencies because they have used up stores of nutrients built up while in the womb. And being very young, they haven’t a chance to accumulate the reserves found in adults.
It’s also important to remember that little people have little stomachs that get full quickly. The food they are eating needs to be packed with as many nutrients as possible. Foods which supply ‘empty calories’, in other words calories but no vitamins and minerals, such as sweets, should be kept to a minimum or given only once a proper meal has been eaten. Very few toddlers will refuse breakfast if offered it. Their appetites are still controlled naturally and waking up signals the need to eat before starting the day ahead.
Toddlers need plenty of calcium and vitamin D to help them build their growing bones, and vitamin A to improve their resistance to disease. Starting the day with a fortified cereal containing vitamins D and A, and whole or semi-skimmed milk (only use semi-skimmed after the age of two, and only if your child is growing properly) for calcium and protein, is ideal. A well-cooked boiled or poached egg served with bread and butter is an alternative start. The egg and butter contain vitamins A and D and the bread some calcium. Smooth peanut butter on toast is another option, served with a glass of fruit juice.
Don’t forget. This is not the age to be applying strict low-fat rules. Children need fat in their diet not only to provide fat-soluble vitamin A, D and E but also to give them the essential fats that help their nervous system and all their new cells develop properly. Last but not least, it helps to ensure they get enough energy.
Like infants, toddlers also need plenty of iron so that as they grow their blood stays healthy and strong. Fortified breakfast cereals are an excellent way of supplying iron at the first meal of the day.
Published May 9, 2012. Samuel Valero