New mothers are often flooded with information and suggestions regarding what they should feed their children. And as their babies grow up to become toddlers, the concern regarding adequate nutrition only increases. While most mothers know that it is important to include items from all food groups in their kids’ daily diet, awareness about the right quantities is often lacking. This is the reason why it is always wise to consult a doctor or nutritionist when it comes to planning balanced meals for your little one.
For starters, read this article to get a clearer idea about what types of foods to feed your child, what not to give, when to give, how much to give, and what nutrients you need to focus on.
Meal planner for your toddler
The toddler meal plans in this article will help you understand how to include variety in the diet. However, don’t get intimidated by the variety mentioned. You can always mix and match meals on different days of a week, and as you go along, make up your own meal plans. Just try to make sure that you are including all the food groups listed in the table below on a daily basis.
According to Indian nutrition experts, the following are the recommended portions of different food groups for your child:
|1-3 years||4-6 years|
|Cereals and millets||60 g||120 g|
|Pulses||30 g or 50 g of chicken/fish/egg||30 g or 50 g of chicken/fish/eggs|
|Milk and milk products||500 ml||500 ml|
|Roots and Tubers||50 g||100 g|
|Green leafy vegetables||50 g||50 g|
|Other vegetables||50 g||100 g|
|Fruits||100 g||100 g|
|Sugar||15 g||20 g|
|Fats and oils||25 g (5 tsp.)||25 g (5 tsp.)|
The amounts given in the table above are recommended amounts. Your child may not eat that much on all days, but the quantities will even out in the long run. It is normal for children to not feel hungry on one day and ravenous another day, especially after a particularly intense playing session. They typically need two main meals a day and 2-3 nutritious snacks.
Vegetarian meal planner for your toddler
|Breakfast||Idli with peanut chutney Milk||Vegetable besan chilla Milk||Paneer roll, Milk||Finger Millet and dry fruit milk porridge||Dosa with coriander chutney Milk||Cheese vegetable sandwich Milk||Potato paratha, Milk|
|Lunch||Palak Dal Lemon Rice Curd||Millet roti, Brinjal curry Carrot and curd raita||Rice, Rasam and beans poriyal Curd||Methi Khichdi kadhi||Rajma chawal Curd||Shredded carrot and moong dal salad Coriander rice Curd||Vegetable biryani Methi raita Raw banana chops|
|Snack||Apple and pomegranate salad Milk||Mango slices Milk||Banana Milk||Dates milkshake||Watermelon slices Milk||Banana and fig milkshake||A mixed fruit salad Milk|
|Additional snack if required||Sprouts bhel||Dhokla||Sesame seed ladoo||Kothmbir vadi||Boiled corn with lemon||Roasted peanuts||Dates and almond ladoo|
|Dinner||Chapathi Bhindi and potato sabji||Jeera Rice Paneer Mutter Sabji||Rice, Dal Makani and onion raita||Vegetable kathi roll with whole wheat rotis||Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce Chickpea salad||Lauki and chana curry Millet roti||Pumpkin soup with sunflower seeds and garlic whole wheat bread|
Non-vegetarian meal planner for your toddler
|Breakfast||Boiled Egg Toast Milk||Vegetable uthappam Milk||Daliya porridge with chopped dry fruits||Poha Milk||Moong dal dosa Milk||Oats Idli Milk||Vegetable upma Milk|
|Lunch||Rice Dal fry Beetroot sabji||Moong dal khichdi Sindhi kadhi||Goan fish curry Rice Cucumber slices||Millet roti Besan Simla Mirch Curd||Roti chole and vegetable raita||Chicken and vegetable stew Turmeric Rice||Makki ki roti Sarson ka saag curd|
|Snack||Apple Milk||Pear Milk||Banana Milk||Fig and honey milkshake||Watermelon slices Milk||Custard apple milkshake||Orange and Mosambi medley|
|Additional snack if required||Sweet corn bhel||Mini Idli||Dry fruit ladoo||Roasted fox nuts (makhana)||Vegetable sticks with hung curd dip||Roasted peanuts and carrot|
|Dinner||Methi thepla Yam and potato saag||Kadai chicken curry Chapathi||Mooli paratha Green peas curry||Gongura Dal, yellow rice Carrot sabji||Bengali fish curry Rice||Masala Dosa Cucumber and tomato slices||Vegetable and Chicken soup Whole wheat garlic bread|
Here are a few additional tips to help you make wholesome and nutritious meals for your child:
- Open up your child’s taste buds to seasonal fruits and vegetables that are available for just a few days in a year like jamun, water apple, ber, custard apple, purple yam, bathua leaves etc.
- Try and pair an iron-rich dish with a vitamin C rich dish, as in the plan given here. For example, you can serve palak dal and lemon rice for a meal. It will help in better absorption of iron.
- Within each food group, try and pick different variants. Each variant is unique and will have its own unique flavour and nutrient value. For instance, when you are shopping for mangoes, try not to choose just alphonso mangoes, but also banganapalli, mallika, badami etc.
- Try and make the food as colourful as possible. By doing so, you will end up selecting a wide array of vegetables with different nutrient profiles.
- A 1 to 3-year-old child needs about 1060 calories and about 17 g of protein, while a 4 to 6-year-old kid requires about 1350 calories of energy and 20 g of protein. Special focus must be on providing calcium, iron and folate-rich foods.
- Sugar and salty foods like chips should be restricted. Home-popped popcorns are healthy, but you should avoid the ones that come in their own bag and need to be put into the oven and popped.
- Give additional nutritious snacks if your child is hungry after coming back from school, especially if he or she participates in outdoor games regularly.
- However, try and avoid giving anything at least an hour before lunch or dinner.
- Mix up the cuisines. Even if you are trying new cuisines, ensure that it is healthy (go easy on the cheeses) and include the right amount of protein in them. For instance, it is very common to just have pasta coated with marinara sauce, which does not have any protein in it. So, pair it with a chickpea or a rajma vegetable salad.
- Ensure that your child drinks enough water. Juices and sweetened beverages should be consumed in moderation.
- Do not obsess on the amount of food your child eats. Always try and create a relaxed atmosphere while eating.
To conclude, variety and balance are the secrets of a well-planned meal, if you want your toddler to grow steadily and healthily. Keep the above planners and tips in mind and also ask your child’s doctor for further guidance.
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