Vitamins and Minerals

What is the best source for vitamins and minerals for healthy toddlers?
A well-balanced diet is the best source for vitamins and minerals for most toddlers. A healthy toddler whose diet matches the Food Guide Pyramid gets more than adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Even small servings of the various food groups are adequate if you pay special attention to offering good sources of iron and vitamins A and C.

Chronic illness and vitamin and mineral supplements.
Children who are unable to absorb nutrients from the food they eat due to gastrointestinal problems, children with food sensitivity, and children with chronic illnesses may be advised by their physician to take supplementary vitamins and minerals.

Bright Futures: Nutrition

Healthy Habits: Healthy Snacks for Older Toddlers

Offer older toddlers two or three snacks a day. Have a supply of healthy snacks available. Children should sit when eating.

Fresh fruits: diced apples, bananas, peaches
Vegetables: well-cooked and diced carrots, green beans, potatoes
Dairy products: sliced or diced cheese, fresh or frozen yogurt, milk
Breads and cereals: small pieces of pretzels or bagels
Meats and proteins: smooth peanut butter spread thin on bread, cracker or small strip of apple

Bright Futures: Nutrition

Health Alert: Choking Hazards Food List

The following foods should not be given to toddlers or children younger than age 5

  • Hard candies, jelly beans, chewing gum
  • Popcorn, raisins, marshmallows, seeds and nuts
  • The following foods may be given to children between the ages of 2 and 5 only if they are cut into small pieces or strips:
  • Hot dogs (slicing lengthwise before cutting crosswise reduces the risk of choking)
  • Grapes or cherries (peeling, removing seeds or pits, and cutting in half reduces the risk)
  • Raw carrots, apples, celery, green beans (dicing or cutting into small strips reduces the risk)
  • Peanut butter (spread thinly)
  • Large chunks of any food such as meat, potatoes, or raw vegetables and fruits (dice or cut into small strips)
  • Processed frozen potato products shaped like a hot dog (mash or cut length-wise)

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Guide to Your Child’s Nutrition

Questions & Answers

Q: How much milk should my toddler drink daily?

A: Two to three 6-8 ounce glasses a day is about right. Offer water when your child is thirsty. Don’t overdo milk and juice between meals. Juice should be limited to 4-6 ounces per day.

Healthy Habits: Fat in Your Toddler's Diet

Dietary fat provides calories for growth and energy for active play. It is also important for healthy skin, shiny hair, absorbing some vitamins, and healing wounds. Fat should supply 30 percent of your toddler’s daily calories.

In the first 2 years of life, children should drink whole milk (after being weaned from breast milk or formula).

After age 2, you should gradually decrease dietary fat. Do simple things like switching from whole milk to low-fat milk and decreasing the amount of fat you cook with.