Breastfeeding is best for babies. It provides all the nutritional health benefits as Mother Nature intended. In preparation for and during breastfeeding, it's important that mums eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, and reversing the decision not to breast feed is difficult. If you're thinking about bottle feeding your baby, always seek professional advice first - from your doctor, midwife or healthcare professional. When using infant formula, you should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use carefully: unnecessary or improper use may make your baby ill. The social and financial implications, such as convenience and cost to a household over time, should also be considered.
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The eating habits and food tastes your child develops in their toddler years usually last right into adulthood. Find out more about encouraging healthy nutrition for a healthy life.
The eating habits and food tastes your child develops in their toddler years usually last right into adulthood. So it’s a time when you can make a big difference to their future – by encouraging positive attitudes towards food and providing nutritious meals and healthy snacks.
Your toddler needs three times the energy an adult does for every kilo of body weight.1 In proportion to their size, they also need higher amounts of some nutrients, like iron, compared to adults. So to get this energy and nutrients, the food little kids eat has to be very high in energy and dense in nutrients.
Most children have a built-in ability to recognise when they’re hungry and when they’re full, and to eat an amount that’s about right for them. So understanding your child's cues can help to ensure they eat an amount that's about right for them.
For healthy eating and good nutrition, toddlers need a variety of foods from the five key food groups identified in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The amount they need varies depending on their age, activity levels, and growth and development, but the following provides a guide for toddlers aged 2-3 years old, including daily serves and examples of how to provide these to your toddler.2.
A standard serve is about 75g (100-350kJ), and could be:
A standard serve is about 150g (350kJ) and is about equal to:
Or – only occasionally – alternatives to fresh fruit:
One standard serve of 500kJ could be:
One standard serve (500-600kJ) is equivalent to:
A standard serve (500-600kJ) could be:
Your toddler needs snacks as well as meals to get the energy and nutrients they need. A good daily eating routine is 3 meals a day with 2 to 3 snacks a day in between.
It’s important the snacks are nutritious – here are some suggestions:
There are lots of foods that aren’t essential for the diet and are high in calories, fat, sugar or salt. If your toddler is given these foods below, keep them to a minimum.
Sugar-sweetened cordials, soft drinks and sports drinks are high in sugar but don’t have a lot of nutrients, and they can cause dental decay, so these are best avoided. It is also best to avoid crisps and other fatty and/or salty snacks.
Toddlers can choke on hard foods, so it’s important to sit with them while they eat, and to be careful with certain foods.
1. NHMRC (2005). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including Dietary Recommended Intakes, Commonwealth of Australia 2006.
2. Source: Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2013, Commonwealth of Australia. www.eatforhealth.gov.au
Have a question or want to know more? Our Careline team of midwives, dietitians and mums are here to help you out. Call us on 1800 258 268 - Monday to Friday, from 6:30am-5:00pm (AEST) or send us an email or Live Chat.