Dietitian's Food Series: What Should My Two-Year-Old Be Eating?
Unlike 12-month-olds, by the time children are two-years-old some of the baby habits such as drinking from a bottle are on the way out. While the energy demands of a two-year-old are often likely to be less than a 12-month-old, they are much more likely to be fussy eaters. This means at times they will eat and at other times they simply will refuse food.
Start the day with a cup of milk before breakfast. Following the cup of milk, a serve of whole grain cereal, such as Bellamy’s Organic Baby Porridge, along with some fresh fruit is a good option. Another option is toast and nut spread or avocado, and if you have time, an egg. To help engage a fussy two-year-old, you can simply ask them if they would like cereal or toast. This can at times be an easy way to avoid an early morning food fight. If your toddler is a poor eater, a quick banana smoothie with yoghurt, milk and fruit can be an easy way to get a decent breakfast into them. Some of my favourite breakfast recipe options for two-year-olds include:
If your two-year-old does not look for food at this time, there is no need to offer it. However, if they are genuinely hungry, I recommend giving them fruit, plain yoghurt or even a slice of toast — each of which are nutritious options for this time of day.
For toddlers not at day care, offering a hot meal at this time of day can be a much easier way to get meat and vegetables into their diet, rather than at night time. Mashed vegetables or cut up salad along with some lean meat, crumbed chicken pieces or even mashed tuna, are all nutritious alternatives to a plain sandwich. And remember, this age group are much more likely to pick on a few small ingredients rather than sit down and eat an entire sandwich. Some of my favourite lunch recipe options for two-year-olds include:
- Cheesy Fish and Sweet Potato
To avoid filling up your toddler at this time, a couple of plain crackers or a piece of cheese should satisfy them until dinner time.
If your child has enjoyed a hot meal during the day, you can be less worried when they do not eat much at night. Ideally, a two-year-old will enjoy roughly a cup-sized serve of dinner, such as a cutlet, lean sausage or small piece of fish along with a couple of vegetables. If you find this challenging, try some cut up salad vegetables, along with a few pieces of red meat or chicken, or small bowl of spaghetti bolognaise or stir fry. Some of my favourite dinner recipe options for two-year-olds include:
Before BedIf you can avoid sending a two-year-old to bed with a bottle, it is a lot better for their ears and their teeth. I find a better option is to settle your toddler with a cup of warm milk, then brush their teeth and pop them in their bed with a book.