Young toddler having a meal, getting the daily nutrition she needs.

​Nutritional Requirements for Toddlers after the Second Year

Full of energy and curiosity about the world, your growing child needs to get enough energy and nutrients from his daily diet to fuel his active lifestyle. But be careful of what you put on the dining table, as you do not want to overfeed your child during meal times.

A good rule of thumb to remember when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight is energy balance. Simply put, it’s a balance between the energy (calories) you consume and the energy (calories) you burn through any form of physical activity.

Energy input
(from what you eat)

=

Energy output
(from the activities you do and the activity level)

Related: Nutrition Counts for Your Gowing Child

Know the Recommended Servings

Observe the recommended number of servings from each food group per day. Encourage your little one to be adventurous and enjoy a variety of food from each group at every meal. A balanced diet will provide the necessary energy and nutrients that your bouncy child needs.

Recommended Number of Servings Per Day

Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread

Fruit

Vegetables

Meat and Others

Meat

Dairy foods or calcium-rich foods

3 - 4

1

1

1

1

Examples of 1 Serving

Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread

Vegetables

  • 2 slices wholemeal bread (60g)
  • ½ bowl* brown rice (100g)
  • 2 bowls* brown rice porridge (500g)
  • ½ bowl* whole-grain noodles, spaghetti or beehoon (100g)
  • 4 plain wholemeal biscuits (40g)
  • 1 thosai (60g)
  • 2 wholemeal chapatis (60g)

  • ¾ mug** cooked leafy vegetables (100g)
  • ¾ mug cooked non-leafy vegetables (100g)
  • 150g raw leafy vegetables
  • 100g raw non-leafy vegetables
  • ¼ round plate+cooked vegetables

Fruit

Meat and Others

  • 1 small apple, orange, pear or mango (130g)
  • 1 wedge pineapple, papaya or watermelon (130g)
  • 10 grapes or longans (50g)
  • 1 medium banana
  • ¼ cup*** dried fruit (40g)

  • 1 palm-sized piece fish, lean meat or skinless poultry (90g)
  • 2 small blocks soft bean curd (170g)
  • ¾ cup cooked pulses (e.g. lentils, peas, beans) (120g)
  • 5 medium prawns (90g)
  • 3 eggs (150g)
  • 2 glasses of milk (500ml)

* rice bowl
** 250ml mug
*** 250ml cup
+ 10-inch plate

Sample Meal Plan and Serving Sizes (36 Months)

Meal

Food to Serve

Recommended no. of Servings

Breakfast

  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread
  • ½ tbsp of peanut butter
  • ½ glass of milk

  • 1 serving of wholegrain
  • ¼ serving of meat/others
  • ¼ serving of meat/others

Morning Snack

  • 1 banana

  • 1 serving of fruit

Lunch

  • ½ bowl of brown rice bee hoon mee soto
  • ½ palm-sized chicken breast, shredded
  • ½ cup cooked bok choy

  • 1 serving of wholegrains
  • ½ serving of meat/others
  • ~ ½ serving of vegetables

Mid-afternoon Snack

  • ½ bowl of red bean soup

  • ½ serving of meat/others

Dinner

  • ½ bowl of brown rice
  • ½ palm-sized salmon, grilled
  • ½ cup cooked chye sim

  • 1 serving of wholegrains
  • ½ serving of meat/others
  • ~ ½ serving of vegetables

Don’t worry if your little one cannot finish everything on his plate—the sample meal and serving sizes are simply recommendations. Do not force your child to finish everything on his plate, and let him eat at his own pace.

My Healthy Plate

And don’t forget your best mate for a healthy life, My Healthy Plate, which shows you what a healthy, well-balanced meal looks like. That’s ½ plate of vegetables and fruit, ¼ plate of wholegrains, and ¼ plate of meat/others.

My Healthy Plate: Practise healthy eating by choosing healthy food for your child. A healthy meal should consist of ½ plate of vegetables and fruit, ¼ plate of wholegrains, and ¼ plate of meat/others.

Related: Nutrition Counts for Your Growing Child

Toddler Nutritional Needs 101

Snack Hacks

Mums and dads, you’ve been vigilant and making sure that snacks for the little one are healthy treats so far, so keep up the good work! Here are some healthy snacks you could whip up for your hungry kid in a jiffy!

Instead of offering your child fruit juice, offer fruits such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries instead

Healthy trail mix
Mix one cup of whole-grain cereal with ¼ cup of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews) and ¼ cup of chopped dried fruit (apricots, prunes, raisins and cranberries) for a healthy snack that you can take anywhere. Perfect to bring along on that picnic outing!

Frozen treats
Freeze fruits such as seedless grapes, kiwifruit or strawberries for an icy-cool treat that is lower in sugar and higher in vitamins, compared to snacks like popsicles, which often contain empty calories with no nutrients. For extra fun, skewer a few fruit pieces on a satay stick or toothpick before freezing. This is the perfect way for the little one to cool down on a hot day, and get his daily dose of fruity goodness.

Wholesome wholegrains
Another yummy treat for your kid would be a simple pairing of 2 wholegrain crackers and cheese. Or mix it up by adding a small smear of peanut butter and a sprinkle of raisins onto the crackers for something savoury and sweet.

Homemade popcorn
Did you know popcorn is a type of wholegrain? Pop your own unflavoured popcorn at home and jazz it up with some herbs and spices or a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese for a fun snack your little one will definitely enjoy.

Related: Guilt-free Treats for Kids

Watch the Fat, Salt and Sugar

Avoid food that is high in fat (especially saturated fats and trans fats), salt, and sugar. Go for food that contains good fat—monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat—that are important sources of energy and help in vitamin absorption.

Sources of bad fats:

  • Trans fat: pastries, cakes, cookies, biscuits, commercially deep-fried food as well as products containing vegetable-shortening and hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils.
  • Saturated fat: animal fats (e.g. lard, fatty meat, skin of poultry); high-fat dairy products (e.g. full-cream milk, butter, ghee) and food prepared with palm-based vegetable oil.

Sources of good fats:

  • Polyunsaturated fat: fish e.g. salmon, sardine; nuts and seeds; canola, soybean, corn, and sunflower oil; products enriched or fortified with omega-3 (e.g. bread and eggs).
  • Monounsaturated fat: vegetable oils, e.g. olive, canola, and peanut oil); most nuts, e.g. almonds, cashew nuts and hazelnuts; avocados.

Your toddler still needs fat as part of his diet. Choose healthy fats like salmon, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils and avocados instead.

Tips:

  • Use sweetened and fat spreads such as jam, kaya and margarine sparingly. A little spreads a long way. Choose spreads with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS), which are lower in sugar and saturated fat.
  • When cooking meats, select lean cuts and remove the skin and/or fat from meat and poultry.
  • Use cooking oil with the HCS logo—these offer mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.

Related: Trim the Fat

Get Fresh and Spice It Up

Avoid overly processed food such as hot dogs, chicken nuggets, bacon, and luncheon meat. Choose fresh food rather than preserved food. Most fresh food contains glutamate, a natural taste enhancer which provides natural flavours without the need to add salt and sauces. Spice up meals by using herbs and spices such as parsley, coriander, onions, and garlic. They can enhance the flavour of your dishes without increasing their salt content.

Related: Add a Healthy Pop to Your Favourite Dishes

Catch up on Calcium

Don’t forget to feed your child calcium-rich food like milk, cheese and yoghurt. Other good sources include fortified food (e.g. soybean milk that’s labelled ’high in calcium‘), dark green leafy vegetables and fish with edible bones (e.g. sardines). Calcium is the key building block for strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Related: Calcium—for Greater Bone Strength

Water Is Best

Watch that juice intake and avoid giving your child sweetened drinks, and that includes fruit juice. Water is the best for our bodies, and also your child’s growing body. If your child finds that water is too plain, try adding a few lemon or cucumber slices to add flavour or variety.

Related: The Best Refreshment

A Bit of Creativity and Variety

Stars and rainbows can appear on your child’s plate with a bit of creativity and a handy fruit knife. For example, cut bread into hearts or stars, or use cookie cutters to create cute animals out of fruit. Moulds can also help create fun, interesting shapes to make the food more appealing to children and adolescents. The only worry here is that the food will be too pretty to eat!

Related: Cute Bentos for Kids

Nurture Healthy Eating Habits

A healthier child has the potential for a brighter future. Let’s continue to cultivate the healthy eating habits which mum and dad have been doing from Day One.

A young girl having some watermelon instead of fruit juice as part of her nutritional needs.

Do not use food as a reward or punishment.

Withholding a treat because your child was naughty or offering a piece of chocolate as a reward if he behaved himself will not help your child foster a healthy relationship with food. It might also teach him to associate sugary, fatty and high-calorie foods with happy emotions, or that these foods are more desirable than healthier options.

Give him time to eat.

There is no need to rush your child through a meal. Give him time to chew well and savour the flavours. Verbal praise and encouragement are usually enough to let your child know you appreciate his efforts at the dinner table. Do not force your child to finish what’s on his plate, or scold him for not eating something.

Be a good role model.

Your child definitely looks up to you, mum and dad! So always practice healthy eating habits in front of your children and continue to be good role models.

Teach your child about health and nutrition whenever you can.

Nutrition isn’t a topic that’s confined to the dining table. Have him help out in the kitchen when you’re preparing meals—he could help to wash the fruit and vegetables while you teach him about fibre and vitamins. Bring the little one along to the supermarket and show the little one how to make healthier food choices. Look out for HCS products on your next trip to the supermarket.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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