How many calories do toddlers need every day?
Toddlers need at least 1,000 calories a day to meet their nutritional needs for growth and energy. The best way to provide your toddler with these much needed calories is to give him three meals and two snacks a day.

What should a toddler eat?

Toddlers need food from the same basic food groups as adults do but the serving size should be two-thirds of the adult serving size. Your toddler should eat indicated servings from these recommended food groups every day:
  • Meat, fish, poultry, eggs (two to three servings)
  • Dairy products (three servings equivalent to two cups of milk each day)
  • Fruits and vegetables (three servings each)
  • Cereal grains, potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, noodles (six servings)
Limit your child’s intake of refined sugar. It can contribute to obesity, tooth decay, and hyperactivity. However, don’t restrict cholesterol and fat in children at this age as both are necessary for normal development.


What are some common eating problems with toddlers?

Toddlers have an unnerving tendency to suddenly become picky eaters even if they had a good appetite as infants. They’re so full of energy and curiosity, it’s often difficult to get them to settle down for a good meal. It’s also difficult to predict a toddler's eating habits from day to day. One day he may eat everything in sight and the next day he may not want to eat much at all. Sometimes for days on end, he might be fixated on one particular food, and then suddenly reject that food without warning!


How can I help my toddler develop good eating habits?

It’s never too early to begin teaching good eating habits.
  • Encourage your toddler to try new foods.
  • Model a balanced diet by consuming healthy foods and limiting sweets, salty snacks, and soft drinks yourself.
  • Keep regular mealtimes to prevent your toddler from relying on random snacks to curb hunger.
  • Sit and eat together as a family, focusing on each other instead of on the TV and other distractions.
  • Don’t allow your toddler to bring toys to the table.
  • Don’t serve heavily spiced foods. Most children don’t like very spicy food. Your toddler may reject a particular food entirely in the future if he’s had a bad taste experience because it was too heavily spiced the first time he tasted it.
  • Avoid serving dishes that are very heavily salted, buttered, or sugared so that your toddler doesn’t develop an unhealthy taste for such food.