You asked

How can I be sure that my child is getting the nutrients necessary for health and growth?

Very young children can be fussy eaters, and it can be hard to ensure that your child is getting a balanced and healthy diet.

The best advice that experts have is to make sure that you offer healthy, balanced meals and snacks at every opportunity, with all of the five food groups represented, and trust that over the course of a few days or weeks, your child will get the correct balance of nutrients.

Breakfast is as important to kids as it is to grownups, so make sure that your child is starting his or her day with a healthy breakfast, like cereal with milk or yoghurt and fruit, and a piece of fruit or glass of juice.

Portion sizes are also important. During the course of the day, for the average two to three year old, you want to make sure your child is getting each of the following:
Grains, in the form of two and a half cups of either brown rice, or oatmeal, or five slices of whole wheat bread.

Vegetables – crucial for the vitamins, minerals and trace elements they contain, in the form of a cup and a half of cooked vegetables, like broccoli or carrots, or a cup and a half of pureed vegetables or tomato sauce.

Fruit is as important to your child, and you want to aim for a large banana, or a cup and a half of fruit or fruit juice.

Dairy is another important part of your child’s diet, and either two cups of milk or yoghurt, or fours slices of cheese are the quantities to aim for here.

Protein, either in the form of vegetable protein like beans or lentils, or meat, poultry or fish, is the last major food group. Four eggs, four tablespoons of peanut butter, or a cup of cooked beans are the right quantities for a two to three year old.

Fats and oils are the last group that you should be incorporating, but remember to limit the intake of fat in the form of oil, butter or margarine, and rather give your child oily fish, or peanut butter and other healthy fats.

More questions

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If your child rejects a lot of vegetables, there are lots of ways you can try slipping them into food.
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Just like adults, toddlers and young children need a balanced diet to ensure long-term health.
Just like adults, toddlers and young children need a balanced diet to ensure long-term health.

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