FEEDING YOUR CHILD FROM
1 - 3 YEARS
All parents wish their children to be healthy and there's a great deal
you can do to give your child the best start in life as well as good health
in later years. The first few years are of vital importance, for this is the
crucial time when the foundations for future good health are laid. Food and
nutrients are the building blocks in a good diet, which help them to form strong
teeth and bones, muscles and healthy tissues. A good diet can also help to protect
A child's diet needs special care and planning- the requirements
for energy and nutrients are high, but appetite is small and eating habits are
likely to be finicky.
The diet therefore needs to be:
- Made up of small frequent meals,
- Diet to be "Nutrients Dense"-providing plenty
of nutrients in small volume of food.
Particularly important nutrient
Iron: Iron deficiency is common
in this age group as iron requirements are high but dietary intake is often
low, especially if little or no meat is eaten. Foods rich in Vitamin C such
as orange or tomato with evening meal eaten at the same time help maximise iron
absorption. Good sources of iron are listed in Table 1.
is vital for the growth of bones and teeth. Requirements will be met as long
as the child consumes enough milk and dairy products. Good sources of dietary
calcium are listed in Table 1.
Vitamin A, C, D:
Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin and cell development and can be often be
lacking in diets of this age group.
Vitamin C is important for the immune system and growth. It also helps in the
absorption of iron, especially iron from non-meat sources (non heme iron). Vitamin
intakes are often low in children who eat little.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium metabolism (breakdown of calcium) and can
be synthesised through the action of sunlight on the skin. In winter, and if
your child is always covered, make sure that you include dietary sources of
vitamin D, along with vitamin D in tablet or liquid form.
Key nutrients and dietary sources (Table
Needed to make red blood cells and carry oxygen to the body as part
of hemoglobin the blood.
Meat based (heme) sources- eggs, lamb, meat, liver, and kidney. Plant
(non heme) sources - fortified cereals like cornflakes, bread, dried
fruits, beans and pulses and green leafy vegetables (cabbage, spring
onions, palak, methi, green beans)
Essential for strong bones and teeth, blood clotting and nerve cells.
|Non-Dairy based - Fish with soft edible bones,
dark leafy vegetables, sesame seeds (Til).Dairy based products-milk,
yoghurt (dahi) cheese, paneer,
Formation and maintenance of skin, hair and membranes, needed for
bone and teeth growth and help us see in the dark
|Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (peppers,
tomatoes mango and apricots), dark leafy vegetables and dairy products
Essential for structure of bones, cartilages and muscles.
|Helps the immune system and the absorption of iron
Citrus fruits, berries and vegetables (make sure you don't cook
too soft) potatoes and fruit juice.
Aids in bone and tooth formation and helps the heart and nervous system
|Fishes like mackerel, Bombay duck and dairy products.
Now that we know which are the key nutrients for this age group,
how does this translate to real food? Suitable foods are divided into Four Major
Groups and a fifth Minor - or 'occasional' group. If you base your
child's intake on these groups you'll be certain that all the important
nutrients are provided.
Four Major Food Groups:
- MILK AND DAIRY FOODS:
Aim for 500-600ml of milk each day. It will provide energy for growth and
calcium for strong bones and teeth.
Some ideas to try
- Ragi porridge or cornflakes with milk
- Vermicelli cooked in milk
- Rice pudding, custard
- Rawa or Sago kheer
- Bread pudding
- Cheese on Bread
- Cubes of Cheese
- Cheese on Vegetables
- Soup with grated Cheese
- Paneer in curries
- Add fresh fruit to Yoghurt
- Yoghurt with Sugar or Honey
- Yoghurt made into Lassi drink or Fruit Lassi
- To serve as "Kadhi"
- BREAD, OTHER CEREALS AND POTATOES:
Starchy staples form an important part of anyone's diet. They are also
called as fillers. They provide energy, various nutrients and fibre. One can
choose from variety of breads, cornflakes, maize, jowar, bajra, potatoes,
yam (suran), rice, chapatti and rotlas.
Some ideas to try:
- Toast, Bun, Potato pattice
- Upma, Poha
- Pancakes, (Made from rice flour and Gram flour
(Chana Atta) Palak Puri, Thepla.
|MORE SUBSTANTIAL MEALS
- Chapatti or Stuffed Paratha with Paneer or Dal
- Pulav or Khichri with Yoghurt
- Noodles or rice mixed with shredded omelette
- Chapattis or Rotlas with vegetables or dal.·
Omelette with bread or sandwiches.
- Omelette with bread or sandwiches.
- FRUITS AND VEGETABLE GROUP:
They contain lot of vitamins, minerals and fibre and also add variety to meals
by adding colouring textures and flavours. Try and introduce lots of different
types from early age.
Some ideas to try:
- Stuffed parathas with vegetables
- Spinach cutlets or Vegetable cutlets.
- Theplas (Wheat flour mixed with Methi or Spinach)
- Give Carrot sticks, Apple slices, Banana slices,
Cucumber Slices, Tomato Slices, or Pineapple Slices as snacks.
- Mix chopped or mashed vegetables with rice or
- Use fruits in puddings
- MEAT, FISH AND VEG. ALTERNATIVES:
Protein is needed by young children to grow and develop. Meat, Fish, Eggs,
Nut, Pulses, Beans, Lentils, Peas and Soya Granules (Nutrella) are good sources
of proteins. If you are vegetarian, give at least 2 portions of vegetable
servings to ensure enough proteins and iron in the diet.
Some meals to try:
- MEAT AND FISH
· Boiled Egg, omelette
· Sandwich made with shredded chicken
· Egg on toast
· Lentil soup
· Sprouts boiled and made into chat.
· Dal or lentil curry with chapatti or rice.
· Fish curry with rice
· Mince meat cutlets.
· Or meat soup VEG. ALTERNATIVES
· Dal khichri
· Lentil soup
- FIFTH GROUP - THE OCCASIONAL
FOODS GROUP: It consists of -
- Sugar: A small amount of sugar as mild sweetening is fine
with foods in MILK Group.
- Fatty and sugary foods: This group includes butter, ghee,
oil sugar, biscuits, cakes, wafers, sweets, chocolates, ice cream, soft drinks
and other sugary drinks.
- These foods should not be given too often, and when they are, only in small
amounts. Too much will impair the intake of more nutritious foods from the
other food groups and compromise the quality of diet. Children between this
age group require around 25gms of fat per day.
- When teeth are in constant contact with sugary foods and drinks, they will
decay. Therefore avoid using foods like cakes, biscuits, chocolate and such
foods as reward.
Some Common problems:
- Structured meal pattern3 meals and 2-3 small
- Offer variety of foods with some favourites
- Offer small portions and praise your child for
eating even a little
- Do not force feed
- Family mealtimes
- Happy, relaxed environment
- Do not offer sweets or favourite foods as reward
instead reward them with a trip to park, zoo or taking out to
|Refuses to drink milk
- Offer in small fun cup or through a coloured
- Add milk or cream (malai) to foods
- Include milk-containing foods like kheer, porridge,
custard, homemade ice cream and lassi.
- Try flavoured milk or milkshakes.
|Refuses to eat fruit and vegetables
- Try mixing vegetables in other foods
- Include small amount of fruits or vegetables
at each mealtime to allow opportunity to try
- Children learn by example- if parents and other
family members eat fruits and vegetable then they are more likely
to do so.
- Blend fruit drinks or milk shakes added fruit
- To prepare kheer or porridge with added fruits
|Excessive milk drinking
- Limit milk intake to 500-600ml per day
- Give milk after meals or at snacks time
- Use cup not bottle. Offer milk in small
Last updated on 25-03-2003