Nutritional Needs of Toddlers

In the first few years, your child has specific nutritional needs for healthy growth. Protein, fats, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals are provided by a variety of foods. At this age your child is getting used to new textures, tastes and more regular meal times. They will be able to meet their nutritional needs if they are offered a variety of family foods at regular times.

Important nutrients in your child’s diet:

A variety of foods from all the 5 food groups. Use the plate model 1/3rd vegetables, 1/3 protein and 1/3 whole grains carbohydrate


Getting enough calcium

Calcium is important for good bone health. Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese and milk-based desserts such as creamy rice and custard.

Getting enough iron

Good sources of iron include:

  •  Red meat such as beef, veal, lamb, pork.
  • Offal such as liver and intestine.
  • Legumes such as kidney beans, chick peas, lentils.
  • Breakfast cereals that have iron added (check the labels).
  • Wholegrain breads and cereals. 

Eating foods rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and vegetables, increases the amount of iron that is absorbed from plant foods like cereal, rice, and legumes. So aim to offer your toddler a Vitamin C rich food or drink at every meal.

Some toddlers don’t like eating meat as they find it hard to chew. Offer minced meat or well cooked soft meat, (e.g. casseroles), so they get used to chewing.


Some toddlers eat very few vegetables. Fortunately, most like some fruit. Fruit and vegetables contain similar vitamins and minerals. So if your toddler eats some fruit, don’t worry if they don’t eat vegetables. Just keep offering vegetables when you eat them. They may prefer them raw, pureed in soups, with their favorite dip, finely grated and added to minced meat.