Toddler Food Guidelines

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideYour Toddler: Typical Second-Year Milestones With Pictures

Your Toddler: Typical Second-Year Milestones With Pictures

Is there a limit to how much seafood my toddler can eat each week?

Current guidelines regarding seafood consumption are conservative by nature. Concern exists regarding mercury and organic chemical ingestion. One source suggests the following monthly limits based upon seafood type.

  • 2 servings/month halibut, sole, mahi mahi
  • 3 servings/month monkfish, albacore, canned light tuna, skate
  • 4 servings/month wild Alaskan salmon, black sea bass
  • >4 servings/month cod, crab, lobster, canned (farm-raised) salmon, scallops, shrimp, squid, tilapia

Is there a limit to how much juice, milk, or salt my toddler should consume each day?

The following are USDA guidelines for juice, milk, and salt.

  1. Juice: 4-6 oz/day. Fresh fruit is superior to juice and is recommended instead.
  2. Milk: 16-24 oz/day. Children less than 2 years of age should drink whole milk; after 2 years of age, they may drink either low fat or nonfat milk. Dairy products can also be a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D.
  3. Salt: Less than 1,500 mg/day from ages 1-3 and less than 1,900 mg/day for ages 4 through 8. Children's food should not have extra salt added exclusive of what the recipe calls for. Hidden sources of salt are common, including white toast (520 mg/slice), macaroni and cheese (1,650 mg/serving), small fries (2,000 mg/serving), and pepperoni pizza (4,100/slice)!

How do I deal with my toddler's temper tantrums at mealtimes?

There are two primary triggers for mealtime temper tantrums. Often the child is tired and emotionally and physically exhausted. This situation most commonly surfaces at dinnertime. Unrealistic parental expectations regarding volume and type of food may also stimulate a war zone atmosphere. Dealing with temper tantrums often implies a "time out" session. The one minute/year of age guideline is reasonable. Removing the child from the eating area defuses the situation and will often do the trick. If the child adamantly refuses to eat, remove him from the area and take heart in the fact that he will be more inclined to eat having missed the current meal. Avoid offering multiple chances to entice him to eat. Such activity often leads to the toddler continuing to "raise the ante" at the next similar situation.

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