Toddler Food Guidelines (cont.)
In this Article
Should I be feeding my toddler low-fat foods to avoid childhood obesity?
Children less than 2 years of age should not have restrictions placed on their intake based upon fat or cholesterol. These both promote brain maturation by providing building blocks for the "insulation" which surrounds nerve cells and thus optimizes their function. However, avoiding "empty calories" such as high sugar foods, foods with high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and excessive salt is a good idea. Children older than 2 years of age may drink low-fat or nonfat milk but also need to be wary of excessive juice intake (>4-6 oz/day), "fast foods" which may be laden with high fat and salt content, and soda (both regular and diet).
Should I be concerned that my toddler eats hair, sand, and dirt?
Pica is a "medical disorder characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings to eat non-food items." For infants and early toddlers, this fascination is generally considered age appropriate and exploratory in general. With increasing age, persistence of pica is considered a pathological behavior. Anecdotal information has linked dirt and excessive ice ingestion as indicative of iron, calcium, zinc, or vitamin deficiency. No studies have consistently confirmed these observations. There are, however, known risk factors for several non-food items:
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