By age 2, your child should be eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day, spaced 2-3 hours apart. If you are still breastfeeding your toddler, you can try to do it during or right after these eating time slots.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), toddlers should eat approximately 40 calories per inch of height. So depending on your child’s age, size, and activity level, that can vary between 1,000 and 1,400 calories a day. Fat should account for less than 30% of your toddler's daily calories.
In general, here’s what you should aim to give your child every day:
- ¾-1 cup of fruits and vegetables
- ¼ cup of grains
- 3 tablespoons of protein
- 700 mg calcium
What foods should a 2-year-old eat?
At this age, children can have strong opinions about food as they develop a sense of independence. It’s normal for 2-year-olds to be picky eaters. So let your child have a say in what to eat, while you provide the balance, boundaries, and encouragement to make healthy choices.
The best you can do is to keep offering nutritious food options, choosing and preparing food together, and modeling healthy eating behaviors for your child. Offer them a variety of foods in all food groups:
- Vegetables (a variety cut in small pieces and cooked through)
- Fruits (sliced fresh or canned)
- Dried fruit, soaked until soft to prevent choking (apples, apricots, peaches, pears, dates, pitted prunes)
- Protein (eggs, beans, thinly spread peanut butter, small pieces of meat, poultry, boneless fish or tofu)
- Iron-fortified cereals (oats, barley, wheat, mixed cereals)
- Other grains (whole wheat bread and crackers, bagel pieces, pretzels, ready-to-eat cereal, pasta, rice)
- Low-fat milk and other dairy products (diced or grated cheese, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding)
Which foods are rich in nutrients?
- Vitamin B12: Milk products and eggs, fortified soy beverages, cereals, and meat substitutes
- Vitamin D: Breastfed babies should get an additional 400 IU per day from fortified cow's milk or soy milk
- Calcium: Calcium-fortified foods and beverages
- Zinc: Beans, fortified cereal, milk, and wheat germ
- Iron: Iron-fortified cereal
- Vitamin C: Oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries (vitamin C also helps with iron absorption)
- Protein: Yogurt, eggs, beans, cereals, and fortified soy milk
- Fiber: Whole grain bread, fortified cereals and pasta, and high-fat plant foods, such as sunflower seed butter and avocados
What are developmental milestones for a 2-year-old child?
At this age, many children are beginning to find confidence and their behaviors may display a range of cognitive and physical milestones:
- They can probably walk up the stairs one foot at a time and jump with both feet at once. Your toddler may also be running by now.
- As they get older, your child’s bladder is getting stronger. Their awareness is growing too. They may start telling you when they are feeling the urge to use the bathroom.
- Your child should be able to scribble and draw lines, stack blocks, and feed themselves.
- They may have developed enough emotionally to be able to express fear, such as to certain animals or loud sounds.
- They may be saying 50 or as many as 100 words, even combining them into two-word phrases. They should also be able to name several body parts, pick out pictures from a book, and engage in childhood games that involve pretending, such as feeding a doll.
- They may have developed social skills and can play with other children. They may have also developed considerable thinking and learning skills.
As a parent, you’re likely concerned about your child’s growth. You can help your toddler stay at a healthy weight and contribute to their growth by combining nutritious food with physical activity.
If you have concerns about your child’s development, talk to your pediatrician.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
WebMD. You’re Child at 2: Milestones. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/child-at-2-milestones
Top How Much Should a 2-Year-Old Eat? Related Articles
Common Infant IllnessesWatch this slideshow to see common symptoms and home treatment for infant and childhood illnesses including fever, nausea, constipation and more.
How Can I Help My Toddler With Sleep Problems?Most toddlers need about 10 to 14 hours of sleep a day, which includes one to two daytime naps. Help your toddler with sleep problems by making sleep times fun, keeping a regular bedtime schedule, having a regular bedtime routine, ensuring your toddler has a balanced daytime schedule and applying other strategies.
How Can I Improve My Toddler’s Vocabulary?Babies develop communication skills at an amazing speed during the first three years of their life. Improve your toddler's vocabulary by taking your child to the library, reading aloud to them, practicing rhymes, talking with your child and not overwhelming them by using too many words.
New Parents MistakesParenting a child isn't easy. Explore the top 10 mistakes that new parents make. Discover newborn parenting tips for breastfeeding, learn to deal with crying babies, child's fevers, and more.
Brain Foods for Kids: Healthy Food for Kids’ BrainsUse this brain foods list to make your child smarter and healthier with these brain-boosting meals! Developing brains needs the right foods to boost learning and improve concentration.
Food-Smart Kids SlidesHealthy kids' snacks and meals help your child develop a positive relationship with nutritious food. Teach your kids how to eat right for better nutrition.
What age is a child considered a toddler?A child between one to three years of age is considered a toddler. This is the time that your child is progressing from being an infant to being able to attend a preschool. You will observe drastic changes in the social, emotional, motor and communication skills of your child.
What Are the Things Toddlers Do?A child is a toddler between the ages of one to three years old. At this age, toddlers experience milestones in physical development, cognitive development and language and speech development.
What Is a Toddler's Development?Toddler’s development includes the physical, emotional, behavioral and mental growth of children from ages one to three years old. The various factors that influence the toddler’s development include the family's culture, environment, socioeconomic status and genetics.