6 Nutrients Toddlers Need

November 30, 2022 Children

Some toddlers aren’t getting enough of these 6 nutrients, is your child one of them?!

Toddlers can be tough to feed. Some meals they want to keep eating and at others, it’s two bites and they’re out of there! This happens because growth slows down at around age 2, causing a dip in appetite. And blossoming independence means toddlers want to be in charge. These changes, along with toddler’s small stomachs, make it important to get the most nutrition from every bite. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines show how Americans are eating. Below are some of the nutrients toddlers are most likely to be missing, along with easy ways to ensure they get enough.


Calcium is a mineral that helps growing toddlers with healthy bones and teeth. Toddlers ages 1 to 3 years need 700 mg of calcium each day, or about 2-3 servings of calcium-rich foods like dairy.



Iron is an important nutrient for children and pregnant women. This is especially important for little ones because iron carries oxygen to the brain to ensure proper development.


Vitamin D

Most Americans do not get the recommended amount of vitamin D from their diet. Vitamin D is needed to ensure calcium can do its job of helping to build — and maintain — strong bones. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The sun is a source of vitamin D but people with dark skin and those who use sunscreen make less vitamin D from sunlight.


The chart below shows food sources of vitamin D compared to the recommended of 600 IU. Talk to your pediatrician about supplements, especially if your child does not drink milk and spends limited time in the sun.

Food Sources of Vitamin D

Recommended Daily Allowance from age 1 to 70 (RDA): 600 IU

Fiber & Potassium

Most children ages 1 to 8 get more than the recommended amount of refined grains, solid fats and added sugars. These include foods like cookies, chips, crackers, cake and other sweets. When toddlers fill up on these foods it leaves less room for potassium and fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains.


Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another nutrient many young children are lacking. One study showed that more than half of toddlers are not getting the recommended amount of this nutrient. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.


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Side Lying Hold

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cross Cradle Hold

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Football Hold

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Breastfeeding Holds

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Breastfeeding Holds

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: