Making Family Meals Toddler Friendly

February 2, 2022 Children

It happens in the blink of an eye. Your baby blossoms into a toddler who walks, talks and wants to make all the food choices!

But here’s the “watch out.” If parents aren’t careful or let their toddler take charge of what’s served, his diet can take a turn in the wrong direction. According to one study, 30 percent of 15 month-olds drink sugar-sweetened beverages and most have low fruit and veggie intake. Another study found toddler diets to be low in healthy fats, fiber, iron and potassium.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five ways to keep your toddler’s diet healthy while getting the rest of the family fed.

Don’t forget about choking hazards! This includes tough meats, hot dogs, spoonfuls of peanut butter, grapes, nuts, chunks of cheese, raw veggies, hard candies and gum. Some of these items can be cut, like grapes cut in fours, cheese sticks cut lengthwise and then chopped and peanut butter lightly spread on toast.

Remember—while your toddler can say no to what’s offered (and they probably will) your job is still to offer healthy foods at regular meals and snacks. Try to keep the family meals easygoing and pressure-free and everyone will look forward to them!

Toddler Nutrition Needs*

Food Group Minimum Daily Servings Offer...
Protein Foods 2 ounces 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish, 1 egg, ¼ cup beans
Milk/yogurt 2 cups ½ cup
Fruit 1 cup ¼ cup or ½ small fruit, 3-4 ounces juice
Vegetables 1 cup ¼ cup cooked or soft raw like avocado or tomato
Grains (half whole grain) 3 ounces ½ piece bread, ¼ cup cooked pasta or ½ cup cereal
* For 2 to 3-year-olds. Daily intake will vary; look for eating patterns over a week.

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

  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:

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:

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:

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: