5 Common Toddler Nutrition Questions, Answered
Adapted from an article originally published on https://desireerd.com/healthy-homemade-cinnamon-sugar-nut-butter/
Did you know that March is Toddler Nutrition Month? As a plant-based registered dietitian, I get a lot of questions about feeding toddlers so I thought I would share a few of the more common toddler nutrition questions I receive to help clear up any confusion about plant-based nutrition for wee ones.
Is a vegan diet safe for toddlers?
Yes! Both Dietitians of Canada and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agree that vegan diets are safe for all stages of life. Whether omnivore or vegan, parents need to ensure their children eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. Read more in my post on how to feed a vegan or vegetarian child.
How much sugar is safe for toddlers?
It is recommended that children under two are not given any added sugars, such as fruit juice, maple syrup, table sugar and sweetened beverages at all. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit are safe and healthy. For children over 2 years of age, the recommendation from the American Heart Association is to limit added sugars to no more than 24 grams of added sugars (6 teaspoons) daily. In my opinion, 6 teaspoons of added sugars is still a lot as a daily intake. Instead, I advise to keep daily added sugars low for toddlers with the occasional sweet treat like a cupcake or ice cream.
What is the best plant-based milk alterative for toddlers?
Under the age of one, it is recommended to use iron-fortified infant formula as a supplemental beverage for more complete nutrition. For children over the age of one, unsweetened fortified soy milk is recommended as it is the most nutrient-dense plant-based milk alternative, with more protein and healthy fats than other alternatives. Read more about what to look for in a healthy milk alternative.
Do toddlers need supplements?
You might be surprised to know the answer is yes! All humans need a source of vitamin D from birth. Toddlers need 600IU of vitamin D3 daily. And if your child is vegan, they need a daily vitamin B12 supplement. Avoid giving any other supplements unless under the advice of your family doctor. Read more about nutrition for vegan kids.
Are nut butters a healthy choice for kids?
Nut butters are packed with healthy fats and minerals such as energizing copper and iron and make a great toddler-friendly snack spread on toast.
If you’re feeding nut butters to small children, never give nut butters to children directly off the spoon—it’s a major choking hazard (for adults too, actually!). Instead, always serve nut butters spread onto crackers, apple slices, and of course, sprouted grain toast.
Try my easy Healthy Cinnamon Sugar Nut Butter recipe. Made with cashews and pecans, this creamy nut butter is sure to please everyone in your family. When you make it yourself, you control how much sugar and salt to use.
Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She runs a nutrition consulting practice with a focus on inflammation, digestion and plant-centred diets. Desiree is the author of a book on anti-inflammatory nutrition called Un-Junk Your Diet: How to shop, cook and eat to fight inflammation and feel better, forever and her new cookbook, Eat More Plants: 100 Anti-inflammatory Plant-centred Recipes for Vibrant Living is a #1 National Bestseller.
Love Desiree RD’s answers to 5 Common Toddler Nutrition Questions—or her recipe for Healthy Cinnamon Sugar Nut Butter? Scroll down to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Wholesome Bites to get family-friendly nutrition tips and recipes.