Importance of Number of Meals :
When your child turns 1, you can give him anything except spicy, salty, and deep fried foods . And secondly, you need to remember that your toddler needs little amounts of a variety of “interesting” foods to be given to him at various times of the day. So it is not a good idea to stuff him/her with food as a one-time option. When it comes to Kids, you should not follow the 3 meal pattern like us adults. He/she is most likely to reject this option and stay hungry. A toddler has very little stomach capacity and he/ she cannot take 3 big meals a day. He/ she will typically need 6 small meals a day to fulfil his/ her body’s energy requirements. The best part about feeding your kid frequently is that you don’t need to worry much about his quantity of intake. Even if the kid eats 3-4 biscuits, he will be good for the next 1-2 hours. . A little effort from your side will help him/her stay satiated and disturb you less during meal times
Did You know – Kids who are fed at small intervals are not only healthy , but are also less irritable and less cranky in comparison to the kids who are fed with more time gaps.
We know that planning a menu for these little brats is difficult. Specially when they are to be fed with a time interval of every 2-3 hours and they demand variety. Here we present an interesting Indian diet plan for toddlers that will help you become a smart mommy instantly. But before we move on to the actual diet plan, here are some basic Thumb rules you need to understand as a mother. The basis of food planning. what food to select and on what basis. After all its about meeting your toddlers nutritional need to make him physically and mentally strong and compatible with the world outside.
In the above given chart , the outer 6 boxes represent the different food groups. This chart will help you in planning your own menu based on your convenience and timing for your baby . follow the following tips for planning a healthy menu for your toddler.
- The trick is to simply add at least 1 item from each group through out the day. Ofcourse you can use a particular group more than 2 times too. but in order to maintain variety in terms of taste and nutrition , its important to plan from each group. Ex – you can plan for rice in the afternoon and oats in the evening menu. both the items belong to the cereal group and are equally healthy .
- Make your choices of food from the given food group more interesting for the kid. Ex – instead of feeding your baby with rice and milk every day , introduce variety . Plan for rice and curd , or lightly lemon flavored rice, mix rice with mung dal from pulses group to add protein and variety to your kids menu.
- After your kid turns 15 – 16 months old, you can mix up 2 or more food groups together. Ex – Oats porridge with apple. Here Oats cover the cereal group , Milk will cover up for protein and apple will cover the fruits group. some kids with good digestibility can tolerate the mixed groups concept right from 12 month on wards.
- Cereal Group – This group includes cereals like Rawa (semolina), Ragi, Rice , Oats , wheat and its products like brown bread , wheat based biscuits. These cereals are easy to digest. Initially its best to grind the food product , or mash it well to avoid choking. some kids take time to learn to chew.
- Milk and Milk Products Group – As the name suggests this group includes all varieties with milk . Cows milk has the best digestibility. Hence it is preferable to give you kids cow’s milk. You can later introduce him with milk products like cheese , curd, buttermilk and paneer. Cheese on brown bread is a good snacking option for your 2+ year old toddler. They relish it.
- Non – Vegetarian Protein Group – This group includes chicken , eggs and fish . I would really recommend you to start your kid a little late with fish . May be after he is 2 + . This will ensure his digestion capacity. It is not that kids do not eat fish before this age . There are individual differences and food preferences. All you need to do is ensure about your kids digestion capacity , and allergic reactions to these foods.
- Dals And Pulses Group – Start with easily digestible dals like mung dal . once they are tolerated well by the kid, you can then move forward to slowly introduce her with all the other varieties of dals , and pulses. make sure the first time you try any new pulse , it should be diluted enough. If your baby has any sign of intolerance towards these foods , like change in color of stool , hard stool or watery stool or gases or stomach ache after the intake, reintroduce the food after a week in a diluted form
- Fruits and vegetables – The fruits and vegetables that are mentioned under the groups in the above info graphic diagram, can be used in any form . you can mash the fruits , make juice out of it , pressure cook the fruit for 1 whistle and then mash it (apple). or you can hand over them as slices to your kids. So they also learn to eat on their own . you can use vegetables in soup forms or cooked vegetable form , just the way you consume it at home. make sure you add little or no spices to the preparation. You can introduce the spices and masala for the baby after she is 2.5 + years of age.
- Fats and Sugars – this group is placed in the center on purpose. although you need to use very little amount of fats and sugar for your toddler , but please do not ignore this group . your baby really needs good fats for better digestion. don’t forget that these little ones also require tasty foods just like us. you can add sugar or jaggery to their food preparations.
Note – You need to feed your growing toddler every 2- 3 hrs , don’t wait for them to signal for hunger. Kids get really cranky and irritated if they go without food for long. To become a smart mom, you need to set your timetable accordingly. Keep your busiest hours for their milk feeds. But do not over do Milk. Excess milk feeds and no solid will make her/ him hate food. They may also get loose motions, uncontrolled bladder. They would become cranky if you don’t give them enough solids. And the kid will want to stick to you at all times.
(After waking up )
|1 glass milk + 4 soaked almonds|
|Choose any 1 from the below mentioned options
· Rawa kheer / Ragi kheer / Vermicilly kheer
· Soft cooked Rawa upama with finely chopped carrots
· Soft cooked Mung dal chilla with grated carrots and finely chopped spinach
· Curd with soaked poha , (add a little salt or sugar as per your kids taste),
· Soft dosa or Idli with sambar
|11.00 AM||2-4 slices of apple / orange / water melon /musk melon / pomogranate / Papaya / 2 wheat based biscuits / ragi flakes (handful) (any seasonal fruit)|
|Choose any 1 from the below mentioned options
· Curd Rice / Dal + Rice / Sambar + Rice / Milk + Rice / Vegetable Pulav / Kadhi + Rice / Lemon flavored Rice
· Vegetable Khichadi
· Daliya upama (soup consistency )
· Vermicilly upama
· Soft cooked Roti or Phulka with Toru / Bottle gourd / Palak / Methi / Potato vegetable
|2.30 PM||Buttermilk (optional ) / Ragi kanji|
|4.00 PM||Choose any 1 from the below mentioned options
· Oats porridge with chopped apple or banana
· Fruit smoothie with almond or walnut (at room temperature)
· Hot milk with 4 Biscuits
· Aata Laddu – 2 small
· Dry fruit chikki
· Sliced / Boiled veggies like Carrot , Broccoli with curd dip ,
· Tacos with vegetable based greek yogurt dip
· Home made wheat cake piece
|6.00 PM||Spinach Soup / Carrot soup / Tomato soup / Mix Vegetable Soup / Corn soup (grind corn kernel in a mixer) / Fruit juice during warm climate|
|Choose any suitable option from Breakfast or Lunch Menu|
|1 glass Milk + 4 Soaked Almonds|
Note – The above mentioned diet plan is a general diet plan. This Indian diet plan for toddlers meets the nutritional requirement of an average Indian toddler. some foods may or may not be suitable to some kids, in such a case a personalized approach is necessary.