Feeding Your Child from 1 to 3 Years of Age

babel · July 31, 2022
It's essential to optimize nutrition when it comes to feeding your child from 1 to 3 years of age to ensure they grow healthy and strong.

The nutrition of a child from 1 to 3 years of age can make a difference in terms of growth and health. For this reason, it’s necessary to propose a varied, complete, and slightly hypercaloric diet. Also, it’s important to limit the presence of industrial ultra-processed foods when feeding your child, as they don’t have the same nutritional density as fresh foods and contain additives of all kinds.

Before starting, you should note that the effects of maintaining an inadequate diet aren’t usually immediate, but manifest themselves over time. For this reason, it’s so important to take care of your child’s diet from the first stages of life, with the aim of preventing the development of complex diseases that can condition the well-being of your child in the future.

Take note of the dietary recommendations that we’ll give you below.

Feeding your child from 1 to 3 years old

One of the first things to take into account when thinking about the diet of your little ones is to consider a good breakfast and instill in your child the importance of maintaining the habit. Intermittent fasting protocols aren’t usually appropriate for this time of life, as the focus isn’t on restricting calories. However, you need to avoid the typical cookies or sugary cereals early in the day because they’re also harmful.

A healthy breakfast is one that provides quality foods that offer essential nutrients for the body. Dairy products are always recommended, except in cases of allergies or severe intolerances. Also, cocoa is a good idea, but ideally that which has no added sugars.

Scrambled eggs are very beneficial alternatives, as they provide proteins of high biological value. It should be noted that during the first stages of life, protein requirements are increased, according to a study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. For this reason, it’s important to provide at least 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day, so as not to interfere with the body growth of infants.

An important point is to be careful with certain products that may be difficult to chew or that are susceptible to cause choking, such as nuts. Although these foods are very healthy, they can be included in the diet as long as their presentation is appropriate for their age. For example, in small children, it’s best to offer them ground or as flour in order to avoid risks and to take maximum advantage of their nutrients.

A toddler feeding himself in his highchair.
Breakfast time should be respected by the whole family in order to instill in children a healthy habit by example and imitation. In addition, the benefits of incorporating it will be reflected in everyone’s health.

Simple sugars should be avoided

The simple carbohydrate content of the diet of many people residing in Western countries is one of today’s biggest nutritional challenges. There are several studies that suggest that these elements increase the risk of suffering metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it’s best to avoid the presence of simple sugars in the diet of children as much as possible.

However, this doesn’t mean that a restrictive diet in carbohydrates should be proposed, quite the contrary. What’s recommended is offering those of good quality, such as long-chain carbohydrates. These nutrients provide sustained energy over time, without negatively impacting blood glucose levels. In addition, they’re usually accompanied by fiber, a substance that’s very beneficial for digestive health.

In order to reduce the consumption of simple sugars, it’s important to limit the presence of ultra-processed foods in children’s diets. Sweets, as well as pre-cooked foods or soft drinks, are very low-quality foodstuffs and provide almost no essential nutrients. In other words, they provide “empty” calories.

The importance of promoting good habits

Achieving a healthy diet isn’t only a matter of taking care of the products consumed, but also of instilling good habits. For example, it’s essential to eat with the family, in a quiet environment, and without screens. This favors the development of a healthy bond with food and respect for the time children take to eat.

In addition, it’s important to promote good hygienic behaviors, such as washing hands before eating and brushing teeth after eating.

A family sitting down for a meal together.
Nutrition is much more than food, and the habits that are instilled in children during infancy will remain with them throughout their lives.

It’s essential to optimize the diet when feeding your child

As you have seen, the approach to feeding your child from 1 to 3 years of age isn’t complicated. You just need to be clear about a series of basic principles and pillars, such as those we’ve mentioned. From here, it’s also important to leave space for the little ones to experiment with food and get used to the organoleptic characteristics of food.

Finally, don’t forget that it’s important to complement a proper diet with other good health habits, such as regular physical activity and proper rest. A good night’s sleep is essential to ensure the proper growth of children.

  • Richter, M., Baerlocher, K., Bauer, J. M., Elmadfa, I., Heseker, H., Leschik-Bonnet, E., Stangl, G., Volkert, D., Stehle, P., & on behalf of the German Nutrition Society (DGE) (2019). Revised Reference Values for the Intake of Protein. Annals of nutrition & metabolism74(3), 242–250. https://doi.org/10.1159/000499374
  • Lean, M. E., & Te Morenga, L. (2016). Sugar and Type 2 diabetes. British medical bulletin120(1), 43–53. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldw037