The United States Department of Agriculture recommends toddlers 2 years old consume 1,000 calories a day. This equals about half the calories an adult needs in one day. A toddler who gets 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day should get 3 oz. of grains, half of which should be whole grain; one serving of vegetables; 1 cup of fruits, 2 cups of milk; and 2 oz. of protein.
Try making sandwiches on whole grain pita and serving whole wheat pasta with spaghetti. Quinoa, another grain, is a complete protein and is rich in iron. It is easy to prepare and versatile enough to serve with most dishes. Brown rice, whole wheat bread, basmati rice and couscous are also examples of healthy grains suitable for toddlers.
Feeding toddlers vegetables gets difficult, but the younger they learn to like vegetables, the easier providing them with a healthy diet becomes. Give toddlers vegetables they can eat with their hands. Steamed carrots, boiled peas and edamame allow 2-year-olds to enjoy eating with their hands and are rich in nutrients. Avocados, another good food for toddlers, supply numerous vitamins and minerals while also providing healthy fats. Just dice an avocado, squeeze a little lemon on top and let your little one enjoy it with a fork or bare hands.
Fruits are fast and easy to prepare and packed with vitamins. Paired with milk or cheese, they serve as great snacks. Berries, tangerines, bananas and halved grapes do not require a lot of preparation, making them perfect take-along snacks. Apples, oranges and pears require cutting and peeling, but they are available year round and generally inexpensive.
Most people think of milk when they hear dairy. But yogurt and cheese are also healthy sources of dairy. For children older than 2 years of age, pediatricians and dietitians recommend serving 1 percent or skim milk and dairy products. One serving of dairy equals one 1 of milk or yogurt or 1 oz. of cheese.
Protein is more than meat and eggs. There are many good sources of protein, including kidney beans, chickpeas and black beans; in general, most beans provide protein, iron and fiber. Hummus, made of chickpeas, makes a great spread for sandwiches or a nice dip for vegetables while supplying fiber, iron and protein. Dairy products also contain protein.