You’re probably relieved if your toddler requests fruit for a snack rather than junk food, but if fruit is all she eats, your toddler might not get other nutrients vital to her growth and development. Fruit contains essential vitamins and minerals that keep your child healthy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that 2- to 3-year-old children get 1 cup of fruit every day. If your little one is regularly exceeding this amount, consider offering other healthy alternatives at meal and snack times.
Many fruits contain fiber. Fiber is an important nutrient with many health benefits, such as decreasing your child’s risk of constipation and stabilizing blood sugar levels. If your child suddenly starts eating a lot of fiber-rich fruit at once, she may experience cramping, diarrhea and gas. The University of California, Los Angeles, reports that eating extreme amounts of fiber limits the absorption of other important nutrients, causing your child to miss out on essential vitamins and minerals.
Eating a Balanced Diet
Your toddler should eat between 1,000 and 1,400 calories a day. From those calories, he needs the three macronutrients -- fat, protein and carbohydrates -- to grow and develop properly. When your child fills up on too much fruit, he gets most of his energy from carbohydrates and leaves little room for protein and fat, both of which are essential to his growth and development. Your toddler will benefit from the potassium, vitamin C and folate common in many fruits, but eating too much will deprive him of important nutrients.
Most toddlers enjoy the taste of fruit juice, but too much can cause adverse health problems. The extra calories and sugar in juice put your child at risk for obesity, poor nutrition and tooth decay. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children 1 to 6 years of age have no more than 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice a day. Whole fruits are a better choice because of the fiber and additional nutrients they contain.
Gastroesophageal reflux is a condition in which food comes back up from the stomach to the esophagus, causing vomiting, nausea, heartburn, hiccups and cough. Some fruits contain acid, which can aggravate your toddler if she suffers from this condition. MedlinePlus recommends avoiding highly acidic fruits, such as citrus fruits, pineapple and tomatoes.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Much Fruit Do You Need?
- University of California, Los Angeles, Dining Services: Facts of Fiber
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Calories Needed Each Day
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Why Is It Important to Eat Fruit?
- HealthyChildren.org: Fruit Juice and Your Child's Diet
- MedlinePlus: Gastroesophageal Reflux - Discharge