A New Parent’s Guide To Raising A Healthy Toddler

According to many parents, the most challenging part of raising a child (aside from when they reach their terrible teens of course), is during their first two to three years of life. During these formative years your toddler will explore their new physical abilities and skills, such as walking, running, climbing, jumping and generally getting themselves into potentially dangerous situations.

As a result of these constantly evolving capabilities, a toddler’s daily needs and activities are in flux. Essentially this means that what you need to do in regards to raising and feeding them will also have to adjust as they continue to grow and develop. 

It can be overwhelming the rate at which your baby can grow. To help you out, here are some tips for new parents for raising a healthy and happy toddler:

1. Diet And Nutrition 

The number of calories your toddler needs will depend on their physical activity. On average, an active toddler will need between 1,000 to 1,2000 calories per day. These calories should be divided into three meals and two snacks each day.  

You’ll need to offer your toddler a variety of healthy meals containing ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes, fish, and grains. For their snacks, healthy options include small portions of yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, steamed broccoli, chopped carrots, or healthy crackers, paired with peanut butter or cheese. 

In addition to feeding your child fruits and vegetables,   milk may also form a nutritious part of a healthy diet for children. Milk is full of healthy vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that can help a child grow healthy and strong, including protein, fat, potassium, vitamin D, and calcium. 

Healthy milk formulas, such as Alulla Baby Formula S-26 and others, specifically designed for toddlers are an excellent way to ensure that your toddler has all the vitamins and nutrients they need. In the case that your toddler has a lactose allergy or intolerance, there are also a number of lactose free toddler formulas available.

That said, children can have too much of a good thing - around 500ml over 24 hours is the maximum recommended milk intake for toddlers. Water is essential and should make up the majority of a toddler’s daily fluid intake. You should try to avoid spoiling them with sugary drinks, such as cordial, fruit flavoured drinks or soft drinks, as these are unhealthy and could potentially ruin your child’s appetite for the rest of the day. 

2. Feeding 

As your toddler grows, they steadily develop their personal likes and dislikes when it comes to food. These likes and dislikes are likely to change from day to day - something your toddler may have loved one day may be spat out in disgust the next.  

The timing for their feeding may be equally erratic. For instance, one day your toddler may consume a lot of calories in the morning and not have any appetite during dinner. The next day, they may not want to eat much in the morning, but crave tons of calories during snack time and dinner. It can be frustrating at first, but remember that it’s normal for growing toddlers. 

Instead of forcing your child to eat, it’s better to wait until they’re ready for food. If they refuse to eat dinner, make sure they get their recommended calories during breakfast or their snack time. If they refuse to eat a new meal or new type of food, remove the food and try offering it next time. This will help ensure your child doesn’t associate feeding time with negative emotions. 

Try to avoid following your toddler around while trying to shove food into their mouths. Instead, let them feed themselves. It might be a messy idea, but teaching them early on feeding themselves can help develop their food awareness, improve their motor skills, and encourage independence. A toddler will typically know when they have had enough, so don’t try and make them finish their meal if they’ve stopped eating. Doing so may lead to overfeeding or vomiting. 

3. Physical Activity 

Encouraging your toddlers towards regular physical activity isn’t hard. After all, they spend most of their time engaging in different physical activities. Toddlers need at least 30 minutes of physical activity as their regular exercise.  

Physical activities can vary, and they don’t have to be complicated or elaborate. These can be as simple as taking your child for a walk in the park or playing in your backyard. Playing is already a great form of exercise for children as it helps develop their motor skills, sharpens their creativity and critical thinking, as well as offering an avenue for learning.  

As soon as your child’s attention span widens, this will be a perfect opportunity for you to introduce them to new activities, such as biking, swimming, and other sports. Toddlers are naturally curious, so introducing them to new activities should not be difficult at all. 

4. Health And Safety 

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when raising toddlers is their newfound mobility. During toddlerhood they’ll discover how to walk, run, climb, and jump but without a commensurate sense of self-preservation. Leaving a toddler unattended for a few minutes can be dangerous. To keep your child safe you should make sure to keep an eye on them at all times, especially during their playtime. 

It’s also essential that you schedule regular doctor visits for your toddler , both for health issues and to ensure that they are reaching all their milestones and developing normally.

If you have any concern regarding your child’s growth, sleeping habits, diet, or behaviour, it’s always best to schedule an appointment with your paediatrician.

5. Sleep 

Sleep issues in toddlers are common and may be one of the most difficult struggles you encounter during their growth. Toddlers need at least 12-14 hours of sleep a day. You need to establish a sleeping routine for your child every night and ensure you help them stick to the routine. 

You should also try to establish an afternoon nap routine for them. For example, if your toddler typically wakes up at 8am you might schedule their nap at around 12:30 to 1 in the afternoon lasting for two or three hours. 

A daytime nap and 12 hours sleep at night should provide adequate sleep for your toddler. Remember, when your child doesn’t get enough sleep it may lead to crankiness, tantrums. Ensuring your child gets enough sleep is not only good for them, it’s essential for parental well being as well - if your toddler isn’t sleeping it’s unlikely you will be getting adequate sleep either.

If you have any concerns about your toddler, concerning their physical activity, diet, sleep or lack thereof, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see your doctor or paediatrician. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. No matter the time of day, you can search for and book healthcare appointments online through MyHealth1st

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