Eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables provides us with energy and many important nutrients including vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat at least 2 serves of fruit and 5-6 serves of vegetables each day.
What about toddlers? As toddlers are smaller, they need less fruit and veggies each day. The Guidelines recommend that 1-3 year olds eat 1/2-1 serve of fruit and 2-3 serves of vegetables a day. For example, a serving of fruit is 1 banana, apple or orange, approximately 150g. A serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or beans, approximately 75g. These serving sizes may seem like a lot for a toddler, but they can be split into smaller “toddler” friendly sized serves and eaten more often throughout the day.
So the servings in your toddler’s day might look like this: ½ cup canned peaches (on cereal), ½ banana, 1 small mashed potato, 1 steamed broccoli floret, ½ tomato (on crackers) and a snack of lightly cooked carrot sticks (1 small carrot).
Remember, variety is the key and all fruit and veggies count, whether they’re fresh, frozen or canned (choose no added salt and sugar). Also encourage your toddler to eat a rainbow of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day. Not only will they take in key nutrients, they will love the bright colours.
Here are a few creative ideas for bringing more fruit and veggies into your toddler's diet.
- Freeze it – try freezing berries or a banana, then blending a few pieces with some milk and yoghurt to make a delicious mini-smoothie.
- Adapt it – try adding fruit and veggies into your existing recipes. Fruit slices work well in your pikelets, and chopped veggies can really bring an omelette to life!
- Dip it – try a tasty spread or dip, but instead of crackers use fruit or lightly cooked vegetable sticks. This works well for both sweet and savoury options.
- Mix – grated pumpkin or puréed cauliflower make great thickeners for soups or casseroles. They also add a little sweetness that your toddler is sure to appreciate.
- Add to it – you can always add extras to your toddler’s ready-made meals. A little grated carrot or some tasty mashed veggies can give extra flavour and texture.