Age-by-Age Guide to Feeding Your Toddler

One of the greatest joys of life is watching your child grow. After the trials and tribulations of the first few months after the birth, it is a fantastic and fulfilling experience to see your bundle of joy take baby steps, unsteadily at first, but with growing confidence as the days go by.

The world toddler is derived from the word ‘to toddle,’ which means to walk unsteadily. A toddler is a child of age between 1 & 3. It is a very important stage in your child’s life from the point of view of her physical and mental development. So, it does not come as a great surprise that many parents constantly worry about giving their child the right food to eat and in right quantities. Here’s some useful information you could use:



Age between 12 to 24 Months:

Q: How do you know your child is ready?

A: A reliable sign is your child can now handle a spoon with reasonable proficiency.

Q: What food Items can be considered and in what quantities per day?

A: Food should be mashed or chopped into small pieces. You could consider

  • Dairy like whole milk and cottage & soft-pasteurized cheese:  2 cups
  • Cereals like oat, barley, mixed cereals: 1 ounce
  • Other grains like whole wheat bread, pasta, rice: 2 ounce
  • Fresh fruit like melon, papaya, apricot: 1 cup
  • Proteins like egg, tofu, beans: 2 ounce

Age between 24 to 36 Months:

Q: How do you know your child is ready?

A: Your child is capable of self-feeding and begins to show a marked preference for certain foods.

Q: What food Items can be considered and what are the daily quantities for each?

A: You could consider:

  • Dairy like low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese:  2 cups
  • Cereals like oat, barley, mixed cereals: 2 ounce
  • Other grains like whole wheat bread, pasta, rice: 3 ounce
  • Fresh fruit and fruit juices: 1 to 1.5 cups
  • Proteins like egg, tofu, beans: 3 to 4 ounces
  • Soft cooked vegetables: 1 to 1.5 cups

It is very important to make sure the food is well cooked and mashed or cut into small pieces the child can eat and digest easily. This also eliminates the dangers of choking on the food. Some foods to avoid for this reason are: chips, popcorn, candy, whole grapes and chewing gum. In fact, avoid any soft and sticky food that you feel is unsafe for your child.

Note: (1 ounce is roughly 28 grams)


The aim of the article is to be informative in a general way. DO CONSULT your child’s pediatrician or a dietician about your toddler’s diet.


How to help underweight toddlers gain weight


Childhood Obesity

The travails of a parent whose toddler is underweight can only be felt, not described. Children usually follow a predictable growth pattern. They triple their weight in the first year of their life, and thereafter a kilogram every 3-4 months for the second year of their life. However, not all children follow the same pattern. Each child develops at a different pace. So when does a parent start to worry about poor or no weight gain? A month, 2 months or 6 months of no weight gain? Or more?

There is no correct answer to this because there are a lot of factors that can affect weight gain in a toddler.

  • Genetics: If the child’s parents are lean, chances are the baby will be skinny too
  • Dietary restrictions such as dairy free diet, vegetarian diet or a vegan diet can put the child at a risk of being mal nourished
  • Recent illness or medications can kill diet temporarily resulting in poor weight gain or even weight loss
  • Emotional upheaval: A change of scenery that didn’t go down too well with your toddler may directly affect hunger
  • An increase in height that precedes weight gain

However, if your gut feeling tells you to get an expert opinion, the best person to give it is the paediatrician.

Assuming your child has no underlying medical problem, you can proceed with the following to ensure that your child is getting enough calories. The rest will follow.

  • The best way to get your toddler to gain weight is to increase his calorie intake with heart healthy foods such as nuts, vegetable oils, dry fruits, dairy, carbohydrate heavy fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget the protein found in eggs, peanut butter and beans.
  • Avoid filling up the calorie count by means of ‘junk food’. These are empty calories that do nothing to help your child develop holistically.
  • If your toddler is a fussy eater, you have to ensure two things are always right. First that the meals are calorie and nutrient rich and secondly, that meal times are enjoyable and an unhurried affair.
  • If nothing else works, your doctor may prescribe a high calorie supplement drink.
  • Filling up on milk and other beverages is a common hunger killer. It leaves little room for other nutrient rich foods that are necessary for weight gain.
  • Increase the frequency of meals. Add 2-3 snack times to ensure that the child is meeting his daily quota of calories, as prescribed by the paediatrician.
  • Keep a daily diet chart of the child’s diet plan and stick as close to it as possible.

Once this checklist is in place and you have begun to follow it, do not be in a hurry to check your child’s progress daily. Let the doctor do it at a monthly interval. This will ensure that the child doesn’t become too self conscious about his/her weight.