If your toddler is almost 2 and she’s still wearing 18-month old clothing, don’t fret. Toddlers grow a lot slower than they did as infants, adding about 3 to 5 inches a year, compared to the 3 inches every three months as an infant. While height is mostly determined by genetics, giving your toddler the right foods will make sure she grows into her genetically determined height.
Without enough calories, your toddler cannot grow to her full potential. While all foods provide calories, most of the calories in grains come from carbohydrates, which your toddler needs for energy. Grains also supply B-vitamins and iron, also important for normal growth and development. Whole grains make the healthiest choice. Grains should be offered at each meal. Try whole-grain cereal at breakfast, whole-wheat bread at lunch and whole-wheat pasta at dinner. This is also a good time to introduce different types of grains, such as barley or millet. Whole-grain crackers also make good snack choices.
If you want to make sure your toddler grows tall, make sure she drinks her milk. As a good source of calcium and vitamin D, milk helps bones grow. If your toddler is under the age of 2, make sure she’s drinking whole milk — she needs the fat for brain development. Older toddlers can safely drink 2- or 1-percent milk. Milk isn’t the only source of calcium and vitamin D; you can also give your toddler yogurt and cheese to help her meet her needs.
Fruits and Vegetables
You know that fruits and vegetables are healthy and help keep you from getting sick, but toddlers need to eat them because they contain nutrients that help them grow. The vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables also helps with bone growth. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A include spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, mango, peaches and cantaloupe. Try to include at least one good source of vitamin A in your toddler’s diet every day to help her meet her growth needs. If you are one of the many moms struggling to get your toddler to eat veggies, add a ranch dip to make eating the vegetables tastier and more entertaining to eat.
Meat and Beans
Not getting enough iron in the diet can impair growth and development. Meat and beans are a good source of iron in your toddler’s diet. Getting your kids to eat meat or beans can be difficult, but they only need 2 to 4 oz. a day. Even if your toddler refuses to eat the meat or beans you provide at meals, continue to put it on her plate. It can take several tries before she is willing to try it. It also helps if you keep it simple. Keep your meats plain and not mixed with other foods. Good choices include ground meat, chicken cutlets or hummus.