Is your toddler following a vegetarian diet

When your child reaches one year old he will be getting most of his nutrition from foods in the diet and should have foods from each of the food groups in the food pyramid included as part of his daily diet. For more information read our article about healthy diets for toddlers.

It can be difficult to meet your toddler’s energy needs from a vegetarian diet as foods included in such diets tend to be low in calories. It is therefore important to offer snacks in between meals such as crackers, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter, smoothies, hummus, foods cooked in healthy oils like sunflower/olive.

All the nutrition you could ask for

Aim for 4 – 6 portions of cereal foods (bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, noodles) in your toddler’s diet per day. Choose breakfast cereals that have added iron, vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin D and calcium when possible.

Aim for 2 – 4 portions of vegetables and fruit per day in your toddler’s diet. You can offer extra portions as snacks in between meals or as dessert if desired.

It is important that your toddler gets 3 portions of the dairy food group per day (e.g. full fat milk, yoghurt, cheese) as these foods will provide energy, protein, vitamin B12 and calcium which are important for his growth. If your child is following a vegan diet, soya milk and soya products such as yoghurts can be used as alternatives but make sure they have added calcium.

It is important that you include 2 portions of the meat alternatives group to replace meat in your toddler’s diet

It is important that you include 2 portions of the meat alternatives group to replace meat in your toddler’s diet. These foods are important to ensure he gets enough protein in his diet to support his growth. Such foods include eggs, cheese, tofu, textured vegetable protein, quorn, peas, beans, lentils, and seeds.

Animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese and yoghurts and also soya products contain adequate protein to meet your toddler’s daily requirements. Vegetable sources of protein need to be combined together in your toddler’s meals to meet his requirements however. Examples include, milk in cereal, a peanut butter sandwich with a cup of milk, and beans on toast.

Does Your Toddler Need a Supplement?

You should speak with your GP or dietitian about the possibility of taking a supplement containing one or more of the following: iron, vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, and vitamin D.

If you would like to discuss your toddler’s vegetarian diet further, contact our Careline and speak to one of our Nutritionists.