Food for 2 year old baby girl

Feeding & Nutrition Tips: Your 2-Year-Old

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Ages & Stages

Ages & Stages

With your two-year-old's blossoming language and social skills, they're ready to become an active mealtime participant. They should no longer be drinking from a bottle, and can eat the same food as the rest of the family. Their diet should now include three healthy meals a day, plus one or two snacks.

Here are some tips to help your little one develop healthy, safe eating habits and get the nutrition their growing bodies need.

Mealtime tips for toddlers

  • Try not to fixate on amounts of food they are eating.

  • Avoid making mealtimes a battle.

  • Pay attention to adopting healthy eating habits—including sitting as a family at mealtime.

  • Focus on making healthy food choices as a family.

Unsafe foods for toddlers: choking risks

At two years old, your child should be able to use a spoon, drink from a cup with just one hand, and feed themselves a wide variety of finger foods. However, they are still learning to chew and swallow efficiently and may gulp food down when in a hurry to get on with playing. For that reason, the risk of choking at this age is high.

Avoid these foods, which could be swallowed whole and block the windpipe:

  • Hot dogs (unless cut in quarters lengthwise before being sliced)

  • Chunks of peanut butter (Peanut butter may be spread thinly on bread or a cracker, but never give chunks of peanut butter to a toddler.)

  • Nuts—especially peanuts

  • Raw cherries with pits

  • Round, hard candies—including jelly beans

  • Gum

  • Whole grapes

  • Marshmallows

  • Raw carrots, celery, green beans

  • Popcorn

  • Seeds—such as processed pumpkin or sunflower seeds

  • Whole grapes, cherry tomatoes (cut them in quarters)

  • Large chunks of any food such as meat, potatoes, or raw vegetables and fruits

The best foods for toddlers include:

  • Protein foods like meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and soy

  • Dairy such as milk, yogurt, cheese or calcium-fortified soymilk

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Grains such as whole wheat bread and oatmeal

It is normal for toddlers to choose from a limited number of foods, reject foods entirely, and then change their preferences over time. Never force your child to eat something they do not want to eat. The best approach is to let your child to choose from 2 to 3 healthy options, and continue to offer new foods as their tastes change.

Offering a variety of foods and leaving the choices up to your child will eventually allow them to eat a balanced diet on their own. Toddlers also like to feed themselves. So, whenever possible, offer your child finger foods instead of cooked ones that require a fork or spoon to eat.

Supplements for some children

Vitamin supplements are rarely necessary for toddlers who eat a varied diet, with a few exceptions.

Vitamin D. Infants under 12 months of age require 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day and older children and adolescents require 600 IU per day. This amount of vitamin D can prevent rickets—a condition characterized by the softening and weakening of bones. If your child is not regularly exposed to sunlight or is consuming enough vitamin D in their diet, talk to your pediatrician about a vitamin D supplement. See Vitamin D for Babies, Children & Adolescents for more information and a list of vitamin D-enriched foods.

Iron. Supplemental iron may be needed if your child eats very little meat, iron-fortified cereal, or vegetables rich in iron. Large quantities of milk (more than 32 ounces [960 mL] per day) also may interfere with the proper absorption of iron, increasing the risk of iron deficiency anemia.

Calcium. Your child should drink 16 ounces (480 mL) of low-fat or nonfat milk each day. This will provide most of the calcium they need for bone growth and still not interfere with their appetite for other foods—particularly those that provide iron.

Note: Children stay on whole milk until they are two years of age—unless there is a reason to switch a baby to low-fat milk sooner. Whole milk contains approximately 4% milk fat. It may help to gradually switch your child from whole milk to a lower-fat milk. Therefore, many pediatricians recommend that children get reduced fat (2%) milk for a few weeks before switching them to low fat (1%) or no fat (skim) milk.

More information

  • Sample Menu for a Two-Year-Old
  • Feeding & Nutrition Tips: Your 3-Year-Old
  • Selecting Snacks for Toddlers
  • I Need a Treat: How to Tame Your Child's Sweet Tooth
  • Diagnosis and Prevention of Iron Deficiency and Iron Deficiency Anemia in Infants and Young Children (0-3 Years of Age) (AAP Clinical Report)
Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Obesity (Copyright © 2022)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Easy Feeding Guide: What Two -Year-Olds Eat

Inside: What do two year olds eat? Here’s an easy guide that explains what two-year-olds need to eat and how to feed them. You’ll leave with a good understanding of what and how to feed your toddler!

When my son turned two, his feeding took a turn for the “I don’t want to eat it.” As a dietitian, you can imagine, I had some feelings about that. Feeding toddlers can be so tricky and I want to help walk you through what two-year-olds eat so that you can feel confident!

It may feel overwhelming to be feeding a two-year-old (at least pat yourself on the back, you made it through feeding a one-year-old!), so I’ve put together this easy feeding guide to walk you through the process.

How Two-Year-Olds Eat

Two-year-olds are so great! Playing, learning, and so curious about the world, they want to learn to do everything by themselves. I know it has it’s inconveniences, but it’s great for us in the feeding department. We can help them use their desire to do things by themselves to help two-year-olds eat better!

Two-year-olds can pick up small things and big things with their hands, and they may be extremely interested in using utensils. They may want to use big person utensils so they can be just like you! That’s great! We want them to eat, they want to use the utensils, perfect!

By now, toddlers need to be eating primarily table food – solid food that the family is eating (with choking hazards removed). Foods like pouches, purees, puffs, “baby foods,” etc. aren’t around very much, if at all.

If your toddler isn’t eating much, that’s okay. It’s normal for the amount of food they eat to vary from day-to-day. Often two-year-old picky eaters start to emerge because of a new fear of foods and a greater ability to discern bitter flavors.

Related: Get your Picky Toddler on the Road to Eating More Foods

What balanced meals do two-year-olds eat?

Toddlers are notorious for eating like birds one day and packing food down the next day. Toddlers may start eating much less food than they did when they were babies, and they still have small stomachs. Plus, they may start displaying more picky eating that you saw in the past. All of these things make it really important to come up with meals that are balanced and have a lot of nutrients.

I’m sure, however, that you know all the “problems” that arise when feeding toddlers. I’ll share a basic meal formula with you that will make it easier to feed your toddler through all the toddler things:
Protein food + fat source + fruit and/or veggie + energy food = balanced meal

Let’s get into each of these.

Protein foods that your two-year-old can eat (when cooked soft)

Protein comes in more than just meat. There are lots of protein foods that your two-year-old may be able to eat. Make sure they are cooked soft and diced, or served in safe ways.

  • Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Hummus
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Meatballs
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Peanut butter or nut/seed butters (spread on a cracker or bread, or mixed into something)
  • Ground up nuts or seeds mixed into other foods like yogurt or applesauce
  • Beans

Serve a protein food at every meal and snack. This trick and having a toddler feeding schedule, can help toddlers not ask for snacks every 10 minutes!

Fat sources for your two-year-old

Toddlers need fat for their brain development and for energy. We can serve foods that already have fat in them like meat or dairy, or we can add fat to our cooking and serving. Here are some great sources of fat for two-year-olds.

  • Avocado oil
  • Avocado
  • Full-fat dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Nut and seed butters (spread on crackers or bread, or mixed into other foods)
  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines)
  • Ghee
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil

Fruits and veggies for two-year-olds

Your two-year-old can eat any fruits and veggies that you serve with your own meals and snacks, as long as they are prepped in a safe way. The more the merrier! The more often your toddler sees fruits and veggies, the higher the chance they will try it and start eating it. Serving a green and an orange veggie daily helps them get enough vitamin A and other important vitamins and minerals. Here’s a short list of green and orange veggies to focus on:

  • Carrots (served cooked soft, or shredded)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Broccoli
  • Cooked greens

Other fruits and veggies like bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, and kiwi fruit help your child get the vitamin C they need to absorb iron into their body.

If you can, add a fruit and/or veggie at every meal and snack. Adding color helps them get the nutrients they need and helps keep them familiar with veggies and fruits.

Energy foods for two-year-olds

Two-year-olds need lots of energy! That’s why we need to provide plenty of energy foods like whole grains, starchy veggies, and fruit. It’s easy to find yourself in a constant cracker cycle with toddlers (goldfish tantrums, anyone?). Crackers are fun, for sure, but variety is the best. So, see how many different foods you can serve for energy each week.

Here are some nutrient-dense foods that may be good to add in to what you serve:

  • Oats (cooked)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Beans/peas/lentils
  • White potatoes
  • Bread
  • Dried fruit that has been cut into small pieces, cooked and softened, or cooked into things
  • Homemade muffins

Prevent choking when deciding what to serve your two-year-old

When deciding what your two-year-old will eat, make sure that you are not serving any choking hazards.

Here are some common choking hazards:

  • Tough meat
  • Chunks of nut butters
  • Hot dogs and sausages
  • Chunks of cheese
  • Gum
  • Hard candy, chewy candy
  • Raw veggies
  • Marshmallows
  • Whole grapes and cherry tomatoes
  • Popcorn
  • Whole nuts and seeds

To prevent choking:

  • Modify – soften or dice
  • Sit – make sure your child is sitting in a chair while eating
  • Avoid some foods that cannot be modified
  • Be prepared if something does happen

What do two-year-olds eat?

Here is a sample menu for the foods that could be served to your two-year-old. I have NOT included portion sizes! What? Am I crazy? Because, yes, that is the most common question I get about feeding toddlers. The thing is, the most important thing about feeding toddlers is learning that it’s their job to decide how much to eat! (Note: This is part of the Division of Responsibility in feeding. Read to learn more!)

Start with small portions, about 1-2 tablespoons of each type of food on their tray or plate. They will let you know if they want more of a specific type of food. They won’t eat what they don’t want to eat.

Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with a piece of toast and peanut butter

Morning Snack: thinly sliced cheese and apples

Lunch: Leftover spaghetti and meatballs with broccoli

Afternoon Snack: homemade muffin, milk, and strawberries

Dinner: deconstructed tacos with beans, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, ground meat, shredded cabbage, and other toppings

Need more meal ideas? Get tons of healthy snacks and lunch ideas for toddlers.

Feeding My Two-Year-Old Is Really Hard for Me

Actually figuring out what to feed your two-year-old is only the half of it. Feeding toddlers can be really tricky, frustrating, and even defeating.

If you’re struggling with your child because they won’t eat any of these foods, you may have a two-year-old picky eater on your hands. Here are a few places where you can find help for your specific issue:

  • Getting your toddler to eat: the 1 most important thing you can do
  • Everything you need to do if your toddler is not eating
  • Create your toddler’s feeding schedule in 5 easy steps

If you need more help, here’s help for a few common themes in child feeding:

  • My toddler is throwing food!
  • My toddler is not eating dinner
  • My toddler is refusing to eat anything but milk

If you’re looking for a guide that lays it all out in one place, you may enjoy my free child feeding guide: From Stress to Success: 4 Ways to Help Your Child Eat Better Without Losing Your Mind.

Union of Pediatricians of Russia

Nutrition for children from 1 to 3 years of age

The period from 1 to 3 years of life is a crucial stage in the transition to an adult type of nutrition, which has certain features. In order to ensure that all the necessary nutrients enter the child's body and at the same time prevent an excess of individual nutrients, nutrition should be balanced and varied. nine0003

The daily amount of food for children aged 1 to 1.5 years should be 1000-1200 g, from 1.5 to 3 years - 1200-1500 g, the amount of food in one feeding should not exceed 300-350 ml. The diet consists of three main meals per day and two snacks. It is considered optimal when breakfast is 25% of the total energy density of the diet, lunch is 30–35%, dinner is 20%, and additional meals are about 10%. In general, the child can eat the same food as the rest of the family. nine0003

In the diet of a child of 1–3 years of age , must be present daily: meat of animals or poultry, dairy and sour-milk products, vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals, vegetable and butter; fish and eggs are included in the diet 2-3 times a week.

Cereal products: bread - 2-3 servings per day, cereals and side dishes - 1 time per day
Fruit and/or vegetables: at least 5 times a day
Dairy products: at least 3 servings per day (including those used to make cereals, yoghurts, fermented milk drinks, cottage cheese, infant formula or breast milk). nine0003

Domestic pediatricians recommend, when compiling a diet for children aged 1–3 years, preference should be given to specialized children's dairy products of industrial production that meet high quality requirements and safety indicators for this age. Most children's dairy products are additionally enriched with vitamins and/or minerals and other biologically active components, taking into account the physiological needs of children of this age. At the same time, in foreign recommendations, children over 1 year old are offered the gradual introduction of whole cow's milk, which is rich in fats necessary for proper growth and development, the absorption of vitamins A and D, the development of the brain and nervous system of the child. nine0003

Meat dishes: 2-3 times a day
Fish dishes: 2-3 servings per week
Eggs: 2-3 per week
Dietary fats: 3-4 teaspoons of butter and/or vegetable oils per day

When cooking, use the minimum amount of salt and sugar, and do not add them to industrial products.

Offer your child a variety of foods and let them choose for themselves. Children love to eat on their own, so if possible, offer food that the child can eat with their hands. nine0003

It is important to remember that a baby can choke on pieces of food, so whatever you give your baby should be crushed or cut into small pieces that can be easily chewed.

Do not give to a small child: nuts, whole grapes, cherry tomatoes (unless quartered), whole carrots, seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds), round candies, legumes, raisins, because a child can eat them choke.

Also in the diet of children of the first 3 years of life should not be present:

Mushrooms; canned snacks, pickled vegetables and fruits
Home canned food
Dry concentrates for side dishes
Hot sauces, mustard, horseradish, pepper, vinegar, mayonnaise
Natural coffee
Juices and drinks in the form of dry concentrates; sweet carbonated drinks
Products containing food additives (flavorings, dyes of artificial origin, including chewing gum), popcorn
Combined fats; cakes and pastries

It is important to remember that children of this age should not be given too spicy and spicy foods.

Menu for a 2 year old with recipes

Menu author: Natalia Dik — pediatrician. She graduated from the Chelyabinsk Medical Academy, clinical internship and residency, specialty pediatrics. She has been working in her specialty since 2007, from 2005-2008 she has been the head of the Allergy Department of the City Clinical Hospital No. 1 of Chelyabinsk, since 2008 she has been a specialist in clinical trials of drugs. She enjoys cooking and practices the Menu of the Week system in her daily life. nine0067

By the age of two, most babies are able to eat many foods and dishes on their own, there is no need to grind food in a blender or knead with a fork. Rejoicing at such changes, some parents want to give the baby to try more new dishes. Some, on the contrary, are afraid to introduce something new, and they are in no hurry to transfer it to the general table. There is some common sense in both approaches. Although the digestive system of a two-year-old baby is already much more mature compared to a one-year-old, nevertheless, it is not yet strong enough. Therefore transition to adult food should be gradual .

The sample menu for week below is suitable not only for feeding a two-year-old child, but also for the whole family.

Do not worry if one of the days the child has not eaten all the dishes you have prepared. Our ideas about how much a two-year-old baby should eat often differ from reality in the direction of overestimation. In addition, children may have their own characteristics and preferences. Everything new is best offered in small portions. Often, babies carefully try unfamiliar or otherwise prepared foods, but if they are offered the same dish next time, they can eat it with pleasure. nine0003


Breakfast: Porridge made of oatmeal with caramel apples
Lunch: Pumpkin puree soup with chicken+salad “Sunny”
SUBMICA: Smoothies with sheepskin coat
Dinner: Stunk Vegetables with Facelics

Pediatrician's comment:

As with all ages, it is very important to diversify the diet of children, including different types of foods . At the same time, vegetables (fresh and cooked), fruits, cereals, milk and dairy products, vegetable and butter should be on the children's menu daily.

Recommended norm of milk and dairy products - up to 600 ml (of which at least 200 ml are fermented milk products), vegetables 300-400g (of which potatoes - no more than 150g), fruits - 130g, meat (red or poultry) - up to 90g per day , bread - up to 90g (of which black - no more than 30g).

It is advisable to eat fish 2-3 times a week (weekly norm 175g), eggs - no more than 3 times a week. nine0067


Breakfast: Kindergarten-style omelet
Lunch: Borsch-mashed potatoes + Potato casserole with vegetables
Snack: Baked apples with cottage cheese
Dinner: 9003 stewed vegetables Stewed vegetables

Pediatrician's comment:

Make sure your child drinks enough liquids. The norm is 35 ml/kg of water per day ie with a weight of 12 kg your baby should drink 420 ml. It is desirable that it be clean water. If the child refuses it, you can try to give unsweetened compote, herbal tea, but not store-bought juices.


Breakfast: Millet porridge with pumpkin in a slow cooker
Lunch: Borscht puree + White cabbage salad with apple
Afternoon snack: Banana smoothie with cookies and nuts
Dinner: Buckwheat porridge + Braised liver

Pediatrician's comment:

In the diet of two-year-old children, there should not be such things as fast food (in addition to hamburgers and french fries, these are various chips and store-bought crackers), smoked meats, semi-finished products (sausages, sausages), canned and pickled foods, mushrooms and seafood. nine0067


Breakfast: Cottage cheese casserole with apples
Lunch: Soup with fish meatballs + Carrots and dried apricots
Polteria: yogurt+milk cake
Dinner: buck

Pediatrician's comment:

Of course, it is best to prepare baby food from natural products. If, nevertheless, there is a need to purchase finished products (yogurts, curds, etc.) - , be sure to read the information on the composition of on the labels, since at present, even in products intended for baby food, you can often find various flavors, thickeners and preservatives.

Manufacturers use many tricks to confuse customers (for example, they write "No preservatives" even if the composition contains citric acid, a powerful preservative).


Breakfast: Sweet pilaf with dried fruits and nuts
Lunch: Soup with fish meatballs + Vitamin salad
POUSE: Yogurt+milk cake
Dinner: Potions with an intocaum and damp

Pediatrician's comment:

At the age of two, it is already allowed to introduce a small amount of fried , however, try not to abuse this cooking method, preferring boiling, stewing or baking to it. nine0067


Breakfast: Cottage cheese casserole with pumpkin in a multicooker
Lunch: Ratatui soup in a multicooker+beetroot salad with prunes and feta
Polorolet: Kisel from cherry
Dinner: Potato potatoes with an indocation and damp

Pediatrician's comment:

The diet of children at two years old remains 5 times a day: three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and two intermediate ones. If the break between the main meals is short, then in between it is enough to give an unsweetened fruit (apple, pear) or a vegetable salad (for example, apple + carrot). If the break is long, you can offer the baby a fermented milk product (yogurt, cottage cheese) with bread or cookies.


Breakfast: Pancakes with carrots
Lunch: Ratatouille soup in a slow cooker + Beetroot salad with prunes and feta
Snack: Cherry jelly
Fish casserole 603 9006

Pediatrician's comment:

Some experts do not recommend introducing sugar and confectionery into the diet until the age of three , or even for life. If you are already giving your child sweets, remember that the daily intake of sugar for a two-year-old child is up to 50g per day, and the less, the better.

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