The 5 best things to do for your toddlers health
Expert advice on how to feed your toddler to maximise his future health.
Toddlers health

The threat of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and allergy in later life can be minimised with the right nutrition during preconception, pregnancy and before a child turns three .

Research findings and practical, evidence-based recommendations to maximise nutritional status before and during pregnancy, as well as during infancy and early childhood, when the foundations of future heath are created have been outlined in a recently released Early Life Nutrition report compiled by a panel of experts.

Clear evidence

“Preconception, pregnancy, infancy and early childhood represent critical windows of opportunity for parents to adopt lifestyle changes and nutritional strategies that can improve foetal and childhood development and lower the risks of their children developing certain allergic and metabolic diseases in later life,” said neonatologist, Associate Professor John Sinn.

In addition to providing evidence of the link between early life nutrition and long-term health, the report also contains recommendations to maximise childhood development during the period in which the key foundations of future health are formed.

“Nutrition is one of the most easily modified environmental factors during early life, and has been shown to strongly influence foetal growth and development, as well as the risk of metabolic and allergic disease in childhood and adult life,” said Dr Sinn.

The report recommends the following evidence based actions as a way to maximise childhood development and help reduce the risk of metabolic and allergic disease in later life during the toddler years.

5 things to do right now

1. Water and pasteurised full cream cows’ milk are the recommended drinks for your toddler.

2. Limit sugar sweetened drinks and juice.

3. Accommodate small stomachs and offer small, nutritious, frequent meals.

4. Limit foods that are poor in nutrients, especially those that contain excess saturated fats, sugar and salt.

5. Demonstrate positive family unit eating behaviours, including during periods when your child is a picky eater.


This article was written by Margaret Rafferty and adapted for Kidspot, New Zealand's favourite parenting resource for Early Life Nutrition.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health care professional for advice about feeding your baby. This post is part of the Early Life Nutrition story.
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