At 1, your toddler should eat the same foods enjoyed by the rest of the family. Starting him off on a healthy diet, helps ensure he continues to have healthy eating habits. Meanwhile, do continue breastfeeding until baby turns 2.
Preparing Healthy Meals for Toddler
Variety is key.
- Pick foods from each food group in the Malaysian Food Pyramid for a balanced meal.
- Always select different food items within each food group to ensure variety and a balanced intake of different nutrients.
Limit oily and high fat foods
- Instead of frying, try other ways such as baking, grilling, air frying, stewing and steaming.
- Replace animal fats (saturated fats) with vegetable oil when preparing foods. Try blended vegetable oil high in PUFA such as palm oil blended with soya oil.
- Trim visible fat from meat and remove skin from poultry before cooking.
Limit use of processed meats
- Meat products like sausages, nuggets and cold cuts should not be eaten more than once a week.
Limit salt intake
- Allow your toddler to develop a liking for the natural taste of foods by not adding too much salt to his meals.
- Cut down or halve the use of salt and sauces in cooking.
- Replace salt with herbs and spices to add a variety of flavour to foods, as well as enhance natural flavour.
Use less sugar
- Substitute sugar with flavourful spices such as nutmeg, vanilla or cinnamon.
Encourage nutritious snacks
- Such as fruits and vegetable.
Serve snacks two hours before main meals (see reference 3 for more snack ideas).
Make meals more appealing
- Use moulds, as well as interesting tableware and cutlery to make meals more appealing.
- Arrange foods in interesting shapes, such as smiley face, to make meals and snacks fun.
Prepare home cooked meals
- They encourage the whole family to eat together more often.
- There is more control over the type and amount of ingredients used, as well as the cooking methods employed.
- Some studies suggest that children who eat home cooked food often with their family grow up with less risk of developing unhealthy eating habits or weight problems.
Insert video: Demo “how to prepare healthy meals for your toddler”
Recommended Food Intake for Toddler
- As a toddler has small stomachs, he will get hungry quite quickly. Aim to feed him 4 to 5 main meals with 1 to 2 snacks, daily.
- The energy requirements for active toddlers are 980kcal (for boys) and 910 kcal (for girls).
- Sources of energy should be mainly cereal and cereal products, as well as tubers.
- Toddlers can start drinking cow’s milk. Offer this as a snack instead of main meal. Breast milk is still the preferred choice as breastfeeding is recommended until up to 2 years of age.
- When preparing meals, select one food from each food group from the Malaysian Food Pyramid.
- A child’s serving size should be approximately one-quarter of an adult’s. For example, a serving of vegetables for toddlers would be about 1 to 2 tablespoons. For meat, toddlers need a serving the size of their palm.
The Importance of Continuing Breastfeeding Until Up to 2 Years Old
By your baby’s first birthday, he should be consuming a wide variety of solid foods. While the main source of energy should come from solid foods, breast milk continues to provide nutritional and immunological benefits to baby. Breastfeeding also acts as a source of profound comfort and security, laying the groundwork for a confident, happy, and healthy future. Therefore, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding your baby up till 2 years of age or beyond.
For further information on infant and child nutrition, please refer to
- MINISTRY OF HEALTH MALAYSIA (2013) Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents. Putrajaya: Technical Working Group on Nutritional Guidelines (for National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition).
- NUTRITION SOCIETY OF MALAYSIA (2011) Healthy Spoonfuls for Toddlers. Petaling Jaya: Mother’s Smart Choice.