Two year olds need:
- 5 ounces of grains (one slice of bread or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta),
- 1 ½ cups of fruits (¾ cups juice, ½ cup canned fruit, ¼ cup dried fruit, 1 piece of fruit or melon wedge),
- 1 ½ cups of vegetables (½ cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables, 1 cup raw leafy greens),
- 2 cups of milk or other dairy products,
- 2–4 ounces of high-protein foods (meat, poultry, eggs, and legumes)—1 ounce meat, 1 egg, ¼ cup legumes such as beans, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter,
- 3–4 teaspoons of healthy oils such as canola oil, olive oil, or tub margarine,
- Fats and sweets are empty calories and should be avoided.
Based on the activity level of each child, two year olds may need more or less than the average. The more active the child, the more calories she will need.
The food quantity averages refer to two year olds who engage in 30–60 minutes of physical activity per day. Calculate how many calories your two year old needs. The average child needs 34–41 calories per pound of body weight each day.
Offer your opinionated two year old two healthful options so she feels like she is more in control. Put small portions on her plate at first so she does not feel overwhelmed and then add more food after she finishes the first serving.
Adding dipping sauces or encouraging your two year old to be a part of making the meal can make her more excited about eating (let her assemble the sandwich or spread peanut butter and place raisins on celery for ants on a log).
Two year olds are becoming more social, so sit down for lunch or other mealtimes with your child. Moving from a highchair to a booster seat encourages more socializing. In addition, by sitting your child closer to you at the table, you can model how to use utensils and how to act at the table.
Two year olds should be moving toward using utensils such as a spoon and cup. Nonskid plates and bowls help your two year old scoop food into her spoon. Cut up her foods into small, bite-size pieces so that she can easily go from spoon or fork to mouth.
With the introduction of more varieties of food, some two year olds begin to develop allergies. Indications of allergies include sneezing, itching, swelling, and skin rashes.
Food allergies are usually quite rare and follow family genetics. If you have a food allergy that runs in your family, be careful when giving your child that food. Food allergies in young children can go away with age.
Hay fever can occur with environmental or seasonal allergies when your child is allergic to pollen, grass, dust, or animal dander. Symptoms include watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. Because two year olds cannot yet blow their noses to clear their nasal passages, mucus drips down their throats, causing them to cough.
Your two year old’s digestive system is starting to change because your child is having more consistent bowel movements, and new textures of foods are being introduced. Your child may complain about stomach pain if he has to go to the bathroom and isn’t yet in control of the feeling or is feeling emotionally stressed and can’t put together the words to tell you. Most complaints about stomachaches with two year olds are minor and can be helped by giving your child something to eat or having him try to go potty. If his stomach pain is accompanied by a fever or vomiting, he may be sick.
Constipation is not always a sign of illness but can make your child uncomfortable. Constipation is usually accompanied by hard or painful stools.
What to do:
- Increase fluid intake: Give your child more water to drink.
- Diet: Make sure you are giving your child correct portion sizes when it comes to food, and also change the variety of foods you serve. Provide more fruits and vegetables.
- Try prunes, dried fruits (raisins and apricots), oatmeal, or green vegetables.
- Stay away from cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese, cooked carrots, and bananas when constipated.
Diarrhea is the opposite of constipation and involves very loose or too many bowel movements. Diarrhea can cause your child pain as well as make him become dehydrated and lethargic. Diarrhea can be caused by a virus or contaminated food or can be a side effect of medication. If diarrhea starts quickly but ends by the next meal your child eats and isn’t accompanied by fever, you probably should not be concerned.
What to do:
- Try bananas, white toast, white rice, and electrolytes to drink (such as Pedialyte®).
- Avoid drinks with sugar like soda or ginger ale because the sugar in the drinks may upset your child’s stomach.
Vomiting is usually the result of a virus caused by bacteria or a parasite. It can sometimes be followed by diarrhea. Vomiting can also cause dehydration.
Signs of dehydration include:
- not urinating,
- dry lips and mouth,
- looking pale.
What to do: If your child is having trouble holding down liquids or food, try to rehydrate him with an oral rehydration solution. Examples of oral rehydration solutions include:
- watered-down juice,
- chicken broth.
When administering oral rehydration solutions:
1. Give your child only a teaspoon of fluid every five minutes to help him keep it down.
2. If your child is able to keep down the liquid, keep increasing the amount of fluid you give him.
3. Keep giving your child fluids until he stops vomiting.
4. If your child is ready to eat again, try to stick to these foods: dry toast, small amount of pasta (no sauce), hard-boiled egg, rice, bananas.