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The Right Stuff

Breads, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta

Toddlers need at least six servings from this food group every day. One serving consists of one third cup cooked pasta, cereal, or rice; two thirds of an ounce of ready-to-eat cereal; or two thirds of a slice of bread.

Toddlers should consume a variety of breads, cereal, rice, and pasta so they receive enough fiber and carbohydrates, which provide energy. Toddlers need - and expend - tremendous amounts of energy. Also, many ready-to-eat cereals are enriched with iron and will help your child meet the daily requirement for this nutrient. This food group is one with which your toddler will be most familiar. Rice or barley cereal is the first solid introduced to a baby's diet. Soon they graduate to the little round cereal that is a perennial toddler favorite. Also, bits of bread, especially chewy bread and crackers, often soothe teething babies.

Most toddlers can handle a small sandwich, and this is a good way to serve them bread, says Corinne Montandon, Ph.D., R.D., a nutritionist with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She recommends that you make sandwiches with nutritious whole-grain breads. Although many white breads are enriched (which means vitamins and minerals have been added), they don't contain as much fiber.

Your child may like white bread, but now you need to broaden his tastes. Try making a sandwich with half white and half wheat bread, then cut it into small triangles and arrange some shapes white-side up and some brown-side up, and also point some toward the top of the plate and some toward the bottom. Don't forget to try other kinds of bread, too, such as bagels or pita bread.

Montandon had these suggestions to help you add toddler appeal to some foods in this group:

 

     

  • Mix a surprise into hot cereals, such as raisins, dried apricots or apple bits (all cut into very small pieces to prevent choking). Keep a variety of these surprises on hand and let your toddler choose the surprise for the day.

     

  • Combine pasta with other things you want your toddler to eat: meat, cheeses, and vegetables. Macaroni and cheese and spaghetti and meat sauce are popular with toddlers.

     

  • Smear graham crackers with peanut butter.

     

  • Make mini grilled cheese sandwiches (cut a regular sandwich into quarters) or mini pizzas composed of English muffins, a little sauce, and grated cheese.

     

  • Offer a bedtime snack of cereal and milk. Many toddlers love this snack at the end of the day.

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