Cyprus Dietetic & Nutrition Association
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Nutrition in infancy and childhood

Nutrition during the first years of life is crucial. The first years are the most important for the proper physical and mental development of children, for the formation of the appropriate substrate for the prevention of various diseases in adulthood, but also for the formation of habits.

Initially, proper and adequate nutrition during childhood allows the child to have the full mental and physical development that he can have, as his genes protect. Then, the growth rate in these years is the fastest that man has, with the result that the needs for nutrients are high and, if they are not met, there is a risk of disorders or deficiencies. Furthermore, scientific studies show that proper development in childhood supports the prevention of chronic diseases and longevity in adulthood. Last but not least is the issue of habit formation. During childhood, habits are formed which will follow the child throughout his life. Therefore, it is very important at this sensitive age to emphasize the creation of the right habits.

Toddlers / preschoolers grow and develop quickly and it is an important time to make sure they eat well to get all the energy (calories) and nutrients they need. This is also an important time for children to learn about food and eating, so that they get into the habit of eating a healthy, varied diet, which they enjoy with the rest of the family. However, it can be difficult for parents to know exactly what toddlers should eat and in what quantities.

Servings - 5532-per-day - perfect portions for little ones

Every day infants need three meals and some snacks consisting of foods from the four main food groups, in the right balance and in portion sizes that are suitable for them:

  • starchy foods x 5-a day
  • fruits & vegetables x 5-a day
  • dairy x 3-a day
  • protein foods x 2 per day *
  • drinks

* 3 servings if the child is a vegetarian.

= 5532-per day!

The following information describes these food groups in more detail and provides examples of foods and portion sizes suitable for children aged 1 to 3 years.

Finally, preschoolers continue to develop their eating habits and need encouragement to eat healthy meals and snacks. As your child determines their food preferences, make sure you pave the way for good habits by being a good role model. Offering a variety of nutritious foods and restricting your child's access to low-nutrient foods can help him learn to appreciate and make good food choices .

Starchy foods

Starchy foods, such as bread, rice, pasta, cereals, potatoes and yams, provide your baby with energy, B vitamins, calcium and fiber. Fortified starchy foods, such as fortified breakfast cereals, can also provide iron and, in some cases, vitamin D. High-fibre starchy foods, such as whole grain pasta and brown rice, should be introduced gradually. because toddlers can get enough of them very easily. bulky foods and stop eating before they consume enough energy for their needs.

Try to give your toddler at least five servings of starchy foods a day. Here are some examples of starchy foods in infant-sized portions.

½-1 slice of bread

1-2 rice wafers

3-5 tablespoons of breakfast cereals

1-3 tablespoons mashed potatoes

2-4 tbsp. cooked pasta / rice

2-4 potato wedges

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a really important part of the diet because they contain vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. You should encourage your child to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. It may be helpful to think about the colours of fruits and vegetables and offer "a rainbow" of choices by choosing purple / blue, orange / yellow, green and brown / white. Some children may initially reject certain fruits and vegetables, but do not stop offering these foods - sometimes you may need to offer them 5-15 times before your child accepts them - keep insisting! Encouraging infants to eat lots of fruits and vegetables will not only give them the nutrients they need, but will also train their palate to like these foods, which means they will be more likely to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. in childhood and adulthood.

Toddlers should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, here are some suggestions for infant-sized servings:

½-2 tablespoons raisins

¼-1 banana

3-8 grapes

½-2 tablespoons peas

½-2 tablespoons broccoli

¼-½ medium apple

1-3 cherry tomatoes

2-6 vegetable sticks

Dairy products

Dairy foods, such as cheese, yogurt, milk and fresh fruit, are a particularly good source of calcium, protein, fat and vitamins B2 and B12. Full-fat varieties are best for toddlers, but from the age of 2, semi-skimmed milk can be introduced if they grow well and eat a healthy, varied diet. Skimmed milk and 1% are not suitable for children under 5 years.

Toddlers need about 3 servings of dairy food a day. Here are some suggestions on how to look or get an appointment for baby showers:

1 glass of milk (100 ml)

1 small cup of yogurt (100-150gl)

1 triangle of cheese

2-4 tablespoons rice pudding

1-3 tablespoons cottage cheese

Protein foods

This group of foods includes meat, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes (such as beans, lentils and chickpeas) and foods made from legumes (such as tofu, lentil pasta, and soy minced meat etc). These foods provide protein and iron, which are essential for a growing child. In addition, fatty fish (such as salmon, trout and mackerel) are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and a dietary source of vitamin D. Try serving these protein foods with another food or drink rich in vitamin C (such as fruits, vegetables , natural fruit juice) as this will help absorb iron.

Your child needs two servings of protein a day, three if he or she is vegetarian or vegan. Here are some examples of foods and servings:

2-3 tablespoons chickpeas, beans, lentils or beans

2-4 tablespoons minced minced meat

1 fish fingers

½-1 poached egg, or boiled

Little peanut butter or almond butter on bread or apple


It is important to make sure that your toddler is hydrated, otherwise he/she may feel tired and not perform to his full potential and in extreme cases may become seriously ill. Try to offer your child six to eight drinks a day (about 1Litre). It is best to give your child water as a main drink or milk because it does not cause dental caries, unlike drinks that contain added sugars. If you are going to offer drinks with added sugars, they should be diluted and limited to meal times to protect your baby's teeth from caries, between meals water and milk are better. Also, to discourage your child from developing a strong craving for sugary drinks, it is best not to offer them too often at a young age. To protect teeth from tooth decay, infants should consume beverages (including milk) from a free-flowing cup or glass rather than a bottle.


By Ellie Hadjilucas, Scientific Collaborator of Charalambides Christis, Sports Nutritionist and Public Health Nutritionist



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