Pediatric Nutrition

Diabetes Tips for Toddler

Feeding a toddler can be challenging without adding the complications of diabetes. One day they want nothing to eat, the next their appetite seems endless. Following are a few tips to help you as you feed your child and try to meet not only his or her needs, but desires as well:

  • If your child want to drink more fruit juice than the 4 oz. serving allowed, dilute the juice with water or diet soda, or offer a piece of fruit instead, which takes longer to eat and is more filling.
  • If your child doesn't like milk, flavor the milk with sugar-free Nestle's Quick or offer other high calcium foods such as cheese, plain or sugar-free yogurt, sugar-free pudding, or a sugar-free fudgesicle.
  • If your child won't eat vegetables, don't make an issue out of it. Vegetables are so low in carbohydrates that they have a minimal effect on blood glucose levels. Similar nutrients are found in fruit, juice, or vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • If your child will not eat fruit, offer fruit juice (limited to a 4 oz. serving) or use a vitamin/mineral supplement.
  • If your child won't finish his or her meal or snack, don't force the issue. Instead, offer beverages (milk provides both carbohydrates and proteins), or serve child-size portions (see our guidelines for serving sizes).
  • If your child wants more food, offer "free" foods such as a sugar-free popsicle, 1/2 cup of dry cereal, sugar-free gelatin or kool-aid and non-starchy vegetables. If this request continues, keep a food record and review the meal plan with your child's dietician.
  • If your child goes on a food jag (requesting one food often), don't object. Eventual boredom with the food will lead to change.
  • If your child takes a long time to eat, offer child-size portions and set a time limit for the child to complete the meal. Remove unfinished food when time is up.
  • If your child does not like eating breakfast vary the food offered (e.g., different cereals, bagels, english muffins, frozen waffles); mix Carnation Instant Breakfast in milk for a meal in itself; or try non-traditional breakfast foods such as pizza, sandwiches, or leftovers.
  • If your child wants a lot of sugar-containing foods, keep tempting sweets out of the house; limit these foods to portions containing less than 1 teaspoon of sugar; or offer replacements such as fruit juice-sweetened animal crackers, animal shaped cereal, and crackers.

(Taken from the Diabetes Educator, Vol. 17, No. 4)