Frequently Asked Questions
My toddler prefers to drink juice instead of water or milk. How much juice is okay?
Does my toddler need vitamins and mineral supplements?
Can my toddler be a vegetarian?
What should I do if my toddler says “No!” to a meal or snack?
How do I safely cook and reheat foods in the microwave?
Most children love juice because it tastes sweet. A child who drinks too much juice or other sweet drinks may fill up on juice and not have enough room for healthy meals and snacks. Sipping juice or other sweet drinks from a bottle or sippy cup can also lead to tooth decay.
A good rule of thumb is to:
- Offer milk or water at meals and snacks
- Offer water any time a child is thirsty
- Offer vegetables and fruit more often than juice
- Limit juice to ½-3/4 cup per day at meal or snack time
- Serve juice in a cup, not a sippy cup or a bottle
- Choose 100% vegetable or fruit juice, not a vegetable or fruit drink
If your toddler is eating a variety of foods from all the food groups, is growing well, and looks healthy, he or she probably does not need extra vitamins or minerals, except for the following:
Breastfed toddlers up to 12 months of age need a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day. Formula fed toddlers will need a vitamin D supplement if they drink less than 1000 ml (4 cups) of formula each day. Call Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC (8-1-1) for information about vitamin D food sources and supplements.
Children over 12 months of age need 600 IU of vitamin D each day. Your toddler may need a vitamin D supplement to reach the recommended amount. Call Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC (8-1-1) for information about vitamin D food sources and supplements.
Food sources of vitamin D include:
- 1 egg: 25 IU
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) margarine: 25 IU
- 30 g (1 oz.) salmon: 100 IU
- 250 ml (1 cup) cow’s milk: * 100 IU
- 250 ml (1 cup) formula: 100 IU
* Cow’s milk is NOT recommended for children under nine to 12 months.
Vitamin D helps to build healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D may also help prevent some chronic diseases later in life, such as diabetes. In the past, when the dangers of too much sun were still unknown, toddlers made enough vitamin D from being in the sun. We now know they should be protected from the sun. Also, from October to March, the Canadian sunlight is too weak for toddlers to make vitamin D. Toddlers need the vitamin D in their food to meet their bodies’ needs.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Iron deficiency is a concern for growth and brain development. If your toddler is not eating iron‑rich foods or is a vegetarian or vegan, talk with your doctor.
Do not give cod‑liver oil to your toddler. Cod‑liver oil is too high in vitamin A for toddlers. Overdoses of vitamin A can be poisonous.
If you give your toddler a vitamin and mineral supplement, choose one approved for your toddler’s age. Speak to your pharmacist who can help you find the right one. Help keep your toddler safe from overdoses by not calling supplements “candy” or “sweets” and keeping them out of reach.Can my toddler be a vegetarian?
The term “vegetarian” can mean different things to different people. Some vegetarians choose not to eat red meat. Others choose not to eat red meat, fish, or poultry. People who call themselves “vegan” choose not to eat any food that comes from animals.
By choosing foods carefully from all four food groups, you can make sure that your toddler is meeting her or his nutrition needs. You can find the food groups listed in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
If you choose not to offer meat, choose meat alternatives, including:
- Beans and legumes
- “Veggie” meats
- Nut and seed butters
If food choices are too limited, your toddler may not get all the nutrients he or she needs. Your toddler will get the right foods if the meals you offer contain foods from all four groups. Offer snacks that contain food from two or more food groups.
If you want your toddler to eat as a vegan, consult a registered dietitian to make sure your toddler gets the nutrients he or she needs. Call HealthLink BC at 8‑1‑1 to speak to a registered dietitian or contact the community nutritionist in your local public health office.What should I do if my toddler says “No!” to a meal or snack?
Sometimes you may get a strong “No!” from your toddler at a meal or snack time. If this happens, end the meal naturally and remind her or him when the next meal or snack will be offered. By doing this, you are supporting your toddler’s feeding “job” of choosing whether to eat.
Here are some other helpful tips when the feeding cue is “No!”:
- Allow your toddler to leave the table.
- Wait until the next regular meal or snack time to offer food or drinks.
- Avoid using dessert or other foods and drinks as a bribe for finishing food.
- Avoid using food for comfort. Try offering playtime, attention, and affection instead.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself if you are not sure whether your toddler’s feeding cue is “No”:
- Is your toddler overtired, excited, or sick? Schedule some quiet time or check out your suspicions.
- Is your toddler full? Check the amount of cow’s milk or juice being consumed. More than 500 ml (2 cups) of cow’s milk per day leaves little room for food. Offer water instead.
- Has your toddler been drinking juice? Juice is not necessary. If you choose to offer juice, toddlers six to 12 months old should have no more than 60–125 ml (1/4–1/2 cup) of 100% juice a day. Children one to six years old should have no more than 125–175 ml (1/2–3/4 cup) of 100% juice a day.
How do I safely cook and reheat foods in the microwave?
Following these steps for microwave safety will help protect your toddler from food or drinks that are unevenly heated.
- Stir or turn foods at least once midway through cooking or reheating.
- Check the temperature of food by tasting it before giving it to your toddler.
- When cooking foods in a microwave, heat them to a temperature at least 14°C (25°F) higher than what is recommended for other types of cooking.
- When reheating food in a microwave, heat to 88°C (190°F). Then allow it to stand covered for two minutes after heating.
- Heat bottles in hot water. Liquids heated in a microwave can heat unevenly and burn your toddler’s mouth.