Caloric Needs for Toddler

  • Posted by Dr. Jay Gordon
Q. “How many calories does a one-year-old need?  Mine seems to get through most days with almost none!”

A. The number of calories recommended is huge compared to the actual number reported to me by parents. Yes, I know of some toddlers who “eat more than I do!” but most do very nicely on half the 1500 calories and 70 grams of fat recommended.  My request is almost always the same:  Offer a healthy varied diet as listed above, and let your toddler pick and choose.  If they are growing nicely, playing hard and smiling a lot, they’re doing well even if they seem to be eating less than expected.  Please understand, I’m not recommending being relaxed about a pale child with low energy.  I’ve seen that, too, and the cause can be everything from iron deficiency to malabsorption.  What I’m saying is that these are rare cases and the much more common situation involves a child who just needs far fewer calories than the books say he does.