Even if your toddler’s growth has slowed compared to when she was an infant, she still needs a nutrient-packed diet to aid in her growth and development. You can offer her white rice, but keep in mind that not all rice products are the same. Before preparing a bowl of steamed rice, whipping up the next batch of rice pudding or pouring a glass of rice milk, consider what your child is getting out of this food.
Toddler Nutrient Needs
According to KidsHealth.org, your toddler should consume about 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day. A 2-year-old toddler should have about 3 ounces of grains daily, and a 3-year-old should have 4 to 5 ounces per day. Half of this grain requirement should come from a whole-grain source. One half-cup of cooked rice is equal to a 1-ounce grain serving.
White vs. Brown Rice
The United States Department of Agriculture lists white rice as a refined grain. It has been milled to remove the bran and germ to extend the shelf life, but this process also removes most of the dietary fiber, iron and B vitamins. White rice is a simple sugar that is easily broken down and can cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly. Brown rice, on the other hand, contains the entire grain kernel and maintains its natural nutrient content. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate, which takes longer to break down and allows a toddler’s blood sugar to rise gradually. The fiber in brown rice helps aid digestion and helps your child feel full longer. The USDA recommends offering your child brown rice instead of white rice.
Take a look at the nutrient content of your rice before offering it to your toddler. One cup of long-grain white rice contains 200 calories, 4 grams of protein, 16 milligrams of calcium, 2 milligrams of iron and less than 1 gram of dietary fiber. One cup of medium-grain brown rice contains 218 calories, 5 grams of protein, 20 milligrams of calcium, 1 milligram of iron and 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Fortified White Rice
If you choose to offer your toddler white rice, opt for fortified rice or rice product. This type of white rice is fortified with folic acid and B vitamins to replace some of the nutrients that are lost in the processing. Dry white rice and rice milk packaging indicate whether it is fortified.
- KidsHealth: Nutrition Guide for Toddlers
- HealthyChildren.org: Childhood Nutrition
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Make Half Your Grains Whole
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Foods Are in the Grains Group?
- Self Nutrition Data: Rice, White, Long-Grain, Regular, Cooked
- Self Nutrition Data: Rice, Brown, Medium-Grain, Cooked
- KidsHealth: Carbohydrates, Sugar and Your Child
- KidsHealth: Fiber and Your Child
- USA Rice Federation: Brown and White Rice FAQs
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