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Whole grains for young children

close-up shot of african-american father and son eating breakfast

Should young children eat whole grains? It’s important for toddlers and preschoolers to have a healthy and balanced diet, and part of that balanced diet is eating whole grains. Helping your child enjoy whole grains at a young age can help them develop healthy eating patterns for the rest of their life. 

Why whole grains?  

Whole grains have important contributions to our health and whole grains are part of a healthy diet for young children. Whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are an important component of your toddler’s diet. Whole grains contain fibre which is vital to helping your young child avoid constipation and other digestive issues. There are many different reasons to include whole grains in yours and your kid’s diet, check out a few of them here. 

While young children may not enjoy whole grains the first time they are offered to them, stay consistent. Did you know, your child needs to try and be exposed to a food up to 20 times before they can decide if they like it or not. 

It is recommended that children consume at least half of their daily servings of grain products as whole grains, this ends up being 3 ounces of whole grain per day (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). The following medically reviewed list from VeryWell Family, shows the serving size for 1 ounce of whole grain, out of the recommended 3 ounces per day. It is a great starting point to help you feed your child their needed servings of daily whole grains.  

Whole grains serving size:

  • 1 whole-grain mini bagel 
  • 1 2-inch refined grain biscuit 
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread 
  • 5 whole-wheat crackers 
  • 7 refined grain crackers 
  • 1/2 English muffin 
  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal 
  • 1 packet instant oatmeal 
  • 1 4-inch whole-grain pancake 
  • 2 3-inch refined grain pancakes 
  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal flakes 
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown or wild rice 
  • 1 ounce uncooked white rice 
  • 1/2 cup cooked whole-grain pasta 
  • 1 ounce uncooked refined-grain pasta 
  • 1 6-inch whole-grain tortilla 

3 ounces of whole grains in a day could resemble half a cup of cooked oatmeal for breakfast, a slice of whole grain bread for lunch and 3 or 4 whole grain crackers as a snack or half a cup of cooked whole-grain pasta for dinner. Check out these tips on different ways to include more whole grains in your kid’s diet and your diet. 

Whole grains will fill up your toddler, allowing you to serve smaller portions and leave room for other nutritious food. Making sure that your young child eats enough whole grains in a day, does not need to break the bank, check out these tips for eating whole grains on a budget. Try substituting refined grains for whole grains at your next meal, you might be surprised what your child will like! 

Whole grain recipes

Try these whole grain recipes in your home to help your family consume more of Ontario’s whole grains.