A friend of mine with her first toddler was recently complaining to me about all of the contradicting advice that even her own doctors have been giving her. You’d expect such disparity on medical websites, but for two of your baby’s own doctors to disagree on a single topic will certainly make your head spin. Fiber was the issue that spurred her frustration, as one pediatrician told her to increase the amount of fiber in her baby’s diet, while the other insisted that she cut back. I helped her find the answer based on recent studies and research, and it turns out that both of her baby’s different doctors were right depending on the amount of fiber she was already giving her child.

Experts recommend that a toddler get approximately three servings of whole grains every day to ensure that enough fiber is present in the system, Without fiber, your toddler could have serious problems with constipation, so fiber is good, especially if your toddler is potty training or just getting used to bowel control. However, too much fiber will have the opposite effect and your child might have problems with diarrhea, especially if the fiber cannot be processed all the way. There is the added problem that when you feed your toddler too many grainy foods that are rich in fiber, he or she will be full of those grains and there will be less room for other nutrients. If your toddler is too full to eat fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods, he will become deficient in another vitamin quickly. Aside from fiber, grains have little nutritional value.

Of course, if your toddler seems to be having serious problems with bowel control and constipation, your doctor might recommend an adjusted amount of fiber to regulate the digestive system. If your toddler is having these problems, don’t try solving the problem on your own. Instead, see the pediatrician as soon as possible.       

Your toddler needs fiber in his or her diet, but it’s easy to over-do. Talk to his or her pediatrician, and eventually, by feeding your toddler the right foods often, good health and enough fiber will become habit. As with all of the other digestive processes in your toddler’s body, it’ll take time for the systems to process fiber successfully, so don’t introduce too much too early so that indigestion doesn’t occur.               

Source: Katherine Erlich et al: Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health. Fair Winds Press 2012

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