Young toddlers (age 1-3 years) need 3 mg of zinc each day, while older toddlers (4 years) need 5 mg each day, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI).
Zinc is a priority nutrient for growth, the normal functioning of enzymes throughout the body, and your child’s metabolism (the processing of food and energy). A deficiency of zinc can lead to stunted growth (lack of height gains), though this is a rare occurrence in the United States. To keep your toddler on a healthy trajectory, make sure to include good sources of zinc in his diet such as: red meat like lean beef, lean hamburger, and steak; fortified breakfast cereals; nuts like almonds and nut butters; low fat yogurt; beans; dark meat poultry like chicken legs and thighs; and cheeses like cheddar and mozzarella. Offering a variety of zinc-rich foods throughout the week will help your toddler meet requirements of this important nutrient.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, September 2020