Once you are past the baby food stage, feeding your toddler can become a bit tricky. Kids at that age are becoming more independent, but teaching them to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet is will support their growing bodies and help them to develop Healthy Eating Habits.
Many parents switch from Breast Milk Or Formula to Cow’s Milk at about the one year mark. Whole fat milk should be used rather than low fat or skimmed, since the additional fat is vital to a toddler’s normal growth and brain development.
While most toddlers enjoy fruit juice, try to limit the consumption to one small glass daily since it is high in calories without providing much in the way of nutrition. It is a good idea to offer fresh water between meals to encourage your toddler to stay well hydrated.
Simple is Best
In families with no history of food allergies, toddlers are free to eat much the same foods as the rest of the family. Most young kids prefer simple foods over recipes with a long list of ingredients, which is fine. It is a good idea to get toddlers accustomed to eating veggies without butter or other sauces so that they will learn to appreciate the taste of wholesome food.
At this age, you are establishing eating habits that will last throughout your child’s lifetime, so take advantage of the opportunity to train their taste buds to enjoy nourishing foods.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Eating the same meals day after day can quickly get boring, so offer your toddler a wide range of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grain foods. Getting into the habit of selecting seasonal produce will help you to keep the menu interesting and will be easy on your budget, too.
Many kids enjoy dipping their vegetables into a low fat yoghurt based dip, and if you keep a good supply of vegetables cleaned and cut up in the fridge, your family will be much more likely to grab them when they are hungry. Whole grains provide valuable fibre and nutrients that are not present in processed foods, so be diligent about avoiding gummy white bread. If you consistently provide nutrient-rich foods, that is what your toddler will become accustomed to.
Most toddlers prefer to eat a small amount five or six times every day, rather than sitting down to three large meals. There is nothing wrong with snacking as long you make healthy selections. Fresh fruit, whole grain toast with jam, peanut butter stuffed celery, veggies with dip and cheese, are all snacks that most toddlers will happily eat.
Your child’s GP is your best source of individual advice on your toddler’s nutritional needs. Portion sizes and overall calorie intake will vary depending on your child’s height, weight and overall health. If your child has special health concerns, you may want to consult with a paediatric dietician.
Since toddlers do not eat much over the course of the day, it is important that their food choices be healthy ones. Avoid fast food, chips, processed bakery items and sweets since these items offer no benefits to a growing child. Sweets and the like should be reserved for special occasions, not for regular meals.
Another thing to consider when feeding your toddler is safety. Choking is responsible for the death of many toddlers each year, so be sure that you are always on hand to supervise mealtimes. Additionally, know that certain foods are especially hazardous to young children since their shape makes them prone to lodge in a child’s small throat. Grapes, hot dogs and cherry tomatoes should be cut into very small pieces and most experts do not recommend allowing toddlers to eat popcorn.
Little Eyes are Watching
While most of us enjoy the occasional salty snack or sweet, it is important that the adults in the family set a good example of healthy eating for their little ones. Children learn by example, so be sure that you eat your veggies, too!