Great Ideas for Toddler Food
If you observe toddlers you will quickly see they believe themselves to be the most important people around. These little people will strut their stuff as if they have the world at their feet and quite often they do. These years can be some of the most enjoyable but also challenging for any parent.
During these early years young children use up tremendous amounts of energy as they grow rapidly and constantly keep themselves busy, running from place to place. Keeping your child active is a good idea to build a good appetite and hopefully tire them out for some good quality sleep.
When it comes to eating you may have noticed that your child is tending to be a little more selective in regards to what he/she will eat. Some of this is due to them being easily distracted and wanting to busy themselves with other important tasks as well as becoming aware of more attractive textures and food tastes. Your toddler will be closely monitoring the behaviour of those around in regards to food and eating. This is a great opportunity to positively reinforce good eating habits that will serve to last a lifetime.
You may have to put a bit more work in to get your child to sit and eat but it shouldn’t be any harder than during the first year of life, when everything was pureed. In fact if your offer your child an interesting and varied diet you can’t go wrong.
Toddler food is usually well tolerated by your child when you give control or most of it to your child at mealtimes. You can still guide them, distract them and gently encourage to eat.
Some tips that may help feeding your toddler food that is enjoyable and keeps the experience positive.
- Finger foods – toddlers love to be independent and enjoy nothing more than being in control of feeding themselves. You get to choose what they eat and they get to choose how much. If for some reason your toddler is not feeding by himself, it’s definitely time to start. Homemade pizza, fish fingers, toast with peanut butter, soft cheese, avocado are all good options.Try some pitta bread or vegetable sticks with hummus or other nutritious dips. Be adventurous.
- Keep it colourful – Toddler food should be colourful and attractive, enticing your child to eat. Luckily for us most vegetables and fruit are vibrant and colourful. Tomatoes, capsicum, peas and carrots can brighten up a plate and most need little or no cooking. Fruit is always a good option too.
- Protein – Offer you child the healthiest food first, saving the carbs for last. Most children will fill themselves up on pasta, rice and potato leaving little room for protein or vegetables. This way you know your child is getting the essential nutrients.
- Share – sit and share a plate of food with your toddler, it will make it more fun and likely for him to stay in one place.
- Routine – Most children like a routine and boundaries; it helps them feel safe and secure.·Try to ensure mealtimes and snack times are roughly the same time each day
- Snacks – are a great way to provide energy in between meals.A small snack such as small yoghurt, piece of fruit or rice cake will keep them going in between each meal. Try not to let your toddler graze otherwise they will not build up an appetite to sit and eat a meal.
- Drinks – offer water to drink, it’s much more healthy than anything else.Juice can be given, but it’s a good idea if you can dilute it and only offer a small cup a day
- Exercise – most toddlers keep themselves pretty busy in terms of exercise, continue to encourage this and get them walking whenever the opportunity arises
Toddler meals should not have to be especially prepared in advance as by now they should be eating the same food as the family. You may have to make a few minor changes such as adding a few more colourful veggies to the plate or hiding some vegetables in sauce or soup.
Although fresh is best, don’t be put off giving your child frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables. It’s better than not offering any at all. Lean meats, fish, pulses, cheese and eggs are all good sources of protein. All can be given as finger foods on their own or to compliment a nutritious meal.
Carbohydrates are usually very popular with children. Potatoes, rice, pasta and bread are all good sources of energy and nutrition for growing children.
Foods with a high saturated fat and sugar content should be avoided as they provide little nutritional value and will encourage unhealthy eating habits in your child. Toddler food that is high in sugar may also encourage undesirable behaviour in your child. Wholemeal flour, rice and bread are good energy sources and will keep the blood sugar levels stable if eaten with a healthy diet
Dental health will also be affected for the worse if your child is eating a diet high in sugar.
Oils – best to cook with olive oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil and avoid butter or lard.
Exercise – half and hour a day is the minimum recommended. This shouldn’t be too hard for most toddlers.
Healthy toddler food is easy to prepare and doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of meal planners on the internet if you get stuck for ideas. Make life easy for yourself and encourage all the family to eat the same foods.Toddler food should not be very different to any family food so try not to fuss over them too much. Above all it should be an enjoyable experience teaching them the importance of food in our society.
- The Fussy Eater
Many children go through a fussy eating stage. There are plenty of ideas to encourage your child to eat a nutritious diet even if they are picky eaters.
Note: The guide is not meant to be fully comprehensive and is meant for information only. The author makes no guarantee, either expressed or implied, regarding the efficacy or use for any reason of the information contained within this article.