Toddler Food For The Win
The toddler years, while challenging, are also exciting in watching your little one explore and learn about their world for the first time. As you transition from those cuddly babies into the toddler years, it can be tricky knowing what toddlers should eat. Please don’t get overwhelmed; educate yourself, think outside the box, and in the end, remember it’s a partnership.
Let’s Break It Down
While they may be little, toddlers sure have strong minds. According to the CDC, the toddler years between one and three are crucial in a child’s growth and development. Key nutrients of importance for toddlers include iron, zinc, potassium, Vitamins D, and E. The omega-3 fatty acids DHA, EPA, and ALA are also typical to be lacking in a toddler’s diet. Providing healthy food for toddlers and encouraging them to have a varied diet every day will support your toddler’s development.
When it comes to meals, it’s helpful to give kids a ten-minute heads up; it’s almost time to eat. Some toddlers are so tired or excited from playing; this will help with the transition. Try to establish routines and stick to a schedule for each meal. While no parent always has it down perfectly, reserve meals for eating and talking only, no technology, toys, items that could distract them. Mealtimes are a great time to look forward to being together, keeping the mood upbeat and light.
Every age has different needs, but make sure you start amounts small. Small portions allow them to ask for more. Unlike generations in the past, try not to force your child to clean their plate. Once they’re no longer hungry, your child should be allowed to stop eating. Making them eat when they’re not hungry can interfere with the natural cues that tell them when they’re full. Allowing them to choose when to stop eating teaches them how to listen to their bodies.
Give yourself some slack when it comes to days when they don’t want to eat much or might not like certain foods; they’re still figuring out what they like. You’ll be relieved to know, picky eating is typical behavior for toddlers. Food is one area of their lives where they can exert some control, so by refusing to eat, your child is practicing independence. Do not be discouraged if your child does not like a new food on the first try; it may take time to get used to some foods.
Grow And Evolve
Try to make the experience as fun as possible. A recent article from Healthline supplied quick and simple creations that will keep your toddler interested. Cut food into shapes with cookie cutters. Allow them space to play with their food. Maybe even come up with memorable names for their favorite foods. There is an abundance of free online videos that take the guesswork out of ideas. All little ones like dipping, so serve veggies and fruit with dressing, hummus, almond butter, or yogurt.
Children love being treated like big kids, so give them a couple of options to choose from. Allow them with guidance to pick out a few healthy choices at the grocery store. Be cautious when it comes to packed toddler food, as many of them included added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients that could start your child’s palate off on the wrong foot. As adults realize, junk food can be addicting, so don’t start the bad habit.
You’re Not Alone
When it comes to concerns, don’t feel bad reaching out to your doctor for help. While the internet can give your guidance in some areas, always remember everyone has their own opinion, and you need to do what’s right for your child. The United States Department of Agriculture website ChooseMyPlate.gov offers useful information about nutrition for children. Another educated resource is the United States Library of Medicine, which provides accurate and fact-driven information.
While it’s easier said than done, try to be a good example in your nutrition. When parents make an effort to practice healthy eating and educate their children, they will be more likely to learn good habits from you. The toddler years are a fantastic time of growth and development. But also a time when it is paramount to establish lifelong healthy eating habits. Stick to your game plan, don’t over worry, and when it comes to the toddler years, remember the days are long, but the years are short.