How to Introduce Healthy Food to Toddlers (Picture Credit – Pexels)
When parents introduce healthy food to children, they often see them making wrinkled noses. Usually, toddlers need greater amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. These nutrients are found in foods that they refuse to eat most of the time. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to pick the food that your child should eat. But, when your child is a picky eater, it’s obvious that you will be worried that your child is not eating enough. Being the parent, you are the one in charge of introducing your child to healthy food habits and helping them develop positive attitudes towards food. This way, you can ensure that they will adopt a lifelong healthy eating lifestyle.
What are Healthy Food Choices for Toddlers?
Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, fibre, antioxidants, water and energy to your babies. These nutrients can protect your child from various diseases later in life such as stroke, heart disease, and some cancers. Make sure your children get an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables during every meal and for snacks. Try to include fruits and vegetables of different colours and textures and serve them fresh and cooked.
Grains – These include breakfast cereal, rice, bread, pasta, noodles, quinoa, oats etc. These food items will provide the energy for children to grow, learn and develop. Grain foods like whole grain bread and pasta which have a low glycaemic index will also keep your children feeling fuller for longer.
Dairy – Their meals should also consist of dairy foods like cheese, milk, and yoghurt. They are good sources of protein and calcium which will ensure that your children have strong bones and muscles.
Protein – Protein-rich foods include tofu, nuts, beans, chickpeas, lentils, eggs, fish, chicken etc. They contain many useful vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 which are important for brain and muscle development.
Apart from these, make sure that your child drinks plenty of water. Water is the healthiest drink, especially for children who are over 12 months old.
Importance of Family Meals
Family meals are a comforting ritual from both parents’ and children’s perspectives. They are a great opportunity to introduce children to new and healthy foods. Toddlers love to imitate their parents. When they see you eating more vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods, they will try to do the same.
Stock Up on Healthy Foods
Kids eat what is available at home. That’s why it’s important to be careful about what you store at your house- the food items you serve as meals and the ones you have in hand as snacks. Incorporate different sources of vitamins, proteins and other important nutrients into their meals. Serve them fruits and vegetables both for means and as snacks. Let them have water and low-fat milk.
Be Their Role Model
To encourage healthy eating in kids, you have to start eating well yourself. This is a time when your child will notice everything that you do. Parents who are complaining about their bodies and dieting can foster these negative feelings in their children. Always keep a positive approach to your body and food.
Don’t Battle Over Food
Don’t bargain or bribe kids so that they start eating healthy. Instead, give them some control over what they should eat. You can pick the food items that should be made available for them. Give them the freedom to choose what to eat among the available options. Also, let them decide when they are hungry and full.