Toddlers keep a parent's day busy. Easy, healthy meals can keep parents on track to provide the quality nutrition toddlers need to grow properly. Parents may face some oppositional, difficult times feeding a toddler but with a variety of easy to fix choices at hand, mealtime does not have to become an insurmountable chore. Be flexible and keep many simple, toddler-friendly options prepared and ready to eat.
When planning your toddler's meals, be sure to provide the iron and calcium he needs daily. Iron rich foods include dried beans, meat and enriched breads. Calcium can be found in dark, leafy vegetables and dairy products. Follow the U.S. Department Of Agriculture MyPyramid food guide, providing toddlers with the minimum suggested serving size. Foods should include those from the vegetable, fruit, meat and bean, dairy, and grain groups.
Cold Finger Foods
On a warm day, a cold finger food meal works well for parents and toddlers. Cut all foods into pieces too small to be a choking danger for toddlers. Cut lean meats and cheese into bite-size pieces or shapes. Include soft, bite-sized pieces of fruits such as banana, kiwi and strawberry. Provide some veggies with a creamy dressing for dipping. Hard, crispy vegetables such as raw carrots and celery are choking hazards, so boil them until they become soft. After they've cooled off, cut the soft veggies into bite-sized pieces. Whole grain crackers complete the meal.
Make easy to chew sandwiches of whole grain bread, cheese and meat cut into triangle fourths or cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Make the sandwich using cheese and soft turkey or ham deli meats. For a kid-friendly flavor, spread some creamy dressing on the bread. For children under 3, peanut butter is a choking hazard, so avoid the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You can use cream cheese as soft sandwich spread. Top cream cheese with low sugar fruit spread, or be sneaky and work some spinach into your picky toddler's sandwich. Combine spinach, cream cheese and ranch dressing mix for delicious sandwich spread.
Many toddlers enjoy eating pasta. Shaped pasta of many varieties is available commercially in different shapes and sizes. Purchase large pasta shapes to help your toddler's efforts in feeding himself. Stir tomato sauce and ground meat into the pasta for a traditional meal. Shredded cheddar cheese, corn and ham cubes stirred in large pasta shapes also create a suitable toddler meal. For a cold pasta option, mix cooled pasta and cooked, bite-sized veggies with a creamy salad dressing.
Warm Finger Foods
Mastering a spoon and fork is a challenge for many toddlers. Finger foods allow toddlers to eat independently. You can still provide a warm meal if your toddler has not mastered utensils. Just be sure all food cools down before serving. Cut grilled chicken breast strips for your toddler's warm finger food meal. Add vegetables such as warm carrot medallions and baked sweet potato fries. Ham cubes, green beans and boiled potato chunks are another warm, finger foods healthy toddler choice. Provide a variety of dips for your toddler's enjoyment. Ketchup and ranch dressing are crowd pleasers, while more adventurous toddlers might even like hummus or baba ganoush.
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