Along with a burgeoning vocabulary and rapidly developing motor skills, many toddlers develop strong opinions about the foods they will -- and will not -- eat during mealtimes. This growing independence, along with a natural trend toward slower growth in the toddler years, means that getting healthy foods into your toddler at mealtimes can be challenging. Accepting toddlers' natural tendency toward grazing by offering your toddler a variety of smaller portions of foods can help your toddler get the nutrition he needs. It can also make mealtimes more pleasant and relaxing for the entire family.
Add even more nutrition to iron-enriched hot or cold cereals by topping them with dried or stewed fruit or applesauce. You can "healthify" French toast, waffles and pancakes by making them with whole grains and serving them with fruit spreads instead of syrup. Instead of the same old boring scrambled or fried eggs, try making "egg in the hole" for your toddler. Use a cookie cutter to cut a shape into the center of a piece of bread and cook the egg inside the bread, using minimal oil. If your toddler doesn't want to eat his breakfast, let him drink it. Create smoothies by blending his favorite fruits with milk or juice and plain yogurt.
Sandwiches usually come to mind when you think of lunch, but adult-size sandwiches are often too large for toddler's smaller appetites. Think small when creating a toddler lunch. Fill a muffin tin or an ice-cube tray with small portions of toddler-friendly foods. Options include cheese cubes, dried cereal, apple "moons," hard-boiled egg wedges, carrot "swords" and banana "wheels." To add even more nutrition to his lunch, include your toddler's favorite dip or cream cheese, cottage cheese, hummus, yogurt or peanut butter. Dips and spreads often make fruits and vegetables more appealing to finicky toddlers.
Dining together as a family at mealtimes enhances your toddler's appetite and teaches her the basics of healthy eating. It can also help you avoid turning into a short-order cook who makes different foods for each member of your family. Your toddler can eat bite-sized pieces of most adult foods. Her tummy is approximately the size of her fist, so offer her small portions. Include some of your toddler's favorites at each family mealtime, but encourage her to try new foods as well. Some toddler-friendly foods include avocados, whole-grain pastas, cooked broccoli, peanut butter, fish, eggs, yogurt, chicken, cheese and sweet potatoes.
Toddlers generally need at least two snack times a day, one at mid-morning and the other at mid-afternoon. Use snacks as an opportunity to get extra nutrients into your toddler. Top whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter, applesauce or cheese. Create a toddler-friendly trail mix out of o-shaped cereal, dried fruits and yogurt or carob chips. Make homemade freezer pops by filling freezer molds with pureed fruit and yogurt. If you don't have molds, fill an ice-cube tray with the mixture and stick a plastic spoon or craft stick in each one for a handle.
Like This Article? Let Us Know!
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images