Today’s post comes to you from Dr. Orlena Kerek, who recently released a book called Feeding Toddlers.: A Pediatrician’s Guide to Happy and Healthy Meal Times. Dr. Kerek wanted to share her guidance for feeding toddlers with structured mealtimes and a nutritious variety of foods! If you like the ideas shared in this article, be sure to check out her most recent book.
What is Healthy Eating for Toddlers?
If you have young children you may be wondering how I can mention the words “healthy eating” and “toddlers” in the same sentence. It is true that most children, especially toddlers, have a natural tendency for sweet and processed foods. Yep, they nag for cookies and refuse to eat anything else.
But children form eating habits from a really early age. As young as 2 or 3. So it’s a great opportunity to mold them and teach them healthy eating habits which will stay with them for life.
And once you have a structure in place, it’s not difficult or stressful to offer your kids healthy foods.
But what exactly is healthy eating for toddlers? I’m sure you know but I really think it’s worth going over the basics. After all, it’s difficult to teach your kids to love healthy foods if you aren’t presenting them with healthy options.
In a Nutshell
Healthy eating can be summed up really easily.
Lots of fruit and vegetables. Not so much processed food.
If you stick with this motto, you can’t go too far wrong.
A Closer Look
Lots of fruit and veggies. In fact, roughly half of what you eat should be fruit and veggies. Don’t worry if your kids don’t eat that much. They are learning. Keep presenting healthy fruit and veggies, don’t pressure them to eat and they’ll get there eventually. There are lots of ways that you can offer your kids fruit and vegetables, frozen, fresh, dried, cooked.
Protein. Around a quarter of what you eat should be protein. That’s things like meat, fish, eggs and vegetable proteins such as garbanzo beans. Kids need proteins for growing. Try to offer proteins other than meats.
Carbohydrates. These are your energy source. Things like grains, potatoes, rice and pasta are all carbohydrates. Lots of kids are “carb junkies” and that’s fine. They need energy for all that running around. Just keep presenting them with healthy fruits and vegetables as well.
Dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt are all dairy products that are full of calcium that our kids need for making bones. (There are lots of non-dairy sources of calcium too.) Most toddlers need 2 glasses of dairy a day.
Water. Water is the best drink for kids (and adults). It is the best way to keep you hydrated. Of course other drinks are fun from time to time but they should be drunk in moderation.
Treats. All those foods that are high in added sugar and fat. Yes, I’m talking processed candy, fizzy drinks, chips, cakes. All those delicious sweet treats. It’s fine to eat these foods in moderation but they generally don’t give you much more than calories. Treats are fine but remember than moderation is the key.
How Do You Get Toddlers to Eat?
Just keep presenting them with healthy food options. It’s that simple. If they don’t like it, don’t worry and don’t force them to eat it. Be patient and pristine and keep presenting them with healthy food. Eventually they’ll learn to love the healthy tasty food that you give them.
Dr. Orlena Kerek
Dr. Orlena Kerek is a pediatric doctor. She is the creator and producer of SnottyNoses, a family and parenting site. She is passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle in children, especially healthy eating habits.
She has published 3 books to help you teach your children to eat healthily. Crunch! Put a Stop to Picky Eating and Help Your Kids Love Veggies is aimed at all children. Her latest book is now available and worth a read if you are having concerns or need some inspiration Feeding Toddlers, A Pediatrician’s Guide to Healthy and Happy Mealtimes
For more information visit Snotty Noses: Happy Parents Raising Healthy Kids.
Also, give the Toddler Rice Nutbutter Bars a try from swamimommi.com. It’s an easy to make snack that is tasty and packed with energy and a little healthy protein! Toddlers who have tried them think they are super yummy.