Now that your toddler is eating solids and you get to feed her more than just milk, it’s important to establish healthy eating habits early. Eating well will make sure your baby has all the energy she needs to play and develop fully.
Here are our top tips to give your toddler a healthy start.
Feed a Variety
Feeding your child a variety of foods will ensure that they are getting the right nutrients to help her grow and develop, not to mention it will prevent her from becoming a picky eater. Since she needs vegetables, fruits, grains, and quality protein, having a variety of ingredients in each meal will help her meet those nutritional needs.
Giving your toddler a variety of foods can seem like a challenge. Sometimes they might not like the new food the first time you offer it, but consistent exposure to different foods will encourage them to try it. Try adding different flavors, colors, textures, and spices to keep her intrigued. She might need to try the new food as many as ten times before really starting to love it.
A great way to incorporate new foods into your toddler’s diet is to bring one new item every three to five days. This makes it easy for your child to try different foods without getting overwhelmed. It can also make it easy to spot a food allergy.
Another great way to introduce new foods is to pair it with something they already like. For example, if your kid loves peanut butter but doesn’t like bananas, try offering them together. Vegetables can also pair well with a bit of dip or cheese to encourage her to get in those greens!
Get on a Schedule
Wild schedules and your child’s unpredictable appetite can make it difficult to get your tot on a solid eating schedule. But it’s an important step to help your child develop a healthy relationship with food. Eating at the same times throughout the day will help her listen to her body. Not only will she learn when she is hungry, but she will also start to understand when she is full.
Most toddlers will need to eat every three or four hours. Offer three meals and at least two snacks. This helps balance your child’s blood sugar, preventing her from becoming grumpy or cranky from hunger.
Make feeding schedules easier and simpler with preparation. Plan meals in advance and prepare snacks by cutting veggies and fruits to make them easy to grab and go.
Make it Fun!
Making meals and snacks fun can be a great way to bond with your child. An easy way to make food fun is by getting your toddler involved in the process.
She’s too young to help much in the kitchen, but take her to the grocery store or farmers market and let her pick out veggies or fruits to try. This allows her to explore while helping her feel involved. You could also let her pick out kid-friendly tableware at the store.
If it’s the right time, you could even make a fun outing to the community garden or orchard so your little one can see where the food comes from. She might not understand it fully, but you can guarantee she’ll have fun in the dirt while seeing how the plants grow.
Getting involved in the selection of foods and even some preparation makes toddlers more interested in eating what they’ve chosen.
Another way to make it fun is to make it more creative. Turn the veggies into a face or make them into dinosaur food.
Be a Role Model
We all know children pick up habits from their parents, so being a role model for healthy eating habits can help your child grow up healthy.
When you have healthy eating habits like eating a variety of foods on a schedule, your toddler will understand it’s normal. However, the mirroring can work in reverse as well. If you have an erratic schedule and only eat junk food, your toddler will think that’s normal and will want to eat in the same way.
Prioritize the same nutrition standards for yourself that you expect from your child. Eat regularly and sit down at the table to eat together. Make an effort to get quality protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet and make mealtimes a happy experience at the table.
Another way to set the standard is for your family to eat together at the table. Not only will it strengthen your bonds, but it will model healthy eating. Families that eat together are less likely to have children who become obese because they are eating regular, home-cooked meals.
Use Responsive Feeding
Responsive feeding is another way for your child to learn healthy eating habits as she grows. When you understand and respond to her signals that she is full or that she is hungry, it will help her learn how to understand her body.
However, if you don’t respond to her cues or try to force your toddler to eat more than she wants, it can lead to overeating and can increase the risk of being overweight.
Another great way to encourage healthy eaters is by finding healthy snacks. To make it easier, we gathered some of our favorite nutritious snacks and recipes from around the web:
Cheese cubes or cheese cut into fun shapes
Melon diced or cut into fun shapes
Toast cut up into small squares
Cooked green peas
Cooked carrot sticks
Steamed and chopped broccoli and cauliflower
Whole grain cereal
Fruit and yogurt smoothie
Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Weelicious
Tropical Green Smoothie from Baby Foode
Yogurt Melts from Creative and Healthy Fun Food
Toddler Trail Mix from Super Healthy Kids
To make sure your toddler is getting enough vitamins and minerals, consider giving her a multivitamin. Though the vitamins and minerals in foods are more easily absorbed, if your child is a picky eater it can lead to some deficiencies.
Mommy’s Bliss Multivitamin Organic Drops are easy to use and ensure your toddler is getting the right amount of vitamins to promote healthy development. It includes vitamins like A, B, C, D, & E which are all essential for healthy growth and bone development. The ingredients are USDA Certified Organic so you know she is getting her vitamins without all the toxins.