So your baby has progressed into the toddler stage and you are enjoying the fun and excitement that comes along with this age range. A toddler sees the world much differently than adults and can help you to have much more fun, helping the child learn as they grow. A big part of a toddler’s daily schedule is eating. From chicken nuggets to pizza, toddlers can become very picky and not be the healthiest of eaters. This is why it is so important to begin your child’s toddler years with healthy food items. Below are a few tips to help you ensure your toddler is eating right and building the right foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
Make Healthy Food Choices
Because your child is not the grocery shopper, you can choose what to serve during meal and snack times. When you choose healthy foods, you will feel good about the foods your child is eating. Shop for only premium items with nutritious value. You will want to limit items that have high fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol content. Focus your meal planning around such items as vegetables, lean meats, fish, dairy items with reduced fat and fruit. Giving your child a balanced diet and allowing them to try new foods will help you to find out what your child’s favorites are and build a healthy palate.
Stay Cued In To Your Child
As adults, we have scheduled meal times and know that when we awake, we eat breakfast. Lunch and dinner follow with a snack or two in-between. As a child, the schedule is not set and many toddlers are not keen on eating full meals but would rather graze. Stay cued in to your child’s eating habits. On days they are very hungry and cannot get enough, serve larger healthy meals. When your child just wants to play and does not show interest in eating, consider serving finger foods or small meals throughout the day. Do not force your child to clean their plate, just simply leave it available and they will continue their meal as they need it.
Practice What You Preach
If you are trying to teach your child healthy eating habits, you should also practice healthy eating. Toddlers do what they see so if they see you eating ice cream and cookies they will want some too. Your child will be more willing to try new foods if they see you eating something new. You can also get your child involved in the cooking or preparation process. This can be a teaching moment as well as bonding experience for your child. Learn to spend this time with your child, allowing them to try fruits and veggies as you prepare meals, enjoying the cooking process.
Continue to Introduce New Foods
As you build on your child’s favorite foods, continue to introduce new items. This can be fruits, veggies or recipes with their favorite foods. As you introduce new meal items, you can expand your menu and have plenty of options for cooking year round. It can take some time to introduce a new food to your child so do not give up after one or two tries. Even consider trying to offer the food in a different way to make it more appealing.
Family Meal Time
Remember to also offer family meal time. Your child will be more willing to try new foods and create healthy eating habits by sitting down with the family and watching everyone. You can catch up on the family activities as well as have fun as you enjoy every meal!