Parents have two important tasks when it comes to their toddler’s food. The first is to ensure that the toddler gets good and nutritious food so that they can grow and develop optimally. The second is to get their little one to create good eating habits and enjoy their food.
Children depend on a steady supply of energy and nutrients to grow and develop properly.
The first few years of their lives are characterized by rapid growth and development. Therefore, a stable energy supply through a healthy and varied diet is important for the child’s health. Children have a great need for nutrients and energy. So nutrient-dense foods, ones that are high in vitamins and minerals, are essential for toddlers. Toddlers have little space in the diet for “empty calories”, meaning foods high in calories and low in vitamins and minerals.
Preparing healthy food for toddlers to eat does not have to be difficult to achieve. Here are some tips on how to put together a healthy daily meal plan.
Breakfast Is Ready
Usually, the daily meal plan of a toddler consists of three main meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner and one to three snacks. At times, a toddler might skip a meal but this should not worry the parent as children should be allowed to follow their internal cues and respond to hunger and fullness.
For toddlers and small children in general, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, which should make it easier for them to cope with both learning, playing, and other activities.
You want your mornings to start stress-free but you also want to prepare a quick healthy breakfast for your toddler.
The simplest and best ideas for a tasty yet nutritious breakfast can consist of yogurt with muesli or unsweetened cereals, a bowl of porridge with milk, a sandwich and milk, and preferably a piece of fruit or vegetable.
Make sure the breakfast varies, for example by having a special breakfast for each day of the week. Then the toddler knows what to expect and also gets used to the fact that breakfast can look different.
Take Out The Snacks
Since toddlers do not have the strength to eat as much at every meal, snacks are more important for them than for adults. A nutritious snack can consist of the same type of food as breakfast.
Being able to switch up the snacks, making them fun and at the same time keeping down the amount of sugar can be a challenge in a stressful everyday life.
Here are some simple tricks to use to create a healthy and good foundation:
- Choose natural dairy products with low-fat content. Flavored yogurt contains large amounts of sugar, which is why it is better to choose natural products. It is also good to buy milk, yogurt with low-fat content, as dairy products mostly contain saturated fat, the fat that is recommended to be reduced.
- Put some fruit, berries, or dried coconut flakes. Make the natural yogurt more luxurious by topping it with something that the child likes. Blueberries give both a nice color and a good taste, and dried coconut flakes and sliced bananas are also suitable.
- Many types of bread contain large amounts of hidden sugar. Avoid too much fiber-rich bread for toddlers but as the child grows, you can increase the amount.
- Smoothie is something that most children like. A good tip is to freeze brown bananas. Peel the bananas cut them into slices and freeze them in a plastic bag. It is then easy to make a smoothie by mixing frozen banana with skim milk or yogurt and frozen raspberries.
- Eggs can be prepared quickly and are an excellent snack as they are loaded with lots of nutrients. Many children like eggs, they are easy to eat and can be cooked in different forms. Boiled or fried eggs on a sandwich, scrambled eggs or omelet are just a few examples of snacks that suit the little ones’ diet.
- Cut different kinds of organic fruits and mix them in a bowl and prepare a healthy little fruit salad. Suggestions for fruits that can be used are bananas, pears, oranges, apples, and kiwi.
Lunch and Dinner Time
Many people find cooking to be fun while others may not be so used to it. Cooking good food for toddlers does not have to be difficult. There are many nutritious and simple recipes on the web and in cookbooks that you can use. There are also a lot of semi-finished and ready meals that are suitable even for toddlers.
With cooked food for both lunch and dinner, it is easier to cover a toddler’s need for nutrition.
A rule of thumb to achieve this is to serve something from each food group every day, that is to create a balanced meal combining protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables:
- Pasta, potatoes, rice, couscous, and bread provide good carbohydrates and fiber, but also important minerals and vitamins, such as iron and folate (folic acid).
- Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, and tofu are important sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals while meat, beans, and tofu are good sources of iron.
- Green vegetables, root vegetables, fruits, and berries contain a lot of vitamins and other protective substances, but also a lot of fiber.
- Milk, yogurt, and vegetable drinks, such as fortified oat and soy drinks are important sources of calcium and many other minerals and vitamins.
- Oil and liquid cooking fats are important sources of healthy fats. If the food is lean, the toddler may need a little extra fat in its portion.
- A good tip is to try to get your toddler used to drinking water or milk when eating the food.
As a parent, your responsibility is to introduce new flavors and textures and make your toddler develop good and healthy eating habits while enjoying the daily meals. Toddlerhood is a very interesting period when children can increasingly drink and eat on their own and slowly begin to develop their personalities and preferences.
Although this is a topic that can be discussed in much greater detail and content, we tried to give you some useful tips on general toddler meal planning that will help you as a parent in everyday life and help arouse the child’s curiosity and enjoyment of food.