Tips for Healthy Eating With and for Toddlers
Toddlerhood is that stage in your child’s life where they reach major milestones in terms of cognitive, emotional, and social development. Proper nutrition is crucial, especially since this is the perfect time when you can instil healthy eating habits in your child.
Get your child’s nutrition right
It’s important to get your toddler’s nutrition right during these early years. Beyond the health impacts of a healthy diet, this is the time when you can train your child to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods with the rest of the family.
A balanced diet for toddlers
Generally, your toddler can have one or two snacks on top of three healthy full meals.
To make mealtimes enjoyable, avoid fixating too much on the amount of food your child consumes and try to not make mealtimes a struggle. Focus on helping your child enjoy eating, so it’ll be easier to introduce more nutritious foods to your child’s diet later.
Be creative in persuading your child to enjoy food. For example, you can tell your little one what vegetables and fruits can help them do. If they have favourite story characters, use those characters as examples.
Foods for one-year-olds
For a one-year-old being weaned away from breast milk or formula dependence, it’s best to start with soft foods with no additives. Some great options for your child at this stage include:
• Oatmeal with water or milk
• Yoghurt and milk
• Pureed chicken, turkey, and other soft meat cuts
• Bananas, peaches, mangoes, strawberries, avocados, and other soft fruits
• Steamed broccoli, carrots, squash, and peas
Make sure to avoid foods your child is allergic to and always feed your child small or bite-sized pieces to prevent choking hazards. It’s also important to be patient and always persevere during feeding time.
You can make your child’s meals more interesting by eating with them. If your child spits out food, keep on trying and remember that your child is still exploring the world of food textures, tastes, and flavours. One way to encourage your child to eat their food is by showing them how you enjoy the same food.
Foods for two years old and older
At the age of two, your child can also start eating the same food as the rest of the family. By this time, your child’s improved social and communication skills should make them an active participant during mealtimes. Your child can express what they like or prefer, and which foods you need to make more palatable for them to appreciate.
A healthy balanced diet would have a mix of:
• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains
• Healthy dairy
• Lean protein
Make sure you rotate foods and try not to serve the same three kinds of foods every day.
The best beverage to drink is still water (as much as your child needs) and regular full cream milk (about 500 mL). Avoid introducing fruit juices (whether fresh or store-bought) to your toddler as these lack the fibre found in whole fruits and have a lot of sugar.
Remember, your child will be modelling a lot of their behaviour from you, so set a good example and show your child how you enjoy food, too.