When foods are squishy, toddlers find that fun. Same goes for foods you can freeze, slurp or dip. Find out how to put a smile on your toddler's face while helping him enjoy healthy foods.
Trying to get your toddler to eat a balanced diet can be challenging, to put it politely. But with a little patience and creativity from you, eating healthy and feeding your toddler solid foods can be a lot of fun.
While calorie amounts vary by child, a meal plan filled with whole grains, fruits and veggies, calcium-rich foods and lean protein sources, is standard issue healthy, toddler nutrition. So is limiting added sugar and salt. Try these mom-tested tips to help make “good” and “good for you” feel like the same thing to your toddler:
Things That Go Squish
- Oatmeal (fiber, carbohydrate)
- Banana (potassium)
- Avocado (fiber, potassium, vitamin C)
- Roasted sweet potato (vitamin A, potassium)
- Strawberries (vitamin C, potassium, fiber, antioxidants)
(It's amazing how frozen=fun, no matter what it is. Be sure whatever you freeze is large enough to suck on, to avoid a choking hazard.)
- Homemade juice pops made from 100% fruit or vegetable juice (try them as ice cubes in a sippy cup!)
- Low-fat frozen yogurt (calcium)
- Blueberry smoothie made with yogurt and frozen blueberries (calcium, antioxidants, vitamin C)
Things You Can Slurp
- Whole-wheat spaghetti (magnesium, fiber)
- Soup (room temperature) through a straw
- Tomato soup (vitamin C, potassium, copper)
- Chicken noodle soup (selenium, protein)
Things You Can Dip
(This never seems to get old with most toddlers.)
- Fruit pieces in low-fat vanilla yogurt (protein, calcium, riboflavin)
- Carrot sticks in hummus (vitamin A, fiber, calcium, zinc)
- Cooked broccoli trees in low-fat plain yogurt (calcium, potassium, vitamin C)
- Cooked snowpeas in low-fat ranch dressing (protein, manganese, potassium)
Things That Roll
- Peas (chromium, fiber, magnesium)
- Cheerios® (calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate)
- Cooked chickpeas (folate, fiber, protein)
- Cooked carrot coins (vitamin A)
- Turkey meatballs (protein)
- Open-faced toasted cheese on whole-wheat bread cut into sticks (protein, calcium, fiber, riboflavin)
- Cheese sticks (protein, calcium)
- Carrot sticks (vitamin A)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich sticks (protein, zinc, folate, fiber)
- Fish sticks (protein)
- Veggie faces
- Spinach hair (vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium)
- Carrot nose (vitamin A)
- Cooked black bean eyes (iron, protein)
- Cooked chick pea teeth (manganese, folate, fiber, protein)
- Encourage your little one to build his own masterpiece. (Broccoli makes great trees, and brown rice can be molded into mountains!)
Other Toddler Feeding Tips:
Use fun shapes.
Cookie cutters, melon ballers, pizza cutters and measuring cups are all magical tools you already have on hand.
Use silly containers.
It's amazing how much more appealing a food can be if it's served up in a (new) flowerpot or on a fun plate. Be creative.
Source: USDA (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/index.html)