Thursday, February 25, 2010

Toddler Eating: Tips To Create Healthy Eaters

The first tip to creating healthy toddler eating is a rather obvious one but one that is often overlooked or not adhered to. It is vital that parents provide healthy foods by keeping the shopping on a healthy level for everyone in the family not just their toddler or baby. Good parenting means providing good healthy meals at least 90% of the time.

Remember that by toddler age, your child should pretty much be eating the same as the family. If not, this means you are still making separate healthy meals for your toddler. Yikes, that's a lot of work to carry on doing for years to come, not to mention your child will notice that no one else in the family is made to adhere to to eat healthy eating and there for must not be that important. Hence, your toddlers attitude will change toward his meals and you will begin to have mealtime nightmares when your toddler does not want to eat his food but his older sisters or brothers or mom or dads.

When doing the shopping keep the idea of "Variety" in mind. This is important so that you can offer your toddler a variety of foods and dishes in small amounts, in a simple non fussy way. Doing this will encourage him to try new foods over a period of time and understand the idea of choice and educate him on the many different foods available.

Ensuring their toddlers get the daily health requirements from their meals and snacks is one of the biggest daily good parenting concerns. The best way to do this is to plan meals and snacks around the five major foods groups displayed in the food pyramid. (Cereals, bread, pasta, rice, fruits and vegetables, meat and fish)

Ages 2-5 years need the same number of servings in each food group as an adult but their serving sizes are about one third smaller than an adult.

After trying out different approaches I find it easiest to put a weekly meal plan together and do my weekly shopping around that. This way meals and snacks are planned for the week and I don't have to worry about what to cook or give for snacks. I also know I have the ingredients required for each meal and don't have to take time to go to the store. I also devote half of one day to cooking some meals or snacks ahead of time and freezing them so that I have more free time during the week and less hassle with cooking.

Snacks play a big role in the day of a toddler. With snacks you have another way of fulfilling your child's nutritional needs as well as open his taste buds to new foods. Snack time should be fun and become a good toddler eating time that he looks forward to but also carries healthy benefits.
  • Offer a variety of snacks throughout the week.
  • Avoid large portions as they are often overwhelming and wasted.
  • With smaller portions your toddler can always ask for more.
When you give a junk food snack always add healthy foods to it. For example: If you give ice cream, instead of chocolate syrup use honey with nuts and raisins as a topping. When you make baked goods add a puree vegetable to the mix before baking and use wholemeal flour instead of white. When you bake with chocolate or use chocolate for anything, use dark chocolate as it holds an abundance of anti oxidants. Keep this idea in mind whenever you give your toddler junk food.

With this tactic even junk food will have some benefit to it and your toddler will learn to always incorporate a healthy food with whatever he eats because he watched mom and dads good parenting while growing up. It also shows your toddler throughout his growth that goodies are fine in moderation and can taste just as good when healthy tid-bits are added and there is no need to overindulge.

Toddler eating does not have to be the hassle it has become.  Good parenting means the sooner you introduce your toddler to different foods and make meal times fun and non stressful the easier your road will be in setting up your toddler for a lifelong commitment to good eating habits, good nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle.

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