06 Jul Nutrition Tips for Toddlers
Toddlers – is the best age in the phase of growing up. They are constantly exploring newer things and have a bottomless pit of energy, and are forever ready to play. Parents would love to see kids play with toys instead of gadgets. You see what I mean?? Are our toddlers getting enough nutrition to stay healthy? Do we have to give them exotic dishes to bridge any deficiency, or is it a myth?? Lets find out ahead…
As we know, the development in a child is an ongoing thing unlike the adults. For the body to reach its potential in development a perfect combination of diet with nutrition is a must. Most of the parents believe a regular meal has all the nutrients, which is not the case always. In a few other cases kids are overfed, which is not good either.
Can our regular diet provide all the nutrients for toddlers?
A healthy diet can also be derived from our day to day cereals, pulses and locally available vegetables such as a cauliflower instead of a broccoli. A balanced meal is something which provides a good combination of all the essential nutrients like carbohydrate, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals. Three main meals with two snacks in between the meals would be an ideal meal plan to follow. Without getting panicky or paranoid about how to achieve a balanced meal.
Here are a few pointers that will help in getting all the nutrients for toddlers
Our Indian meals to a large extent have a balance of all nutrients in it. The idea is to keep meals simple and have carbohydrates (rice, wheat, millet etc), proteins (dal, pulse, egg, meat), a side of veggies, some form of dairy (curds, milk, cheese, paneer) thus covering a wide range of nutrients in each meal. Most of the nutrients are met with these food groups that are covered in a single meal.
- Veg khichadi with curds, bisibele bath with curds, combo of rice with sambar or dal with a side of any vegetable and a dollop of ghee for good fat ensures all the nutrients are met
- Breakfast such as idly, dosa, dhokla, ragi dosas are all examples of healthy foods where there is a combination of carbohydrates and proteins for an energy packed day
- Vitamins and minerals from vegetable soups with home-made butter is also a nice way to include the goodness along with healthy fats into the diet
- Stick to locally grown foods, they are always fresher and loaded with nutrients. To give an example – broccoli is no doubt loaded with nutrients and feels exotic too. While our locally grown cauliflower also does most of the job that broccoli does. Not to forget that cauliflower is more pocket friendly 😊
- Encourage seasonal fruits – mangoes in summers may do more good than trying to hunt down strawberries, and can be included as in-between meals snacks.
- Include fruit milkshakes or fruit-yogurt smoothies in the diet if the child doesn’t fancy drinking plain milk or eating fruit by itself. Though its always a good idea to encourage consumption of whole fruits for its fiber and other nutrient to be intact
- One golden rule – Never leave your toddler unsupervised while eating. Safety while eating is the caretaker’s responsibility
- Be sure that the toddlers are away from choking foods such as whole grapes, nuts, popcorn, raw vegetables. Cut the grapes in halves, grate the nuts or blend them in milkshakes or soups and cook the vegetables before serving
Tips to help reduce snacking on junk
Kids love to junk and its only natural as it brings out various tastes. Let them have a cheat day too, after all they are kids 😊. Only thing we as parents need to pay attention is to never offer junk food as a reward for their well behavior or some other achievement. Plan “not so healthy foods” as a part of a healthy meal plan. There are few packaged foods that are child friendly with lesser levels of sodium and no preservatives. Research the availability of such products and read the labels for child friendly food products.
Remember your toddler’s stomachs are tiny. Their growth has slowed down after quick growth during first year of life. Hence their intake also may not be too large. Do not be too strict about the portion size or the amount the toddler eats. Ensure you offer healthy choices, but many a times leave it to the toddler to decide how much he or she will eat. Instead focus on eating healthy as a family where the child imitates what the parent or the caregiver is eating. Sit together in a meal time wherever possible- that way it will give a structure to the child’s routine about meals and also helps in family bonding. The only way to make eating healthy fun is plan the week ahead of time with a variety loaded with nutrients. As we all know, this is the need of the hour with COVID everywhere.
Enjoy the healthy meal with your loved ones. Stay home. Stay safe!!