How can I make sure my toddler has a healthy diet?
Real Mom Problem
“Any tips on meals your little ones love that are good and healthy?”
- 1. Offer your toddler a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily
- 2. Choose whole grains when buying breads, pastas, rice, and cereal
- 3. Add healthy ingredients to the foods they love
- 4. Avoid pre-packaged foods that are high in sodium
- 5. Limit fast food, junk food and anything that's too high in unhealthy fats and sugars
- 6. Offer water or milk in place of sugary sodas and juice
- 7. Make healthy foods fun by cutting them into fun shapes, arranging them in creative ways on the plate, giving them clever names, or including yummy sauces for dipping
- 8. Consult your pediatrician if you're worried your toddler isn't getting enough nutrients
Real Mom Solutions
Looking for healthy foods to feed your toddler? Find tips, tricks, recipes, and more from moms like you!
Offer a Rainbow of Choices
Toddlerhood is a hard time to get them to eat. I would just give him a variety, don't let him get stuck in a rut. Mix up the fruit and make sure you are offering a whole rainbow of colors, the different colors mean different nutrients, so a variety makes sure you are getting a variety of nutrients. He won't always eat them, but that is OK, don't stop offering. Same goes for veggies. Try offering lots of different things in lots of different forms till you find some he will eat. My daughter doesn't like cooked carrots or broccoli, but she loves eating them raw with ranch. You can mix veggies into meals too, like putting sliced tomatoes or spinach leaves on his grilled cheese or serving it with some low-sodium tomato soup. For dinner, serve him what the family is eating. It is a good habit.
Try These Healthy Snack Ideas
I'm all about the healthy snacks and my almost-one-year-old doesn't get any white flour or sugar if I can help it. Here's some of the stuff my son eats: Cheese - either a piece of string cheese cut in half and then sliced, or tiny cubes or even shreds if I am feeling lazy Whole wheat toast - broken into bite size bits Fruit, of course. Some of the "neater" choices are grapes cut in halves or quarters, little shaved pieces of apple and pear and pieces of kiwi. (Helpful hint: a company called Crunchpak sells packages of sliced apples which really are delicious. They are washed in Vitamin C to maintain the color. They are great for babies because you can pull out one slice at a time to cut up) Kashi cereals - there is a Puffed Grains one that my son loves and it's a nice break from Cheerios. Plus, they melt in the mouth Unsalted plain rice cakes - also melt in the mouth I don't really buy any of the packaged baby/toddler finger foods except for Gerber Puffs because my son loves them. I mix them with Cheerios to make them last longer and to include some whole grains.
One of the favorites of my daycare kids is what we call "apple dippers". Mix 2 parts vanilla yogurt with 1 part peanut butter with 2 tablespoons of Ovaltine (optional). It becomes a whipped chocolate peanut butter dip (that's actually healthy) for apples or pretzels. It's delicious; I make just for myself sometimes!
I discovered a no bake quick cookie recipe: Mix up some oatmeal and Rice Krispies with peanut butter and add honey or molasses (you can even add a little Nutella or raisins). Stir well and shape into balls (or flatten). Our little guy eats 'em up. Sometimes he won't eat, so it's how I can make sure he has something healthy. I keep them in the fridge.
I sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on apple slices and my son eats them up.
Find out Which Milk is Healthiest
Your choice. I gave my first formula until she was 2.
My toddler still mostly drinks breast milk, but also a few cups of cow's milk a day.
Toddler formula constipated my daughter badly. We don't like cow's milk either. We gave her normal formula until age 2, then we switched her to almond milk as well as goat's milk (it's closer to breast milk than cows milk).
Coconut milk or almond or rice, whichever he seems to like and tolerate best. They're all very good for you and cow's milk is not. Skip the cow's milk and formula and pick one of the healthier options, he'll never know the difference if he doesn't get used to cow's milk. My kids love love love coconut milk & chocolate almond milk (on occasion).
I have always given mine whole milk once they turned one. I have not had any issues with the kids because of milk yet and there are 6 of them that live in my house. It is ultimately your decision. I don't think that it is wrong either way it's what you think is best for your baby.
We use whole milk. Used it with my oldest and currently using it with my 1 and a half year old. They both love it!
Donor human milk till age two, then unsweetened almond milk.
I breastfeed until they self wean (still nursing my 21 month old) and then they get water.
Nutrition Info for Nursing Toddlers
My daughter just turned 1 last week and is 95-98% breastfed depending on the day. She was just getting interested in food in the last month or two, so we're a little behind where others are at. I offer food every night at dinner, because that's the only meal we're "sitting down" for. Sometimes she eats a bite or two, sometimes she eats everything I offer her and asks for more. I trust her to know what she needs and when.
My girls are 19 months and still breastfed. They usually get fruit in the morning for breakfast and then whatever the rest of us are having for lunch and supper. I give them a little bit. Sometimes they eat all and want more and other times they don't eat all of it. I don't push them. It's really not that big of a deal. Their tummies are still very small and they only need a little bit. I wouldn't worry about it so much!
At this point as long as breast milk is their primary source of nutrition I would not worry too much about caloric intake and amounts of each food group. I would try offering a variety at each meal but continue taking baby's lead. My son is 13 months old. We have fruit for breakfast and sometimes a grain. What he eats is always up to him because he feeds himself. I have noticed he is more inclined to eat when we sit down as a family for meals. Lunch is usually both fruits and veggies but mostly veggies, and dinner is meat or pasta and veggies and sometimes a grain.
Vitamin Supplements: Yea or Nay?
Watch out for the fat soluble vitamins that do not excrete in the urine. Vitamins A,K,E, D, and lots of minerals such as iron can build up easily
My 3 year old daughter is a very finicky eater, and has always been small for her age. Her doctor recommended vitamins for her, but my boys eat really healthy and the doc said it would just be overkill for them, because they eat enough of what their bodies need in a day through a varied diet!
I don't see a point in spending the money on it! I have to buy enough stuff for them and I really don't think it makes that big of a difference. I feed them enough healthy foods and not a lot of junk foods.
We are big believers in vitamins at our house. Even if my daughter eats the recommended servings of each food group, and let's face it, no child or adult for that fact really ever does, we all know from the tons of research that our foods aren't really packed with all the vitamins and minerals that they should be due to soil depletion and other reasons. The vitamins we choose are from a local health food store. We were very picky about choosing one in that we wanted to make sure it didn't have any added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or additives that are harmful to our bodies in the long run.
Even with a healthy diet, it's difficult to be certain that your kids are getting everything they need from diet alone, and I don't want them to have deficiencies when they are still growing so fast. They take vitamins daily. I do, too.