Toddlers are well known for being picky and unreliable eaters! Mealtimes can be a battle with parents getting frustrated and toddlers being their most unreasonable selves.
However, understanding eating habits and making sure expectations are realistic can ensure they develop healthy patterns and are getting the nutrition they need.
It is also important to understand that toddlers have smaller stomachs than adults and require smaller portions (about one-quarter of an adult serving size). A toddler's appetite can also vary greatly from day to day and meal to meal.
Another factor to consider is that toddlers are still developing their taste preferences and may need to try a food multiple times before liking it – and they do of course have the toddler right to change their mind at any moment! It's important to be patient and offer a food several times in different forms before deciding that your child doesn't like it.
One helpful tip for encouraging toddlers to try new foods is to involve them in the cooking process. Letting your child help with simple tasks like stirring, measuring ingredients, and choosing foods can make them more interested in trying new things.
It's also important to provide a balanced and nutritious diet for toddlers and they should eat a variety of foods from the following food groups:
- Fruits and vegetables: aim to eat 1-1.5 cups of fruits and 1-1.5 cups of vegetables per day.
- Grains: 100g of grains per day, with at least half of those grains being whole grains
- Protein: 80g ounces of protein per day, with options including meat, poultry, fish, beans, and tofu.
- Dairy: 2 cups of dairy per day, with options including milk, cheese, and yogurt.
It's also important to limit processed and sugary foods. Offering small amounts of treats on occasion can be a part of a healthy diet, but they should not be a regular part of a toddler's meals. Also offering healthier snack options like Isaac's Snacks promotes healthy eating habits from the start.
One of the key things to remember is that each child is unique and may have different needs and preferences. Some of the main strategies that can help promote healthy eating habits in toddlers are:
- Setting a routine: Offering meals and snacks at regular intervals can help toddlers learn to regulate their appetite and promote healthy eating habits.
- Being a role model: Toddlers learn from watching and imitating adults, so it's important to model healthy eating habits and attitudes towards food.
- Making mealtime fun: Making meals colourful can make them more appealing to toddlers. Serving food in fun shapes or letting your child use utensils can also make mealtime more enjoyable.
- Being patient: Toddlers can be slow eaters, and it's important to give them time to eat at their own pace. Avoid rushing or pressuring your child to eat more than they want
Toddler eating habits can be challenging, but with patience, persistence, and a balanced and nutritious diet, parents and caregivers can help promote healthy growth and development.
By offering a variety of healthy options, involving children in the cooking process, and promoting healthy eating habits, parents and caregivers can help set their children up for a lifetime of healthy eating.