Food, Parenting/Children

How to choose healthy food for toddlers: the options

healthy food for toddlers

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Ensuring that your toddler is eating right can be difficult. This guide outlines how to choose healthy food for toddlers will help your tiny tots grow into strong and healthy children.

A tiring and stressful aspect of child-rearing is choosing and feeding them healthy food for toddlers. Often when a child turns one, they become picky eaters. As their growth rate slows down and they have to move on from formula and breast milk, they find it difficult to eat and it often becomes problematic to interest them in healthy food for toddlers.

As mealtime becomes a warzone, with a lot of running about, tear-stricken faces, and lips pressed shut, it is crucial to understand what healthy food for toddlers your child must have to aid their growth.

While the type of food they are eating must be those items that help them grow strong and healthy, the way it is served is crucial when it comes to their comfort and willingness to eat.

Healthy food for toddlers: the top options

The following foods are great options as healthy food for toddlers as they get introduced to more solid food.

Eggs as a healthy food for toddlers

Eggs are a powerful healthy food for toddlers that will not only provide a lot of nutrition but keep your toddler’s tummy fuller. Your growing tot needs plenty of protein to aid their growth, and eggs are a wholesome source of it. Other than protein, they have many nutrients including vitamin A, B2, B5, B12, D, E, iron, phosphorus, etc.

Eggs also have some lesser-known nutrients like selenium, which is needed for keeping your thyroid and reproductive organs healthy, DNA production, and protection from oxidants. It also has choline that is crucial for brain development and functioning.

Some toddlers love eating soft-boiled eggs, as it has a pleasant taste and is easier to swallow. Many parents get their picky eaters excited about eating eggs by making a comparison between the blood-orange egg yolk and the rising sun. Toast ‘soldiers’ for dipping are also always fun and popular.

Milk & Dairy

Cow’s Milk

As toddlers grow, people slowly wean their babies off breastfeeding by introducing them to cow’s milk. After breast milk, cow’s milk is often the best option to give to your child in the line-up of healthy food for toddlers. Similar to eggs, milk provides a variety of essential nutrients we need for the growth and upkeep of our bodies.

Cow’s milk is often too heavily packed with protein and fat for an infant to drink; hence you should only give your child cow’s milk after they turn one. It is a great source of calcium, which is needed to make your toddler’s bones strong.

Nut milk does not have the same nutritional value as cow’s milk and is not a good replacement as healthy food for toddlers. Any nut product should also be introduced with caution since nut allergies are quite common.

Cheese

Kids love cheese, but since many kinds of cheese are chewy or hard, you have to be careful while introducing this item onto the menu of healthy food for toddlers. You can melt it down or cut it into very small pieces so that it is easier to eat.

Cheese can be added to sandwiches or other healthy lunch ideas, especially after your child grows more teeth. Always opt for cheese made of pasteurized milk as it has a lower risk of carrying harmful bacteria.

Yogurt

One dairy product that can be a healthy food for toddlers’ diet is yogurt. It is not only a great source of calcium but can also provide essential probiotics needed for gut health.

Yogurt is soft and easy to eat. You can flavor your child’s yogurt with diced soft fruits like bananas, mangoes, or berries. Even if yogurt alone is not filling enough to be a full meal, it is a great option for a healthy snack.

Whole Grains & Other Carbs

To fulfill your child’s need for energy, whole grain carbs can be an excellent healthy food for toddlers. After the age of one, it is better to slowly introduce complex carbs to your child instead of giving them things like white bread, white rice, refined flour, etc.

Remember that the habit of eating healthy must be ingrained from the beginning so that your child does not end up addicted to refined sugars. Whole grain bread sandwiches or whole-grain pasta can be a great source of minerals and fiber.

Oats

Infant oatmeals are not uncommon food for babies after the age of six. You can continue feeding oatmeal to your child, as it has fiber and is quite filling.

A great part about oatmeal is that it goes well with other healthy food for toddlers. You can add milk, nut butter (in moderation), soft fruits or fruit puree, etc. You can also make a savory oatmeal porridge with shredded chicken, boiled veggies, pureed veggies, eggs, etc.

It is easy to turn your toddler’s oatmeal breakfast into a balanced wholesome meal with healthy additions.

Whole Grain Rice

Rice porridges are a staple meal for toddlers in various parts of the world, particularly in Asia. People make both sweet and savory versions of rice porridge and feed it to their children from the age of six months as a healthy food for toddlers.

Using brown, red, or any other whole grain rice to make these porridges is great for adding fiber and antioxidants to their diet.

Sweet rice porridges can be sweetened using mashed bananas or mangoes or any soft fruits. For savory porridge, you can add boiled vegetables, lentils, ground meat, small pieces of fish, egg, etc.

Sweet Potatoes

Your toddler will love sweet potatoes. They are tasty and incredibly healthy, with a decked nutritional profile that includes vital minerals and vitamins. They are a great source of fiber and provide plenty of energy.

Meat, Fish & Other Sources of Protein

We have already covered eggs, milk, and dairy. Now it is time to take a look at other sources of protein as healthy food for toddlers.

Meat & Poultry

Toddlers should only be given soft and lean sources of meat. You should not give your child meat that is filled with unhealthy cholesterol. Around the age of one, try to use ground or well-cooked and softened red meat. For example, you can make whole grain pasta with ground meat.

Poultry needs to be well cooked and cut down to bite-size pieces. You can add poultry to sandwiches, soups, stews, etc. Children tend to love chicken and are often not unwilling to eat it. It can be a great source of protein and essential nutrients they need for building up their muscles and bones.

Fish

If you are looking for a good source of protein and healthy fat to feed your toddler, you cannot go wrong with fish. A study has shown that people who have fish every day tend to live longer. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for lowering inflammation and the risk of cancer.

Since fish is enriched with healthy fat, it improves our lipid profile, lowering the risk of heart disease. Fish also keep your eyes, skin, and hair healthy and strong, as it is filled with essential vitamins and minerals.

Serve fish to your toddler steamed and well-cooked. Always make sure the fish is deboned and easy to eat.

If you do not introduce fish to your children early on, they might become reluctant to eat it later in life. If they don’t like eating fish at first, don’t fuss over it but reintroduce it later.

Vegan Protein Options

Lentils

Some Asian countries are hooked on lentils, and some of their best meals use them as the chief ingredients. If you follow a lifestyle that avoids animal products, lentils can be a great source of protein and other essential nutrients.

Lentils can be cooked and softened. You can mix them with oat or rice as well to make a nutrition-loaded porridge. Lentil food items like daal or hummus are great options for feeding your toddlers.

Tofu

This plant-based protein is an excellent source of iron and zinc, which encourage brain health, blood production, and overall growth. It also has omega-3 fatty acid, which is needed to ensure your toddler’s health is thriving.

You can pair tofu with vitamin C-enriched veggies to ensure proper absorption of iron.

Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of our balanced diet and must be included in your toddler’s meals. Making soups and stews out of vegetables is a great option for toddlers.

Soft Fruits

Soft fruits like mangoes, peaches, and strawberries are great for toddlers. Remember that you shouldn’t give refined sugars to your toddler. Give them fruits as treats and they will enjoy them like any candy or snack.

Bananas are great as they are soft and easy to eat. You can give your toddler a slightly cold banana to soothe their teething pains. Any small fruit that can become a choking hazard must be cut into smaller pieces to avoid any accidents. Don’t let your child eat anything unsupervised.

Boiled Vegetables

Adding boiled vegetables to your child’s diet is crucial for adding vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Remember that eating healthy starts from the beginning, so the habit of eating vegetables should be developed early on.

Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces and boil or steam them until they become soft and easy to eat. You can also mix shredded meat or tofu with your vegetables to make a whole meal. You can also give your child carrots to bite on when they are teething.

Pureed Fruits and Vegetables

You can find whole shelves of baby food fruit and vegetable purees in the convenience stores. However, making your own fruit and vegetable purees at home is a better option as they won’t have harmful preservatives or added sugar.

You can puree vegetables like carrot, pumpkins, butternut squash, tomatoes, etc. for your toddler. Fruit purees are often a hit with children, and you can make fruit purees out of pretty much any fruit.

Bottom line on healthy food for toddlers

You must kickstart your child’s healthy eating habits from the beginning of their food experience with healthy food for toddlers. Now that you know what food your toddlers need and can eat, make every meal your tiny tot has wholesome and fulfilling.