The Challenge Of Feeding Your Toddler Healthy Meals

If you want your child to be healthy and well balanced, proper nutrition is extremely important. Getting them to eat healthy foods may be challenging but here are some tips and ideas for healthy meals they will enjoy.

By the time your child reaches the toddler stage, chances are he or she will have experienced the delicious, flavorful, and most of all fatty table foods we tend to let them sample. Most babies have had a taste of French fries before their first birthday. It is no wonder our children develop the picky eating habits they have today. If they have been repeatedly exposed to salty, buttery and cheesy foods, getting them to eat healthy foods may be a challenge.

The toddler stage is critical in that their little bodies are growing at a rapid rate. Having recently learned to walk and then run, they are burning a tremendous amount of energy. If you want your child to be healthy and well balanced, proper nutrition is extremely important. Everything from behavioral patterns and memory retention to a strong immune system and healthy bones is dependent upon the nutrition your child receives.

At the toddler stage, several foods such as cow milk, peanuts, honey, and wheat can cause allergic reactions. Other foods such as raw vegetables, whole nuts and unpeeled fruits are still unsafe for them. Because it is somewhat inconvenient to find the perfect toddler foods, it is understandable why many parents opt for French fries, macaroni and cheese or jarred and canned foods such as ravioli or spaghetti rings. While these foods do offer some nutrition, they are not ideal. There are, however, many healthy and delicious foods your child can enjoy.

Breakfast is fairly easy, and tends to be children's favorite meal. Children love cereal, fruit and yogurt. There are several instant cereals on the market such as rice, oatmeal, and multi-grain cereals. Mixing cereal with milk and a piece of finely chopped fruit is a quick and healthy option. Another choice is a fruit smoothie made with fresh fruit blended with milk and yogurt. Scrambled eggs are simple and quick and are even available in the frozen section, so all you have to do is microwave them. Add a few pieces of fruit, a cup of milk and toast and they have enough nutrition to jump start their day. Muffins are very popular as well. However, try and select ones without bleached flour and ones low in sugar. If you make them from scratch, an option is to substitute applesauce for sugar. There are many recipes available with this option.

Lunch and dinner may require a little more creativity. You may feel your child is not ready to eat the foods you are eating, or if you are out at a restaurant, you may not want to pay for a full meal for your child when you know they will only eat a tiny portion. Whatever you happens to be on the menu for the "big people" can more than likely be eaten by your toddler. They are capable of eating ground meats and tender, small pieces of chicken, pork, or fish (fish contain small, fine bones, so be sure and finely break apart the meat with your fingers to make certain there are no bones). They can eat rice, pasta, potatoes, and most cooked vegetables. Many parents worry that the seasonings and spices may be overwhelming. Unless the food is too spicy, seasonings add a lot of flavor, which may be to your benefit. One way to get children who are used to eating only the yummy table foods to eat the good stuff too is to season it well, not only with salt or butter, but with garlic, cumin, rosemary, or any of the other wonderful herbs and spices available. But, in the event that you are not able to share your dish with your child, particularly if in a restaurant, you can order a side of beans or vegetables and a side of rice, pasta or potatoes and create a nutritious meal. Most restaurants, regardless of cuisine offer a selection of these food items.

One problem you may run into is that your child may have distaste for most vegetables. There are several ways to disguise vegetables in sauces or casseroles. For instance, when preparing a meat sauce, you can add chopped cooked spinach, carrots or squash and it usually goes unnoticed. For other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper and celery, you can always puree them before adding them to soups, sauces, or gravies. However ever you choose to disguise them, they will still get their nutrition. The key is to introduce your child to these foods early so they develop a taste for them.

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