The Best Foods For Your Toddler

Everyone knows that toddlers are picky eaters, so it's important to serve them well- balanced meals and snacks. Here are some of the best foods for your toddler to eat.

Does your toddler seem to exist on chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese?If so, you're not alone.

If you're the parent or caregiver of a toddler, you know that a young child's eating habits can be unpredictable at best. A favorite food on Monday may be a most-hated food by Tuesday! As a parent of a toddler, it can be very frustrating to try to ensure that your child is getting adequate nutrition.

Because toddlers are known for their picky eating habits, it's important to make every bite count-- you simply cannot waste precious calories on junk food or sugary juices. Here are 10 of the best foods for your toddler:

-- Yogurt. Whole milk yogurt provides calcium and important nutrients for young children and it is available in a multitude of flavors. Be sure to read the package labels when you are shopping for yogurt-- some brands are loaded with sugar and preservatives. In addition, your toddler will benefit from the calories and vitamins in whole milk yogurt, so resist the urge to buy fat-free products.

-- Cantaloupe or melon. Most toddlers love fruit, so try introducing colorful fruits as they come into season. Cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon, cut into bite size chunks, are a delicious snack and are a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C.

-- Broccoli. This may be a harder sell than melons, but because it is such an important vegetable, broccoli should be a part of your toddler's diet. As with any new food, it may take a few attempts before your child will willingly eat broccoli. Serve it with a dipping sauce or with some melted cheese if needed. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and it is a good source of folic acid as well.

-- Bananas. The makers of baby food claim that strained bananas are the most popular flavor of jarred baby food, so introducing whole bananas into your toddler's diet should be a fairly simple proposition. Start out by cutting the bananas into small pieces until your toddler is ready to graduate to a whole banana. Bananas are a terrific source of potassium and fiber.

-- Lean chicken or beef. Most toddlers like to eat chicken nuggets, but unfortunately they are usually loaded with fat. Instead, switch to lean proteins like chicken, turkey or beef. A lean beef hamburger on a whole grain bun is a great alternative to chicken nuggets or fast food cheeseburgers. Try roasting or baking a chicken and cutting into small portions for your toddler. Use ground turkey for casseroles or meatloaf.

-- Whole grains. It's time to nix the white bread products, which have very little nutritional value. Instead serve whole grain wheat bread, brown rice, or whole wheat tortilla wraps. Whole grains are full of the fiber and vitamins that you toddler needs. If you introduce whole grains into your child's diet early enough, he or she will never know the difference.

-- Sweet potatoes. Not only do they look pretty, but sweet potatoes pack a nutritional punch. Loaded with vitamins and beta carotene, they are a great source of potassium as well. Try mashing sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, or make baked sweet potato fries.

-- Cheese. As long as your child doesn't have a dairy allergy, cheese is a terrific way to add calcium and vitamins to your toddler's diet. Skip the processed, fat-free singles and serve whole milk cheese slices or cubes instead.

-- Oatmeal. Instant oatmeal is a great way to continue serving your toddler a hot breakfast after he or she outgrows baby cereals. When shopping for oatmeal, read the package labels-- avoid brands that contain artery clogging hydrogenated oils. Be sure to buy whole grain oatmeal to get the optimum amounts of vitamins and minerals per serving.

-- Beans. Cooked, dried beans are another important way to add fiber and protein to your toddler's diet. Try serving your child black beans, kidney beans or homemade baked beans. If the beans are large, mash them with a fork before serving.

No matter what age your child is, it's important that he or she eat a wide variety of foods every day. Supplement your child's diet with a children's multivitamin, and rotate the foods mentioned above with other healthy alternatives like blueberries, apples, peanut butter and tuna fish. Serve fortified orange juice instead of sugar-laden juice dinks. In no time at all, your toddler will be a healthy eater!

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