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Creative Eating with Toddlers

Being a mom these days can be quite challenging. Unlike never before, moms are under pressure to do things the right way. While the internet and social media can help find parenting ideas, it can also become an unrealistic way to compare ourselves. We only see a tiny glimpse of real-life online, and many times it takes an army of staff to make those supposed perfect shots happen. Don’t fret, mama; this is your child, and you are doing just fine in their world. Take note of some creative ideas from others, but then remember every child is different, and you know what’s best in the end. 

Little Bodies, Big Opinions

Child eating
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Every mom wants their child to be healthy and strong. What can be challenging when it comes to little ones is that their taste buds and strong will might not always agree with yours. Toddlers are at the stage of development where they’re striving for independence and control. It’s a fine line, and choose your battles to find a balance. It’s essential to listen and respect your child, allowing them to try different foods and decide how much to eat. The old school logic of making little ones clean their plates can lead to obesity and a lack of mutual respect. 

Set Them Up For Success

The toddler years from age one to three is quite crucial for growth and development. Early life diet and feeding strategies play a vital role in establishing healthy food preferences and behaviors. Children are born in all different sizes and weights. Some grow faster and bigger than others, and toddlers can be healthy at many different sizes. The good news is that there are many healthy options for toddlers that are simple to make and won’t add too much work to your already busy day. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, use child care, or a nanny, with a bit of planning, you can set your little one up for success. In fact, research the best baby utensils and empower them to self-feed. As long as you mix it up and aim to give your toddler a balanced diet, you can start on the right track. 

Healthy toddler meals sadly don’t usually come pre-packaged. Companies tend to use sugar, salt, additives, and not always nutritious ingredients to appeal to a picky toddler’s palate. As we know it in our society, there can be false information that can sometimes lead to moms selecting foods for their toddlers that include empty calories. Texas Children’s Hospital recently published a study that after examining the sugar and salt contents in 1,000 toddler snacks and meals in United States grocery stores, researchers found that many items geared for toddlers are considered high in salt and sugar. Another point to note is that while small amounts of the juice are alright, don’t allow too much, as sugar levels are relatively high, and stay away from soda and sports drinks. Water is always the best liquid to provide.

When offering your toddler foods, try to include meats, dairy, vegetables, fruits, and grains. A balance of healthy fats, fiber, and protein will keep your toddler fuller longer, limiting too much snacking. Remember, the more color, the better, which will help to ensure a variety of nutrients. Choose foods with crucial vitamins toddlers need, including Vitamins A, B, C, D, Calcium, and Iron. One great rule of thumb is to consider the first five ingredients on the label. Remember, even natural sugar in too high amounts can start your child off on the wrong track. Always avoid high fructose corn syrup, as numerous studies show adverse health effects. 

Healthy Habits

Baby eating watermelon
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With the click of a mouse, you can access thousands of fun ideas to keep your toddler entertained and healthy. Simple tricks include cutting food into shapes, providing unique mealtime cutlery, adding songs into the mix, and not getting stuck in a rut. Stanford Children’s Health suggests always keep your child sitting when eating, try to stick to a regular schedule, avoid having devices on during mealtimes, and when ready, allow them to feed themselves. Another fun way is to get them involved in food preparation. Allowing them to be involved in the kitchen makes them feel a part of the process. 

Set an example by healthy eating yourself, and your kids will follow. If you eat lots of fruits and vegetables and your kids will want to do the same. Don’t overindulge in less nutritious food. You’ll be sending the right message. Your in this journey together; remember to have fun. As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years are short. 

Featured Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay