Teaching Your Child to Eat Healthy
Ideas for Parents with Toddlers
I am learning that it is so difficult to feed a toddler. They are so picky and what they may love to eat one day the next they despise. So, when you are trying to feed them healthy foods it can really narrow down your options and in turn make the process seem that much more difficult. However, I think that as a parent it is our responsibility to teach our child good, healthy eating habits. This is one area that I don't want to grow lazy or passive in. I am already seeing at such a young age how exposed our kids are to bad choices. I know that I can't control everything that gets handed to her and what she eats. But, I can control what I give her. So, I think that if I feed her well the 80% she is with me then I won't feel as bad and it won't be as bad for her if she does eat bad on an occasion (like a birthday party or holiday).
It is hard to think of options that are "healthy" and creative. Especially if we weren't raised on those types of foods ourselves. There are so many great blogs and websites out there to provide suggestions and recipes.
Here is a sample of a menu that I use:
- Breakfast- Yo Toddlers Organic Yogurt with some fruit (she LOVES strawberries and bananas)
- Mid morning snack-Toddler Cereal Bar, another piece of fruit, or a homemade blueberry muffins (grammy is good at making these)
- Lunch-Scrambled Eggs and a pouch of organic baby food
- Mid-Day Snack-Cut up cheese and whole wheat crackers (or crackers with a little bit of peanut butter)
- Dinner-Sweet Potatoe/apple/carrot blend
- Bed-time Snack-Cut up Avocado
Don't assume that your child won't eat certain things just because they are healthy or you don't like them. I can't believe some of the things that Mayda eats that I would think would taste disgusting (for example Spinach with pears). That girls loves avocados plain with nothing on them. I recommend offering something healthy numerous times and try different ways of serving them. Sometimes I can put cinnamon on something and she will immediately like it when she didn't before.
Toddlers don't know yet what foods are healthy or not. Don't plant ideas in their head and create certain associations with foods that aren't necessary. If you really talk up ice cream and act like "yummm ice crream" with a glisten in your eye of course they will want some. You could do this same thing with healthier options. Again, when I give Mayda an avocado she acts like it is the tastiest food ever. We are setting the example for our children.
Plan ahead and always have healthy options on hand. Here is my favorite recipe I concocted for Mayda. I love this because you can make a big batch for the week ahead of time and pull out of fridge when needed.
Steamed Sweet Potatoes/Apples/Carrots
Ingredients-2 medium sized sweet potatoes or yams, four carrots, two-three apples, cinnamon
1. Peel Potatoes, Apples and Carrots
2. Cuts into small, bite sized cubes
3. Place in steamer pot and Sprinkle Cinnamon on top, mix and sprinkle more cinnamon
4. Cook until soft and easy for a toddler to chew (I use a boiling pot of water with a steamer that sits on top-usually takes about 45 minutes to cook)
5. Place in small containers and store in fridge
*I love this recipe because it is a good blend of healthy foods and tasty ones too! :)
You can also make a version of this for yourself and the rest of the family. We cut the peeled carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes into wedges (like french fries) and sprinkle with cinnamon and olive oil and we bake in oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes (until crispy and a little brown). This is a great snack alternative!