Aptly said, Healthy Food, Healthy Life!
It is essential to eat healthily to lead a better life. Our children copy what they see therefore it is essential that we eat and drink healthily to instil good eating habits in our little ones.
By the time your child turns one they should have transitioned from those first solid foods to eating the same food as the rest of the family. Children should be encouraged to make healthy food choices by informing them about the right and wrong food choices. One should practice this by making mealtimes a family time.
Preparing meals that the whole family, especially our toddlers will eat can be tricky.
In this post we share 5 healthy food ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Toddler Healthy Food Ideas
There are 5 food groups children must consume.
A toddler must have an adequate intake of fruits. Fruits are abundant in nutrients and vitamins.
As a good practice, you should include as many types of fruits as possible in your family's diet. These colourful, juicy and tasty fruits are a essential for the growth and development of your toddler, and they should have 2 servings of fruit in addition to other veggies each day.
Berries, apples, bananas, oranges, lemons, peaches, grapes, pineapples, pears, avocados are some of the must-feed fruits for your toddler.
Just like fruits, vegetables play a significant role in the development, growth, and health of your toddler. Veggies are full of fibres, antioxidants, vitamins, and they maintain your child's energy levels and help protect them from diseases in later phases of life.
Leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, pumpkin, cabbage, beans are the vegetables one must feed to toddlers regularly.
Children can get cranky while having them, so try to feed these veggies by turning them into attractive food dishes.
Feeding grains to children fills them with energy. They help them feel full for a longer time.
Grain foods include bread, cereals, pasta, noodles, rice, corn, wheat, quinoa, oats, barley, etc.
Dairy products are a must in the toddler healthy food ideas list. Milk, yogurt, cheese, butter should form an integral part of their diet plan. Milk provides calcium and protein that helps to develop strong bones. Dairy products are rich in protein and calcium.
Protein-rich food items such as fish, eggs, chicken, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, lean meat are a must in the list. They play a vital role in the development, growth, and health of toddlers.
Number of Recommended Servings per Food Group
For a balanced and nutritional diet, a toddler's diet must contain all the 5 food group items.
Below is the recommended number of servings for each food group.
- 1 – 1.5 servings of fruits,
- 2.5 – 4 servings of vegetables
- 4 – 4.5 servings of grains
- 1 – 1.5 servings of protein and
- 1.5 – 2 servings of dairy products.
A serving is approximately a quarter of the size of an adult serving.
Toddler Healthy Food Ideas for Breakfast
It is essential that your little one has a good breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it replenishes the supply of glucose required to boost alertness and energy levels. In addition, it provides essential nutrients required for good health.
For breakfast include fruits, dairy products such as milk or yogurt, grains such as bread and eggs. A good healthy breakfast is essential for an energetic start to the day.
The following make excellent options for breakfast for your little one.
Fruits: A bowl of fresh pieces of fruit like apple, banana, berries, or any other seasonal fruits.
Porridge: Prepared by boiling oats in milk or water, this can be served either hot or cold.
Egg on toast: This is a great option and you can mix this up by doing poached, boiled or scrambled eggs.
Toasted cheese fingers: Simply place the cheese onto the toast and place it under the grill for a few minutes. Your little one will love these.
Toast with smooth peanut butter: Toast the bread and apply smooth peanut butter to it.
All these ideas are quick and simple to make and provide essential nutrients to start the day. Avoid sugar, cakes, biscuits, potato chips, hot chips etc.
Toddler Healthy Food Ideas for Lunch
Have fun with lunchtime, try different combinations of foods, make the food interesting for your little one by making faces or animals with the food. Cut fruits in different shapes as this will make the food more appealing to your little one.
Some of the healthy lunch options you can choose are:
Pasta with peas, corn, and tinned tuna: Fishy pasta! It's yum! Boil the pasta, sauté the peas and corn, add it to boiled pasta, and add tinned tuna. Add sauces as per your taste and some pepper and salt to taste.
Fun sushi balls: This is a slight variant of sushi balls. Prepare it with avocado filling covered with sushi rice seasoned in sushi seasoning.
Fish, vegetable rice: Fish is a great source of calcium, vitamins and essential fatty acids. Make your rice more interesting by cutting up the vegetables and adding them to the rice. Stir fry the rice and vegetables together and serve with the fish.
Sandwich with meat, chicken, fish or egg: A simple sandwich is always a winner. Choose wholegrain or whole wheat bread as opposed to white.
Green eggs and ham: The secret to preparing delicious green eggs is using spinach, parsley, and basil puree to scrambled eggs. These veggies add colour to the eggs and enhance their taste. A combination of ham and green eggs is all that your child needs for a healthy lunch.
Toddler Healthy Food Items for Dinner
A healthy dinner is necessary for a good night's sleep and better health, growth, and development of your little one.
A healthy dinner has the right amount of nutrients and proteins. Use colourful vegetables or different textures like carrot, pumpkin, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, etc. Adding them to food makes food attractive to eat for the child.
Try to avoid processed meat, sausages and chicken nuggets.
Some of the healthy dinner options include:
Avocado Macaroni and Cheese: Prepare your macaroni and cheese and then add some avocado to this for additional nutrients.
Creamed corn and Ham toasted wraps: A wholemeal wrap that has creamy corn, cheese and lean sliced ham toasted till golden makes a great quick and easy meal for both children and adults.
Crumbed fish with dill, lemon, and cucumber yogurt: This meal is quick, delicious and full of nutrients.
Stir fried meat and veggies: Stir fry the meat first and add it to a plate. Now stir fry the vegetables. Approximately 5 mins before the vegetables are ready, add meat to them. Use colourful vegetables to bring colour to it and make it healthier.
Cucumber and lemon soba noodle salad with chicken: Cook noodles by boiling them. Drain them. Combine soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic to a bowl and whisk it. Add cucumber, radish, carrot, onion, and dressing to noodles. Include small pieces of chicken breast to make it a perfect meal.
Toddler Healthy Food Items for Snacks
As toddlers have small stomachs, it is necessary to feed them at regular intervals. Feed your little one 2 – 3 nutritional snacks a day.
Keep snacks light so they do not impact their appetite for the more important meals of the day.
Some of the food options for a healthy snack are:
Fresh fruits bowl (apple, banana, berries, or seasonal fruits): Cut the fruits in different shapes to make them look appealing for a child to eat.
Yogurt, cheese, crackers with cheese or smooth peanut butter: Crackers made of wholewheat topped with cheese or peanut butter is a go-to snack. A small portion of yogurt made with fruits, vanilla, and milk chocolate helps fill the tummy.
A boiled egg: This is quick and easy to do and offers plenty of vital nutrients.
Tinned spaghetti: Serve it cold or warm. As the canned foods are pre-cooked, cold spaghetti with tomato sauce makes a delicious combination. Cooked heated spaghetti adds more flavour to it.
A piece of chicken (without skin): Cut the chicken into bites and serve it as finger food. Season it with pepper, salt, turmeric, nutmeg in minimal portions to introduce spices to your child.
In terms of drinks, water is the best and healthiest option. Milk in moderation is another healthy option.
Do not feed your toddler soft drinks, energy drinks, tea/coffee, fruit juices. They contain high levels of sugar that can lead to tooth decay and other health impacts caused by too much sugar in the body.
There will be times when your little one refuses to eat what you have placed in front of them. When this happens do not be discouraged, simply offer a healthy alternative and try that particular food on another day.
It is essential to maintain the health and weight of a toddler. Also, a healthy diet contributes to the growth and development of your little one.