Babies and toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. To be fair, they have a lot to deal with at the dinner table: new textures, strange smells, not to mention just a few teeth and frequently sore gums. Because they are growing so fast, and laying groundwork for their life-long health, it is really important to make the very most of the foods they will eat, and try to pack in as much nutrition as is possible into impossibly small portions.
Let’s have a look at some of the most powerfully nutritious foods out there, that have all been toddler approved.
1. Breast milk: So perfectly nutritious that no other food or drink is required in baby’s first 6 months, breastfeeding has been found to be advantageous for children up to and beyond the two year mark. After 6 months other nutrition is certainly encouraged, especially in order to meet baby’s need for iron, but the powerful, qualities of breast milk are quite incredible.
2. Avocados: Becoming a common first food for babies, avocados are great because they are high in protein and ‘good’ fat, in just the right amounts to keep baby’s growth chart as curved as her perfectly chubby cheeks.
3. Sweet Potatoes: Another great one for babies transitioning off an “all liquid” diet. Sweet potatoes are tasty for toddlers, and can be mashed smoothly for safe eating. They are high in fiber, Vitamin C and beta-carotene, so are fantastic for keeping free radicals at bay.
4. Broccoli: Iron, potassium, fiber, folate…so good and so green. “Little trees” are a favorite with may toddlers, and are a great food for starting them off on the right foot.
5. Tomatoes: Lycopene, that gives ripe tomatoes their rich red color, is an anti-oxidant that can protect against cancer and heart disease. Never to early to start preventative nutrition!
6. Citrus fruits: Keeping a healthy level of Vitamin C means toddlers will heal from any bumps and scrapes quickly, as well as be able to absorb all-important iron efficiently from food sources. The best way to get it is from citrus fruits. Hold the juice, though. Real fruit has more fiber that little digestive systems also need.
7. Cheese: This word does double duty in the toddler world; both an invitation to photograph them doing something cute, and a favorite snack food! Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, both required for kids to grow big and strong.
8. Yogurt: A delicious source of calcium and protein, many toddlers will have a soft spot for yogurt. Look for varieties with high fat, and low sugar to give the best nutrition possible.
9. Carrots: Beta-carotene, that gives carrots their awesome orange hue, is very important for growth and developing healthy eyesight. For toddlers, make sure this superfood is cooked until soft.
10. Eggs: After a baby’s first year, eggs are an excellent source of protein, Omega-3s and many important minerals. They are also very economical and can be cooked in a variety of ways making them a meal-saving ingredient parents of toddlers ought to have on hand at all times.
11. Blueberries: High in vitamins, flavanoids and fiber, blueberries are a sweet pick that some toddlers will eat by the handful.
12. Leafy greens: Not always the first pick of the under-three age group, but spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables are powerful foods that carry lots of iron, folate and other minerals. It is worth experimenting with recipes to see if your child will eat them, perhaps in a sauce or slice.
13. Bananas: An easy to digest source of carbohydrates, bananas are a favorite with toddlers who love the sweet taste and mushy texture. They are a great snack to take along to the park or the shops, and can also be easily added to yogurt or pancakes.
14. Oats: Containing fiber, magnesium, iron and Vitamin E, oats are a good comfort food for toddlers. Serving it soft and cooled with some added fruit puree for flavor will give your little one a chance to practice their spoon skills.
15. Pasta: A fun finger food for little ones, pasta is a great source of carbohydrates that is easy on little tummies. Even toddlers with less tendency to try new foods usually love the simple taste of plain pasta, and others will like it with sauce and cheese.
16. Beans: Full of the protein kids need to grow, as well as an excellent source of iron, a variety of beans will fill up your toddler’s belly.
17. Meat: Toddlers need their meat very tender, but when suitably prepared, different types of good quality meat (i.e. not processed sandwich fillers) can provide decent quantities of iron and zinc.
Offering your toddler a good range of whole, nutritious foods regularly will help them grow and develop to their potential, and set them up with good eating habits for life.