Think back to when you were a child and the foods you used to eat.
Now, consider what your kids eat.
Times have changed for better or worse.
Many families eat on the go and let’s face it, fast food can be an easy fix.
When it comes to younger members of the family, what we feed them today can and will impact what they eat when they’re older. It doesn’t mean every meal is perfectly balanced – in fact, many of them aren’t – but we don’t have to sacrifice good nutrition.
Foods that appeal to toddlers and are pleasing to health-conscious moms include:
• Whole grain cereals
• Fresh or dried fruits
• Low-fat plain yogurt or cottage cheese
On the flip side, some old favorites should be shared only occasionally or permanently replaced with a healthier option.
• Limit juice, no more than 4 to 6 ounces per day
• Avoid fruit snacks – sticky and potentially damaging to toddler teeth.
• Many crackers, cereals, and toaster pastries – those marketed to kids often have lots of calories without much nutritional gain.
Of course all of this comes with the realization that we’re talking about toddlers. If it was up to them, they might eat mac and cheese or chicken nuggets every day. That’s why as parents it is important to offer a variety of foods and not get bent out of shape if they don’t eat a full plate at every meal.
Sometimes, a favorite food can present a good opportunity to introduce a new food. Toddlers may be more receptive to trying a little bit of broccoli if you mix it with their favorite mac and cheese. If they show their displeasure, that’s OK. Try again another time, and another, and another.
Portion size is also something to keep in mind. A toddler-sized portion may be just a few bites. Instead of eating three large meals per day, they may have smaller meals plus 1 or 2 snacks. Avoid letting your kids continuously graze on snacks throughout the day, so they are hungry when it is mealtime.
As a pediatrician, I always caution parents about foods that could cause a child to choke. The airway is small and young toddlers don’t always take the time to fully chew their food. Hard, round things like peanuts, jelly beans, hot dogs, grapes and raw carrots can pose a risk. With a little extra preparation some of these foods can be cut or cooked to decrease this risk.
Parenting little ones is a lot of work, but taking the time to make good, common sense choices can pay off in the long run and encourage lifelong healthy habits for your kids.
Dr. Annie Zimmer of Children’s Physicians in Plattsmouth wrote this guest blog for momaha.com. In the next Parening U session, she will offer parents of toddlers and preschoolers suggestions to keep snacks and meals healthy without turning every meal into a battleground.
Photo: CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD
Two-year-old Madolyn Kobes tries a beet for the first time in her life during a recent nutrition cooking class. Her mom and brother had to taste one, too.
* * *
MOMAHA LIVE CHAT:
Replay the live chat with Dr. Annie Zimmer of Children’s Physicians on momaha.com.
To learn more about the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center’s Parenting U live session and chats, visit childrensomaha.org/Parentingu or call 800-833-3100.
More Parenting U topics and dates:
6 p.m., Oct. 8: Common Sports Injuries by Dr. Kody Moffatt of Children’s Sports Medicine Clinic
6 p.m., Oct. 15: Effective Timeout Techniques by Ashley Harlow of Children’s Behavioral Health
If you can’t make the live session, you can view the webinar by clicking here.
* * *
LIVE CHAT:Click the grey box to replay the live chat.
To view more Parenting U footage from previous sessions, click here.