Healthy Toddler Meal Plan !!!
10 Tips for Happy and Healthy Toddler Tummies
Having a baby is a wonderful gift. You excitedly anticipated his entrance into the world, and now that your little bundle of joy is here, you continue to eagerly await his next big step.
After birth and up to four months, your infant relies solely on milk and other liquid food. His digestive tract is still developing and it is wise if you can keep solid food off limits for the time being.
At age four to six months, your baby can hold his head up, sit on a high chair, and close his mouth around a spoon. Your little one has now reached another milestone wherein he shows readiness for solid food. You may want to wait until the usually recommended age of 6 months to get your baby into solids. However, if they’re showing signs they’re ready – you can chat to your pediatrician about starting solids.
New Beginnings ! New Concerns !!
Healthy Toddler Meal Planner !!!
This is where you have a new round of concerns. What should I feed my growing child? What kind of foods should he eat to replenish his energy? These are the usual questions that parents ask themselves when their tiny tot grows into toddler-hood.
To make the transition easier, here are 10 simple tips to remember when feeding your toddler:
1. Let them decide how much to eat –
Your toddler would rather discover the world around them more than spend time just eating. To avoid mealtime battles, offer them a variety of healthy food to choose from and then just let them decide how much they can eat.
Research shows that even “picky” eaters are eating enough to meet their needs. They won’t starve by refusing all the food you put on their plate. Most likely, they are simply not hungry, so do not fret so much.
Healthy tots have a good sense of knowing how much they can stomach and will eat when they are hungry, and not before. It is normal that their appetites will vary from day to day, and even from meal to meal.
2. Give small servings –
Do not force your child to finish everything on their plate –
They can be put off food that is piled high and will most likely be overwhelmed by it. Instead, offer them tiny portions and encourage them to communicate by asking for second helpings if they still feel hungry.
3. Create a mealtime routine –
Plan ahead and make healthy meals or snacks before they get too hungry or tired –
Allow at least three to four hours in between meal times to encourage your child’s appetite. Having a routine in place will teach your toddler about feelings of hunger and satiety after meals.
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4. Present new food options –
Keep offering your child new foods to try out –
Start by giving them small portions along with food that they already like. It may take ten tries or more for them to get used to or like the new food, but keep trying.
Provide ample spacing when introducing new food. Allow about two to three days before giving him a new one. This will also allow you to check if your toddler is allergic to some of the new food. If any adverse reaction occurs, contact your baby’s doctor immediately.
Also, be a good example by showing your little one that the rest of the family (you included) enjoys eating a variety of dishes. By doing so, they will be more open to exploring new foods.
5. Remove distractions from the table –
Serve healthy toddler diet
When it is mealtime, ensure that your toddler’s attention is on the food and the people partaking of the meal. Remove gadgets such as tablets and phones. Put away toys and keep pets outside or far from the dining table. Turn off the TV or video games. This way, they will have more focus on what is happening at the dining table.
6. Negative food messages are a no-no !!
How our children view food also depends on how we raise them. Avoid negative food messages such as:
- Tagging food as “good” and “bad.” Instead, teach them that some foods are for everyday eating and some foods are for “sometimes.”
- Educate them by serving dishes with the proper amount of food from the five food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, meats/beans, milk/ dairy). Inform your toddler that these are the “everyday” foods that will make them strong and healthy.
- “Sometimes” food can be treats such as cakes, biscuits, cookies and the like, and these should be eaten less often, especially if they are not made from healthy ingredients. As much as possible, try to avoid sugar-laden treats and whip up nutritious, all-natural homemade goodies for your little ones instead.
- Refrain from using food as reward or punishment. This will teach your child to associate food with the emotions, such as dislike for food connected to punishment. Likewise, food viewed as rewards may lead to overeating, obesity, or eating disorders later on in life.
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Here are a few more do’s and don’ts to teach healthy eating habits.
7. Practice patience and calm –
Children tend to be fascinated by their parents’ reactions, so avoid making a lot of fuss about food
They will eat according to their appetite so if the food is left uneaten, clear out the dishes without making any comments.
Refrain from being angry if they haven’t finished all the food on their plates. Simply assume that their hunger has been satisfied.
8. Feed according to their age –
Serving age appropriate food will most likely lead them to enjoy it better
Take into consideration the developmental stages that they go through. Observe factors like if they have teeth, if they have more control over their hands and mouth, or if they have the ability to listen to and understand what you are saying.
Babies who are less than a year old will have different abilities and needs compared to those who are 12 months and beyond. Feed them accordingly – from pureed vegetables to finger foods, for example. Their portion size will also vary based on their age, so be mindful of these aspects.
Below are some basic guidelines that can give you an idea for feeding your toddler in the second half of his first year (6 – 12 months). This includes examples of what kind of food and the typical skills they have at various stages of their development:
Healthy Toddler Menu Plan
Starter foods such as banana, avocado, pears or applesauce can be pureed, or offered by spoonful (baby-sized spoon or the size of your fingertip). At this stage, your baby might already begin teething. His tongue-thrust and gag reflexes will also lessen.
7 to 9 months
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, peaches, prunes, cereal, carrots, or squash may be mashed or pureed. Teething biscuits, pear or apple juice may be given, as babies at this stage may already know how to drink from cups. Parents need to be alert, as well, as this is the stage wherein they are fascinated by tiny food morsels, which can be a choking hazard.
9 to 12 months
Fish (tuna or salmon), lamb, veal, tofu, poultry, noodles, bagels, beans, rice cakes, eggs, yams, cheese, yogurt, or spinach can now be introduced. By this time, your tot will have mastered finger foods and can hold his trainer-cup. Your child’s self-feeding skills will also improve and he will try to grab hold of utensils.
9. Allow them to make new discoveries –
Part of growing up is learning how to do things on your own
As a toddler, they go through several stages such as learning how to pick up food by their fingers to eventually being able to eat by themselves.
From spoon-feeding to independent eating, allow your child to discover the different ways they can enjoy food. When they’re still younger, let them have food on their face and hands. Eating can be messy during the early stages, so let them be and just provide for a sheet to catch crumbs or fallen food.
Toddlers over the age of nine months relish having some control over their choice of food or the opportunity to feed themselves. You can start teaching them about proper table etiquette when they are of the age to properly understand you.
10. Make mealtimes fun and memorable –
Try to make mealtimes a chance for you and your child to bond
Spend quality moments together with the family and have good conversations. Show your child that you value their ideas, thoughts and opinions, and that you are interested in hearing them.
This is also a good opportunity to share information, like how the food was prepared and where, as well as the different flavors, shapes, sizes and textures. Not only will they learn more about the dishes you prepared, but this will also enhance their language and communication skills.
Time For Toddlers
Toddler-hood is a time for learning. This is when your baby slowly takes his first steps towards early childhood, discovering new things every day. At this stage, your baby will start to establish eating patterns.
It is crucial, therefore, that you make sure to guide him towards maintaining a healthy eating habit. The behaviors he will learn while at this development stage will most likely be carried through adulthood.
Remember that when feeding your toddler, your role as a parent is to provide them a variety of nutritious food they can choose from when they are hungry. To make those tiny tummies happy, making healthy meals always available will ensure that their nutritional needs are met. More importantly, sharing a good, hearty meal together that is lovingly prepared will make mealtimes even healthier and happier, and the food, more delicious.
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