Toddlers can try your patience when it comes to eating. Many are picky and some refuse to eat at all. If you're the parent of a toddler, it's most important to know what her daily nutrition needs are so that she continues to grow strong and healthy. Familiarize yourself with a list of appropriate toddler foods to help ease the transition from baby food to big kid meals.
Toddlers should have at least one starchy carbohydrate at each meal. At breakfast, include oatmeal, wheat toast, cold cereal or buckwheat pancakes. Add some fruit, such as banana slices, applesauce, blueberries, you can add these to cereal or peach bits. Get in your toddler's dairy with milk or yogurt. You can also spread cream cheese on his toast. Turkey bacon or turkey sausage are excellent and much-needed breakfast proteins that can help your toddler feel fuller longer.
Vary your toddler's lunch fare so she doesn't get bored. Try a small whole-grain pita, toast or a small grilled whole-grain sandwich. Fruit salad or melon with cream cheese will give her the iron and nutrients she needs from fruits. Remember to vary the fruits each day so that she gets a range of nutrients. Go green as much as possible with chopped cooked broccoli, asparagus, peas, cucumber or zucchini. Small sticks of low-fat cheese or fruit-flavored yogurt can be excellent side items at lunch, while thin-sliced deli chicken slices can add a boost of midday protein.
Toddlers are most likely to resist food during the third meal of the day, so you may not need to worry about what your toddler eats at that point. Generally, he can try whatever the rest of the family is having, as long as it's healthful. Otherwise, he can have some whole-wheat noodles or fruit slices. Add grated cheese if your toddler needs some encouragement to eat vegetables, or a low-fat dipping sauce to coax him into eating protein. Scrambled egg whites, while a little messy, can be a healthful and easy-to-eat dinner protein alternative.
Your toddler should be able to handle a variety of healthy snacks. Toddler-friendly trail mix -- raisins, cereal, yogurt, chips and dried fruit, for example -- is an excellent choice that you can also turn to on the go. Graham crackers, applesauce, peanut butter, rice cakes and soft muffins are all healthful toddler snacks. If your toddler wants something extra substantial, try tofu cubes, small meatballs or chicken nuggets or a miniature sandwich on soft wheat bread.
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