It’s the new year and like many of us, January is a time to set new goals for the year ahead. Like all parents, wanting the very best for our children is always at the forefront of our minds and one of the key factors that gets talked about the most in the new year is diet and what foods we should be feeding our children.
A balanced diet is key to healthy development in children. However, ensuring that they are getting the right amount of nutrients and vitamins can be a struggle, especially when dealing with strong willed toddlers. To make sure that are getting what they need from each meal we have put together a list of some great tips to make eating healthy fun.
Get them involved in the kitchen
It may seem like a simple change, however many parents don’t have their children involved in the kitchen as they fear it could be dangerous or that it will take twice as long to prepare a meal. However, involving your child in cooking helps them to understand where food comes from and that it is fun to prepare. A little tip here as well is that children are much more likely to try something new if they have helped to make it.
Don’t give up, but don’t force them
Toddlers are still developing and along with this comes the development of their taste buds. Just because your toddler doesn’t like something today, doesn’t mean that they won’t like it in the future. Simply leave it without too much fuss and try again later. It is advised that if your child doesn’t like something, don’t force them to eat it as this can cause a negative association with food and make trying new things in the future much harder.
Try the hidden fruit and veg trick
Although it is important to have your child try fruit and vegetables in their full form, many parents find it easier to get more vitamins and nutrients into a diet by disguising them. You can do this easily by finely chopping up vegetables and mixing them into meatballs or blending frozen fruit and yogurt to make a tasty sorbet. Often if a toddler can’t see the vegetable or fruit, they are less likely to reject the dish.
Experiment with different textures
As adults we have a more refined palate which means that we notice how texture can play a huge role in how we enjoy a dish. If your child doesn’t like the squishy texture of broccoli, then experiment with broccoli chips instead to let them experience crunchy vegetables. Same as if your toddler doesn’t like crunchy apple, try stewing them instead to create a softer and more sweet flavour.
Add variety to meals
Eating the same thing everyday can get very boring for children, not to mention that it often results in a diet that is lacking in certain nutrients. To stop your children from getting bored try changing up your meals. If you often offer porridge for breakfast, maybe try some sweet potato pancakes as a treat one day. If you struggle with time, make a meal plan for the week so that you know exactly what to shop for and what to prepare. Many meals can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer to help make busy weekday evenings easier.
We hope that these simple tips will help your toddler enjoy a more varied diet this new year. For our full range of toddler food essentials click here.