10/17/08

Nutritious Toddler Friendly Foods

. 10/17/08

As a parent, you want to know which foods are toddler friendly foods. Don't worry about which foods a picky eater might prefer, but consider which foods are best for a rapidly growing child.

Consider the major food groups as you introduce new foods to your child. Children need dairy, fruits and vegetables, meats and grains. They do not need excessive amounts of sugary foods when their teeth are developing. Many parents start with sweetened mashed fruits. It is better to introduce vegetables early, along with cereals. After a diet of grain cereals and sweet fruit a baby might turn away from vegetables.

Start with foods that are neither too sweet nor salty. The taste buds work very well at this young age, so a little salt will overpower a child's tastes. Go easy on spices.

Fruits and Vegetables
Try sweet potatoes, which provide vitamins galore and are naturally sweet and filling. Boiled or baked mashed potatoes are healthy unless they are smothered in butter,
salt and gravy. Green beans are a good choice for toddler finger food. Sliced bananas, blueberries, strawberries and chunks of melon also make good finger foods. Other fruits to try are grapes, raisins, mandarin orange slices, fruit cocktail and raspberries.

Children like applesauce and can eat thinly sliced raw apple. Sweet peas, beans, rice and softly cooked potatoes are good choices. Also try steamed carrots slices, broccoli, avocados and squash.

Proteins
Eggs, boiled, poached or scrambled, add protein to the diet. Cheese is good; cut it into small chunks. Small portions of ice cream, pudding and yogurt can add calcium.

Chicken, beef and fish are three good meats to feed small children. Baked, broiled and grilled meats are preferable to fried meats, and the portions of meat should be small. Cut the meat in small slices rather than chunks to prevent choking.

What to Avoid
There are some pitfalls to feeding toddlers. A child shouldn't be fed hotdogs, marshmallows or cheese puffs. These particular foods have very little nutritional value and each has been known to cause choking. Nuts are hard to chew and are a food that small children are often allergic to. Cookies and juices that fill a child with sugar are likewise better avoided.

White bread is another low nutrition culprit. Choose a whole wheat bread and stick to it, even with hamburger buns and dinner rolls. Whole wheat is the healthiest choice. Brown rice and wheat pastas are the best options for children.

Fruit juices, though they contain vitamins, can take away children's appetites so that they will not be hungry at mealtimes. Beware of this problem and cut back on juices.

The toddler years are full of discovery in the food realm. Make sure your child is presented with healthy foods daily, and he will learn to eat a more balanced diet and be stronger because of it

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