A child who is 12 to 36 months old is generally referred to as a toddler. It is that stage where the little ones undergo a lot of emotional, cognitive and social development. And these years are crucial for the development of the child. And I am sure, you as a parent want to do your best to nourish your little ones well and raise them into a healthy individual. But as you now, feeding the toddler is a real challenge because you have to feed them carefully to ensure that whatever they are eating is healthy and nutritious. And today’s post is all about that. In this post, we are going to talk about some of the best foods for toddlers and feeding these foods items will help your kids grow healthy, both physically and mentally.
A healthy individual is an asset to the society. However, healthy is not just about being physically strong, but it also includes the mental growth and wellbeing of an individual. So, if you want to grow your little toddler healthy, you better ensure to feed them with foods that are proven to be healthiest for the toddlers.
The process of taking care of the child and feeding him well start right after the birth. Then why am I emphasizing so much on the toddler years? Well, the simple reason is for so long the baby was majorly depending on the mother’s milk but once they reaches the toddler years, they slowly starts to eat other foods. And, hence, this is the best time to feed them with all those nutritious foods that will help in proper physical and mental growth of the toddler.
I have already made a list of some of the healthiest foods for toddlers and will also discuss about them in today’s article. So, if you have a toddler and you are unsure about the foods that are good for them, then this is the post you must check.
Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibilities. After all, your little one is completely dependent on you, and you got to raise the baby into a healthy individual. Now, your little one can never be healthy unless he/she is getting the right kind of nutrients from the foods for the overall development. Moreover, when you are dealing with a toddler, you just cannot give him/her anything to eat. You need to consider the fact that when in the toddler years, the little one is not fully developed so he/she is too vulnerable. Therefore, you need to be a little selective and choose foods items that are safe, easily digestible and contains the nutrients required for their mental and physical development.
Thankfully, there are many such healthy foods that can help them grow well.
So, are you ready to check the list of best and healthiest foods for toddlers?
Let’s dive in.
The best nutritious and healthiest foods for toddlers
Toddler years are the very important growth years and by the time, the little one reaches 4-5 years, he/she undergoes a big change especially with respect to the mental development. He/she starts understanding and analyzing things better than before. In other words, a child’s intelligence starts getting reflected once he/she crosses the toddler years.
Of course, there is much more development left to be done in the adolescent stage but toddler years are the base of mental development. And, whenever it comes to development, the foods you make them eat always play a very important and crucial role.
So, you must make your toddle eat the right kind of foods that will help in proper mental and physical development.
Listed below are a few of the healthiest foods for toddlers:
Eggs are a very versatile food item and you can make your little toddler have them. This is because eggs are not just tasty but are also a powerhouse of nutrients with the important ones being protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and iron, all of which are very much important for the development of your little ones. Also, some eggs contain omega 3 fatty acids which are very useful for the brain growth of the toddlers.
Scramble eggs are a good and easy option for keeping your toddler full. However, if your little one does not like scrambled eggs, then you can make egg casseroles or egg salad for them.
The next in the list of healthiest foods for toddlers is yogurt. Yogurt is a great and healthy snack, breakfast or dessert option for toddlers. You just have to watch out for the added sugars. Try out plain Greek yogurt which has no added sugar but contains twice the amount of protein present in any regular sugar.
The full fat Greek yogurt keeps the brain cells of your child healthy which in general, is very much needed for sending and receiving information. After all, fats are quite important for the human brain.
In addition to these, yogurt delivers probiotics which are the good bacteria very much needed for maintaining a healthy gut. So, you can definitely make your little one have some plain Greek yogurt.
You can add some berries or whole grain cereal or dark chocolate chips on top to make the yogurt tastier for your toddler. In fact, they will not just add to the taste but will also make it healthy. This is because cereals contain fiber and the blueberries and chocolate chips contain polyphenols, all of which are important in making the mind sharp by hiking the flow of blood to the brain.
Many times the parents avoid giving peanut butter to the little kids due to the high fat content. But let me tell you that the fats present in peanut butter are actually mono and poly-unsaturated fat which are much better than the saturated fats present in the other high-fat food items. However, if you are still concerned about the fat content of peanut butter, then maybe you can go with the reduced fat peanut butter for your toddler.
Beans of all types
Beans are definitely one of the healthiest foods for toddlers. Beans are superfoods packed with fiber and protein very essential for the wellbeing of your toddler. Plus, they are quite cheap and you will take hardly any time to prepare them for your little ones. However, try to buy low-sodium canned beans like for example, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans etc. Here, you only have to open the can, rinse them properly in order to get rid of the extra sodium and then add them to any dish you’re feeding you little one.
Adding beans in the dish will also keep your child full for long and will also enable proper digestion.
Milk should continue to be a part of the diet of your little one and it is definitely one of the healthiest foods for toddlers. It is a great source of Vitamin D, calcium and protein and is very much needed in the early growing years of your child. In fact, depending on the age, the kids must drink 2-3 glasses of milk daily, more so, if they are not having any other calcium-rich food. Give them low-fat milk once they reach 2 years of age.
However, many a times, toddlers drink less milk not because that they develop a distaste for it but mainly because they start loving the other drinks available at the home like for example, soda, fruit juice, fruit drinks etc. But, you should make it a point that your toddler drinks milk regularly.
In case your little one does not love cow’s milk, then go for the other available alternatives. However, every alternative has a slightly different nutrition profile. So, check the labels first and then choose. It is best if you go for the plain and the unsweetened varieties.
Whole grains are very essential for the development of your child and you must make sure that the diet chart of your toddler contains whole grains. The primary reason why whole grains are recommended is because of the presence of high amount of fiber in them (which is often lacking in the diet chart of many children). Kids require about 25 grams of fiber per day whereas many snacks just offer them with 1-3 grams of fiber. So, you should make it a point to give your toddler whole grains. Check for 100% whole grain or whole wheat while buying any food item for your little one.
The best options to choose will be oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortilla, brown rice etc. You may also use whole-wheat flour or white whole-wheat flour while making cookies, pancakes or pizza dough for your little one.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are the other healthy foods for toddlers that you should consider. The main reason is because nuts and seeds contain the three most important nutrients – protein, fiber and healthy fats, all of which are important for proper development and in general wellbeing of the toddler. Make sure that the diet chart of your kid includes almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, cashews etc.
Nuts are also very high in potassium that is very helpful in the development of the bone and in producing energy. Chia seeds, walnuts, pecans also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is nothing but an important omega 3 fatty acid which your system is unable to make but needs, so you need to eat it.
In order to make your little one eat adequate nuts and seeds, what you can do is to offer him/her with nuts alone or mix them with dried fruits. You can also throw some flax seeds into your favorite smoothie, or eat a toast after sprinkling some chia seeds on it, or make your own homemade granola bar using all of the important nuts and seeds for your little one.
Include berries in the diet chart of your toddler because they are one of the healthiest foods for toddlers. Berries are very nutritious with Vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants like anthocyanins being the prominent nutrients present in them. Moreover, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries contain less sugar than many other fruits, so you need not worry about the sugar content.
You can make your toddler eat the berries as a snack or you can add them as toppings on yogurt and make your child eat that. In case, it is not the season for the berries, you can also buy the unsweetened frozen ones available in the market and mix them overnight in oats and smoothies and then make your toddler eat it.
Most of the little ones do not like veggies, but no matter whether they like it or not, you as a parent need to make it a point that the diet chart of your little one contains enough veggies of all kinds. However, make sure you feed your little one with not just one or two but various types of veggies and of various colors. This is because that each variety and each color supply your little one with different nutrients.
Like for example, the green ones like spinach, kale etc. are high in Vitamin K, the red and the orange vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, peppers are rich in Vitamin C and the cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc. are full of cancer-fighting compounds and feed good gut bacteria.
Apples and plums
Fruits are really healthy and when it comes to feeding your little toddler, you must definitely include apples and plums in their diet. This is because, kids usually crave for sweets and so instead of giving them artificially sweetened products make them eat things that are naturally sweet. Apples and plums are not just tasty and sweet but they also contain quercetin, which is an antioxidant that is very helpful in fighting the declining of the mental skills.
However, I would request you to go for the organic ones because the good nutritious stuff is there in the skin of the fruit.
Fish definitely fall in the list of the healthiest foods for toddlers. The primary reason for fish to be the healthiest foods for toddlers is the presence of Vitamin D and omega 3s in them that help in the prevention of the declination of the mental skills or memory loss. The options of fishes that you can consider to feed your little one are tuna, salmon, sardine because all of these are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
Trust me, with more among of omega 3s, there will be better brain functioning and your little one will be able to focus on things better.
Simply grill the fishes and serve it to your toddler with a sauce. You can also go for tuna sandwiches or add fish to tacos or can simply make them consume light fish curries.
Over to you
Toddler years are the early growth years and so it is very important that you feed your little toddlers with the healthiest foods. I personally believe in variety and so, you must select various types of items so that your child gets all of the important nutrients needed for their mental and physical development.
I have already shared the top 11 healthiest foods for toddlers. Foods like egg, fish, berries, apple, plum etc are considered to be the healthiest for toddlers as well as adults. These food items are safe, healthy and easy to digest.
Of course, in case your little one is allergenic to something, then you can avoid that. Like for example, many kids are allergenic to dairy, then you should obviously avoid milk and other milk products no matter how much beneficial they are.
However, it is important to eat fresh and good quality produces. Like for example, it is best if you go for the organic items because they are organically produced and hence are of better quality.
Another important thing to note is to make your toddlers eat on time. There should not be long gap in between meals. However, also make it a point not to overfeed them as that might have negative impacts on their health. You must also ensure that your child is not becoming too fatty as that might lead to other health complications with breathing troubles being the most common one.
So that’s all. But before concluding the post, I would like to know about the foods you are feeding your toddlers. So feel free to share your favorite healthiest foods for toddlers.
Until next post, stay healthy and keep your little ones healthy.
Eliana the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.