In my practice as parenting consultant – I find that the parents of toddlers are often very worried about what to feed their children. And upset because their toddlers are not eating.
They want to feed their children nutritious food but they are challenged by their toddler’s attitude towards food and eating.
Why is it difficult to feed toddlers nutritious food?
- They have smaller appetites than when they were babies.
- Their curiosity makes them want to run around and explore.
- The powerful word “no” becomes part of their vocabulary.
- Their poorly developed jaw muscles restrict them from chewing.
- They have neophobia and are wary of new food.
What happens if we don’t focus on toddler nutrition?
- Lack of energy makes them sedentary. They explore less and learn less.
- Their immunity decreases. They fall sick more often.
- They don’t gain weight and height.
- They are cranky and throw tantrums. This comes in the way of their developing good social skills.
Nutrient-dense foods that should be part of your toddler’s diet
- Rice, roti, and millets for carbohydrates.
- Dal, paneer, milk, curd, fish, meat and eggs for proteins.
- Ghee for good fats.
- Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for vitamins and minerals.
How to cook toddler food?
- Use nutrient-dense ingredients, so that so that they get all the nutrients in a few bites.
- Serve it in interesting ways, so that it ignites their curiosity and keeps them at the table.
- Prefer finger foods, so that your toddler can self-feed. When they have a chance to use their hands – they will not use their legs to run away.
How to make toddler-friendly meals?
- Make cutlets with dal, paneer, fish, meat, and eggs.
- Serve pancakes, dosas, and appams made with millets, rice, and wheat.
- Make nut and seed laddoos and bind them with ghee.
How to ensure that your toddler eats what you serve?
- Serve the meals at regular times.
- Serve very small quantities.
- Do not serve juice.
- Do not serve milk close to meals.
- Avoid serving dessert as a reward.
- Keep the food soft and moist.
- Serve chewy foods in small quantities at snack time.
- Avoid food that can be a choking hazard.
- Eat with your child.
- Do not force feed.
- Have fun conversations during mealtimes.
- Serve 4 meals and 4 snacks.
- Serve snacks in a form that can be eaten while moving around and playing.
- Ensure that your child gets at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical exercise.
- Prioritize sleep.
- Get your child into a regular toilet routine.
- Limit screen time to 30 minutes.
- Encourage your child to drink enough water.
- Avoid introducing junk food.
- Do not allow screen time during meals.
Don’t make the mistake of focusing on the quantity of food your toddler is eating.
Just serve nutrient- dense foods and allow toddlers to be themselves.
That is the magic formula for toddler nutrition.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr.Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. She is the author of 7 books on parenting published by Juggernaut Books and her books are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach and her application of physiology and neuroscience to parenting.