Admit it, feeding a toddler is very challenging. This is the time when they are establishing their likes and dislikes. Their taste buds are also developing.
As parents, you want them to enjoy food so you cook delicious food. However, as you strive to juggle work and household chores, coming up with a nutritious meal plan with a matching grocery list may take a back seat.
Most parents resort to store-bought prepared food or fast food in feeding their toddlers.
What they don’t realize is that they are actually contributing to the development of picky eating and obesity.
It is always important to keep in mind that proper nutrition is essential to nourishment and mental concentration.
Here are some tips on how to encourage your pre-schoolers to eat right:
- Buy fresh produce – fresh is always nutritious. Besides, fresh produce is cheaper than processed food. You can buy from local markets in bulk. Cut apples and oranges into pieces and serve them in a bowl as snacks. You may also cut up carrots, broccoli, and potatoes. Steam or boil them then serve them with a dash of salt or yoghurt dip. This also teaches your child to become independent when eating.
- Make food fun – Prepare sandwiches and cut them into smiley faces and other figures. Use cookie cutters to cut them into different shapes. Serve your children’s dinner in a colourful platter and arrange them creatively. Your child will have fun eating and you can be sure they will finish their dinner.
- Pack snacks when going out – Prepare small containers of nuts, biscuits, fruits, and milk or juice. Bring these along when travelling even for short trips like going to the grocery or running your errands. When they are full from healthy snacking, they are less likely to point to that ice cream bar or cotton candy machine. Instead of eating unhealthy fast food, they have their own ready-made nutritious snacks.
- Plan your meals – It would be best if you plan your meals according to your child’s needs. How else can you teach them the value of eating good food than by being a good example? If you are busy, many recipes will allow you to prepare meals in advance and stock them in the freezer so you can simply reheat just before eating.
- Make sure your child gets all the food groups – Mix and match menus according to food groups. There should always be sources of protein such as fish and meat. Be creative and throw in some greens such as broccoli or carrots. Prepare a glass of milk or fresh fruit juice to complete their meal.
- Stick to an eating schedule – Avoid ruining your child’s appetite by feeding him at different times. Follow a strict schedule for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. If you won’t be home during that time, leave a note for the companion or babysitter. Set up a timer or call them to make sure your child eats on time. If he attends school, discuss the schedule with your child’s teacher to determine when he should take his snacks and meals.
The above tips give you an idea of what food to prepare when your child goes to school.
Another trick is to bring them to the supermarket so they can choose the healthy food that they prefer.
However, make sure you stick to the “nutritious-only” rule.
You can give them a piece of chocolate as a prize for eating a delicious meal.