Getting a toddler to eat healthfully is a great idea — in theory. But two hours later, with creamed spinach all over the walls, you may be singing a different tune.
Every parent has the best in mind for their child’s diet, but we’re not all so keen on the idea of prying open a toothy mouth and hurling a few baby carrots in to see what’ll stick. If your child is resistant to broccoli, beets, and the like, never fear: you can still strike a wholesome balance between healthy and delicious. Serve some of the following foods to your toddler — each item on the list is highly beneficial to a child’s development, and you may be surprised how quickly it all disappears!
According to Parenting, “Research shows that kids who eat oatmeal are better to concentrate and pay attention in school.” The high fiber content of oats makes this dish a source of complex carbs, says Livestrong. This, in turn, triggers your child’s digestive system to slowly work its magic and produce a steady stream of energy. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning will help stave off your child’s midday energy crashes.
Oats are a mild daytime snack, optimal for preventing spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels, writes Baby Center. Try topping old-fashioned oats with blueberries to give the snack a healthy kick.
2. Fruit (Especially Blueberries)
Fruit is a great nutritional choice for people of all ages, which is almost shocking considering how delicious it is. This is one nutritious treat that your kids will gobble down without resistance, so make the most of it! As Parenting writes, “Any fruit is good for your child, providing essential vitamins and minerals. To reap the nutritional benefits, aim to eat a variety of fruits, like berries, melon, kiwifruit, and oranges.”
One particularly good source of antioxidants in the fruit family is blueberries. WebMD defines antioxidants as important disease-fighting compounds, adding that, “Just one cup [of blueberries] has 13,427 total antioxidants — vitamins A & C, plus flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) like querticin and anthocyanidin. That’s about 10 times the USDA’s recommendation in just one cup.”
Try mixing blueberries, oats, and milk (or yogurt) for your child. It’s a delicious, heart healthy snack that will keep them balanced and energized all day long.
It isn’t food, per se, but the protein and calcium stores in milk will replenish your child’s body as much as any snack. Calcium will also facilitate development of children’s teeth and bones. The National Health Service notes that early development is an especially important time for a child to be getting their calcium fix. Not only that, but protein goes a long way in boosting your child’s energy levels.
Furthermore, milk is a great source of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, according to the University of Illinois. These essential organic compounds aid in metabolism and calcium absorption, among other processes.
4. Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is another protein- and calcium-rich snack that will aid in your child’s development, notes Baby Center. Greek yogurt is particularly fortified with protein, serving up two to three times the amount found in regular yogurt. By purchasing plain, low-fat yogurt and adding your own fruit toppings or a drizzle of honey, you can avoid the added sugars that are so commonly found in processed flavored yogurts. This tactic help stave off midday energy crashes.
Parenting adds that Greek yogurt contains healthy bacteria that are known to “boost immunity and aid digestion” — keeping your child happy, healthy, and ready for dessert!
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins A, B, C, and E, along with calcium, potassium, and iron, according to Baby Center. Like oats, sweet potatoes are also a complex carbohydrate filled with fiber, allowing for steady, ongoing digestion and a slow release of energy over the course of the day.
According to Livestrong, “A medium sized sweet potato contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, nearly a third the vitamin C you need, almost 15 percent of your daily dietary fiber intake and 10 percent of the necessary potassium.” This is one delicious superfood you won’t have trouble getting your child to eat — and while you’re at it, sneak some for yourself!