Congratulations! You’ve made it through the first year of parenthood. This is a huge milestone, as you’ve graduated from having an itty bitty baby to a scooting, crawling, maybe even walking explorer who amazes you and grows every day! As they progress from milk and baby food to “real food,” many parents worry about ways to pack their precious youngster with nutrition in healthy and safe ways, so they grow into a healthy, happy kid.
Variety Is The Spice of Toddler Snacking
Starting your little one with healthy snacks early on can really set a foundation for their food choices and preferences as they grow. It is during this critical time that you can foster a love for natural and healthy foods, before they enter the tempting world of drive-thrus, kids’ meals, and vending machines. By exposing your one year old to a variety of different food groups, you can help to expand their palate and equip them with the nutrients needed for their growing minds and bodies. Looking for healthy inspiration? Check out these delicious and easy snack recipes from Integrative Nutrition grads. Some of the options include pumpkin oat chocolate cookie bars, kale chips, and blueberry banana ginger “ice cream.” Yum!
Popsicles and Smoothies: Fruity and Healthy
If you’re looking for something a little simpler (because, let’s be honest, with a one year old running around it can be tough to devote a lot of time to the kitchen) then you may want to serve easy snacks like chopped up grapes, plain yogurt, small cheese cubes, and apple slices. When it gets hot, pick up a popsicle mold, blend your favorite fruit of choice (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, or watermelon all work great!) with a little coconut water, pour into the molds, and freeze for some fruity, healthy and refreshing popsicles.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to snack time, so when you’re looking to mix it up a little bit, experiment with recipes for hummus, smoothies, and even kid-sized sandwiches and wraps. A quick search for healthy recipes on Pinterest can introduce you to creative snack ideas like veggie meatballs, zucchini fries, and cheesy cauliflower breadsticks. These snacks are easy to make in bulk while your tot is sleeping, and then you can freeze leftovers and bust them out at snack time when you’d like a healthier alternative to pretzels and goldfish.
Healthy Eating for Picky Eaters
Some kids are picky eaters, and regardless of their parents’ good intentions, they are just harder to convince to eat healthy foods. Parenting magazine suggests a few helpful tips for parents to establish healthy eating in picky eaters:
- Make a schedule: “Kids need to eat every three to four hours, broken down into three meals, a few snacks and plenty of fluids every day.” When kids get on a schedule, they will be hungry at certain time and more willing to eat what is placed in front of them.
- Don’t make separate dinners: Plenty of parents say they won’t be that parent that makes dinner for the whole family and then a different dinner for the “baby,” but in desperation, many end up making two meals to ensure their little one gets something to eat. Try to avoid this, and remember that kids mimic their parents’ behavior, so when they see you eating and trying healthy foods, they will be more likely to do the same.
- Get in the good stuff in the mornings: Many families are so busy in the mornings getting ready for work and school that fast, easy breakfasts are their go-to meal choice. Take advantage of breakfast by packing it with healthy foods that will jump-start your toddler’s busy day. Egg, sweet potato and kale muffins, whole grain pancakes (you can make them the night before and warm them up in the mornings) oatmeal, fresh fruit, and smoothies are all great ways to start your child’s day and “sneak” in power nutrients from the beginning.
Next time you want to offer your kiddie a healthy, sweet breakfast treat, experiment with a carrot smoothie! Just add 2 cups of carrot juice, ½ cup of apple juice, 6 ounces of yogurt and a banana to a blender, and blend away! This sweet and super healthy smoothie is easy to pour into a sippy cup and take to daycare and the playground, or enjoy as a healthy snack at home. There are many different combinations of fruits and veggies that can be mixed together to create a smoothie if your child would rather drink their nutrients than munch on them.
Having a one year old is an adventure, and starting them off with a solid foundation and appreciation of natural and wholesome foods is essential to their future health and happiness. Finding creative ways to present healthy food can be half the battle, but incorporating options and variety is a foolproof way to help your little one learn to enjoy and appreciate healthy snack options.
What are your favorite tried-and-true methods for getting your littles ones to eat healthy at home? Share with us in the comments below!