Any parent of an active toddler knows they need a lot of food to fuel their running and tumbling. So, energize your little tyke for all the growing ahead by getting them used to healthy snacking habits right from the start. If you don’t know how to begin, don’t panic. Here are three simple tips to help you nurture your toddler with healthy snacking habits.
1. Introduce New, Nutritious Foods Early
Your toddler relies on you to show them what to eat and when. It might be tempting to grab that colorful box of cereal or crackers from the pantry, but give the processed food a pass. Your baby will appreciate the quick pick-me-up of classic treats like sliced apples, baby carrots and honey-sweetened yogurt.
Also, the old standbys are great, but make sure to give your toddler a taste of new fruits and vegetables regularly. They may say no at first, but the more often they see unfamiliar foods, the less hesitant they will be to try them in the future. Experiment with the colorful fruits and vegetables of your local grocery store or produce stand. Nurture your toddler as you watch them discover new favorites.
2. Snack on a Schedule
Toddlers are dynamic little bundles of energy. They need several snacks throughout the day in addition to three regular meals. So schedule regular snack times to keep your child nourished when it counts. This structure prevents snacks from interfering with mealtime. Also, it helps your child associate their activity with the food necessary to power it.
Snacks are an excellent way to supplement your toddler’s nutrition, but they aren’t effective for discipline. Keep your child dialed into a healthy relationship with food. Avoid using sweets to reward good behavior or taking away an expected treat as a punishment. To nurture your toddler, you need to help them form a healthy relationship with food.
3. Empower Your Toddler with Choices
As your youngster begins to develop preferences and a sense of agency, ease the way by letting them choose between two healthy options. For example, they might get their pick of grapes or cantaloupe for a mid-morning treat, or enjoy hummus paired with their favorite vegetable dipper. Another important choice for a toddler is the amount they eat. Toddlers are more intuitive with their eating than you might think.
You may find them picking at half a banana or wolfing down a dozen orange slices and begging for more. Teach your child to respect their hunger cues and don’t force them to finish a snack when they’re not hungry. Encourage them to eat it slowly and to wait a while before grabbing another to see if they truly need more.
With these three basics under your belt, you can set your toddler up for healthy snacking habits now. Nurture your toddler as you watch them develop a positive relationship with food through childhood and beyond.