Dietary Essentials for Your Baby

Variety

As your toddler begins eating "grown up" food, they might also develop "grown up" eating habits -- like too much junk food and too few vegetables. It is important to pay attention to eating patterns, and to remember that the ultimate key to a balanced diet is variety. Different foods provide different nutrients. In order to ensure your child is getting all of the nutrients he needs to grow, he has to eat a good variety of foods.

Every day, your baby should eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains (i.e. whole-wheat bread pasta, brown rice, oatmeal), proteins (i.e. beans, fish, lean meats), and dairy products. When your child is 2 years old, you should switch dairy products to low-fat or nonfat varieties. According the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the average 2-year-old should be eating the following amounts:

Vegetables 8 ounces
Fruits 8 Ounces
Grains 3 ounces
Proteins 2 ounces
Dairy
  or
cheese
16 ounces milk/yogurt

4 ounces

To sum it all up a healthy approach to feeding your toddlers is to offer small servings, many choices, frequently throughout the day.

Here are few time saving tips for healthy homemade meals:

  1. Make meals in large quantities, in advance, and freeze them ice cube trays or small plastic containers. When it's time for a meal, simply defrost a few food cubes or a small container. Some toddler meals that freeze well are:
    • Whole wheat macaroni and cheese with tomatoes and peas
    • Ground beef (or firm tofu), spaghetti sauce and whole wheat elbow macaroni
    • Burrito filling made from beans and mild enchilada sauce. Defrost a roll up in a flour tortilla.
    • Hash brown potatoes with chopped broccoli or spinach. Defrost and serve with melted cheese on top.
  2. Have no-hassle healthy snacks on hand at all times.
    • Frozen veggies (peas, carrots, green beans) - a small handfuls cooks up quickly
    • Fresh fruits (blueberries, peaches, strawberries, grapes) - avoid hard fruits (unless they are cooked), and cut the fruits into small pieces, grapes should be quartered.
    • Whole grain cereals (puffed wheat, cheerios)
    • Rice cakes and whole grain crackers
    • Yogurt
    • Semi-hard cheeses (cheddar, Jack, Provolone) cut into cubes of thin slices
  3. Bake healthy foods for your family. Most baked goods freeze great and defrost quickly. Freezing some of your homemade treats
    • Make cookies with real fruit or fruit juice. Do not make large cookies, keep them small. For toddlers, two cookies are much better than one, not matter what the size.
    • Add shredded carrots or zucchini, or pureed pumpkin to muffins and sweet breads. Consider buying a mini muffin pan or slice the quick bread loaf in half longwise and then slice it into pieces.
    • Bake bread with whole-wheat flour.

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby. Raised by parents who love fresh foods and entertaining, their mom, a gourmet cook, ensured that they were well-equipped with extraordinary skills in the kitchen. Both with long track records of business success, they decided to combine their skills in the kitchen with their knowledge of healthy foods and children to create Fresh Baby.

Cheryl and Joan put a modern twist on the conventional wisdom that when you make it yourself, you know it's better. Their goal at Fresh Baby is to make the task of raising a healthy eater a little bit easier for all parents. Fresh Baby's breastfeeding accessories and baby food making supplies provide parents with practical knowledge and innovative tools to support them in introducing their children to great tasting, all-natural foods - easily and conveniently. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits!

Copyright © Cheryl Tallman & Joan Ahlers. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.