solid food toddler

Your toddler is ready for solid food, now what?

VerifiedWritten by Julie A Thenell, BS/MS/NC/BCHN® 
3/15/2021

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Your toddler is ready for solid food. Now what?
Your toddler is hard at work growing up and ready to begin eating solid food. Now is the time to understand the basics of solid-food nutrition and how it relates to your child.


You might be surprised to learn that most toddlers know how much to eat. Intuitively, they know how to regulate their food intake based on their individual energy needs. This innate ability is strongest until about the age of four, when awareness of social cues begins to influence food choices and amounts.[1]
As a parent, it is your job to offer a variety of healthful options so that your toddler receives meals that are well-balanced and filled with the vitamins and minerals they need to grow up strong and healthy.


Foods to feed your toddler
We all need a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate (including fruits and vegetables) for sustained energy and development. Your child is no different. The best way to ensure your toddler gets the nutrition he/she needs is to offer a variety of foods in each major category throughout the day. Experimenting with a variety of tastes, flavors, shapes, colors, and textures plays a role in promoting healthful eating habits that support long-term health. [2]
As a start, consider these breakfast ideas.

Applesauce oatmeal with a side of chopped strawberries

Oatmeal is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and other important plant compounds. It is higher in protein than most other grains. Adding plain applesauce to the oatmeal provides natural sweetness along with vitamins B, C, and E. [4]

Hard-boiled egg and English muffin with jam

Eggs are a complete source of high-quality protein and rich in zinc, calcium, and the B vitamins. It is best to choose a multigrain or whole wheat English muffin for its fiber and lower carbohydrate content. [5] Remember to cut the food into small, bite-size pieces for easy handling.

Whole grain toast with peanut butter and sliced apple

Peanut and other nut butters are a concentrated source of nutrition. Select a brand without added sugar to reduce the risk of early childhood obesity and diabetes. [3]To get the most nutritional value from apple slices, leave the skin on. It will boost the fiber content, which is important for good digestion.

Whole milk yogurt with blueberries and a side of breakfast sausage

Full-fat yogurt contains almost every nutrient your toddler needs. The best choices are brands without added sugar, artificial sweetener, or flavorings. In other words, the less processed the better. Blueberries are low in calories and high in antioxidants that support brain function and development. They are easy for toddlers to pick up, too. [6]

     Children will gravitate toward the foods they find most satisfying. To provide the best nutrition during their discovery process, offer a variety of foods with different tastes, textures, colors, and shapes. These breakfast examples will get you started. Use your intuition and creativity as you combine nutrient-dense options that support your toddler’s growth and development.

     

    Resources for parents:

    https://www.eatright.org/for-kids

    https://www.culinaryhill.com/10-toddler-breakfast-ideas/

    Sources:

    1. Fox, Mary Kay. “Relationship between Portion Size and Energy Intake among Infants and Toddlers: Evidence of Self-Regulation” AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION vol. 1. January. 2006.
    2. Korioth, Trish. “Added sugar in kids’ diets: How much is too much?” American Academy of Pediatrics 25 March. 2019.
    3. Scaglioni, Silvia et al. “Factors Influencing Children's Eating Behaviours.” Nutrients 10,6 706. 31 May. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10060706.
    4. Spritzler, Franziska. “The 12 Best Foods to Eat in the Morning” Healthline 15 August. 2018.
    5. Gunnars, Kris. "18 Delicious Low Carb Breakfast Recipes". Healthline— Medically reviewed by Lisa Hodgson, RDN, CDN, CDCES— Updated on December 14, 2020: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/18-low-carb-breakfast-recipes
    6.  Leech, Joe "10 Proven Health Benefits in Blueberries" Healthline  9 October. 2018.