How to prepare a balanced meal for your toddler?
For our kids to grow and thrive, it is vital that they obtain the right nutrition from the time they are born. In the first year of life, milk is the primary source of nutrition. When they start solids at 6 months, it is more about them learning the skills of eating and getting comfortable with a variety of foods.
When they turn 1, food takes over milk and we need to ensure we provide them a balanced meal.
When it comes to balanced meals, there are 4 key components we need to add to every baby and toddler meal.
Babies are tripling their birth weight in the first year of life and toddlers are expending so much energy every day. They need the high calories and a great source of this is from carbohydrates. We need to support this release of energy and help promote growth.
Examples include rice, wheat, oats, and root veggies.
Iron is a mineral that helps make haemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells that helps transfer oxygen throughout the body.
There are two types of iron sources. Heme is the most easily absorbed iron that comes from seafood, meat and poultry. Non-heme is less easily absorbed iron that comes from iron fortified foods, lentils, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. This is because they all have anti-nutrients that prevent the proper absorption of the nutrients.
Top choices of heme-iron are organic, grass-fed meat and eggs.
Top choices of non-heme iron are lentils, beans, broccoli, tofu, broccoli.
Do not fear fats. Fat is crucial for babies and toddlers to help with developing their brain and nervous system. The brain is 90 percent developed by the age of 5. The human brain is made of 60% fat, majority of this is DHA, which is an essential fatty acid. DHA is found in seaweed and fish.
Fats are also really helpful with digestion and helps with absorption of vitamins such as A, D3, E, and K2 as well as minerals such as magnesium, calcium and zinc.
Examples include ghee, coconut oil, olive oil. Nuts and seeds are great fat sources as well.
- Fruit &/or Vegetables
Every meal needs a fruit or vegetable. This helps with absorption of foods and allows them to get extra vitamins and minerals in their body. All these vitamins help with immunity, nerve function, and building strong bones.
My top picks are carrots, papaya, banana, sweet potato, broccoli, pear, and blueberries.
Once each meal has these 4 components, then you are set.
Meet Sanchita Daswani Nutrition Consultant for Babies and Toddlers
I am a Nutrition Consultant for Babies and Toddlers where I focus on guiding and empowering parents to confidently offer meals to their kids. By creating the right environment, with balanced and varied meals, we will allow our kids to develop a positive relationship with food and their hunger cues.