Over the years of working with hundreds of concerned parents, I saw a variety of strategies used to get them to eat. It is so easy to start to worry when we see our little one eat less food in general and also drop the previously liked options! It’s no surprise parents resort to short order cooking and catering in an effort to get their toddler to eat at least something! But after analyzing the child’s diet for nutritional balance, I often see enough reasons to believe that although the child’s diet appears limited, parents are often concerned about the wrong nutrients.
Here are examples of some misconceptions we discuss in the upcoming Tribeca Nutrition class:
1. Protein is a nutrient of concern for my toddler. In reality, toddlers need only about 16 grams of protein per day and two cups of milk cover 100% protein needs of 2-3 year olds. So the struggle to get some dinosaur chicken nuggets into them may not be that necessary. Bread and pasta also provide 2-4 grams of protein per serving (the wholegrain variety is more protein-rich).
2. Milk is good for you so the more my toddlers drinks, the better. The truth is, two servings of dairy cover 100% calcium needs of 2-3 year olds. In fact, drinking too much milk may not be a good thing for them since, as a very easy to like food, it will easily replace more nutritious foods in your child’s diet. Besides, excess calcium may interfere with iron absorption.
3. If my toddler does not eat green vegetables, he will be deficient in certain nutrients. Toddlers are eaters in training. Many are still working on developing the acquired taste for vegetables. The more exposure parents provide and the less pushy they are at mealtimes, the sooner toddlers learn to enjoy this challenging “green stuff”. In the meanwhile, make sure to serve more fruit, especially of the dark yellow and orange type (mango, cantaloupe, papaya) that is high in vitamin A. Folate, a nutrient leafy green vegetables are very rich in, is abundant in fortified foods and very few children are not getting enough.
Did you know that the real nutrients of concern in toddlers are, in fact, fiber, fat (in form of essential fatty acids), iron, vitamin D, vitamin E and potassium? In the online class starting on June 15th we will be discussing ways to close these potential nutritional gaps in your child’s diet with foods and supplementation.
In the meanwhile, enjoy this simple recipe for no-cook chia pudding that provides lots of the important Omega 3 essential fatty acids and fiber.
No cook chia seed pudding
• 2½ cups almond milk
• 3 tablespoons agave nectar
• ½ cup chia seeds (3 ounces)
• 1 cup of sliced fruit such as oranges, mangos, strawberries or peaches
1. In a 1-quart jar, combine the almond milk with the agave nectar.
2. Close the jar and shake to combine.
3. Add the chia seeds to the jar, then close and shake well.
4. Refrigerate until very thick and pudding-like, at least 4 hours or overnight, shaking or stirring occasionally.
5. Serve the pudding in bowls and topped with fruit.
Need more help with feeding your toddler? Natalia’s online class is jam packed with evidence based mealtime strategies and easy recipes to help parents start enjoying mealtimes with their toddlers and feel good about feeding them nutritious foods. Every parent subscribed to the class will get 24/7 access to two dietitians for two weeks who will be answering all their specific questions for a fraction of a price of a one-on-one counseling package. Learn more here and make sure to use Yumbox30 to get 30% off the price of the program.