From green smoothies to chia seeds, we are a culture of people moving away from super sizing and toward super foods. Figuring out how early you can include these nutrient-rich, healthful foods into your rapidly developing toddlers is on many parents’ minds.
Some child feeding experts recommend sneaking healthy foods for toddlers in with other things that have more kid appeal, like brownies with beans in them. Others have suggestions on how to serve super foods straight up. Whatever your approach, here are super foods that you can feed your toddler, fresh and nourishing as is their birthright.
One of the first things you can feed a baby being weaned onto solids, avocado is a versatile fruit that toddlers love, too. It can be served cut as a finger food, mashed as a dip, salted, with lime or even in a sweet shake with milk and a touch of sugar. Avocado’s good fats set up a positive cholesterol balance to feed your child’s brain; the potassium keeps nerve and muscle function in check to help with growth. The fiber, the folate, and vitamin E are a nutritional treasure and the best part: they don’t need to be cooked.
Make a batch of this brain-function boosting powerhouse of Omega-3 and muscle-building protein and share it with you toddler, making sure no bones slip.
Packed with vitamin C and iron, spinach is one of the best healthy foods for toddlers because of its mild flavor and adaptability. You can add it to virtually anything, from quesadillas to pasta to pizza, or even toss a raw handful into a smoothie. Parents love it for its ease of preparation, too. A few minutes of steam is all you need.
Not only are these brightly colored wonders chock full of vitamins A, C, E and antioxidants, but they are also tasty and fun to eat. Toddlers enjoy whole blueberries as finger foods, but they are also easily incorporated into a smoothie, a cup of yogurt or even as an ice cream topping.
Superior even to milk, yogurt offers all of the calcium plus a big dose of protein and the incomparable benefit of live active cultures and probiotics. Not only will yogurt fulfill your toddlers’ dairy needs, but it will keep their digestive tract healthy and populated by beneficial bacteria, which are good for digestion and immune health.
- Sweet Potatoes
Loaded with vitamins A and C as well as assorted phytonutrients, sweet potatoes have a toddler-friendly taste and texture. A simple mash can be dressed up with a pat of butter and some cinnamon or simply substitute regular potatoes fries for sweet potato ones and turn a treat into a truly nutritious meal.
This breakfast staple is quite kid friendly in that it tastes like whatever toppings you mix in. Set out a bowl of this phytochemical-rich food and your toddler will also be getting a good dose of selenium, magnesium, vitamin E, zinc, and protein. Your child will love to “help you” cook breakfast by adding in her own raisins, bananas or chocolate chips.
A good substitute for rice cereal, quinoa’s complete protein makes it one of the best healthy foods for toddlers who may not like meat. In addition, quinoa’s nutty nuggets contain a lot of fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium and lysine, which aids in tissue growth and repair.
- Chia Seeds
An excellent source of Omega-3s, chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants, iron, fiber, magnesium, potassium and protein. Their little size means your little one may not even notice them sprinkled on cereal, blended into pancake batter or tucked away in a muffin.
Vegetarian toddlers can get a lot of their Omega-3s and protein from eggs. Their quick preparation means you can let your child choose between scrambled and fried, allowing them greater participation in preparing a meal. Besides a say in it, your child will also be getting choline to help her brain develop, as well as vitamin D, lutein, zinc, iron, selenium, and a big antioxidant boost.
The medium chain fatty acids in coconuts resemble those found in breast milk and can help to balance blood sugar, boost the immune system and improve digestion. The easiest way to incorporate these benefits into your toddler’s diet is to cook with coconut oil.
A blood sugar regulator, this spice can add flavor to your morning food and longevity to your toddler’s morning energy. Tantrum at 10 a.m.? Try a little cinnamon on those pancakes.
A good source of protein and calcium, beans are also popular among the one to three year-old set for their small size, graspability or easy spreadability if mashed and added to wraps, or omelettes.
Delicious and fresh, basil is high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, potassium and calcium. Whip up some pesto for your child’s pasta or simply chop it and sprinkle it on pizza.
Yes, cocoa is on the list of healthy foods for toddlers. Full of flavonoids that improve blood pressure, vascular and cardiac health, cocoa powder is a superfood few toddlers will complain about. Sprinkle it into yogurt or milk or use some dark chocolate to cover bananas and strawberries for a super treat.