Foods for Toddlers
24th OF October 2012
Findings from a study into the contents of popular children’s snacks conducted by Australian nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin show that most contain alarming levels of sugar, salt, saturated fats and additives. This means that choosing foods for toddlers takes care and consideration if you want to promote healthy eating habits.
Healthy foods for kids is imperative to long-term good eating habits but finding healthy in-between-meal snacks can be a challenge for parents as many are high in fat and sugars. Notably, many children’s yoghurts, fruit snacks and fruit juice drinks contained high levels of added sugar. Similarly, fruit-filled baked cereal bars, puffed rice sweet treats and cheese and crackers snack packs were high in sodium, added fats and processed carbohydrates. Many parents are unknowingly purchasing foods for their toddlers with poor nutritional credentials.
The study identifies some simple snack alternatives for toddlers such as fresh fruit, a slice of cheddar cheese and 100 per cent nut butters and pastes on wholegrain bread. Toddlers should drink mainly milk and water and avoid fruit juice, which also erodes young teeth.
Ms Bingley-Pullin says ‘research shows that 70 per cent of food preferences are established at an early age’. Yet, many toddlers are fussy eaters and reluctant to try new foods. Some great tips for how to engage your reluctant youngster include involving your children in the preparation of a meal and making the food colourful and fun (remember, the more naturally colourful the meal the greater the nutritional variation!).
The ‘Eating My Colourful Vegies and Fruit’ resource kit developed by the growers of Australian avocados in conjunction with nutrition and education experts Shelley Woodrow and Nadine McCrea, is an initiative launched in pre-schools to help establish good eating habits early in life. Mel Ellis, Director at Midson Road Child Care Centre in Epping, NSW, said the initiative has been hugely successful in encouraging toddlers to try new foods. The program will be launched in 600 more childcare centers and 10 primary schools this month.
The key message when selecting foods for toddlers is, when at the supermarket, be sure to check nutrition information on packaging and when possible incorporate a variety of natural food groups into your toddler’s diet.
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