The eating habits we inculcate in our children will remain with them for the rest of their lives. It is necessary for children to eat a healthy, well balanced meal. It is equally important for them to eat the right foods in the right quantities and at the right time.
Babies and children are growing and developing at a very fast pace, hence their calorie intake is on the higher side. Obviously children and babies cannot consume too much at go therefore what they need needs to be nutrient rich and free from junk food and nutrient deficient snacks.
Healthy meals for a 1 yr old child should be low in added sugar and deep fried foods and rich in micronutrients like proteins, fats and carbohydrates and in micro nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Let’s look at some tried, tested and healthy foods that you can easily incorporate in the diet for your 1 yr. old.
❖ Soft fruits- raw fruits are good sources of mainly vitamins and minerals. When giving it to babies while introducing new foods to them, start off with soft fruit like bananas, peaches, mango, strawberries or sweet citrus fruits. For older children, you can encourage self-feeding by cutting up the fruit into bite sized pieces, this helps develop the child’s pincer grasp. Round fruits like grapes need, though small needs be cut into halves or quarters to prevent any choking hazard. Fruits can also be made into milkshakes or put into their yogurt or on top of pancakes.
❖Steamed or boiled vegetables – Spruce up the healthy meals for your 1 yr old by adding steamed or boiled vegetables to their plate. Raw vegetables are difficult for your child to bite and swallow, so boiling or steaming them will soften the texture and make it easier for your baby to eat. Broccoli, peas, carrots, potatoes are great vegetables to start off with before you move on to pumpkin and sweet potatoes.
❖Yogurt, milk and cheese – are excellent sources of calcium which aids in the growth and development of bones and teeth. It is better to give children full fat dairy milk as children need the fat and cream for their growth and development. Milk and yogurt can be given at snack time or with meals. Pasteurized milk or boiled milk can be had as it is or as a milkshake, the same can be done with yogurt. When adding cheese into the diet of your 1 yr. old, ensure that it is made from pasteurized milk, cheese made from raw milk contains bacteria which might cause digestive problems for your baby’s delicate tummy. Homemade cottage cheese or paneer is good as it is soft and made from milk that is boiled which will destroy any harmful bacteria.
❖Oatmeal and porridge – Since your toddler is still mastering the nuances of biting and chewing their food, oatmeal and porridge will help develop this technique as these are not very liquid to enable swallowing easily and neither are they too lumpy or dry that is requires biting for some time. Oats is known to be a nutritious grain containing loads of soluble fiber, carbs, healthy fats and more. Porridge also made with wholegrains and millets can be very nutritious as well.
❖ Whole Grain foods – Whole grains like wheat, barley, quinoa, and millets are rich in dietary fiber and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. You can also make soft dosas, idlis, pancakes, and soft chillas out of these and cut them up into small pieces before serving.
❖Eggs – Eggs are known to be a powerhouse of nutrients, they are rich in proteins, healthy fats and loads more nutrients. However they are also known to cause allergies in some children, though most will outgrow this allergy. So, keep a watch for any allergic reactions. The best way to include this in the diet for your 1 yr. old is to hard boil it, some may even prefer it scrambled. Do cook the eggs completely when giving it to your baby.
❖Chicken and other lean meats- These are an excellent source of protein and vitamins which are needed for muscle development. These foods need to be cooked really well for young toddlers. You can begin introducing it in puree form after boiling it in water, milk or broth. When they get older it can be given to them in small pieces. Avoid the stringy pieces of meat as it may be difficult for your child to chew and swallow.
❖ Avocados – Feel free to add avocados in your healthy meals for your 1 yr. old. They have a fantastic nutritional profile and are packed with healthy unsaturated fats that are good for children. Most toddlers enjoy its creamy texture and mild flavor.
❖ Hummus- Is a healthy dip made simply with garlic, chickpeas, sesame butter (tahini), and olive oil as a result it is rich in proteins and calcium, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. It can be given along with crackers, some cheese or steamed vegetables. Do exercise caution with hummus in the initial days, as the sesame seeds which are used to make the tahini are also among the common food allergens.
❖ Water – Last but not least, is water. As babies graduate from breastmilk to food, they need to be taught and encouraged to drink water to keep their bodies well hydrated. Water should not be substituted with other fluids like juices. Water is needed by the body for various functions including digestion and to regulate the body temperature. 1 yr. olds need at least 300 ml of water a day, maybe more if they are active or on warmer days. The amount increases as they grow older.
The best meal plans for you 1 yr. old are homemade. As simple as they may be, home cooked meals are always preferred to readymade ones. When food is cooked at home we ensure that only the best and freshest ingredients are used, the food is cooked in a hygienic kitchen and parents are aware of what their baby is eating and adjust other meals accordingly to make sure their baby is getting a well-balanced diet. Doctors recommend introducing new foods to your baby or toddler, one at a time and keep an eye out for any adverse allergic reactions.
Here are some pointers encouraging good eating habits for your 1 yr. old kid-
- Maintain a fixed schedule for meals and snacks.
- As far as possible, eat together as a family without the distractions of the TV, mobile phone or any other gadget. When your little one sees everyone else enjoying their food they may be more open to trying out new foods.
- Allow your little one to eat by themselves.
- Serve them healthy, tasty and colorful food. Children love colors.
- Eating foods with different textures keeps the meal interesting and your child will look forward to their meals.
- Serve them small portions so that they don’t waste food or feel overwhelmed. You can always put more food on their plates if required.
- Let your child try out fresh fruits, make sure they are on the softer side and cut them up into smaller pieces especially grapes.
- Keep your child hydrated by offering them water at regular intervals, it is a good idea to keep a water bottle for them to help themselves when thirsty or when you remind them to drink water.
- Small children have a good sense of when their stomachs are full. Avoid force feeding your child. This will make them feel uncomfortable and they may end up disliking mealtimes.
- Meal times can be made fun by engaging and talking to your child about the food. It is a good time to introduce colors, numbers, taste and other concepts. They may not understand you but they are definitely listening to you.
To make sure that your child is eating a well-balanced diet it is better to make healthy meals for your 1 year old at home. In doing this you know that your child is eating fresh food and that you are keeping them away from the harmful preservatives, additives, flavor enhancers, added colors. Your Baby’s tummy is very delicate, when you give them food that is not cooked at home and your child has some reaction, you will not be aware of what caused it. This is another reason why doctors recommend introducing new foods to your child one at a time to see how your baby takes to it. Don’t be too disheartened if your child doesn’t like some of the foods that you give them, sometimes it has to be introduced between 5-12 times at different intervals for them to finally take to it.
EuroKids encourages healthy eating among children, our in house dietician and nutritionist has planned a menu for the children keeping not only their likes and dislikes in mind but also the children’s nutritional needs. Click here to find a center closest to you and be a part of a larger family that keeps the needs of your child in the forefront.