Archive | Kids Nutrition

The Benefits of Milk For Toddlers

“Drink your milk.”. You have probably heard this thousand of times from your parents, and now, you are reiterating this order to your child. Milk plays a very significant role in a toddler’s diet. Here are six benefits of milk for toddlers.

Provides Balanced Nutrition

Milk is one-stop shopping for nutrition. It almost has all the fundamental nutrients that a growing toddler needs – vitamins, minerals, protein, iron, fats and calcium. Sure, you can get these nutrients from other sources such as meat, fruits and vegetables, but milk puts them all together in one convenient package.

Decreases The Risk of Developing Allergies and Illnesses

A child’s immune system is still weak; hence, it is very easy for a toddler to get sick. Drinking milk helps develop and sustain a healthy body, aids cell development, gives your toddler the energy he needs, promotes healthy skin, good eyesight and the production of red blood cells and antibodies that help ward off common infections such as diarrhea, lower urinary tract infection and respiratory infection among others. It is also beneficial in the development of a toddler’s digestive system to prevent allergies.

Reduces The Risk of Obesity

A lot of parents think that giving their toddlers too much milk to drink can cause a gain in weight and body fat. But, studies have not found a connection between high milk consumption and weight gain. In fact, a toddler who is a milk drinker only has a 20% chance of becoming obese.

Builds Better Brains

Milk enhances brain growth. It contains a brain-building substance called tryptophan – an amino acid essential for growth. Tryptophan creates serotonin, a transmitter found in the brain that boosts the development of the central nervous system for better memory, spatial, verbal and visual skills. When your toddler drinks milk often, maximum fat consumption is achieved which is valuable for your child’s developing brain.

Promotes Better Sleep

Have you ever wondered why drinking a glass of warm milk makes you feel sleepy? After a long day of doing physically demanding activities, your little one might feel restless which makes going to sleep even more difficult. But, when your toddler drinks a glass of warm milk before bedtime, the muscles relax more which creates a comforting sensation that will help him settle down and put your little one to sleep right away. Another reason why toddlers sleep better after drinking milk is because their stomachs have something in it.

Keeps The Body Hydrated

Sometimes, toddlers prefer drinking milk over water, and because toddlers have high energy levels, they can easily get dehydrated. A toddler can stay hydrated by drinking milk. It serves as an excellent substitute to water in helping the body cool down as well as maintain the fluid level in the body. Drinking milk after an hour of rough play can replenish the body with the fluid lost while performing the activity.

Milk is very good for everyone, especially for children. While it is not the perfect food, it has a lot of things going for it that will truly keep your toddler active, bright and healthy.

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Kids and Sweets – Developing Healthy Dessert Habits

Kids and sweets go together like copy and paste. No one can blame them. Everyone loves a good dessert. However, having a sweet tooth can lead to sticky health issues. But luckily, it does not have to be entirely bad for your toddler with the help of these tips.

Offer Plenty of Options

Sure, it can be ice cream or chocolates, but there are a lot of things that can gratify your toddler’s sweet tooth that are not unhealthy for his body. Dessert items such as yogurt, trail mix, fruit crisp, a bowl of cold, fresh fruits, low-fat pudding and soy milkshake are not only very yummy but are loaded with vitamins and nutrients as well.

Keep Everything In Moderation

As the old saying goes, “Too much of anything is bad.”. Eating sinful treats like cake, popsicles and cookies is divine, but once you eat too much, say hello to toothache. It is very important to keep everything in moderation in order to make sure your little one has healthy dessert habits. Offer desserts frequently, but not every night. For example, your toddler can have dessert 3 times a week after dinner or you can alternate giving him healthy and not so healthy desserts.

Do Not Ban Sweets Completely

Never banish sweets altogether as this will only backfire because your toddler will just want them more. Eating one piece of candy, muffin or a slice of chocolate cake from time to time will not do him harm. Instead, it will even teach your toddler to be careful with his portions.

Explain Its Importance

Your toddler may ask you why he cannot have dessert every day. Instead of giving him a lengthy discussion of the food pyramid or how he will get obese if he eats too much sweets, explain it to your toddler in a brief and precise manner. You can say something like, “Baby, in order for you to grow strong, your body needs healthy foods. So we eat healthy food first and then we can have a treat.”. This way, there will be no room for questions and arguments.

Do Not Force Your Toddler To Eat

If your toddler is not hungry, do not obligate him to clean his plate before he can have dessert. This only encourages overeating which can lead to health complications later on in life. Let him eat as much as he likes or have him try two or three bites of everything on his plate before he tries the dessert.

Set A Good Example

Your child’s eating habit is a representation of your own eating habit. So before you teach your toddler how to have healthy dessert habits, examine yourself first. Does your toddler see you munch on that cake like there is no tomorrow? If yes, how can you expect him to listen and follow your orders? Adjust your dessert habits first. Once he sees you eating one slice of cake in a week, he will follow.

Teaching your toddler healthy dessert habits is difficult but not impossible. With discipline, moderation and imagination, sweets can be good for your child.

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Tips On How To Stop Your Toddler From Eating Junk Food

Everybody loves eating junk food, especially children. However, if your toddler is becoming a junk food junkie, you might need to reassess his diet in order to stop this unhealthy habit. Here are some tips to help you out.

Give Your Pantry A Makeover

Start your toddler’s eating-habit overhaul in the pantry. Examine it. Do you see bags of chips lined up in one corner? Clear out the chips and other unhealthy foods and replace them with healthy foods. If your toddler only sees bread, cheese, sugar-free cereals and fresh fruit in your pantry, that is what your little one will end up eating. Keep in mind that children will eat anything when they are hungry, so the “I want junk food.” declarations will not last long.

Offer Healthy Substitutes

Swap junk foods with more nutritious options. For instance, instead of offering junk food during snack time, give him cheese sticks or fruits instead. Buy whole grain bread and cookies instead of those goodies made with white flour.

Another effective tip is to use healthier cooking techniques. Instead of frying potatoes to make French fries, why not bake or grill them. Rather than serving sugary cereals, offer your toddler a hot cereal with a little cinnamon or other spices (e.g. nutmeg, brown sugar and honey). This way, you give your toddler something healthy while he can continue enjoying the foods he loves to eat.

Keep It Fun

Make healthy foods fun to eat. Cut sandwiches into funny shapes, slice different fruits to make a fruit salad, dip veggie sticks into yummy sauce and turn pancakes into smiley faces by placing eyes, nose and mouth using raisins.

Wean Your Toddler Slowly

A toddler who is so used to eating junk food will have a hard time letting go. Do not just restrain your little one from eating junk food at once. Take it slow. Replace potato chips with lightly flavored vegetable crisps and pudding with low-fat yogurt. The secret is to strike a balance between healthy and junk foods in your toddler’s diet. Gradually decrease your toddler’s intake of these foods until he is eating no more than one serving per day.

Talk About The Consequences

Stick a food chart on the wall and help your toddler identify the good foods and bad foods. Talk to him about the effects of eating junk foods and why eating healthy food is better. Read a book or watch a video about healthy eating so he will be able to understand your point better.

Be A Role Model

Practice what you preach. Toddlers love imitating their parents, so if you want your toddler to stop eating junk food, be aware of the foods you eat in front of your little one. Set a good example by limiting your own junk food intake. Once he sees you eat fruits instead of chips, he will follow you.

Finally, do not prohibit junk food completely as this will only make it more tempting. Allow him to eat one or two servings every now and then, say, once a week. Everything in moderation will not hurt your toddler.

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Drinking Water For Children – Ways To Get Your Toddler To Drink More Water

Children should drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. However, drinking water for children can be a constant struggle. Here are several ways to get your toddler to drink more water.

Make It Available

When you think your toddler is feeling thirsty, give him water. Even if he is not thirsty, ask him to drink a few sips. Once he starts, he will realize he is thirsty after all. Also, leave a sippy cup filled with water where your toddler can easily reach it so when he does get thirsty, he can just reach the cup and drink.

Do Not Offer Options

If your toddler is the type who prefers to drink soda and juice over water, it would be best to keep soft drinks and juices out of his sight. Or, you may impose a rule that your toddler is only allowed to get to the next beverage until his cup is empty. Sure, he may whine and complain at first, but that is okay. He will get used to it in no time.

Give Your Toddler His Own Water Bottle

Have a variety of fun and colorful sippy cups, water bottles and jugs available. You can buy affordable BPA-free plastic sippy cups, bottles and jugs. Have him pick out his own special containers. He will surely have a fun time filling and refilling the containers by himself.

Use Straws

If you give your little one a straw to drink with, water will taste yummy to him. Straws are inexpensive and readily available in grocery stores. Buy some heavy duty plastic straws, preferably straws sold in multi packs of different colors so you can wash and reuse them. Swirly, sports, connectible and glow straws are a big hit and they make drinking water more entertaining.

Flavor It Up

Water is tasteless, which may be the reason why toddlers detest drinking it. Flavored and colored water might just be the answer to your problem. Add sliced lemon, lime or orange to water. This will give the water a little color and taste. You may also put some food coloring in the water. In a clear glass, add 1 or 2 drops of food coloring so your toddler can see the color flow and transform his water from plain to cool.

Turn It Into A Game

Why not make drinking water a playtime activity? Here are two fun examples to try:

  • Buried Treasure – Place a slice of lemon or banana at the bottom of a clear glass of water and let your toddler try dragging up the fruit with the pressure from a straw. Your toddler will gulp up a lot of water just so he can retrieve the fruit.
  • Musical Cups – Fill a few clear glasses to different levels and have him tap them with a pencil. Explain to him that with every sip, the notes will change in pitch.

Keep It Cold

As much as possible, offer a cold glass of water. Put some ice cubes in his glass to keep the water cool. Toddlers love drinking anything cold especially after playing outside. It will be such a refreshing treat.

Set An Example

Be an example and drink water yourself. If your toddler can see you drink water, he will do it as well. Remember, children tend to imitate what they see, especially their parents’ actions.

Water is crucial to a toddler’s health. It keeps children healthy and when they are healthy, they feel good and perform better.

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Child Nutrition – Nutrients Your Toddler Needs

Good child nutrition will support the growth of your toddler. There are several key nutrients your toddler needs to ensure that he grows up healthy. Here are some of the essential nutrients that should be part of your toddler’s diet.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for promoting healthy bone development, nerve and muscle function, helping blood clot and activating enzymes (to convert food to energy). This nutrient is very essential during the years when bones are growing. Make sure your toddler gets enough calcium by serving him cheese, yogurt, milk, banana, pear, dried plum, watermelon, broccoli, green beans, spinach and calcium fortified cereals and juices.

Fiber

There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber help decrease blood cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. Soluble-rich foods include – brown rice, oats, apple, orange, strawberry, carrots, cauliflower, corn and sweet potatoes. Insoluble fiber cleans your toddler’s insides as well as increases and softens stools to keep the digestive system working well. Whole-wheat cereal and bread, green beans, legumes, leeks, mango and papaya provide a good amount of insoluble fiber. This nutrient also lowers your toddler’s chances of type two diabetes and heart disease.

Fatty Acids

EFAs or essential fatty acids are fats necessary in a diet because they cannot be produced by the body. EFAs reduce the risk of dementia, diabetes and heart disease and help build cells and immunity, normalize the nervous system and fortify brain function, vision and cardiovascular system. Good sources of essential fatty acids include – egg, fish, peanut butter, soybeans, tofu, nuts and seeds (pine nuts and pecans).

Iron

This nutrient boosts brain development, carries oxygen in the blood to help keep red blood cells healthy and to help keep children energized. Sufficient iron intake also prevents anemia which can make your toddler irritable and weak. Make sure you boost the iron in your toddler’s diet with iron-fortified breakfast cereals, fish, red meat, beans, lentil, spinach, dried fruits (e.g. raisin and cranberry) and whole-wheat bread.

Magnesium

Magnesium keep bones strong, controls heart rhythm, boosts immune system and helps maintain healthy muscles and nerves. Serve your toddler magnesium-rich foods such as wheat germ, whole-wheat bread, avocado, nuts (e.g. roasted cashews and dry peanuts), fish, turnip, Chinese cabbage, black beans and soybeans.

Protein

Children need high amounts of protein. Protein is a source of energy and amino acids necessary for the development of antibodies, enzymes and hemoglobin as well as for restoration of damaged cells. Protein can be found in eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, seafood, beans, grains and nuts.

Vitamin C, D and E

Vitamin C helps improve your toddler’s immune system, speed up growth, repair bones, blood vessels and tissues, keep your toddler’s gums healthy and keep diseases at bay. Foods rich in Vitamin C include – orange, guava, kiwi, mango, broccoli, potato, spinach and tomato.

Vitamin D absorbs calcium, builds strong teeth and bones, regulation of cell growth and for achieving growth potential. Egg yolk, margarine, cereal, mackerel, canned tuna and salmon are foods rich in vitamin D.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that keeps the body’s cells from damage. It also plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin and muscle, DNA repair and strong, responsive immune system. Foods packed with vitamin E include kiwi, mango, papaya, roasted sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli and wheat.

The amount of nutrients your toddler needs depends on his age and appetite. Do not worry if your toddler refuses to eat foods rich with these nutrients. Just think of creative ways to incorporate them into his diet.

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Unhealthy Foods That Can Risk Kids Nutrition

Poor nutrition is the number one problem among toddlers today. Aside from being a picky eater, they just love to munch on chips and sweets and drink soda. While toddlers can tolerate these foods better than grown-ups, the rising number of children with health complications at an early age is alarming. Hence, establishing a healthy and nutritional lifestyle is very important.

A hectic schedule, affordable and accessible fast food chains are just some factors that risk kids nutrition. To stop the growing population of unfit toddlers, parents must first learn how to categorize unhealthy foods from healthy foods. To help you out, here is a list of foods your little one must evade.

Foods Your Toddler Needs to Avoid

Even though your toddler has a fast metabolism due to his still developing body, limiting the intake of these unhealthy foods is still recommended by child health experts.

Candies and Chocolates

Two of the most favored unhealthy snacks of toddlers, candies and chocolates mainly consist of fat and sugar. Too much intake of sweets can cause obesity, trigger diabetes or increase your toddler’s sugar level. Plus, your toddler’s still developing teeth can acquire cavities and tooth decay which can delay his teeth development. Limit your toddler’s sweet cravings to two to three pieces per day. Better yet, choose soft candies over hard candies. They are easier to eat and will not stay too long inside his mouth.

Cereals

Boxes of cereals are sugary to the extreme. While most cereals claim they are all-natural, a lot of them actually contain food additives and are made using artificially produced products. Hence, it is essential you read food labels. See to it you choose a whole wheat cereal. For a healthier option, buy whole oats instead. Microwave it, add low-fat fresh milk and a few slices of his favorite fruit. In this way, he still gets to gobble up a naturally sweet breakfast.

Chips

Junk foods contain too much oil and grease which are very fattening. Chips are loaded with too much salt and are very poor in vitamins and minerals. High intake of salty chips can cause obesity, dehydration and hypertension. Also, eating too much junk food blocks fiber from nourishing your toddler’s body. Once he is low on fiber, he can get irregular bowel movements.

Go for fruits and vegetables instead. These are great toddler finger foods. Slice it into tiny pieces and put them in a plastic container. Store them in the refrigerator so your toddler can easily access them. For a yummier taste, add salad dressing to the veggies and whipped or sweet cream to the fruits.

Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are a choking hazard to children especially those below the age of 5. Most often, hot dogs have nitrate which is harmful to your little one’s health. Since hot dogs are processed meat, too much intake of this food can lead to cancer, diabetes and heart complications later on in life. 100% all turkey or all beef are a much healthier alternative to hot dogs. Limit your toddler’s intake of hot dogs to special occasions only.

Kiddie Meals

Greasy hamburgers, chicken nuggets, French fries and any food you see in fast food chains are unhealthy for your little one’s body. Deep fried meals contain too much salt and oil and have very small nutritional value. The next time the whole family eats out, order only a single burger and fries and share it with your toddler. A half-sized portion of these foods lessens the fats. At home, opt for grilled chicken over fried chicken, oven-baked potatoes over French fries and fish sticks instead of chicken nuggets.

While you cannot completely erase these foods to your toddler’s diet, letting him eat bite-sized servings will lessen its unhealthy benefits. Anything taken in moderation will not hurt your toddler’s body and risk his health.

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Nourish Your Child With Toddler Drinks

While healthy foods keep toddlers in tiptop condition, healthy drinks are also very essential. Combining the two makes a toddler fit, helping him optimize his growth. But, not all drinks are nutritious to toddlers. Some of them lack what a toddler’s body requires for proper development. Thus, the need to be choosy when selecting the right drinks is imperative.

How can you tell which toddler drinks give ample vitamins and nutrients to your little one’s developing body? Evaluating nutrition labels might help but it can confuse you. Having a handy drink reference is more practical. Here is a guide to help you select which drinks are healthy and unhealthy for your child.

Healthy Toddler Drinks

Beverages Your Toddler Must Always Take

Water

Water is the most basic and the best beverage for your toddler. It plays a very important role – to make each of his body part function well. With all the physical activities your little one does on a day to day basis, drinking at least 10 to 20 glasses of water will keep him hydrated. Also, water makes his muscles work efficiently and lubricates his joints. Since it is an all-natural drink, it has no additives and contains fluoride which keeps cavities away.

If your toddler finds water too dull and bland, try serving a cold glass of water filled with ice cubes. You can also add a couple slices of lemon or any citrusy fruits to make water taste yummier. Or, you can get him a cup with a design of his favorite cartoon character. The vibrant color of the cup will make him interested to try out what is inside it.

Milk

Your toddler also needs a healthy dose of calcium, and milk is the number one toddler drink to give this nutrient. Milk has vitamin D which strongly builds teeth and bones. In addition, this toddler drink has age-appropriate vitamins and minerals that can completely nourish his overall development.

However, too much intake of milk can also cause side effects. For your little one, two to three daily servings of this dairy product is recommended. Anything more than that can slow down his appetite.

100% Real Fruit Juice

Contrary to popular belief that juice can make toddlers overweight, real fruit juices are actually a very good source of vitamin C which is essential in replenishing your child’s energy. Just make sure these juices are not made from artificial flavorings. Orange, apple, grapes, strawberry and mango fruit juices are good sources of vitamin B6, iron, magnesium and potassium, which helps strengthen his immune system. Let him drink his favorite fruit juice in a small cup at least once a day.

Beverages Your Toddler Must Take In Moderation

Sodas

Sodas contain a small serving of caffeine and refined sugar. While these beverages can cause tooth decay or increase your toddler’s sugar level, drinking sodas with restraint can be beneficial in boosting your toddler’s energy level especially when dehydrated. Since sweet drinks cannot be completely avoided, only let your toddler drink sodas if there is a special occasion, as his small treat for eating healthy for a whole week or during the family’s weekly DVD marathon.

Fruit Shakes

A friendlier alternative to sodas, fruit shakes are a much better beverage for satisfying your toddler’s sweet tooth. While it does contain milk and a small amount of sugar, the fruits used are all-natural which can supply nutrients to his body. Combine two kinds of fruit together, say a banana-mango or strawberry-apple fruit shake for a healthier drink.

Anything taken in moderation is safe. Let your toddler drink different kinds of child-friendly beverages to ensure he gets all the proper supplement he needs for his development.

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