Archive | February, 2012

Parents Guide to A Flexible Toddler Diet

Dieting is hard especially for children. With your toddler’s unpredictable mind and taste buds, it can be overwhelming to train him how to eat healthy. But, once you know how to mix fun to his toddler diet, you can be sure your toddler will enjoy scooping up his food – even those green leafy vegetables.

Start The Day Right

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Most often, a toddler who skips or eats little during breakfast tend to be edgy, ill-tempered and worse, obese. Make it a habit to start your toddler’s day with good breakfast. Cut pictures of healthy breakfast foods (cereal, pancake, yogurt, sandwich, etc.) and paste them on papers. Each night, let your toddler go through his “healthy-yummy menu” and have him decide. The fact that you let him choose his meals will make him look forward to eating breakfast and in no time, he will be cleaning his plate without noticing the carrots you added to his sandwich.

Know When to Strike and When to Give In

After breakfast, determine when your little one is most hungry and set meal times just before his stomach begins to rumble. By doing so, you can prevent his mood swings from spoiling his appetite. During times wherein your toddler just cannot seem to finish his meals, just give him a few portions of his food and let him finish the rest once he feels hungry again. The trick here is to never force your toddler. Once he knows he can voice out his concerns and you listen to him, the more open he is to sticking to his healthy diet.

Offer Variety

Toddlers always love to have plenty of options. You can still keep feeding your little one yummy meals sans processed foods. The secret to making your toddler eat with gusto is to provide colorful, bite-sized and well-proportioned foods. Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your toddler’s mini meals. Chicken pita is a delicious mini meal. Just add 2 tablespoon of hummus to soft whole-wheat pitas, add a few slices of grilled chicken strips, baked sweet potatoes, corn tortillas and his favorite dressing. For dessert, slice few pieces of strawberries and mix it into plain yogurt. Or, cut his favorite fruits into cubes. Place all of them in a bowl and serve it with whipped cream.

Never Miss Meals

While it is challenging to let your toddler eat what you want him to, skipping meals do not also make sense. This will only throw off his energy, disrupt his eating schedule and will give your toddler the idea that it is perfectly okay to miss out meals. What you can do is to give him something to eat, a few bites of crackers, oatmeal or fish is better than nothing.

Assess His Schedule

Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner will keep your toddler energized for the whole day. If your toddler does not finish his food during lunch, maybe his morning snack is too heavy or it is too close to lunch time. Know your toddler’s appetite and moods so you can effectively adjust his schedule.

Give Your Toddler A Break

But only do it once in a while. Sticking to a toddler diet may make your toddler apprehensive. Give in to his whims. The objective is to make your toddler eat well. So once a week, have a day where the both of you can indulge in sweets, ice cream, chips and sodas. This will serve as his reward. Do not worry, this will not disrupt his eating routine. It will just make him feel great and more motivated to stick to his diet plan.

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Kids and Vitamins - How Much Is Enough?

Most foods these days are fortified so toddlers can easily get vitamins and minerals. However, sufficient nourishment varies from child to child. In most cases, vitamins are needed especially if a toddler is a picky eater, if he is allergic to certain foods or if the child has a medical condition. Health experts agree that kids and vitamins produce healthy results and gives added protection as long as:

  • You only give your toddler a daily dose of supplement (no overdosing or mixing vitamins without a doctor’s prescription).
  • They do not substitute healthy foods. Vitamins must be taken alongside a proper diet (administering good healthy eating habits is a must).
  • Vitamins are taken for the sole purpose of meeting the daily RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of toddlers.

The right dosage of vitamins depends on a toddler’s needs and state of health. Here is a guideline:

Vitamin A

Toddlers from ages 1 to 3 need at least 300 mcg (microgram) of vitamin A each day. Add 100 mcg (400 mcg) for children age 4 to 8 and 9 to 13 year old kids need at least 600 mcg (maximum dosage in a day). Too much intake of vitamin A can threaten a toddler’s health and may cause hazy eyesight, headache, nausea and vomiting. If a toddler still has insufficient vitamin A, doctors recommend loading up on beta-carotene foods like whole-wheat cereals, carrots, potatoes, spinach, egg and milk.

Vitamin B

Different dosage is given for every member of the vitamin B family.

  • Thiamine or vitamin B1 (for proper blood circulation and carbohydrate digestion and prevention of beriberi) – 0.3 mg for 6 to 12 month old toddlers, 0.5 for 1 to 8 year olds, 0.9 for 9 to 13 year olds
  • Riboflavin, B2 (proper conversion of carbohydrate, protein and fats into energy) – 0.5 mg for 1 to 3 year olds, 0.6 for ages 4 to 8 and 1 mg for 9 to 13 year olds
  • Niacin, B3 or B complex (use of fats and proteins, for healthy eyes, hair and skin and proper function of the nervous system) – 6 mg for 1 to 3 year olds, and 8 mg for 4 to 8 year old toddlers
  • B5 (for prevention of chronic diseases) - 2 mg for toddlers ages 1 to 3 and 3 mg for children ages 4 to 8
  • B6 (building hormones, normal brain development) – 0.5 mg for 1 to 3 year old toddlers and 0.6 for 4 to 8 year olds
  • B12 (blood development, normal function of brain and nervous system) – 0.9 for children ages 1 to 3 and 1.2 mg for 4 to 8 year olds

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is integral to your toddler’s development to keep him healthy and strong. It also absorbs iron which restores a young one’s energy and reduces the chance of having anemia. Since vitamin C is water soluble, toddlers are recommended to consume it on an every day basis. 1 to 3 year old toddlers require 15 mg, 4 to 8 year old kids need 25 mg and 9 to 13 year old children need 45 mg. Together with it, foods containing high amounts of vitamin C such as orange, grapefruit, pineapple, broccoli, tomatoes and real fruit juice needs to be eaten regularly.

Vitamin D

Toddlers between the age of 1 and 4 need about 150 mg of vitamin D per day while those between 5 to 10 years old require 200 mg. Foods like cheese, egg, fish, beef and milk should be present in a toddler’s diet to help strengthen vitamin D in a toddler’s body. This provides calcium that is very essential in building strong bones, lowers the risk of getting health complications like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.


Toddlers from ages 2 to 8 require 10 mg each day due to the increase of blood synthesis. For children 9 to 14 years old, they only need 8 mg per day. Since most foods are iron-fortified, it is suggested that children lessen the intake of this tablet and focus on eating cereals, rice, artichokes, green leafy vegetables, red meat, seafood and dried fruits (e.g. berries, raisins, prunes, etc.) instead.

For toddlers who are picky eaters or those who have bad eating habits, it is best to give just one multivitamin each day so they can get complete nourishment in a single tablet and parents do not have to worry about overdosing on a particular vitamin.

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The Best Vitamins For Children

A toddler’s development is most crucial during the first 3 years of life. Aside from being particular with food, rigorous play can also hinder growth. Thus, vitamins for children should be included in a toddler’s daily diet. When taken in proper doses, these vitamins will keep the child healthy so he can thrive in all aspects.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is one vitamin parents should give to children to retain growth and fitness. Retinol can often be lacking in the diet of toddlers especially when they are picky eaters. Taking adequate doses of vitamin A each day can:

  • Improve Eyesight – the beta carotene serves as a strong antioxidant that helps prevent eye damage that can lead to blindness, prevents conjunctival xerosis (dryness of eyes) from happening and helps adjust the eyes’ night vision
  • Promote Healthy Skin – produces fat-soluble vitamins that repairs and grows the front-line and outer parts of the skin
  • Boost Immunity – develops lymphocytes that fights off bacteria and diseases from entering the immune system, prevents common ailments of children (viral infections, urinary tract infection, respiratory infection and measles)
  • Enhance Cell Development - the antioxidants counteract free radicals from harming cells and tissues

Vitamin B

The B family is very important to toddlers since it helps – overcome fatigue, produce red blood cells, protect the body from cancer, keep the nervous system stable, promote healthy body functioning and proper metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins providing energy and stamina for children’s daily activities. Since it is water soluble, the body can easily absorb all the nutrients.

Vitamin C

Health experts have proven that vitamin C or ascorbic acid supplies a wide variety of health benefits. This supplement serves as the perfect substitute of fruits and vegetables in a toddler’s diet. Most tablets are chewable and taste like orange so toddlers enjoy eating them. It helps maintain a strong immune system, increases collagen production promoting healthy bones, cartilage, teeth, tissues and glowing skin and fights off stress. It is also useful in absorbing iron and calcium, stopping common health issues like anemia and colds and in treating asthma.

Vitamin D

Known as the sunshine vitamin (produced when the skin is exposed to UV-B rays of the sun), this vitamin is fat soluble and is considered the most natural. It gets stored in a toddler’s body fat during summer season where temperature is too hot and the excess is used during winter season. It is essential for bone formation, since it effectively absorbs calcium from the bone, the small intestines down to the blood stream. Vitamin D stabilizes blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and it helps fight seasonal infections which toddlers are susceptible to.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant. It serves as a toddler’s shield in averting free radicals; from chemicals, toxins, cigarette smoke and other pollutants which toddlers are exposed to every day. Apart from that, it is also very beneficial in the consumption of body fats, cell and DNA repair and other metabolic processes.


Low magnesium consumption is the main cause of ADHD and other hyperactive behaviour. This nutrient is essential for cell repair, heart and muscle relaxation and protein production which helps improve body function, preventing chronic diseases and reducing insulin resistance.


Zinc is imperative to children’s physical development, for faster wound healing and in increasing their appetite. It is also necessary for fast metabolism, insulin storage and carbon dioxide transportation (for even breathing).

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