Toddlerhood (from 1 to 3 years)
As your little one gets ready to celebrate her 1st birthday, stepping into the fascinating world of toddlerhood, she will be about three times (triple) her birth weight.
The stage from her first birthday until she starts school,i.e. from 1 to 3 years is the stage of toddlerhood. These are the crucial years for laying the foundation of your baby’s health. Most babies outgrow the stage of eating mashed and bland foods and will now begin to eat more elaborate meals. They are now ready to eat everything that is being cooked for the other family members. Do remember that the food habits formed at this age will hold them good for a lifetime. So you need to ensure that she eats healthy and nutritious food. Encourage your toddler to eat whatever she likes and treat her palate to a variety of foods so that she cultivates a taste for new foods.
For you, this stage can be a magical experience, as you will see your baby gaining independence and ability very rapidly. Between the ages of 1 and 3 years, your bundle of energy will grow very rapidly, learning to crawl, talk etc. During this period, she will need to be fed more frequently. Unfortunately, right now, her small stomach is not in a situation to cope up with large meals. So, offer small and frequent meals to your child.
Also remember not to set hard and fast rules in terms of timings or number of meals, because what is really important is not the number of times your child eats but what she eats. You need to emphasize on the quality and not quantity of food she eats. Be flexible as rigidity regarding meal times may lead only to stubbornness.
They may get tired, cry or nibble on anything that’s within their reach.
Now you need to be more attentive than usual, as your little angel may not understand that she is hungry and will probably realize it only once food is in sight. If she is hungry, she can cry or throw a tantrum too, so you need to be alert and remind her to eat by offering her food at regular intervals. Most babies show a decrease in appetite during this year, as they are busy concentrating on learning other skills. If your baby is one amongst them, do not worry as babies usually eat whatever they like and demand food whenever they are hungry.
It is possible that sometimes she may refuse to eat for no apparent reason. In your loving efforts to ensure that your baby eats a good balanced diet, remember that the coin is in your child’s hand, too. If you insist on force feeding, meal times will soon become a tug of war between you and your child making them extremely unpleasant and your baby may develop an aversion to food. If your little one is not particularly interested in all the foods that you offer and chooses to eat one or two things, do not force her to eat the foods she does not wish to eat. She will surely make up for this lack of eating in her next meal. Mothers are agonized if their baby has had no milk for one day, but its okay to take a break from regular everyday foods, once in a while. Tempt her with cheese or paneer instead. Some toddlers are also fussy about what they like and what they want to eat. By now, they have strong preferences which might make you want to tear your hair out sometimes. This situation can be handled if you follow the basic principle of serving your baby the foods that she is already accustomed to and enjoys while continuing to add new foods to her diet. Fussing over her may convey that eating is a means of getting family attention.
Cook dishes that your child enjoys. Also it is wiser to mask foods she doesn’t like by mashing, or puréeing it. You can also mix those ingredients with baby’s favourite ones. For example, if your baby does not like carrots, try giving her Carrot Cake instead.
Toddlers also like variety in terms of textures, shapes and flavours as their taste buds are now almost developed.
Daily Food Guide
The best indicator that your toddler is getting adequate nourishment is her regular weight gain and growth, general appearance and contentment.
* The weights of all the foods mentioned in the above table are approximate values
** Fats should be consumed in moderation as some foods like walnuts, sesame seeds and even cereals contain invisible fats which are also a part of our diet. Excessive fat can disturb the absorption of important nutrient like calcium in your little one’s body, apart from increasing the risk of obesity later in life.
Do remember that it is not necessary to provide all these nutrients to your child in a single meal. They can be part of a snack, a complementary dish like raita, or even a teething food.
Include a variety of fruits and vegetables as a major part of your child’s diet. These raw foods not only add colour to the foods but also aid in your child’s bowel movements due to their high fibre content. I know that most children are fussy about eating fruits and vegetables but they will enjoy them if they are presented attractively and cooked in a way they like. Introduce different cooking methods, like baking, roasting, sauteing etc. and new food combinations just as you had done during the first year of your baby’s life. If your toddler is fussy about fruits, serve a fruit shake or a tart filled with fruits. Try serving Fruity Phirnee, or Fruits with Custard, to your child. For vegetable fussy toddlers, disguise them in dishes like Dal and Rice with Grated Cabbage or Spring Vegetable Risotto
You can also try and combine cereals with vegetables or fruits with milk while cooking meals for your child. These combinations will help you to improve the palatability of foods which in turn will encourage your child to eat more too. Check out our healthy combinations like Fruity Chana Salad and Beetroot and Carrot Raita
You can also add some spices and condiments like salt, turmeric powder, a dash of chilli powder to enhance the taste, colour, flavour and appeal of the food.
Make Meal Times Fun & Healthy
Tips For Healthy Cooking
Factors like buying, storage, cooking and serving also influence the nutritional quality of foods. SO IT’S IMPORTANT TO:
Buy only the freshest fruits and vegetables available in the market. Seasonal fruits are the most nutritious as they ripen without the usage of additional chemicals and are more reasonably priced.
Refrigerating food for long period results in the loss of vital nutrients. So buy in small quantities and cook for the day!
Washing fruits and vegetables prior to cooking or serving is of utmost importance for the removal of pesticides and other germs present in them. Wash and chop fruits and vegetables just before serving or cooking as this will help to preserve the nutrients and the freshness of these foods.
Soaking vegetables in water for a longer period of time will make them lose many valuable, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B and vitamin C.
Vegetables should be cooked carefully so that they retain most of their nutrients during the cooking process. Therefore, it is better to saute or steam vegetables rather than to boil them. If you do boil the vegetables, use the minimum quantity of water and cook only until the vegetables become tender. Overcooking them will kill all the nutrients present in them. Preferably, cover your foods while cooking to preserve the volatile nutrients.
Do not throw away the water in which the food has been cooked as it contains water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin B and vitamin C that are released by the vegetables during cooking. Hence, it is advisable to add just enough of water to cover the vegetables while cooking. Any excess cooking water that is remaining can be used to make soups, dals or to knead your chapati dough, as this is a good way to preserve the water-soluble vitamins.
Steaming, sauteing or baking are the best ways to prepare food for your baby as opposed to frying. These methods of cooking help to preserve the nutrient content of foods to a great extent. Vegetable Roti and Spiced Walnut Ring are good examples for these healthy cooking methods.
The duration of cooking also affects the nutritive value of food served to your baby. The longer the food is cooked, the greater is the loss of heat sensitive nutrients like vitamins B and C. Hence, it is advisable to cook cereals, pulses and vegetables in the minimum possible time, using a pressure cooker, taking care to use the right quantity of water. In the case of pulses, it is wiser to soak them ahead of time, so that they cook faster and you do not need to add soda bi-carbonate to speed up the cooking process.
Always refrigerate the milk if it has to be stored for a longer period. Do remember to re-heat the frozen milk and then cool it to room temperature before feeding it to your baby. Check for the quality of the milk by tasting it. Discard the milk if you find it sour.