As a busy parent, we’re so preoccupied with the hectic lifestyle that comes with raising a baby or toddler that we likely give little thought to their nutrition, trusting in the baby and toddler foods available on the supermarket shelf. While these are generally a whole lot better than giving your child a french fry to suck on, not all baby foods are created equally in terms of nutrition. While the FDA regulates the safety of baby foods and formula, it’s important to remember that just because a food is safe doesn’t necessarily mean that it has the optimal nutrition that will ensure your child’s healthy growth.
Keep it whole, keep it organic
By rule of thumb it’s best to keep your child’s foods organic with as few ingredients as possible. There are a great many organic foods such as Happytot Organic Superfoods on the market that are specifically tailored to infant nutritional requirements. Whichever foods you choose, they should be free of artificial colors and preservatives and use natural fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds. In today’s image conscious society many of us are increasingly aware of the impact of our diet on our overall health and this is all the more important for developing children.
Know your child’s needs
Infants have very different nutritional requirements to adults and older children, and just as with adult nutrition there’s a lot of contradictory advice out there, with different outlets praising and decrying different foods, hailing some as essential and decrying others as borderline child-abuse. That said, virtually nobody disagrees that lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and grains are good while processed meats, refined flours and sugars and hydrogenated fats are bad. Knowing your child’s nutritional needs is the first step to understanding the best foods for them. Children who are old enough for solid foods need plenty of iron, calcium, complex carbohydrates and proteins as well as lots of fiber and vitamins with particular attention on vitamin A, B12 and C.
Foods to absolutely avoid
While the jury’s out on cow’s milk a lot of traditional assumptions about its ability to build healthy bones and promote general good health have been largely debunked in recent years. Cow’s milk is perfect growth food for baby cows, not baby humans and its nutritional properties are vastly different to human milk. There’s nothing that milk can offer that can’t be found in grains and veggies (except pus, which you are feeding your child by giving them cow’s milk).
Some foods such as hot dogs, aside from containing damaging levels of saturated fats, sodium and nitrates also represent a choking hazard as do large chunks of fruits, veggies and whole grapes. Popcorn is a fun snack for older kids but again can present a choking hazard to little ones so try replacing it with a low sugar cereal instead. Processed meats in general should be avoided as should chocolates, candies and anything containing addictive refined sugars. While fruits and veggies are great they can be troublesome if served raw, so try serving them steamed or soft boiled instead.
With a little patience and a little understanding you can make the parental choices that will ensure that your toddler grows into a healthy, happy, fully functional adult.