Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Feeding Your Toddler

Kyla Boyse, R.N

feedingtoddlerWhat do I need to know about feeding my 1-2 year old?At a year old, formula-fed babies can switch to whole cow's milk. It is important to use "whole" milk, because children under two years old need fat for brain development. One-year-old breastfed babies will benefit from continuing to nurse, for as long as both mother and baby are happy with the arrangement. Your baby should be joining you at the table for meals, and be learning about mealtime as family time.
Starting off right with family meals: What if it’s hard to find time for family meals?Hard to find time for home-cooked meals for those family meals? Believe it or not, fast food may not actually save you time or money. Try batch-cooking—also called cooking once a month—and freezing.
How do I know if my child is getting enough to eat and growing properly?Is your child following their growth curve? The percentile your child falls into is not so important. Instead, look for steady growth that follows the curve. If you have questions or concerns about your
How much milk or juice should my little one drink?If your child doesn't seem to want to eat food, but drinks lots of milk and juice, they may be filling up on calories (energy) from these liquids.
Preschoolers should not drink more than a maximum of 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) of milk each day. After age two, give your child reduced fat milk (skim or 1% milk fat). Even kids' arteries can clog up if they eat too much saturated fat.
Juice is not as nutritious as fresh whole fruit. If your child drinks juice, read the label carefully, and make sure it is 100% fruit juice. A yummy alternative to juice is a fruit smoothie made with whole fruit and yogurt in the blender.
Here are the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines on giving juice to kids:
  • Parents need to know the difference between 100% fruit juice and juice drinks, beverages or cocktails, which may contain very little or no real fruit juice. These drinks can look like fruit juice, but contain no more nutrition than soda pop.
  • Fruit juice should not be given to infants before 6 months of age.
  • Children should not drink juice from bottles or cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day because having juice in their mouths all the time can cause tooth decay.
  • Babies and toddlers should not drink fruit juice at bedtime.
  • For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup).
  • Drinking too much juice can lead to poor nutrition, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, and tooth decay.
  • All children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.
To reduce the amount of milk or juice your child takes in, try diluting it with water, and each day gradually add more water until your child is drinking plain water to quench their thirst. This will help them make the change little by little.
Remember to model good nutrition habits. If your family likes these drinks, save them for an occasional, special treat. Start healthy habits early, and don't introduce your toddler to soda pop until they are older. Water should be your main thirst-quencher. Keep filtered water, 100% fruit juice, and skim milk or calcium-fortified soy milk in your refrigerator instead of soda pop.
What about picky eaters?A picky eater can drive you nuts. How do you know if you need to worry? Again, as long as your child has energy and is healthy and growing, they are probably getting enough food. If you are concerned, check with their doctor.
Is snacking okay?Snacks are great if your little one eats healthy snack foods.  Now is the time to start healthy snacking habits with your little eater.  Think of snacks as mini-meals, and use them to get more grains, fruits, and vegetables into your child's diet. Keep healthy snacks ready and available to your kids. Bring healthy snacks with you on outings, instead of relying on fast food. Here are some ideas for healthy, no-cook, kid-friendly snacks:
  • Cut soft raw vegetables or fruit (like cucumber or banana) into chunks. Skewer them onto thin pretzel sticks. To prevent discoloration, dip fruits in orange juice after they're cut. Have your little one help!
  • Although it can be challenging getting some children to eat them, vegetables are a child's best friends. Especially when eaten raw, the nutritional value in vegetables can't be beat. Try broccoli or cauliflower flowerets (trees!—but be sure to shake out the squirrels and birds before you bite!), thin carrot sticks, green pepper slices, cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges, zucchini sticks, and more. Cut them into sticks or coins. Then dip them into salsa, hummus, or yogurt dip. These are great alternatives to high-fat dips made with mayonnaise or sour cream. For younger babies, steam the vegetables to soften them.
  • Put 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1/2 cup cold 100% fruit juice in a non-breakable, covered container. Make sure the lid is tight. Then shake it up, and pour into a cup. Kids also go for blender smoothies, made with plain yogurt and whole fruit. In the summer you can freeze these into "popsicles."
  • Using cookie cutters with fun shapes, like dinosaurs, stars, and hearts, cut slices of cheese, low-fat lunchmeat, and whole-grain bread (make sure the first ingredient is “whole wheat” or another whole grain). Then put them together to make fun sandwiches. Eat the edges, too.
  • Favorite fruits are often grapes (be sure to cut them in half for kids under age four), thin-sliced apple wedges, and banana slices. When choosing fruit, it's important to remember the many, many options available, including lots of kinds of berries, pears, grapefruit and orange slices, cantaloupe chunks and pineapple. And don't forget about more exotic fruits, like kiwi fruit, papaya and mango, and the fun star fruit (carambola).
What book should I read to help my child develop healthy eating habits?How to Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much, by Ellyn Satter. 
This book is helpful for all parents to read, whether or not their children have eating problems. It applies to kids from birth through the teen years. The advice in this book can start your child off with a healthy relationship with food that will last a lifetime.
Content provided by the University of Michigan Health System Article excerpted from:

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