Make your Kids Eat Healthy

Updated on 18 August 2022

Healthy eating habits must be inculcated early. Healthy meal plans are especially essential for children under the age of five as these initial growing stages require more nutrients and dietary attention. Moreover, children are often picky eaters and show resistance towards a healthy meal, thus, making it more important to be patient and respect the child’s appetite, without compromising on the basic nutritional requirement. Following are some ideas to keep in mind while making a meal for your kids.

For 1-2 year-olds

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1-year-olds need daily nourishment of about 1000 calories, 700mg calcium, 7mg iron and 600 IU of vitamin D. Such dietary requirements can be achieved by giving the following food item,

  • Soft fruits: Bananas, peaches, grated apples.
  • Lentils: Daal is rich in protein and carries amino acids that help the body synthesise protein.
  • Vegetables/ vegetable soup: Carrot and potato soups provide fibre and are good for the eyes too.
  • Milk & Yogurt: They both are good sources of calcium and protein. Also, yoghurt can be topped with fruits and nuts for extra nourishment.

The above can be spread across three-quarters to one cup of food three to four times a day, plus one to two snacks between meals.

For 2-3 year-olds

Children outgrow mashed and bland food at this age and can eat the regular food cooked for the rest of the family. However, always monitor the minimal required nutritional intake. As most toddlers are picky eaters, one should avoid fixating on a specific meal and give your child lots of love and encouragement to eat. Include a variety of healthy food options like,

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Whole grain foods such as whole grain pasta, oats, barley and quinoa
  • Protein & Iron-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, dried beans, peas, lentils, nut and seed butter, tofu, eggs, milk, yoghurt, spinach, cheese and fortified soy beverage.

Also, large quantities of milk/dairy can hinder the absorption of iron and can result in iron deficiency. Hence, it is necessary to regulate the consumption of milk. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends daily consumption of no more than 450 ml of milk to avoid any disruption in the appetite.

For 3-5-year-olds

Children are often hyperactive at this age and need frequent meals to fulfil daily nourishment needs. Hence, they should be provided with smaller more frequent meals packed with nutrients throughout the day. Adding fruit snacks, peanut butter, hummus and nuts to their daily diet will give them that extra nutrition. Some habits parents/caregivers can adopt that can help your child eat well include,

  • Sit and eat with your child
  • Make the meals interesting - offer a variety and change in food options
  • Ensure each meal is packed with nutritious food
  • Don’t rush, give your child enough time to eat
  • Let your child eat
  • Reduce distractions, like screen time, at mealtimes
  • Do not introduce junk, packaged or other unhealthy foods options between meals or otherwise
  • And finally, don’t give up !!





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