By Dr. Farah Akram.
All moms have one thing in common, regardless of their parenting styles. Whether she is a lenient mom or a strict one, whether she stays at home or works busy hours, all moms worry about their kids. And there is plenty to worry about in the modern times (But let’s not get too depressing).
So the thing mothers worry about the most is??? Oh right I already gave it away in the article heading…
Anyway, so yes.. no matter how old their children…really it doesn’t even matter if their children have children, mothers always worry about their kids health which is invariably connected to what they eat and how much.
All mothers would also agree that the stage of most worry is when the kids are toddlers. They are always too busy playing….sometimes they eat well, other times they don’t eat at all even if it is their favorite food(though that keeps changing too) And then mothers want to be sure their kids are getting all the right nutrients – the long list of vitamins and minerals that are needed for optimum growth. This means getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables (mission impossible?) and limit their junk food intake (simple solution: eat it up yourself!)
Here are some helpful tips to make sure your kid is getting the nutrition they need:
Sure your child eats one day and not so much the next. That’s completely normal. Toddlers have different activities daily and their energy output varies a lot, so it should be no surprise if their appetite changes too. Just to be sure, keep offering them small handy and healthy snacks throughout the day.
- Involve them:
This can be summed up by one quote:
So you can involve kids in selecting foods in the supermarket and also in the cooking process. Toddlers get very excited about being given the responsibility to choose healthy foods and then it follows that they would be happy to eat what they selected or made. Baking with children – girls AND boys is a great way for them to make something in the kitchen ( better than going near the stove)
If you haven’t baked with your kids, you are missing out on a fun experience by the way. And this is also a great great great opportunity to teach them about NOT wasting food. A kid wouldn’t like to see their handmade food item go to waste so hopefully they would apply it to other food too.
I don’t mean play with food as in food fight or throwing noodles on the floor (it would contradict the whole “don’t waste food” point above) The most common complaint of parents is getting their kids to eat vegetables so why not make up a game to get them to eat it.
One way is to have 3-4 different coloured vegetables served together (boiled/steamed peas, carrots and corn is my favorite combo) and play a game of which colour your kid is going to eat first or whether they can eat all 3 colours at the same time.
Second way is to give the vegetables voices.(It’s crazy but it works!) It would go something like this:
MAMA: Which vegetable are you going to eat next?
*holds up pea, in squeaky voice* eat me, eat me, eat me!
*carrot jumps up, gruff voice* no me! it’s my turn!
I can’t say you will get an award for best acting but you might get some vegetables into your kid.
- Make a food group chart:
Food –group charts are an excellent way of teaching kids the concept of balanced meals and involving them in making their own chart will help them retain it. Cut out some pics from each of the 4 food groups as follows:
- Bread/cereal group
- Milk/cheese group
- Fruit/vegetable group
- Meat/poultry/fish/bean group
I also included another group – special treats (aka junk food) to have occasionally. Here’s an image to inspire your creativity:
It is also important to know how many servings should be taken from each food group and how much exactly is a serving size for a toddler. (Obviously it is very different from an adult!) This chart below is a good guide:
- Don’t give up:
If at first you don’t succeed, try try and try again. Be innovative. Try new recipes. Sneak them into favorite foods.
Happy healthy eating, everyone.
Dr Farah Akram. May Allah guide us to all that is good and right. Ameen.