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It can be quite difficult to think of creative and healthy snack food for little ones who are fairly new to solid foods, so we've included some recipes to inspire you, as well as some helpful nutritional guidelines!

Nutritional Advice
Courtesy of Catherine Gould DipN (Inst NH), a nutritionist based in Harare

Nutrition for Toddlers

During the second year of life, your child will show more and more interest in food, and you may notice that they are more choosy about what they eat. Growth rates do slow at this time and your toddler may seem to eat less compared to their first year. Your toddler should want to eat what everyone else around them is eating and drinking, and since eating habits formed in the first two years of life are thought to persist for years to come, it is therefore the perfect time to set a good example and be a good role model by teaching them to eat wholesome, fresh foods. You can guide your child’s healthy food choices and allow the them to choose what and how much they want to eat. Although it may seem that your child is not eating enough, by forcing them to eat something they do not want makes them stubborn. Therefore by allowing some independence at this age, you will help to alleviate mealtime problems in the future.
Serving Sizes for 1-2 Year

Children aged one to two years need foods from all the food groups, but with fewer and smaller servings than older children. For each food group, the daily number of servings and some examples of an average serving size are given below.
  • At least 4 servings of starchy carbohydrate foods (at least one serving at each meal): a serving is ¼ - ½ slice of bread or 2 -4 tbsp cooked rice or pasta.

  • 2 – 3 servings of vegetables: a serving is 2 tbsp peas or carrots.

  • 2 – 3 servings of fruits: a serving is ½ an apple or banana.

  • 2 servings of dairy foods or minimum of 350ml milk: a serving is a small pot of yoghurt or 40g (1 ½ oz) cheese.

  • 2 servings of protein foods: a serving is 30g (1oz) meat, chicken, or fish, or 1 tbsp of peanut

  • Managing the Fussy Eater

    There are many strategies to managing a fussy eater. Here are some tips to follow if you are having problems with your child’s eating habits:
  • First of all, be patient, sit down at the table with your child and have a conversation about his or her day.

  • Offer a variety of bite-sized foods in order to allow your child to pick and choose the most appetizing and thus expand his or her diet.

  • Present food in small and interesting shapes to make it look more appealing.

  • Offer your child foods that pack lots of nutrients in small portions, such as avocados, broccoli, whole grains such as brown rice and porridge, cheese, eggs, fish, red kidney beans, yoghurt, pasta, peanut butter, pumpkin, sweet potato and tofu.

  • Do not turn each meal into a battle. If your child has developed a “food fad” and insists on eating the same foods every day, keep offering a healthy selection of food at each meal. Your child will eventually tire of eating the same foods. The less pressure you put on your child, the more likely it is that he or she will pass through this stage without problems.

  • Do not try to force-feed your child or hover over him or her worrying about what he or she will or will not eat.

  • If your child does not like different foods to be touching one another, serve them on separate plates.

  • Do not prepare something else for your child if he or she refuses to eat what is on the plate.

  • Do not give snack foods if your child refuses to eat his or her meal.

  • Do not punish your child for not eating a particular food; it is much better to congratulate him or him for what he or she does eat.

  • What to Give Children to Drink

    The healthiest drinks to give young children is water and milk. Other drinks such as fizzy colas, juice drinks, and squashes are high in sugar and can cause tooth decay. Although it contains more nutrients, 100% fruit juice is high in natural fruit sugars and calories too. If you do give your child fruit juice, follow these tips:
  • Give your child fruit juice only as part of a meal or snack.

  • Always dilute fruit juice with water to reduce its high sugar content.

  • Limit the amount of fruit juice given to two-five-year-old children to about 120ml to 180ml per day.

  • Encourage your child to eat fresh fruit in place of fruit juice. This will increase the intake of fibre.

  • Do not give your child unpasteurized fruit juices as they may contain bacteria.

  • Toddler Meal Ideas

    Courtesy of http://www.realliferealityblog.com/2012/04/ultimate-list-of-meal-ideas-for.html
    Healthy Snacks for Children

    Here are a few ideas to satisfy those snack attacks. They can even be offered to older, school-aged children:
  • Breakfast cereal

  • Rice cakes or pretzels

  • Cut-up vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers, with hummus as a dip

  • Fresh fruit such as bananas, pears, plums, grapes, oranges, strawberries, peaches, and apples

  • Frozen juice cubes or lollies

  • Fresh fruit salad

  • Fruit smoothies made with yoghurt or milk

  • Oat cakes with cheese spread

  • Low-fat yoghurt or fromage frais

  • Hard-boiled egg

  • Sandwiches, such as tuna, egg and cress, turkey or chicken, cheese and tomato, or peanut butter

  • Digestive biscuits

  • Homemade trail mix (a mixture of dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, and apricots, unsalted peanuts, sunflower seeds, and crunchy low-sugar cereal)
  • How much should your child be eating?

    It is important to keep in mind that your child’s stomach is much smaller than an adults, therefore their portion sizes should be smaller. Last week, I gave a sample menu for a toddler.

    Here are some tips to bear in mind when feeding your toddler:
  • Use smaller plates and let their appetite regulate the food they want to eat.

  • Do not force, bribe or nag your child to finish his or her meal or to “clean their plate”. This negative approach will lead to arguments over food or could result in an overweight child who develops habits that are difficult to break. Your child will let you know when they are full, by clamping their lips closed, pushing their plate away or dropping food on the floor.

  • Serve well balanced meals including all foods from the different food groups and offer them in small quantities. There should be no need for a second serving, however if your child is still hungry, offer them vegetables or fruit.

  • If your child is cutting back on the on the amount of milk they drink, start offering yoghurt or cheese as a snack or dessert.
  • How to Encourage Your Toddler to Enjoy Their Food

    Kids do as you do. Be a role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don't skip meals. A crucial aspect of eating together is teaching by example - your child will see you're eating your veg and enjoying the whole dinner experience (remember to look like you are).

    Of course, this is all very well if you're all home and ready to sit down to eat at 5.30pm. But if that's not possible, make a special effort to have family meals when you can (particularly at weekends) even if you'd all rather be in front of the TV with a tray on lap. If you were sitting in a highchair with a faint whiff of sterilised surfaces, you'd probably also be keen to get mealtimes over asap, so try to make sure someone (you, the nanny, childminder etc) sits down and engages with your child as they eat.

    Courtesy of http://www.mumsnet.com/toddlers/fussy-eaters
    What's the Difference Between a Food Intolerance and a Food Allergy?

    A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. It can cause a range of symptoms. In some cases, an allergic food reaction can be severe or life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and are limited to digestive problems.

    If you have a food allergy, even a tiny amount of the offending food can cause an immediate, severe reaction. Digestive signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea. Other signs and symptoms can include a tingling mouth, hives, and swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat. A life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can cause breathing trouble and dangerously low blood pressure. If you have a food allergy, you'll need to avoid the offending food entirely. Common foods that cause allergies are nuts, eggs, fish and shellfish.

    Food intolerance symptoms however, generally come on gradually and don't involve an immune system reaction. Causes of food intolerance include:
    • Absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food. Lactose intolerance is a common example.
    • Irritable bowel syndrome. This chronic condition can cause cramping, constipation and diarrhea.
    • Food poisoning. Toxins such as bacteria in spoiled food can cause severe digestive symptoms.
    • Sensitivity to food additives. E.g. sulfites used to preserve dried fruit, canned goods and wine can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people.
    • Recurring stress or psychological factors. Sometimes the mere thought of a food may make you sick. The reason is not fully understood.
    • Celiac disease. Celiac disease has some features of a true food allergy because it does involve the immune system. However, symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal, and people with celiac disease are not at risk of anaphylaxis. This chronic digestive condition is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.

    If you suspect your child of having a food intolerance, keep a food diary of what your child is eating every day and any reactions they experience. Do this for 4 to 6 weeks, and you may be able to recognize foods that cause symptoms, such as eczema or abdominal pain.
    How and When Food Allergies Develop

    The first time you eat a potentially allergenic food, you do not usually have any symptoms, but your immune system mistakenly prepares to protect you against it. The next time you eat that food you release chemicals that cause symptoms such as eczema or life-threatening anaphylaxis.

    Food allergies usually begin in childhood and may be lifelong, however some, such as milk allergy, can be outgrown. People with a food intolerance are not able to digest or process specific foods properly in the body, resulting in bloating, abdominal pain, wind, vomiting or diarrhoea. The problem usually involves a defect or deficiency in an enzyme necessary to digest some foods. Unlike food allergies, intolerances are usually not dangerous.

    Food allergies are common in people who are susceptible itoeczema, hay fever, or asthma. It is estimated that 5 to 8 percent of all children may develop a food allergy by the age of two years, although studies suggest that babies with a family history of allergies may be 2 to 4 times more likely to develop an allergy or intolerance. Since infancy is an especially vulnerable time for food allergies to develop, allergy prevention efforts must be started immediately after birth to be effective. Compared to babies fed cow’s or soya milk formula, babies who are exclusively breast fed for a prolonged period develop less eczema and wheezing in the first year of life.
    Avoiding Foods That Trigger Allergies
    Just 8 foods account for 90% of all food allergies. They are eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, soya, gluten, peanuts and tree nuts (e.g. walnuts and almonds). Typically the protein compounds of a food are responsible for the allergic response, hence you should always remember to check food labels carefully. Click here to learn which foods commonly contain peanuts, eggs, milk, gluten and soya as ingredients.
    Case Study : Active Ten-Year-Old Child with Food Allergies
    ProblemAt age two and a half, Malik developed eczema and a runny nose. After repeated episodes, his doctor suggested that his mum keep a food and symptom diary. This helped identify eggs and chocolate as potential triggers of his symptoms. A skin-prick test gave positive results for walnuts, chocolate, watermelon and eggs, but negative for peanuts, soya, citrus, gluten and dairy. Since then, an elimination diet has kept Malik free of symptoms. As he gets older he will be exposed to more situations where he is at risk. He wants to know what he can and cannot eat.
    LifestyleMalik is a busy child who loves sport. He eats breakfast at home, which is usually cold cereal with semi-skimmed milk, a banana, and a glass of orange juice. He takes a packed lunch to school most days, which includes a turkey or cheese sandwich. On the days he buys lunch at school it’s usually a slice of pizza. Malik has either football or lacrosse practice for most of the year. He usually eats a snack before practice – some oatcakes with peanut butter or a piece of fruit and a sports drink. For dinner, he eats whatever is prepared for the family, which may be pasta with tomato sauce, or steak or chicken with green vegetables.
    AdviceMalik has continued to show signs of food allergy when he has been tested by the doctor and has therefore not yet outgrown it, which happens with many children. Being allergic to chocolate, eggs and walnuts can be a challenge for a child, as well as his parents. Reading labels for these ingredients is the best bet for preventing exposure to the trigger foods. Homemade cakes and biscuits may also be a problem since they are likely to contain eggs. Now that Mailk is more independent, he can be allowed to make choices and may make some mistakes. He needs to learn to ask questions and to read food labels to avoid the foods that give him symptoms.

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