Healing Foods for Toddlers
Even before remedies are needed and herbs are used as medicine, healing foods are a front line of defense to keep our families healthy. Toddlers are targeted with all kinds of junk and convenience food, so we don’t always associate them with healing foods and rich nutrition. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The first and best way to avoid illness is to help your toddler be healthy and grow strong from the get go. Helping them learn to enjoy real foods lays the foundation for the rest of their lives. When you start them off with nourishing foods, you start them off right!
Begin by allowing their bellies to mature before offering them foods. Signs that a baby is ready to try food include sitting up unassisted, grasping food and trying to put it in their mouth, having teeth, and showing swallowing reflexes instead of pushing things back out with their tongue.
From there, good foods to begin with will protect the balance of baby’s belly. Good protective and healing foods for new eaters include:
- Sweet Potato
- Veggies cooked soft
Avoiding major allergens, or harsh grains and dairy, helps to prevent damage to baby’s gut. Signs of wear from too much harsh food or junk too early may not show up right away. Healing foods early on are vital for their health as a toddler.
Picky Toddlers and Healing Foods
This is all well and good, but what about the picky toddler? We all know those moments when we didn’t cut the sandwich exactly right, or they are sad that we gave them a banana when they asked for a banana! And around toddlerhood is when baby learns words like “Yuck!” and “Eww!”
A big part of avoiding or combating pickiness is by normalizing the foods they are unsure of. If they don’t see you snacking on baby carrots, why would they? When nourishing, healing foods are already on the table and in everyone’s hands, she is less likely to be uncertain of it when it hits her tray.
And while she is getting acquainted with new foods (though perhaps not eating yet – it’s okay! Just keep presenting it), it’s okay to sneak some nourishing, healing foods into her preferred diet. Cooked veggies can easily blend into sauces. Medicinal herbs can find their way into basic recipes. Smoothies can be infused with leafy greens and avocado. Texture is usually a problem for picky eaters, so make sure you combine it smoothly!
Of course, sometimes even the healthiest of families have at least one picky eater. If your toddler seems to be crossing the line from general pickiness into a refusal to eat or nourish themselves, you may have more sensory issues than just pickiness to deal with. Check with your pediatrician – an evaluation might help you to develop a strategy for nutrition.
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Healing Foods for Toddlers
Once your little one starts toddling around, it’s much harder to keep up with them. Little legs take off running and little taste buds develop their own preferences. Toddlers usually like to feed themselves, and marketing executives who make all kinds of hand held convenience food haven’t missed this.
Kids may be resilient, but they are also in critical developmental phases during toddlerhood. The foods they eat and learn to eat now are building brain health, strength, and gut health – which leads to immune health and even emotional health.
Try to keep the love of those early avocados and veggies alive by making them regular staples in your home and meals. Some kid friendly ideas to keep enjoying healing foods for toddlers:
- Make dips out of hummus (tip: beets dye it pink!), black beans, or nut butters
- Cut fruits and veggies into handheld pieces
- Make real-grain sandwiches easy-access (it’s okay to cut the crust off if it means they won’t be frustrated trying to get to the good stuff!)
- Revisit classic, fun toddler food, like “ants on a log”e
- Make oatmeal from stomach-soothing rolled oats instead of instant, and avoid over-processed hot cereals
- Swap french fries out with homemade sweet potato fries
- Stock up on handheld veggies: green beans, sweet peas, clementines, plums, nectarines, “trees” (broccoli and cabbage)
And don’t be afraid to let them get messy! Toddlerhood is mostly about exploring and finding their place in this great big world. Give them a spoon and half a kiwi or avocado and let them dig in!