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Mastering the Power of Finger Food in a Healthy Toddler Diet

13-finger-foods-toddlersFinger foods and bite-sized servings are particularly attractive to toddlers and young children. There are a number of reasons for this. To begin with, toddlers simply have small stomachs. They're easily filled and easily emptied. In addition, toddlers are growing at a much slower rate, comparatively speaking, than they did when they were infants. This means that they actually need fewer calories to maintain their level of growth and activity-approximately 1,000 to 1,300 per day. So they may not want to eat as much.

Toddlers are also in the process of becoming much more mobile and exploratory than they have ever been before. They don't generally want to interrupt that process to stop, sit, and eat for a while. Finger foods are appropriately sized to be eaten on the go and at their leisure. They don't need help to eat them either. Really, finger food is the perfect package at this age.

Healthy Finger Food Choices

Healthy food may not always come in conveniently sized packages the way that pizzas and bagels in the frozen food section do, but it, too, is an ideal food choice for toddler on the go. Healthy choices like fruits and veggies will provide your child with long lasting energy that will help to carry them smoothly through their day in a way that sugary treats won't. Finger food trays can be a great way to introduce healthy food options into your child's diet on their terms rather than yours. This is important, because when your child feels that he or she has control over what they're eating, they're more likely to engage in adventurous eating behaviors.

Serving Healthy Finger Food

If you offer your child a tray of healthy foods that includes a few favorite foods and a few new choices, they're likely to have a nibble or two of something new when they're ready. All it takes is a little planning and presentation. Put a tray out on your child's level that includes fun foods in small servings like olives they can put on their fingers, raisins, and vegetables that have been cut into appealing shapes and sizes with cookie cutters. Some other examples include:

* Avocados
* Bell Peppers
* Broccoli
* Carrots
* Potatoes
* Squash
* Sweet Potatoes
* Apples
* Bananas
* Eggs
* Cereal

If you offer a little dip such as yogurt, cottage cheese, or peanut butter you child may be even more willing to try the foods. Dipping is fun and messy, but it also disguises potentially scary new flavors with familiar and beloved options. Alternatively, try finding a new way to serve the food. Use it to make simple faces and pictures on the tray. Finger foods are all about enjoyment and ease of access.

Pleasing shapes, yummy dips, and interesting presentations offer all of these things. There is no doubt that they will capture your child's imagination and satisfy their appetite for engagement and control in every aspect of their newly expanding worlds.

You might also find the following helpful:

Children's BMI Chart

School Lunch Ideas

Fitness for Kids

Child Fever Basics

Picky Eaters 101

 

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