One of the biggest challenges I faced as a mum was trying to get my boys to eat well. They had their own ideas at mealtimes. Toddlers eating mainly involves chucking anything remotely healthy on the floor for the dog to eat! But we persevered and now they are on the whole much better with food. We have tried lots of techniques over the years and that experience I still use when I help out at my local playschool. Hopefully helping the next generation of kids make better choices at mealtimes!
I think as parents we are always racked with guilt. Are we giving our children the right food, in the right portions? Or do we just hope that they can sustain on rice cakes, multiple yoghurts and whatever doesn’t end up in the dog’s belly! Worry not there is so much useful information out there to set you on the right path.
Last year the (Infant & Toddler Forum) ITF launched the #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign to help raise awareness that it’s not just what we put on toddlers’ plates – it’s also how much! This year the focus is on finding more practical ways we can get toddlers to eat well. They have also focused on toddler sized portions at Christmas. Christmas is a time of excess generally so that is a worthwhile read if your struggling to keep things in proportion during special occasions.
Judy More, Paediatric dietitian and member of the ITF, says: ‘Last year’s campaign reinforced what we already knew, that some parents find feeding their toddlers a challenge as they are not sure about the best foods to offer, and how much they should expect their toddler to eat. However, we know that those caring for toddlers are constantly innovating to solve everyday challenges. So, who better to recommend practical ideas to help take the guidance and make it easy for everyone to use’.
Well hopefully you have your own ideas of what really worked for your toddlers. Why not join in with the Toddler Sized Challenge and share your tips. What tools make mealtimes more manageable? As a lovely incentive there is a chance of winning a £1000 prize plus two runners up get £500! Even if you don’t want to add your own idea you still have the chance of winning spot prizes just by commenting. So head over to the Think Toddler Sized website. Have a look around and please do get involved. It’s very simple and quick to register with the site and add your idea or start commenting.
My idea to get toddlers eating healthily
I couldn’t wait to join in myself. I opted for a healthy eating app. The main feature is that you could use the camera on your smartphone to overlay an image of the appropriate portion size for a toddler onto their plate. This could be on a sliding scale for different ages with it adjusting accordingly.
It could also show the breakdown of carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables. All of which are needed to ensure children have a balanced diet. For the parents it could also suggest nutritious foods to try and simple recipes to follow which agree with the recommended guidelines.
How it will work
The app could be used as a standalone or you could add a bluetooth-enabled spoon that connects directly to the app, giving more functionality for parents to motivate their children to eat healthily! This spoon could play different sounds when a child tries a new food perhaps a cheer or a special jingle to encourage them.
The app itself could award virtual stickers or unlock other bonus features like a little mini game again focusing around the types of foods the toddlers should be eating to try and educate them in a simple but entertaining way. Options like feed a mouth the healthy option or a conveyor belt challenge whereby only wholesome foods should make it into the basket! I have included a (very) basic image to give you an idea.
I wanted the app to be as much fun as possible because for me its all well and good having the most perfect meal for a toddler set out but you also need to entice them (not the dog!) to eat it! So the app combines the knowledge you need to get the right portion size with an element of excitement to help coax even the most reluctant of toddlers to eat up!
So now its your turn visit the ToddlerSizedChallenge site to find out more, join in and share your idea. Remember to cover ITF’s guidance in a PRACTICAL and easy way that all parents can follow. Make sure you consider:
- Which types of foods in the right balance– carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables
- How often different types food should be offered every day
- How much should be on the plate – think toddler portions
Good luck I really can’t wait to see your ideas on their site.