Want your toddler to thrive? These three foods every toddler should have in their diet! These foods help boost brain development, improve the immune system and offer a great balance of macronutrients.
Work these healthy foods for toddlers into their diet as early as nine months old and watch them flourish!
Between a lack of time and "picky" eaters, sometimes it's hard to get food we know our toddlers need.. into them!
As a Certified Nutrition Coach the below foods are ones I prioritized with my kids when they were little.
Not only do they help boost brain development and the immune system but they also:
- contain a great balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates
- are easy to whip into a tasty snack (check out these toddler snacks!)
- can be easily worked into baby-led weaning
These crucial foods are nourishing and healing. They promote growth, and development and help keep kids thriving.
Are These Foods Safe For Babies?
Yes and no. We did baby-led weaning with my girls and two of these foods worked beautifully.
Learn more about baby led weaning and see if it's the right fit for you.
For the third (chia seeds) I would recommend waiting until they're a bit older to introduce them (unless they're in a smoothie).
This is because chia seeds when mixed with a liquid create a gel. While this makes a tasty pudding (like this chocolate pudding!) it can also make it difficult for a baby under 14 months to swallow.
Thus, while two of the foods make the perfect "first food", I would recommend waiting a bit for the chia seeds.
How To Choose Quality Food For Toddlers
Young babes require more calories per pound than adults in order to grow and develop. While it might seem easy to get all these in, feeding them empty nutrients won't help the big picture.
Babes need a blend of quality macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins & fats) as well as helpful micronutrients.
Thus, a babes diet should largely revolve around real, unprocessed foods (as much as possible).
There are so so many foods that meet these requirements!
The three foods below are simply my favorite crucial foods in addition to a regular, healthy diet.
When choosing foods for toddlers, try to look for foods that are:
- easy to eat and prep
- as un-processed as possible
Foods like cheerios and rice puffs have little to no nutrient value in them and are very low in calories.
When it comes to choosing healthy food for your kids my advice is to pick a few items and work with them. There's no need to reinvent the wheel and it's to just start then be perfect!
If you're not quite ready for the foods below, check out this post on Healthy Everyday food Swaps For Kids. Every small change makes a difference.
The Best Foods For Toddlers
Remember, the best foods for toddlers are ones that they'll eat!
If they won't eat it, it can be the healthier food in the world and be ineffective.
The foods below are just three options that are amazing for kiddos- there are lots out there.
One thing to note though: introducing foods like this early on is the best way to shape a toddler's taste buds!
Meaning, give healthy foods before sugar-filled ones and they'll be more likely to have a palate for them and not be as picky of an eater.
Healthy fats are essential for both developments as well as weight gain in babes. And, given that these seeds are calorie-dense they're a wonderful option to help kids grow.
Fat comes in at 9 calories per gram so it's easy to get a bit of caloric hit from a small amount.
Chia seeds have:
- lots of omega three's (here's why omega-three fatty acids are important for kids)
- a good amount of fiber
Omega three's are anti-inflammatory which has been shown to aid brain development. Chia seeds especially have twenty percent protein, a high amount for a seed.
Fiber can help toddlers with digestion. Likewise, the fats in the seeds help regulate metabolism, build bones, and promote brain development.
Not sure what to do with chia seeds? Here are the best ways to get them into your diet.
However, as mentioned above, I would not recommend these seeds for babes or in baby-led weaning. They do make a gel or paste when mixed with liquid.
This means that unless they're in something very smooth (like a smoothie), I would wait for recipes like chia pudding until the kids are slightly older.
It seems as of late, there are few things avocados can't do. They are quite literally one of the world's healthiest foods... and babes love them!
Plus, avocados make the best first food because they're easy to mash-up in the mouth of a baby.
They are loaded with fiber and antioxidants and while their protein content isn't high it is complete. Meaning, avocados contain all 18 essential amino acids. Making it one of the rare non-meat sources to do so.
And while avocados are great by themselves, they're even better with eggs or blended into a smoothie, You can also make them into a delicious chocolate pudding for when your kids are a bit older as a treat!
Avocados should be in regular rotation for a toddler's diet (and yours!)
Bone Broth For Kids
Bone broth is easily one of the best foods you can use to help grow, heal and improve the immune system. It was actually the first "food" I gave my daughters- it's never too early to start!
However, make sure to use quality or homemade broth. This is important as store-bought versions will contain excess sodium and additives (learn more about collagen versus bone broth).
There's a reason your grandma always wanted to give you homemade chicken soup when you're sick.. it was because of the broth!
When it comes to a toddlers diet, bone broth:
- aids in nutrient absorption
- is loaded with collagen and glucosamine
- can help improve bones and joints
You can learn more about the healing properties of bone broth from the GAPS diet.
And lastly, gut health. Homemade bone broth helps improve your gut which in turn improves your immune system drastically. So basically, bone broth for kids is like giving them some superpower building blocks.
Now, obviously, if you're vegetarian or vegan you're going to ignore this last crucial food choice. But if that's the case, opt for homemade veggie broth! It's still LOADED with nutrients and will definitely set your kids up amazingly.
Where To Get Bone Broth
Making your own broth can be time-consuming. So.. mom hack: bone broth powder I keep a bunch of from perfect supplements on hand for when I need it!
I actually use it:
- to make soups or stews
- to sip out of a mug
- when boiling
- in weird chocolate, smoothie to sneak it into my girls
Bone broth powder has been a lifesaver for me!
I get mine from Perfect Supplements as it's the only one that foams up in a smoothie. Likewise, Perfect Supplement is a brand I trust to provide quality ingredients. You can check them out and use code mamabear10 for a discount.
How To Feed Bone Broth To A Toddler
If you're considering rocking bone broth you've probably drifted across the thought of how the hell to feed bone broth to a toddler. I mean, go drink your broth is going to go over pretty terribly.
I'm super lucky that my girls were used to drinking it so while they were still little it was easy to get in. Nowadays with the three-nager attitude not so much. So of course, I resort to tricking them.
I use bone broth as the base when I cook rice or quinoa (or anything that absorbs). It gives it a nice flavor and we get all the benefits. Win.
I also obviously use it when rocking a soup or stew.
The biggest issue I hear from moms though is time. Who the eff has time to make bone broth each week for their kids?! Shockingly enough, I totally don't.
Thus, if using the bone broth powder, simply mix it with warm water and add in some salt and pepper to sip on when sick.
Bone Broth Smoothie
Okay seriously just wait! I know this sounds creepy, but the powder makes the smoothie "fluffy" and so light!
I toss bone broth powder in with bananas, cacao (cacao powder comes with its own awesome, healing benefits), dates, and almond milk. It turns into a light fluffy chocolate thing.
My girls love it and I love that I can sneak so many gut-boosting things into a smoothie!! Grab this gut-healing chocolate smoothie recipe and make it a staple in your diet!
Don't forget to pin these Crucial Food For Toddlers!
When it comes to food for your toddlers, these three immune-boosting options should be staples (for kids and moms!)- especially bone broth. Healthy fats, brain-boosting nutrients, fiber, and protein.
These healthy foods have everything your toddler needs to boost their nutrition and give their body the fuel it needs.